They were coming. It was as certain as her heart leaping against her ribs. They were coming. The mere thought sent goose bumps prickling down her forearms. Like the grips of a vise, fear threatened to crush her mind. There was nothing more she could do. They were coming. She had been warned.
Hannah stood under the street sign, peering around, listening for footfalls. The silent darkness refused to reveal its secrets. Hearing nothing, she continued along the cloistered alleyway. A violent shiver rocked her tiny shoulders. This was something she had to do alone. She had seen those awful boys before.
Hannah paused, pushing her sweaty palms into her pockets. She could barely discern the words “Grace Street” under the streetlight. No sign of them. The boys said they were going to do things to her, unspeakable things. Maybe they had forgotten.
Suddenly the silence cracked with the sound of breaking branches. A chorus of whoops and shouts pierced the air.
"Get her, boys!"
With her heart pounding like a frantic bird in a cage, Hannah bolted. A tangle of arms and legs enveloped her as she tumbled onto the street, the jagged stones ripping her flesh. Hannah kicked wildly as she sagged beneath their weight. Choking and gagging she fell prone on the pavement, the smell of blood and dirt filling her nostrils. The boys’ bodies shook like thunder as the last seconds of her childhood slipped away. Every pore in her body screamed in protest as they took what wasn’t theirs.
Then a voice, almost a whisper, “I am here.”
Sweet relief, she was not alone. Hannah squinted, but she could see no one save her attackers in the darkness.
“I am here,” boomed the voice in the night.
Moaning through a haze of pain, Hannah raised her head. Sensing danger, the boys tossed her aside like a broken plaything and fled. Thrust under a thorn bush, Hannah’s senses spun into the blackness. Surely her rescuer would come. Whimpering in the silence, she listened for the voice. She had almost given up hope when a man appeared.
“You are mine,” he proclaimed.
Falling into the arms of oblivion, Hannah’s eyes met the face of her Savior.
“Jesus,” she muttered.
As nothingness came, an overwhelming sense of calm touched her soul. All she had ever known or would come to know was etched in Jesus’s face. She wanted nothing, needed nothing as long as she was wrapped in His embrace. Gazing into His eyes, she longed for eternity.
Hannah coughed, the warm taste of blood filling her mouth. Her head throbbed with pain as sirens wailed in the night. Fighting for consciousness, her eyes clouded with tears. They were coming. Help was coming. Suddenly Hannah’s face brightened, her broken lips cracking a peaceful smile. In one beautiful and terrible night she had experienced enough of God’s grace to last a lifetime. Until her dying breath, she would tell the world that His love was real.
Hannah trembled as the sirens grew closer. She raised her hand like a shield against the pulsing lights. As the policeman kneeled beside her, she knew there wasn’t a moment to lose. Clutching his collar, she pressed her lips against his ear. Alone in the darkness her touch felt urgent, pleading.
With her eyes fixed intently on his face she whispered, “Jesus loves you.”
Wiping away tears with the back of his hand, the officer stroked Hannah’s matted hair. As his fingers touched her scalp, heat radiated throughout his body. Startled, he backed away. Tilting his head to one side, he considered Hannah’s ravaged frame. Something about her was strange, very strange.
He glanced up at the street sign. Barely believing his eyes, he shuddered as the heat filled him again. He resisted the urge to touch Hannah one last time. As the paramedics wheeled her away, the officer stood alone consumed by his thoughts. The events of the night whirled in his mind. Shaking his head, he walked back to his patrol car. No matter how long he lived he would remember that girl. The warmth of her touch moved him, freed him. As the fire of the Holy Spirit filled his soul, he would forever live the miracle of Grace Street.
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