Kay’s Story (Part Twenty-Five)

Stop! This is the twenty-fifth episode!

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The day went by quickly and before long, it was almost closing time.

Humming softly to herself and balancing Destiny on her hip, Kay carried an armload of boxes out the back of the store. The sunset was a glorious display of red and orange, bathing the rooftops in the colors of fire.

She dropped the boxes by the loading dock and stood, stretching her back with a tired but contented yawn. As she stepped back, she was suddenly stopped by the strangest sense of déjà vu.

I could have sworn I heard something in that dumpster. Ever so slowly, she lifted the huge lid. There, wild-eyed and cowering among the garbage was Belinda! Before Kay could react, the woman pounced up and grasped at Destiny’s chubby little arm.

“Give me the baby! Quick! Before they see! They’re watching, watching, always watching! …must hide, have to hide…” Belinda’s voice was frantic and her whole body was rocking back and forth.

Pure panic and fierce maternal protectiveness joined forces.  “Let. Go. Of. My. Daughter!” Kay ground out the words between gritted teeth. Without stopping to think, she yanked away the woman’s gripping fingers and whirled the now screaming infant out of reach.

“Help me! Somebody help!” Kay screamed as loud as she could, clutching Destiny close and scrambling back towards the store.

Her boss, Brian, appeared in the doorway, pale and out of breath. “Kay! What the-?” His gaze took in the scene, uncertainly darting from the shaking mother and baby to the ghoulish apparition rising from the trash.

“No-no-no-no! Don’t let them take me! Don’t let them take the baby! Hide! Hide! Hide!” Belinda let out a final shriek and without warning, her eyes rolled back in her head and she crumpled out of sight.

Brian cleared his throat and spoke slowly, as if his voice could imbue some sort of calm into the chaos. “Kay, I need you to walk into my office slowly and quietly, okay? Then, I want to you sit down and take a few deep breaths.” As he spoke, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. “Don’t worry about the customers. Just take a minute. Is the little one okay?”

Kay nodded her head vigorously and with wobbly legs, she followed his instructions.

In the safety of the office, she inspected Destiny’s arm. Angry red finger marks were plainly visible on her tender skin. With a sob of her own, Kay gently pressed her lips against the crying baby’s forehead and murmured to her softly. “Oh, sweet girl, Mama’s so sorry. Hush, brave princess. You’re okay. It’s okay now.”

To be continued…


Kay’s Story (Part Twenty-Four)

Stop! This is the twenty-fourth episode!

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Kay’s breath escaped in a dreamy little puff as lifted her head off the pillow. Yesterday…what a perfect day! Except for Cassy’s little sideshow, the whole day had gone better than she had ever dared to hope. Jeff seemed to feel at home with her church and friends, he genuinely seemed to connect with the sermon, and her friends all heartily approved of him.

Kay waltzed her way through her morning routine. During most of it, Destiny was sound asleep, all tuckered out from the long day before, without her usual nap. Ready in record time, Kay clattered her way downstairs.

The early morning light cast strange shadows across the entry hall at the foot of the stairs. Kay set Destiny’s carrier down and tugged at the door; testing the lock to be sure it clicked shut. Satisfied after several moments of fiddling, she dropped the keys into the depths of her cavernous purse and stooped to retrieve the baby.

Her peripheral vision picked up swift movement, punctuated by a guttural grunt and the stale odor of urine and sweat. All her senses screamed out a belated warning, as she found herself face to face with the homeless woman.

Kay’s mind worked frantically. This poor creature looks far from happy. What is her name again? She was dreadfully uncomfortable with street people, despite multiple attempts at urban mission trips to the inner city with the church’s youth group during high school. She loathed herself for her panic and prejudice, trying in vain to act like she would with any other person.

But this wasn’t just any other person. This woman smelled and looked scary, not to mention, she was completely blocking the doorway.

Kay was only too aware of being essentially trapped between the looming figure and her securely fastened apartment. The woman lifted a visibly filthy hand and pushed back her hair from her face. Kay flinched at the slight movement, then blushed guiltily. The woman’s mouth worked in silence, her lips seeming to form words she couldn’t quite speak.

For the first time, Kay met her unwanted visitor’s gaze. She’s crying! And she has beautiful eyes. These two thoughts collided in Kay’s brain, along with the nagging feeling of familiarity. What was it about this woman’s eyes? Belinda. That’s her name!

“Baby.” She said the word reverently, her voice cracking softly on the second syllable. “Tiny, beautiful baby.” By now, Belinda’s tears were making pale tracks on her cheeks, washing the grime away in tiny rivers.

“Thank you, she is beautiful, isn’t she?” Kay tilted the carrier to give her a better view. “Her name is Destiny.” The minute object of attention cooed happily, waving her fingers in the air.

To be continued…

Kay’s Story (Part Sixteen)

Stop! This is the sixteenth episode!

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Kay looked up as the rattling sound of a shopping cart filled the early morning air. Every little noise seemed louder with a sleeping baby to think of. The night before had been absolutely exhausting. Destiny woke up screaming on the hour and refused to be comforted.

Now, she was fast asleep, looking like a tiny angel. What was somebody doing with a shopping cart this far from the store anyway?

She stood and peered out the window, feeling slightly annoyed. A lone figure hobbled down the sidewalk, pushing a cart piled high with random trash and disheveled belongings. It was Bonnie, the local equivalent to a bag lady. Though she looked much older, she couldn’t be more than forty years old. The church had tried putting her in housing, but time after time, she’d hit the streets again. Sometimes she would talk someone into driving her to the nearest bus station and she would disappear for months only to mysteriously return.  The wanderer came to a sudden stop directly below Kay’s perch. I hope she doesn’t park herself in the entryway. That’s the last thing I need.

Slowly, the woman’s gaze scanned upward, coming to rest on the face peering down from above. Kay flushed and jerked back, pulling the curtains shut.

Instantly, shame washed over her. Lord, I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but people like her just make me so uncomfortable! Help me to see beyond the outside. Kay scolded herself as she reached for her coffee and drained the dregs, before slipping it into the sink. Sighing, her thoughts shifted abruptly towards the day ahead.

Thankfully, Destiny was dressed in a cute sleeper that looked fine for going out in. Changing a sleeping baby wouldn’t be fun. Brain had compromised on her schedule, saying that she could bring Destiny with her, two days a week. The only stipulation was that it could not affect her productivity or her attentiveness to customers. Pausing in front of the mirror, she ran her fingers through her hair, mussing it into a semblance of style. A swipe of blush brought some color to her pale face and a bit of concealer hid the dark circles under her eyes. Ever so carefully, she transferred the baby into her carrier, grabbed the bulging diaper bag and started down the stairs.

To be continued…