The sewing was supposed to help. Thimble therapy, some wise guy called it. Like it was that easy. Just make a pillow and be able to sleep at night. Sew a quilt and get rid of those cold shivers of guilt. Lisa went along with it only because she had no will to resist. Needle up, needle down…up, down, up, down. She supposed it was to keep her occupied more than anything. But even decades of that mindless up and down couldn’t erase what happened.
“Hi, Lisa!” Natalie peeked around the door with her usual cheerfulness. “I brought some different fabric this week. I thought we could work on a new quilt.”
“Sure,” Lisa answered, trying to sound interested. It was nice fabric, mostly blue. Blue was Tara’s favorite color. Natalie noticed her staring.
“Are you okay with this?” She paused. “Did Tara like blue?”
Lisa nodded, blinking.
“Lisa,” Natalie began, touching her hand, “I know what happened, but you’ve never opened up to me. Can we talk about it?”
She had been through all the denial and anger stages and now the depression had set in. So much so that she thought it would never leave.
“I, I shouldn’t have been there,” Lisa hesitated. “But she kept begging me to go and it seemed like no big deal.”
She nodded again. “It was raining, so we stayed longer…and I drank more. But not as much as Tara, so I had to drive home. It all happened so fast. I thought I was being careful, but the car ran off the road and I tried to get back on and…”
“Went into the other lane?” Natalie finished for her.
Lisa could feel the hot tears falling down her face. “We hit that truck and rolled over and over. I hurt so bad I could hardly move.” She paused, remembering. “But then I heard Tara.”
“You heard Tara? She was alive?”
She hadn’t told anyone before. It was just too horrible. Deep down, she kept hoping it was just a nightmare.
“What did she say?” Natalie pressed gently.
She looked up through her teary eyes at the counselor. “She was screaming. Not in pain…in fear.”
“Fear of what?”
“Not what, where. Where she was going.”
Natalie remained silent, barely breathing.
“She was going to Hell!” Lisa burst out. “She kept screaming for help, but I couldn’t help her! It was too late! I knew where she was going and I never said anything. I screamed back at her to pray, but she couldn’t hear me. She said they were dragging her down and she looked so scared!” She gasped for air, choking on her sobs.
“Then she just stopped and that was it. But it hasn’t stopped in my mind. I hear her screaming all the time! I see her eyes and I hear her… I can’t stop it!” Lisa fell onto Natalie’s shoulder, sobbing uncontrollably.
“Oh, honey, I didn’t know,” Natalie held her, silently, for what seemed like hours until she quieted down and simply sat, motionless.
Finally, Natalie spoke. “Can I show you something?” She took out a quilt square Lisa had made and laid it flat on her lap. “See this? It’s a piece of the puzzle. We take all these different pieces and put them together and stitch by stitch it turns into something useful and beautiful. But it sure doesn’t start out that way. It starts with scraps. Your life may feel like scraps right now. But in the hands of God, it’s a work of art waiting to happen. Yes, what happened was tragic and it may stay with you forever. But God forgives you and He can make something beautiful out of what you have. Who knows the lives you might touch through this experience…starting right here.”
Lisa wasn’t sure if it was the cry or Natalie’s words, but she felt a very faint, very small spark of hope deep, deep inside. It lasted only for a moment, but was very real. She hugged Natalie one last time. Natalie handed her the quilt square.
“Keep this. And remember what I said.”
Lisa held the quilt square as Natalie turned to leave. She held it down the long hallway and up the stairs. She sat holding it on her bed as the door to her cell was closed and locked. Maybe tonight she would be able to sleep after all.
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