“Get out!” The shopkeeper approached and lifted his arm to cuff her on the head.
Eleven year old Ruby skittered through the doorway and onto the cobblestoned road. A passing carriage splashed muddy water onto her woolen leggings. She barely felt its iciness seeping into the holes of her shoes.
The hot tears at the corners of her eyes threatened to roll in torrents down her cheeks, but her stubbornness wouldn’t allow them to go any further. An inward turmoil of confusion and despair invaded her senses until she just stopped and stood.
‘What shall I do to get milk for the baby? I have nothing left except this lace hankie to trade.”
Her mother had been a lady…a real Lady. She told of times of plenty; harvests, balls and abundance. Fancy clothes and perfume were normal. Food piled upon tables that guests would eat for hours or days. She had many suitors, many opportunities.
But that was long ago. Things happen. Things that set her teeth on edge to think it was all lost and given up for a man who turned out to be worthless. Men! What are they good for?
So lost in her thoughts, Ruby hadn’t noticed the man leaning against the lamp post watching her. Most people would just pass him by, thinking him ordinary and of no importance.
Ruby realized she stood in the middle of the road and saw the stranger’s gaze. Tossing her head a little to gain some composure, she turned away and crossed to the opposite side of the street. Her stiff little frame hustled down the sidewalk to distance herself from any danger.
She turned a corner and paused in a darkened doorway. Moments passed and so did other people, but not the stranger. Breathing a sigh of relief, she stepped out to continue her walk home.
The stranger stood in her way with his palm outstretched as if to help her.
“Get away!” she cried hoping that someone would come to her rescue.
“I’m not here to harm you. I’m here to help you.”
“What help can a man be to me? I know all about men. They lie, get what they want and then they leave.”
“I’m not going to lie to you. I can’t stay long but I would like to give you a gift.”
“You don’t know who I am!”
“You are a young girl who has piled the world upon thin little shoulders. You have need of something that seems impossible to you.”
“Yes, I do want something. I want a nice home, a father who loves my baby brother, me and my mother. I want us not to want.” Her desire tore from her heart as a sob.
“Let me explain. Did anyone ever tell you that before something becomes a reality, it has to be a possibility?”
“You mean that if I think it could happen, it will?”
Smiling, he said “Not in the way of magic, but in the way of belief.”
Her eyes widened at the understanding that invaded her thoughts. “Believing makes things come true?”
“Yes and I believe that you will have what you desire.”
“Show me how to believe.”
“Let me tell you a story. There once was a man who walked the streets of Need. He searched to find people to hear his story of Promise. Promise was the next town where people lived on a street named Plenty. Many people listened, but turned away from him because it would be too hard to move. They lacked desire. Finally, the day came for him to leave and he gathered those who believed in more. They moved to the land of Promise and left Need behind. They believed what they had never seen. They believed a possibility and it became their reality.”
“Oh, I would like to live in Promise with my family” she cried. “I wouldn’t have to beg for bread anymore!”
“Yes, you will live in Promise. Just believe.”
When Ruby arrived home, her mother met her at the door. In her hands were three containers of milk. “Look Ruby, a neighbor came by with these” she exclaimed. “How can this be?”
Ruby smiled the first smile in a long time and of many more to come. “Oh, momma. It’s because I believed!”
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