Sixteen year old Janie Petrovski sat in her sixth period class at North Belton High and stared out of the window. She could not concentrate. Her life was falling apart. Her dad had started drinking again and going home was like spending the night in hell. Her mother was crying all the time and making dumb excuses for the cuts and bruises that kept showing up on her face and arms. Her brother, Bobby, was missing in action somewhere in Vietnam. And now this.
She was pretty sure she was pregnant. Her best friend, Sally Martin, had told her about a doctor that could "take care of that" and wouldn't ask any questions. But she was scared. Very scared. She sat staring out the window, wondering why it couldn't be her that was MIA in Vietnam. Or anywhere other than Belton, Iowa in 1965. She touched her stomach, still flat as a board and looked back out the window.
"Miss Petrovski, would you care to join us in this discussion?" her teacher asked sharply, jolting her out of her daze. The bell rang and saved her from having to answer. She quickly gathered her books up and headed for her locker. Sally was waiting for her there and slipped a piece of torn notebook paper into Janie's hand.
"Here's the address", she half whispered. "It's forty-five dollars...cash. Do you have it?"
Janie held the scrap of paper loosely in her hand and nodded that she did. But she still wasn't sure she could go through with it. She just said, "thanks" and headed out into the cold autumn air to the bus stop.
The bus stop was in front of the school, directly across from an old warehouse. The building was three stories tall and obviously abandoned. The windows that were not broken were so dirty that you could not see through them. She thought it could be a reflection of herself, the way she felt ...dirty and broken. She looked up and prayed for God to help her.
Suddenly she thought she saw a woman looking at her from one of the warehouse windows. She decided she was loosing it and then...she saw her again. She was looking right at her from the third floor window and had copper colored red hair. Then, just as suddenly... the lady was gone.
She realized that the warehouse could be seen from her sixth period class. So she made a point the next day to look for her. She didn't really expect to see anything...but she looked anyway, and there she was.
As she continued to watch, she saw the mysterious lady drag a finger through the dirty window, vertically and then horizontally...forming a cross. That was the day, Janie Petrovski broke down and cried right there in class. And that was the day she made her decision.
Belton, Iowa - 2006
Dr. Holly Shelton was excited to be moving into her new condo. She looked around her at the exposed brick and hardwood floors that had been part of the former warehouse and thought how fortunate she was to get it. It was close to the hospital and she would be able to zip back and forth quickly to attend to her patients and her AIDS research. So much progress had been made. It was exciting. They were so close to a cure.
She walked to the window of her new third floor loft and looked across the street at the old abandoned highschool. She wondered, just for a moment if that was where her mother had gone to school. She knew she had been adopted and loved her parents dearly. But that curiosity about her birth mother was still with her. She reached up and brushed a strand of red hair back from her face and thought she saw a teen-age girl looking back at her. When she looked again, the girl was gone. She closed her eyes and said a prayer for the young woman that had given her life. For the mother she would not know on this earth...but in heaven. With one manicured finger, she drew a simple, invisible cross on the window and whispered, "Lord, help her with whatever it is she needs right now...amen."
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