An unenthusiastic hand reached out from underneath the faded blanket and plopped onto the vintage 1970s radio-alarm clock. Ted momentarily pondered its off-key and out-of-sync Blarp Blarp Blarp Blarp; apparently the "indefatigable electronics" of the Systema AlarmPro were finally growing tired.
Ted forced his body to a sitting position. The springs of the once-orthodpaedic-support mattress sproinged and pinged in their sagging coccoon of flattened fibres and threadbare orange material. "Yeah, you and me both."
You look tired.
"What gave it away; the dark bags under my eyes?"
What I meant was, you seem . . . despondent. I'm worried about you.
"So am I." Ted paused, looking for the right words. "Remember when we started this project? So full of energy, of hopes and dreams for the youth of this area. We were going to make a difference. Fourteen years later, what have we to show for it? Crime is rampant, school attendance is lower than ever. Not to mention the countless young girls we've had to counsel through unwanted pregnancies. The latest was only thirteen years old; raped and left fearing for her life if she dared speak of it to anyone. Now she's facing a lifetime of regret. It just feels as if we haven't made a scrap of difference here. I am so tired of trying to fight for these kids. I simply don't have anything left in me to give. I am done. It's time to call it." Ted stared blankly into the mirror ahead, suddenly and acutely aware he'd been thinking this for some time; tears glistened on his cheeks.
Ted, do you remember when Casey asked you to fix her toy piano? It simply needed its batteries changed and you figured you'd have it done in minutes. Two hours later you were ready to throw that piano in the bin and buy a new one. Do you remember?
"Yeah, the screws wouldn't come out of the back panel. Actually, it was just that one in the top left corner that would not budge."
You used every muscle you had to get that screw to turn, but it was useless. It'd been done up too tight and wouldn't move. Having stormed off in a huff, you managed to calm down and decided to give it one last try. Taking the screwdriver in your hand, you gently placed it in the groove and turned, and the screw came straight out.
"Yeah, I'd been pressing so hard I was actually stopping it from moving. Funny, I'd forgotten about that."
Ted, we are so close to opening this area up and replacing their run-down batteries. We just need to lay off a bit, 'chill out' . . . yes, I know you hate being told that, but in this instance it's spot on. You are running yourself into the ground, trying to fix everyone and be everything to all people. It's time for change, for sure; but not the change you are contemplating. These kids need you, the community needs you. You've made more of an impact than you know; if you stop now, all of that will be for nothing whatsoever.
" I just hate seeing them in so much pain, rehashing the same mistakes over and over. . ."
Yes, that's true, some of them are making monumental stuff-ups and having to live with some tragic consequences. But Ted, if we aren't around to help them, who will be? Think about how many have come through our facility completely broken, with no hope remaining, and left smiling, know God loves them and is on their side? They far outweigh the so-called 'failures' of those who don't stay. They are the inspiration you need to keep on trying.
Ted closed his eyes and felt a flood of peace wash over his body and mind. He was still mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, but for the first time in a long time he had hope for the future of this small outback community. Rising from the bed Ted grabbed his robe and headed out to the kitchen to see his wife.
"Honey, I've been thinking; how does a holiday sound to you?"
Rebecca took Ted's hand in hers, "No complaints here. Yeah, it'd be nice to change the old batteries wouldn't it?"
"What made you say that?"
Rebecca looked puzzled, "I don't really know, it just popped out. Why? Have you been talking to yourself again? I told you if you get answers it's a sign your crazy."
Ted smiled to himself, "If only you knew. . ."
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