If you missed it, you can begin the story here.
Rebecca opened her eyes to find Ruby praying.
Ruby looked like she was in agony of spirit…. It was almost like she was trying to make a bargain with heaven…. For what?
She tried to get up from the bed but laid back down when aching body parts protested.
She winced as the scent of a cocktail of drugs assaulted her. It was usually hard to tell what was worse — the scent presently assaulting her, or the white and serious colors hospitals are painted with. It always made hospitals seem like a place people go to when they’re in trouble.
“Or a place people go to when they need help”, her mother would always say, “Just like every other thing in life, Beks, this too is a matter of perspectives”.
She did her best to push the thought out of her mind — or at least, to push it as far back as she could — she would not think of her mother now.
Her heart ached for Ruby as she watched her. This child, what had she done to deserve the hand she had been dealt?
Or what had any of the other girls done?
Why did they have to carry these heavy burdens on their little shoulders?
She wanted to reach out and help this child before her. She wanted to tell her that everything would be alright. But how could she, when she was still stuck in her own path, trying to get to the place where she could believe that everything would be alright?
What could she say to this child, or to any of the girls that walked into her office every day hoping to find some kind of answer to the question that life had become?
Some of the girls could not even go back home because they had been pushed down this shadowy road by family.
And when you have no home to go back to from the world, where is your place in this world? — This was the question for Mercy.
As soon as she turned sixteen, her family had arranged for her to be married to a total stranger old enough to be her father.
Mercy had dreams of becoming a medical doctor. She would travel the world and help children whose parents could not afford good medical care.
Her father said she was a woman and that her place was in her husband’s house. He would not spend his scarce resources training a woman who would only end up bearing the name of another man.
One morning, while she was battling PMS (complete with cramps, moodiness, and an intense desire to kick anyone that came close to her in the face), her husband’s family came to take the beautiful flower they had plucked in her father’s house.
She was the flower.
And that was the day she found out that she was married.
Only her mother cried for her.
The rest of the world just went on as if a life had not been so severely tampered with that it might now be irrecoverably damaged.
Three children later, Mercy had finally come to the place where she decided that she was being punished by life and that her offence was daring to dream all those dreams. Maybe she might find some form of leniency if she gave up those dreams?
It took her ten years, the relinquishing of her dreams, and the realization that no matter whether or not you choose to dream, things would still happen — and these things would happen in spite of whether or not you think your dreams are valid.
So early one morning, while the world still slept, Mercy had shown up at her father’s door with her three children. The man was furious. He said she had shamed him and that she needed to return to her husband’s house and apologize for what she had done. Never mind that the girl was covered in bruises.
Her mother didn’t say a word, but Mercy heard everything the woman said with her eyes.
As she walked out of that house that morning, she didn’t know if she would ever see her mother again. The woman was already spent.
She didn’t know when she would see her children again — or if she ever would.
As for her father and the rest of the world — life itself, even — she would let providence be the judge and repay with what it deemed fair.
She would wander the earth and try to find where her relinquished dreams were buried. Who knows…? Maybe she might find life in them and begin to live again.
Her wandering had led her to a seat across the table in Rebecca’s office.
Rebecca blinked back tears, wondering how much help she could be to this child while she too was still trying to find her own way.
Maybe this mentoring thing was a waste of time for her and the girls…. For everybody….
She didn’t have time to really consider that notion though because she was interrupted by Ruby’s voice, “Are you crying?” Ruby looked more confused than concerned. And well… who could blame her? Rebecca had tried to talk to a child in need and had ended up in the hospital, being taken care of by the child she had tried to help.
Rebecca shook her head. That’s not how mentoring works.
“But you’re crying”, Ruby said, assuming Rebecca was shaking her head in response to her question, “I’ll go get the doctor”.
She was out the door before Rebecca could find the right words to properly articulate a proper defense against the possibility of the actual administering of the cocktail assaulting her.
O, God! I hate drugs!
Maybe if I can sit up by the time they get here they’d believe me when I say I’m fine.
Her efforts were useless, so she closed her eyes to pray for help. She opened them to find a visitor in the room. It was the kind man that had sped and parked his car between her and Wilson’s pointed gun. She hadn’t seen him since that day.