Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Ohhh…. (02/04/10)
TITLE: Ruth's Story
By Patricia Turner
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Behind her, two pairs of eyes watched her go: one in a young face filled with uncertainty and apprehension; the other in an older face softened by suffering, filled with kindness and understanding.
Breaking an embarrassed silence, Amy looked at Ruth. “Are you sure? Is this the right thing for me to do?”
Ruth sat down on the bed, touching the young woman’s arm gently. “I’ll tell you a story. It’s true,” she began. “Years ago my daughter became pregnant. I told her ‘Just go get yourself an abortion…’”
Down the hall Lynda sat with a cup of coffee, dialing her cell phone. “Is this the front desk? I’d like to speak to someone in administration,” each word snapped out as if she was firing gunshots.
“…but she didn’t,” the story continued. “And you know what? She had the most beautiful little girl: blonde curls and blue eyes: Shelly. One day I was keeping Shelly and became preoccupied. I was doing mailings for Planned Parenthood; in spite of the evidence before my own eyes.”
Lynda lit a cigarette, holding it in the V formed by two fingers. “What do you mean they’re closed? It’s 4:30 in the afternoon! There’s no one I can talk to?” She took a deep drag. “Thank you,” she snarled.
“Shelly was still crawling but was pulling up on things. I had this coffee table with a mirrored glass top. The TV was on and I didn’t hear her at first…”
The cell phone snapped shut and the stilettos clicked back along the corridor.
“I turned around too late. Just out of the corner of my eye, I saw that glass top tipping up, ever so slowly it seemed, but no way was I going to reach Shelly in time. I saw the glass begin to shatter and my baby Shelly underneath it all.”
The stilettos had come to a stop, unnoticed.
“I ran to her, grabbing her up just in time, and the table top settled back down again, all in one piece. But Amy, what I saw as it rose over my baby granddaughter’s head, was the reflection from the TV. The image was a fully-formed infant in the womb. The baby was trying to get away from a pair of scissors, its tiny mouth open in a silent scream: that’s what they called the commercial. It was that helpless baby that I saw in my mind’s eye being ripped apart. It didn’t take long for the PP folks and their political cronies to get the ad pulled off TV. But it was a real paradigm shift for me. I was done with them even before that.”
Lynda stood motionless outside the hospital room holding her stomach. She thought she’d retch up her coffee.
“Ohhh...! Dear God, no! Oh no! Oh…God help me, no!” Great sobs of agony poured out of a heart beginning at long last to yield just a little. Tears slid down Lynda’s face. What she’d heard of Ruth’s story ripped something loose inside of her; something deep she’d thought buried forever.
Amy heard her. “Mama, what’s wrong?”
It took a few moments.
“Oh, Amy; I’m sorry. I was so young. It was before you were born. You would have…had a sister or a brother honey. I was... just too young. I thought... I had no choices.”
Ruth dropped her gaze, praying for both of them.
“No choices. But that’s not true. It’s not true at all, is it Ruth?” Lynda turned toward her. What you said...I’ve been so blind, and so selfish. I was even willing to let Amy make the same mistake, to feel the same sense of pain and loss I forced myself to try to forget. I’m so glad you didn’t lose your granddaughter Ruth. I’m so sorry for what I said earlier. Can you possibly forgive me, both of you?”
Ruth looked up and smiled. No judgment at all in her smiling eyes; but a sweet look that spoke only of compassion and forgiveness.
Taking Lynda’s hand Ruth looked into her pain-filled eyes. “As I myself have been forgiven Lynda...as I have been forgiven.” she smiled.
“Oh Mama, I love you so much!” murmured Amy, throwing her arms around her Mama.
<i> from a true story... </i>
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