It was the perfect spot in which to hide-away for a few days and take stock of her life. Her friends had booked the secluded log cabin and even offered to pay and she had humbly accepted. She was glad now that she had.
She pulled her chair near to the opened French doors and tied the curtains back. The cabin was perched on the edge of a plateau, beneath which plunged a heavily treed valley, giving the impression that she was sitting amongst the treetops. Across the opposite side of the valley, sitting atop a similar plateau, the mountain rose like a transplanted Egyptian pyramid. Clouds played lazily across its face, flitting away from the setting sun. Later the sky would be studded with a million stars, each one a reminder to her of the Creator who had hung them there for all to see.
A previous occupant had thoughtfully placed kindling and paper in the fireplace and on the deck someone had stacked enough firewood to last throughout the remainder of the winter – if she wanted to stay that long. She struck a match to light the fire and knew immediately that she had made a mistake.
Certain things had always brought the memories rushing back. The striking of a match. The smell of oil and grease and sweat mingled together. The feel of cold damp bricks. A young child crying. Earth beneath her nails. A checked flannel shirt. Stale breath against her cheek. The taste of blood. A whisper in the dark.
She groped her way to the chair: vision blurring, body trembling, tension eating away at her insides. She drew her legs to her chest and was transported back to a time when secrets and hidden retreats were a part of the joys of childhood. Until someone had whispered in her ear.
“This will be our secret. Just our little secret. We won’t tell anyone will we? Just our secret then no one can spoil it.”
She fought back the bile as it rose in her throat. Not now, please God, not now.
The memories continued to wash over her and she shuddered in fear. It was starting again. Just when she thought she’d put it all behind her, it was starting all over again.
She lifted her eyes to the sky above and wanted to yell.
“Where were you God when all this was happening? Why didn’t you care? Why weren’t you there?”
The answer was a gentle caress intended to soothe her soul.
“I was there my child. I was there all along. When you were hurting, I hurt too. When you cried, I cried too.”
She clawed at the armrest on her chair.
“Why did you let it happen?” she screamed silently. “I knew you even as a child. You say You love me. Why didn’t You stop it?”
And again that still gentle voice: the voice that she had shut out for so many years. There was no shutting it out this time.
“You never asked. I was there waiting for you to call out to Me, but you never did.”
The answer stunned her. She remembered how she had lain awake at night and sobbed into her pillow trying to devise schemes to avoid what was happening to her. She’d tried running away, had even thought of dying, but there had been no escape. Even today, there was no escaping.
Again the words floated to her on the breeze.
“I was waiting child. Waiting for you to ask Me.”
She dropped to her knees. Her heart cried out the words that her lips could not utter.
“Help me now. I can’t take any more. Please. Don’t leave me alone. Help me now.”
She lay there as the sky outside darkened. The mountain gleaming white against the gathering gloom and the trees whispering happy secrets to one another. How long she lay there she did not know, but when she rose she felt a joyfulness and a sense of innocent trust that she had not experienced since that first terrible night when they had been stolen from her.
She rose, struck a match, and settled back in her chair to enjoy the flickering flames that teased the darkness and knew she was blanketed in love.
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