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Hi all, this is a fiction piece about redemption and forgiveness. It is for an adult Christian audience.
Grace knew exactly what had brought her to the brink, to that moment when everything that had been before no longer existed. She didn't care, though flashes of the past two years skidded through her mind, she struck through every thought with one word, Forgiven. As she walked down her street for the last time in her flimsy, revealing dress, she saw those hungry, empty eyes of the men she passed. She knew what they thought, she had always known since that first numbing encounter in a dark alley on a day just like this. It had burned itself into her memory. Afterwards, they had dragged her off half-dead and sold her to a pimp.
Johnny was good to her while she was bruised and broken; he took away the pain, until she forgot her past and clung only to him. He bought her rings and bracelets, fake furs and changed her hair to red; he named her Scarlet.
Just when she thought how lucky she was, he brought a whore home late one night. By morning, Scarlet understood who Johnny was. She felt like a bird caught in a thicket, now locked into a cage.
To hide from the ugliness of her life, her thoughts escaped often to the patch of white daisies blooming on a sloping hill behind her childhood home. Birds nesting in a willow tree sang for her and sometimes she would hear their songs breathed softly through her lips.
The old, homeless woman that pushed her half-filled cart down Scarlet’s street day after day had caught Johnny's eyes and made him mad. Scarlet had tried to warn her to stay away, to take another route to the mission, but she'd waved her hand and grinned. "I'll be back."
Scarlet didn't see her for a few days. On a drizzling afternoon, she stole away and searched the surrounding alleys close to the mission. An open hand stuck out from under a large piece of cardboard near a dumpster. Scarlet gasped when she saw the old woman’s gnarled hand.
Terror gripped her at the thought of Johnny. She knew he could kill. Frightened, she ran to the back door of the mission. Max, a man, with soft gray hair and kindly eyes let her in.
It was days after Johnny's arrest and confession, that Scarlet took her first, freeing breaths. Max had stood by her through the investigation. He had offered her a simple dress to look respectable, and helped her testimony.
Scarlet sat alone at dinner, in a remote corner of the mission dining room, when Max passed by. She called him over. "Come sit by me."
"I will Scarlet, just let me fill my plate."
"Don't call me Scarlet, Max, my name is Grace Crane," she said when he sat down. He smiled and nodded his head.
"Tomorrow is Sunday, Grace, feel like going to services?"
Grace' hand trembled when she laid her fork next to her plate. When she looked up at him, she smiled. "Sure Max, I will, if you'll go with me."
On Sunday, services ended and sinners walked the aisle. Jesus had died for all her sins. It was as if an unseen hand took hold of hers and led her to the altar. She suddenly knew she was born again; all things were new and all her sins had been forgiven.
When Max arrived at the mission the next morning, he was given a package containing the dress he had bought Scarlet and a note of thanks, "Dear Max, keep the dress for the next girl that knocks on your door. I'm going home just as I am. Forever, Grace."
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