(not my picture, googled)
She was young, had her whole life ahead of her. But on that day, as she walked home the 5 miles from school, rather than be made fun of on the bus, she made a decision. She’d been thinking about it for weeks. Just ending it all. She couldn’t take it anymore. She had two miles to go, before she had to walk through that door one more time and endure it, again. Then she would go to her room, and slash her wrists all the way through this time. She was done. He wouldn’t stop; her mother didn’t care: she was done. Fuck that, she decided right then, as she stumbled over a tuft of grass; kicking at it…I’ll just go in the garage and get the box cutter, maybe head down to the river instead. Fuck him. Fuck this life. I swear, God, I’m done. You will just have to forgive me, like Sarah says you always do. Course, she also said we aren’t supposed to kill. It’s one of the biggies, so shit, fuck it!
She walked on slowly in the grass along side the road, head down, shoulders drooping, backpack hanging from the strap she held in her right hand. No thumb out to hitchhike, she just trudged on, slowly, hoping he was at the store or something. Anywhere but at home. She wanted to do it in her bedroom, where no one would see. But if he was home and she walked in, he would corner her within minutes. Her mother was at work, and still refused to believe he would ever harm her daughter. He was such a good liar. Smooth, like rotting butter.
She had tried to talk to the counselor at school, but he was too busy to listen, and she couldn’t get the words out before he lost patience and made her leave, taking a call and shooing her out, saying, “Come see me tomorrow when I’m not swamped, we can talk then.” But the second time she got up the nerve to go, he was in a meeting with an office supplier.
She didn’t know she could just walk into a church, and talk to someone; she’d never been to a church.
Crossing over the bridge she stopped to look at the water, thinking, I could just jump in, and wait to hit my head on a rock, or wait until I freeze to death. brrr, no, I’ll sneak in and get the box cutter.
Taking a deep breath she sighed deeply, then turned and started walking again. She walked to her right, staying in the grass, to go around a large long area of gravel along the road, where cars pulled off to park. She was glad she had her sunglasses on, because it was bright out, even though it was overcast. She also hoped they hid her identity. The kids at school didn’t like her much, her only friend being Sarah, but even she wouldn’t miss her when she was gone. She’d just hang out with Terry instead. She’d hated having to go to a new school half way through the year. Everyone had already ‘friended up’, and she was left out completely. She felt like a bug; ignored completely unless you crawl on a prissy girl, and then they stomp all over you.
She was too ordinary; nothing at all exciting about her. Brown hair, brown eyes, only pretty when she smiled, not too skinny, not fat, not too smart, not stupid; just enough of everything to disappear. She was the paint, the woodwork, the peeling rubber around the windows. Only special, well not even special just necessary, when she got home. And that was only for about 5 minutes of the worst hell imaginable, then it was back to being ignored.
She truly hated life. Hated being alive. It had sunk deep into her soul, this hate she felt. It was the only emotion she’d developed into a stronger emotion than the others. The others weren’t used. Just this one had begun to take over, fill her up, and ruin her young life. Filled her like dirt, in a grave. All around. That’s what she wanted. That filling. Something other than hate.
As she walked she gazed at the ground, rarely looking up until she heard a loud bird call. Like a really big crow, only it wasn’t a crow sound. She stopped walking and looked up, searching for the bird until she spotted it just as it called again. It was a dark Stellar Jay, with a black head and shining silvery blue body. It ruffled it’s feathers, cleaning under a wing stretched out, then sat up and looked directly at her, and called again, “yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup.” With each “yup” sound, it’s tail would flick around, like it was straining to call to her.
She watched it for a minute, fascinated by it’s colors, wondering why it was a dull gray on it’s head, but it’s body was spectacular. Shiny almost, the bright blue reflecting in the sunlight was on fire, if fire was ever blue. She sighed, the moment over and began to walk on.
“Wait!” A voice called to her. For a second she was so startled she thought the bird had said it, but then her brain kicked in and she realized it was human. Turning around she froze as a gorgeous guy on a bicycle pulled up, panting slightly. Damn, she thought! Might be my lucky day after all. She smiled up at him, and asked,
He inhaled deeply a few times, then said,
“Are you Kale?” She immediately tensed up, waiting for the punch-line that usually followed after she said yes; ‘I’ve got some dressing for you!’ Ha Ha Ha! But this guy was smiling so nicely she didn’t get that dreaded feeling, so she said,
“Yes.” He un-straddled his bike and leaned it against the tree before bending over and stretching a bit. He said,
“I’m Jacob. Sorry, but my back is sore from practice yesterday and I was haulin’.” She stood there awkwardly, wondering what the heck to do, finally saying,
“Ok then, well, take care.” She started to leave but he said,
“No wait. I need to talk to you. I know this is weird, but I have to ask you something.” He painfully lowered himself to the ground, and said, “Have a seat, OK? For just a sec.”
She felt bad that he was in pain, and after a second, sat down a few feet away, looking up at the bird, who was completely silent now; just watching her. Jacob said,
“Have you ever been to church?”
“No,” she answered.
“Would you come with me to mine?”
“Why, I don’t even know you.”
“Because I ‘m asking you to.” He looked at her sheepishly, and said, “Ok, so here’s the thing. I was praying a while ago, and a noisy ass bird,” he also looked up at the bird now, and grinned at her before going on, “kept bothering me while I was praying. I have strong beliefs in God, and Jesus, and I pray each day for strength, for others, stuff like that. Anyway, this bird kept calling out, got closer and closer to me as I was sitting on our deck, and just wouldn’t shut up.”
Kale smiled and said,
“He says ‘Yup’, I know, it’s too funny.” Jacob smiled back, and said,
“That’s not all he says.” Jacob had finally caught his breath, and leaned towards Kale and said, “Do you believe in miracles?”
“NO!” Kale spit out harshly. But then she smiled, because Jacob was smiling hugely and said,
“Well, I do. ‘Cause a biggy happened just now. I don’t know for sure, I may just be losing my freaking mind, but that stupid bird told me to come find you today. Nagged at me for half an hour, until I finally gave up and came looking for you.”
“Right. You’re loosing you’re mind. You need serious help.”
“No…you do.” Jacob said, seriously, with the sadness in his eyes making her feel like he pitied her, and making her skin crawl. She wanted to jump up and run home right now, to escape him, but what was at home was worse. And at this moment it was the last place she ever wanted to go. Her head dropped, so he couldn’t see her eyes anymore, and she sagged visibly.
“I kid you not Kale, I was praying to God to show me who to help today, and the bird went nuts, said repeatedly: Help, help, help, Kale, Kale, Kale, Now, now, now; then after he nagged non stop at me, calling out Now over and over again, he hopped over to my bike and sat on the seat.” She was looking up at him now, through her hair.
“I looked up at God and said, ‘ok, this is a new one, but ok.’ and got on my bike. See, Jesus says if you help others, it makes you feel good inside. It’s like, leading others to Jesus Christ is what we are supposed to be doing, and when we do we are so-o-o blessed we feel great, and good things happen to us. So I try to ask God to send me one person a day to help. It’s my little bit to help, until I’m on my own and can start missionary work.”
“So anyway, I followed the bird here, and here you are. The only person on the planet named Kale, I think.” he smiled hugely. And then added, “So how can I help you Kale? I really mean that.”
She couldn’t think of one thing to say, and said quietly,
“No one can help me.”
“Oh but you’re wrong. God can. And I will try my best. Whatever you need right now, or later, or whenever, if I can help you I’m here to help.” She almost wanted to cry, he was so nice, but she couldn’t loose it in front of him, he was too cute. And if this turned out to be a joke, she knew she would be the butt of it. She had too much pride to let that happen, and decided she had better go. She stood up and said,
“Thanks for the offer, but no. I gotta go.” Jacob could feel her sadness and despair; she reeked of disappointment and pain. He stood up quickly and said,
“Wait. Please, just come with me to church, just this once, right now, and see what you think. What do you have to loose? If no one can help you, then going home isn’t going to make it better, right?”
“Yea.” She stood there thinking, really, why should I go home? If this doesn’t work out, maybe I won’t ever go home again. Ok, so why not. This guy is so cute, what can it hurt to spend a few hours alone with him? She decided, why not, and said, “OK, why not.”
He smiled hugely and said, “Lets walk, my back is killing me.” Then he reached into his pocket and got his phone out and called someone and said, “Yea, it’s Jacob. Have you got the pickup?” He paused to listen and said, “I’m on West, can you give us a lift to the church, I have my bike but my back is killing me.” He waited for an answer, and then added, “Great. Thanks, you’ll see us walking.” He turned to Kale and said, “Michael’s coming to pick us up. I’m sorry, but I can’t hardly walk right, I pulled a muscle or something.” She smiled and said,
“And yet you still rode here to see me. You’re a strange one.”
“Not really. I can see the sadness in your eyes, Kale. I know God guided me here, to help you somehow. The bird, now that was just freaky.” He smiled and laughed. “No one is gonna believe me when I say ‘a little bird told me’.”
She looked at him straight in the eye, and said,
“Well, at the least its a diversion.” Jacob smiled at her, looking straight back into her eyes and said,
“It’s a start.”