Somewhere in the cell a tiny creature skittered. Mi woke and opened her swollen eyes. Wherever the creature was, it was not venturing close to where she lay. She had learned long ago to slumber in the half-conscious world so that there would not be painful surprises. A bite from a rat could fester and cause slow death.
Shivering, Mi tried to cover her legs with the thin blanket. From the murky light probing the darkness, she judged that the guards would soon be coming to the cells. With each of their visits, she feared that she would not have the courage to stand strong.
Prison life was unpredictable. Would she be forced outside to move bricks from one end of the prison yard to the other or be dragged from the cell to be beaten? She did not know which was worse.
The forced labor made every muscle in her body scream in pain by nightfall. After only a few hours of work she could no longer think of the special words that would sustain her. Her focus instead switched to keeping her dusty feet moving and the bricks in the dual slings around her shoulders from shifting position and falling to the ground. If a brick fell she would be made to carry double the load.
The beatings she received were harsh. Though she did not have a mirror, she knew that her face was still bloody and bruised from the last time. She also realized that something inside was seriously injured. Both hard labor and beatings were designed to break the spirit and re-educate the mind.
Until now, Mi had responded to neither. This dawn, a voice inside her whimpered, "No more!"
The voice became one of temptation probing her mind with questions.
“Why don’t you just say what they want you to say? Why do you cling to this Lord that has forsaken you? How much more can you endure?”
“No more!” she whispered. “Where are You, Lord? You promised You would be with me wherever I was and whatever happened. I have remained faithful to You.”
Mi heard the sounds of cell doors opening and closing and feet shuffling in the passageway. She shuddered.
“Please, Lord, show me You are here! Deliver me!” she gasped.
Then out of the corner of her eye she glimpsed a white delicate thing flutter from the ceiling to the floor beside her feet. She reached out to examine it and gasped with the pain in her abdomen.
What she thought might have been a butterfly was a snowy white piece of paper folded once. Opening it, Mi found it to be cut in the shape of a heart with words printed in its center.
With tears, Mi read, “Faithful daughter, I love you. Prepare to meet Me. Let your joy be complete.”
The cell door opened and the guard shouted a command. Striding toward Mi and gripping her wrist, he attempted to pull her to her feet, but she hung limply in his grasp. He grunted and left the cell. A crumpled piece of snowy white paper, a Valentine from the Master, lay beside Mi’s lifeless body.
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