Can I use the phone? A shaky voice appeared from behind an oversized bush while I was eating. Under the glowing lightbulbs, it appeared like this was the only place on earth still awake. She didn’t scare me, her gentle approach made it clear that she was more afraid than I should be.
It’s just a phone call. Barely whispering. Looking at the concrete. Puffy eyes were red and wet.
It was only a phone call, but I was weary to hand her my phone. Rubbing an unsteady hand across her face, catching the side of her too relaxed lip and a string of saliva.
Looking around the vacant patio for a sympathetic eye, I didn’t expect this woman of the night to appear an arm’s length away. Where did she come from? How long had she been looming? It didn’t matter. Blood dripped from her elbow.
Are you helping me. Now. She didn’t say that with words. But teary brown eyes peered into my soul. What did she see. In my eyes. Was I worthy of trust. Was I going to dismiss her. Like the rest of the world had done.
I’m so tired. Holding her forehead she sat down on the bench. One hand reached under her breast, and she winced in pain. More bruises hid under her armpit. I could only imagine what lacerations she had been protecting. Under the red t-shirt.
What did I do to deserve this. I wish we could have met differently. She mumbled. She sat. She cried. She drank my water. I asked her how to help. She just told me her name. But she never told me whom to call.
I want to sleep. And never wake up.
She didn’t tell me. Because there was nothing proper to say. I knew what had happened. She couldn’t say it out loud. Never did she think she would be in this situation. But there she was. And there she wondered if she still believed.
Will I do it again. Of course she will. She loved how it felt. To be in warm arms and held tight. Licking his lips. Drenched in his sweat. Chills from the pleasure. Of course she will, again and again.
How will it feel when I have to kill it. For the lives that don’t know. For the life that was made. She laid a hand on her belly, that day sipping coffee. Feeling a cramp of conception or menstruation. Maybe just inches from her baby sleeping. Her shame wished it to die. What had she become.
Is He judging me. Now. For the sickness I can’t see. For the sins I’ve ignored. We knew she was wrong. But would she ever have the courage, to say it out loud. Suffering in silence. Would that be forgiven? Suffering in secret. It might not be forgiven. Too much being born, inside.
I want to live. But life seems like a lie.
Does God even care. Her feet barely kept her upright anymore. I had only just met her. Yet she wanted an answer. It wasn’t an empty question. Her body was broken and her hands couldn’t hold a paintbrush anymore. I visibly watched the life light drain from her eyes in a short six month calendar.
Where is He when I need him? I need Him. Now. And He’s not here. I didn’t have an answer. How do you conjure the work of God for someone who cries for it. For someone who deserves it. Her torn-up Bible vibrated in her too shaky hands. Those answers weren’t for her.
My friend told me I’m scary. Her body had fluctuated from sickly thin to an unhealthy pudge. Some mornings the walker, some the cane. But always a stumble away from not getting back up. She reminded everyone of our inevitable age, and our ignored mortality.
But is He saving me. Now. Staring boldly into my eyes. Holding back every tear. The only act of strength that she had left. Angry with God, and angry with me. Because I couldn’t help. And God wouldn’t help. And she had to suffer, just as He has said.
I want to die. But I’m still scared of death.