David leaned his head back on the seat of the car, the impact of the last few minutes sinking in.
In the passenger seat, his sister A.J. rubs her aching arms, coming to grips with seeing her little girl for the first time in four years.
"Why didn't you tell me before?" David's tone is filled with love, lacking judgment.
The question went unanswered as Mrs. Cline approached the car still parked in front of her house. Tears streaming down her cheeks, she opened the car door, kneeling to look into A.J.'s ashen face.
"Oh love, we didn’t know," Mrs. Cline said quietly. "The night we found that sweet baby girl on our porch began the happiest period of our lives. The adoption process took a year, but Rose was finally ours. We've been overwhelmed with joy since."
A.J. held her aching arms. How often they ached after that night! She thought it was God's punishment for what she had done. Now, with a second chance at life, she knew better.
"I'm sorry," A.J. chokes out, unable to believe this moment has finally come. "I'm so, so sorry."
Only the fire-born understands the color blue. A.J.'s mind sinks back to a time she can barely remember, yet can never forget...
"Push!" the command given by Maggie is sharp but indifferent. She curses under her breath. This is not the first street kid's baby she has delivered in her living room.
A.J.'s fourteen-year-old heart is pounding, struggling to produce a life she knows she will not be part of. She lost consciousness, not knowledgeable if the baby was born or not. Boy or girl. She just hopes to never wake again in this world.
Icy water brought A.J. back to the pain. "Wake up! Take this brat and leave. I don't want the cops or social worker finding you here."
Collecting her muddled thoughts, A.J. finds herself staring at a tiny face. Wrapped in a blue blanket, Maggie had tucked the newborn in a moldy basket, holding it out to A.J.
Maggie was agitated. "I know for girls you do pink, but all I have is this blue thing."
A.J. eyes are drawn to the blanket.
Only the fire-born understands the color blue. A.J. cannot remember where she heard it, but in this moment, she knew exactly what it meant.
Get to the Cline’s, she tells herself, they’ll take care of her.
The light in the foster home she ran away from two years prior is burning bright as A.J. creeps onto the front porch. She had only spent a brief few days there after her mother died.
Setting the basket down, A.J.’s eyes are suddenly riveted to the sleeping newborn's face.
Her arms begin to ache fiercely. Hold her, a voice whispered, just once.
Trembling violently, A.J. shook her head. God was trying to reach her. But she cannot let go of the bitterness, the anger controlling her. If she holds her daughter for even a moment, her resolve melts, and the pain becomes unbearable.
Blue is the hottest part of any fire; and A.J. feels it burning her alive.
Panicking, A.J. runs away half mad, her baby's cry chasing her through the night.
"Mommy?" the voice calling to Mrs. Cline snaps A.J. back to the present. At the single word from her own daughter's lips, A.J. feels the burning sensation engulf her.
Mrs. Cline took Rose's hand. Rose is cautious after David and A.J.'s abrupt exit minutes before. "It's okay sweetie." Mrs. Cline's words relax the little girl as she stares at A.J.
"You wook sad. I brought you 'dis." The little girl offered A.J. a beautiful red rose.
Heart wrenching and breathing in gasps, A.J. pulls back further. David's gentle hand is the only thing preventing her scream. Defying the impossible, the blue heat intensifies.
"Hold her, A.J.," Mrs. Cline breathed softly. "It's okay. She's sweet, but strong; like you."
Arms aching and the blue flames about to consume her, A.J. prays desperately.
Reaching out slowly, A.J. is certain Rose will recoil at her touch.
Surprisingly, the child moved closer and leaned contently into A.J.'s embrace. Immediately, the ache in her arms is relieved. A flood of emotions fill A.J.’s being. The pain is overwhelming, but A.J. knows she will survive. She will heal. Rose will heal.
Only the fire-born understands the color blue, A.J. thought tearfully, but only a follower of Jesus understands being carried through even the bluest part of the fire.
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