Snow fell in thick blankets and covered the street, cars, and buildings within minutes. The fresh white powder reflected the light from the streetlamps and it looked as bright as day. Cecily watched from the shadows of the alley where she had tucked away to shelter from the wind. Peaceful. Like a Christmas card, she thought.
She leaned against a rough brick wall and closed her eyes. Her hands rubbed over her belly without any prompt from her thoughts.
“What do we do now, sweet one?” she whispered.
What would she do now? Was it just a few weeks ago that she found out? Once Marcus discovered the pregnancy, he dragged her to the clinic nearby. One of those that ignored what he was, what she did. No questions. Marcus told her to get rid of it quickly. But in that room, after she had dressed in the thin green paper gown they had for patients, she couldn’t. There was no way to tell who the father was, no way she could provide any kind of life for the child. It would die on the streets with her. Marcus wouldn’t help her. No one would help her. Wasn’t it better to keep this innocent from suffering? That’s what Marcus told her.
But she couldn’t do it, and so she ran. She ran without knowing where to go. That had been hours ago. The thin green paper gown gave no protection against the snow and the wind and the cold. The bitter cold. Feeling left her bare feet some time ago. She wasn’t sure when she had stopped shivering. It struck her as funny that her fingers could still feel her belly.
Light washed over her still closed eyes and her heart froze. Had Marcus found her? Cecily held her breath and waited, but there was no sound of footsteps. No voice called to her. Slowly, her eyes opened and she turned her head upward. A star, the biggest star she had ever seen, shone in the sky and Cecily let out the held breath in one long exhale of awe.
A warmth filled her as she stared into the sky. Her hands reached toward it on their own accord and she could feel the light like heat from a candle flame held close. As she reached, her eyes drifted down to the street. Across from the alley stood a large church. Light shone warm and bright from its large windows and open door. She had to smile because it looked like it smiled.
An old, white bus stood parked a few feet away and a small woman stood in the doorway of the church and greeted a procession of people as they entered. No, they were all women. Blankets draped over their shoulders and they all walked with the posture of defeat and death. Women she knew. Or, women she had seen enough times walking the same paths she walked.
Cecily found herself at the end of the line before she knew her feet had begun to move. In a breath of time, the woman at the door covered her Cecily’s hands in warm, soft hands.
“Oh, child, where have you come from?” the woman’s voice was warm and soft like her hands, but aged.
Cecily looked into dark brown eyes that held a depth of years and wisdom. And hope. Eyes that spoke to her of knowledge of deep pain and defeat and death, but of a hope and joy and peace that covered over all else. Her face was dark and creased with age and the world, and Cecily thought of her grandma.
“Come, we must get you into something warm. I am Maria.” It was then that Cecily caught the accent, but she couldn’t place it. Island. Maybe Haitian? She had friends in her old neighborhood from Haiti, but she wasn’t sure.
“My baby…” Cecily managed to whisper.
Maria wrapped her arms around Cecily and walked her inside, and closed the door behind them. “I know child, I know. Don’t you worry now. We’ll take care of the both of you. I promise you that. You’re safe here.”
And Cecily believed her. For the first time in a long time, she found that she could believe someone. She was safe. Safe from Marcus. Safe from the streets. Safe from a life that had strangled her for so long now.
Her eyes fell on a Nativity off to the left of the entrance. Shepherds and sheep surrounded the stable where a man and woman knelt before a manger. A baby lay there. A baby that came to save all mankind.
For the first time, Cecily understood. A baby that came to save the world.
She ran her hands over her belly, and the baby that came and saved her.
Happy Story Monday! I’m sorry for an off week last week. The only post I made was a repost, and then I was absent for the rest of the week. Hope you all had an enjoyable week, and I’m glad to be back.
It’s nearly Christmas now, and I’m trying to not let the insanity overwhelm the magic. Hope to keep my eyes on why I celebrate and on my family and all the important things. It can be difficult, but well worth the effort. I hope this holiday season is going well with all of you. I would love to hear about it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Together, maybe we can make it a magical one for all of us.
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