Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Billboard/Poster/Sign (any or all) (12/02/10)
TITLE: The Woman On The Platform
By Dolores Stohler
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Even while she was hurrying to meet Ben’s train, she’d had doubts that he would ever show up. After all, he’d broken promises to her before. But she’d prayed with all her heart that he‘d come tonight. “Please God, let him come. I need him so bad.”
A light snow began to fall and Beth realized she couldn’t wait much longer. The wet snow tickled her nose and ran down her cheeks, mingling with tears of despair. She began a slow walk towards the end of the train platform, head down, kicking at the snow with her sneakers. Here she was, 17 years old, unwed and pregnant with her first child, but no one to care. She’d kept her secret from her mom, so afraid of what her reaction might be.
“Poor Mom,” she thought, “I know she’s saved for years to send me to college. She’s worked hard to care for me since Dad died. Now it looks as though she’ll have another burden on her hands. What can I say to her? Hi Mom, here’s your Christmas present. Your first grandchild, ho, ho.” She said the last words out loud, ringing with bitterness.
Her eyes caught sight of a billboard at the end of the platform and she stopped and stared at it. The picture showed a manger scene with the words “Why believe in Christmas?” It’s only a myth.”
Surely not,” breathed Beth. She recalled all the Christmas programs she’d been part of over the years and all the magic of that special holiday.
Then she began to question. “Suppose it’s true. If there’s no God it wouldn’t matter if I had an abortion, would it? I wouldn’t have to tell Mom and I could go to college next year and everything would be the same as it was before.” Thinking about it brought some relief and she began to smile slyly to herself, planning what she would do to end the life that was growing inside her.
Suddenly she became aware of a stranger next to her. The woman examined the poster with disdain. “Disgraceful, isn’t it? How dare they erect this sign before Christmas, the most wonderful day of the year!”
“It’s not so wonderful when you’ve nothing to look forward to, nothing to be happy about,” Beth heard herself saying.
“What’s that, child? The birth of a savior not wonderful? Why, the birth of any new babe is something to celebrate any time of the year.”
“For some people maybe.” There was a catch in Beth’s throat as she said this. “Anyway, the thing isn’t really human in the beginning, I‘ve heard, just developing in the womb. Not until after it’s born and being cared for does it take on human thoughts and feelings.”
The woman, who was middle-aged, stared at Beth as if she were crazy. “Now who’s been telling you awful things like that, child? Here, I’ve got something in my purse that’ll prove to you how precious a newborn is.” She fished in her purse and came out with a small New Testament.
Opening it to the gospel of Luke, she held it out for Beth to see beneath the platform light, her finger on Luke 1:15: “He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb,” the woman read aloud. “That’s what they said about John the Baptist. Now let’s see what else they said about this unborn child. She turned to Luke 1:41 and read: “when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Beth was struck with awe at the words. “My name is Elizabeth, too,” she whispered, her mind beginning to fill with dreams of what her unborn child might become. “Why this changes everything.”
Beth hurried towards the staircase leading to the street, eager now to talk with her mom. Then she remembered to thank the woman on the platform and turned to do so. But the platform was empty and she was standing in front of the only exit. A bright star twinkled above her.
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