Loretta enunciated when she spoke. Really enunciated. Each, syl-la-ble was carefully molded by lips and teeth and tongue so that the listener could better grasp her meaning. She wrote in all CAPS, all the time, so that the reader wouldn’t miss anything important.
If she took the time to write something down, it was important.
And when she dressed for an occasion, look out. If ever gold, glitter, or bold print was seen traveling across a room, one could be certain Loretta was the engine beneath it. In summer she had the smallest bikini and the largest blanket on the beach.
What was the point in living, she wondered, if she couldn’t affect someone?
What statement was she making now, she wondered, surrounded by second graders on a field trip to Orton Park?
Teaching was never on her career options list. She always imagined a career as a supermodel or sword swallower, or maybe editor-in-chief of a conspiracy theorist newsletter. Something colorful.
That familiar tension was back in her shoulders, the knot that grew and tightened whenever she let her mind wander to the dead end her life had become. She should be someone by now. People should be chanting her name, or at the very least lining up to meet her.
Loretta sighed. The only time her name was chanted was in a small voice from a child that had to use the bathroom. The only people who wanted to meet her, parents looking for assurance that their child was brilliant.
She slid her backpack from her shoulders and turned to face her life. “Okay, kids, we’ll stop here.”
She directed her class to sit in a semi-circle on the grass as she breathed in the crisp scent of warm earth and decaying leaves. Loretta didn’t know exactly what she would have them do with the leaves they had collected the last hour, but autumn was her favorite season and if she had to be stuck teaching a bunch of children, why not take advantage of the weather?
“Take out your lunches,” she said.
They needed no further instruction as they tore into their brown bags and applied themselves to the messy business of lunch.
Loretta ripped her own brown bag down the side and spread it open in lieu of a tablecloth, then took her sandwich from its plastic wrapper. Bowing her head, she silently blessed her food.
As she looked up, she noticed Abigail Miller, eyes closed, small lips moving in an inaudible, “Thank you, Jesus.” She’d never seen her do that before.
Loretta heard the voice of the Holy Spirit as clearly as if it had been whispered in her ear.
She watches. She sees.
Tears welled in Loretta’s eyes as the voice of God ministered to her and she had to turn away so the children wouldn’t see her cry. With her back to them, she wiped the tears away with the back of her hand and looked up just as a bird arrowed by, a blue flash that drew her attention to the forest.
Suddenly humbled and awed, she viewed her surroundings with new eyes. As she drank in the colors of the trees, the sloping hillsides and rippling stream, she saw her life with new understanding.
It was possible God’s plan for her life was better than her own dreams and fantasies, that while she was waiting to make something of herself, He was already using her to affect someone, in ways she hadn’t foreseen.
All subtle, all quiet, all unexpected.
Before turning back to her children, she repeated Abigail’s prayer. “Thank You, Jesus.”
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