Let It All Go

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She watched the kids playing. Not so long ago, Michael was playing with them. He would have turned 11 on Friday. She recognized the kid whose father ran Michael down on his way home from school. Apparently, he was reaching for his cell when it happened.

He was serving time in prison but she was still angry. He killed her baby. Michael was all she had after his Dad died two years ago. Friends, family and coworkers urged her to move past her anger before it destroyed her. But, she just couldn’t do that.  Fighting back the fears, she turned away.

“Mrs. Thompson?”

She turned around. It was the man’s son. “Yes?”

“I’m sorry about Michael. He was my best friend.”

She didn’t answer.

“I know you’re still angry with my Dad. I was too.”

“How did you cope?”

“I asked God to help me.”

“How did he do that?”

“He showed me that being angry with Dad won’t bring Michael back.”

“What should I do with my anger?”

“Let it all go.”

“I’ll try.”

 

175 Words

This was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy and Joe. For more information visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

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No Fear

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Photo by Jodi McKinney

I’m lying here in prison, sentenced to three years for holding a Bible Study. My family and friends warned me to be careful because of an ongoing crackdown on believers. I and five other believers were taken into custody because our Bible Study didn’t have the government’s approval. When I was on trial, I was accused of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.”

Three years doesn’t seem like a long time but I’m counting the days until I’m free again. I pray and draw strength from the apostle Paul who didn’t let being in prison get him down. He wasn’t alone. God was with him. He’s with me too.

I close my eyes now and imagine I’m outside of these walls, holding a Bible Study in a field, under a beautiful blue sky.  When I leave here, I’ll return to worshipping God and leading others to Him.  I’m not afraid of what the government could do to me.  Nothing short of death will stop me now.

 

167 Words

I was inspired by a true story of a Chinese Christian Woman who was sentenced to three years in prison after holding Bible Study.

This was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy and Joe. For more information visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  The Gospel Herald

The Worst News

The worst news for a woman to hear is that she will never be able to have children.

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Before I watched the episode of Greenleaf where Sophia had a medical emergency which turned out to be Ovarian Torsion, I had no idea that condition even existed.  What is it?  It is a condition which occurs when an ovary twists around the ligaments that hold it in place. This twisting can cut off blood flow to the ovary and Fallopian tube. Ovarian Torsion can cause severe pain and other symptoms because the ovary is not receiving enough blood.

The symptoms are:

  • an adnexal or pelvic mass
  • nausea
  • severe pelvic pain
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • abnormal bleeding

For Sophia, it was a sharp pain in her side.  She first experienced it when she was out jogging then twice on another occasion.  The third time was very severe and she was rushed to the hospital where she was prepped with surgery because she was diagnosed with Ovarian torsion.  While on an anesthetic drug, she was talked about how her boyfriend, Roberto wanted to marry because at lunch he told her that he respected her boundaries and could see a future with her. Before going under, Sophia was dreaming about weddings, houses with mailboxes, puppies, and babies.

In Sophia’s case, the cause of the torsion were two large ovarian cysts interfering with Sophia’s organs. The doctors fixed the problem but couldn’t preserve the ovaries. Sophia will never be able to have kids of her own.  Her mother, Grace had to give her the terrible news which she did.  The scene was heart-wrenching when Sophia broke down and cried.  Grace tried to comfort her telling her that she could have children another way-meaning adoption and said something to the effect that God’s got her back.  Sophia’s response was to wonder why God would let that happen to her.

As with any unexpected and painful life changes, a person’s faith will be tested and Sophia is no different.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Will she turn away from God or will she cling to Him?  And how would her condition affect her relationship with Roberto?  Hopefully, he will stand by her.

My heart ached for Sophia, a young, lovely girl whose dreams of becoming a wife and mother one day were crushed.  How many Sophias are out there living with the painful reality that they will never be able to have kids of their own?  What do you say to someone who found out that she can never have children?  You don’t tell that this was God’s will.  Let God tell her that Himself.  Just tell her that you’re sorry and be there for her.  If she gets angry with God, let her.  He can handle it.  Don’t quote scriptures to her, don’t try to explain why this has happened to her.  Don’t be like Job’s friends.  They were more comforting to him when they were silent.  Just be there for her.

Sometimes, the best way to help someone is just to be near them – Veronica Roth, Divergent

Sources:  Medical News Today; We are the 94 Percent

Teenage Dating Violence

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My husband and I are watching Greenleaf, the Oprah Winfrey series on Netflix.  I think that if you were to look up the word, dysfunctional in the dictionary, you would see a photo of the Greenleaf family.  They give new meaning to the word.  There are so many issues and skeletons in that family that it makes you appreciate the family you have.

The issue I want to address is teenage dating violence.  One of the Greenleafs, Zora, is dating a pop singer named, Isaiah.  It turns out that Isaiah is abusive.  He flies off the handle and gets verbally and physically abusive.  He got angry with Zora when her mother found a condom in her drawer.  Her arms have bruises which she hides by wearing long sleeve tops.

Whenever he gets physical with her (grabbing, pushing, slapping), he apologizes and promises never to do it again until the next time.  It was the usual cycle in an abusive relationship.  You have the “I’m sorry.  I won’t do it again”, “You make me act like this” and “I love you so much.”  What is sad is that the victim keeps forgiving the abuser and things continue to get worse.  He continues to abuse her and she seems powerless to do anything about it.  He tells her he loves her, makes promises and she believes him and continues seeing him.

No one knew about the abuse until Zora’s cousin Sophia saw Isaiah hit her.  Sophia went and told Zora’s father, “I just saw Isaiah hit Zora.”  Immediately, Jacob went to find Isaiah and punched him.  Zora was angry with Sophia for telling her Dad.  What do you do when you see a friend or loved one being abused?  Do you keep quiet because speaking up could jeopardize your relationship or do you put the welfare of the person above your relationship?  Did Sophia do the right thing?  In my opinion, she did.

But the story doesn’t end there.  Zora runs off with Isaiah but is found, thankfully.  We don’t know what became of Isaiah.  I hope he gets help.  As for Zora, she needs counseling.  She needs to understand that love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, not selfish or rude or demand its own way (like pressuring her into having sex) (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, TLB).  If Isaiah loved her, he would treat her with respect.  He wouldn’t bully or try to control her.  He would respect her family as well.  Every family has ground rules and Zora’s was no different.  There was one occasion when Zora’s father found Isaiah and her in her bedroom.  After the father dealt with him, he had to leave.  Sophia’s boyfriend and Isaiah are as different as night and day.  Sophia is enjoying a healthy relationship while Zora was dealing with an abusive one.  

How can you tell if your teenager is in an abusive relationship? Here are seven signs:

  • Your child’s intimate partner is extremely jealous or possessive to the point where your child stops spending time with other friends and family. If someone questions your child about this, the response might be something like, “She thinks my friends don’t like her, so she doesn’t like spending time around them,” or “She thinks they’re a bad influence on me and she’s just trying to help.”
  • You see unexplained marks or bruises on your child.
  • You notice your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
  • Your child stops participating in extracurricular or other interests like gaming or even shopping.
  • Your child begins to dress differently. One example: he or she wears loose clothing because the partner doesn’t like him/her to “show off” his/her body or attract someone else’s attention.
  • Your child worries when he or she can’t text or call the partner back immediately, saying that the partner might get upset.
  • Your child expresses fear about the way his or her partner might react in a given situation.

What do you do if you suspect that your teen is in an unhealthy (abusive) relationship?  Here are 11 steps:

  1. Be observant and look for signs.
  2. Calmly start a conversation with your teen.
  3. Be supportive of their situation.
  4. Focus on the unhealthy behaviors.
  5. Keep the conversation friendly, not preachy.
  6. Don’t place the blame on them.
  7. Allow your child to make their own decision.
  8. Offer solutions to them.
  9. If there’s any risk of danger, call the police.
  10. Expect more conversations in the future.
  11. Don’t get discouraged if they refuse to talk to you.

I see that in season 3 of Greenleaf, Zora will get back together with Isaiah.  But, hope is on the horizon.  It looks like she will come to her senses and dump him for good.

If you have a teenage daughter, let her know that she is precious and of great value and that she deserves to be with a guy who can appreciate her.

Sources:  National Domestic Violence Hotline; Grown & Flown

Some Friend

f435ef6a490c1e14141c059fdce5ead9She was walking to work when she spotted Dexter’s car.  He didn’t see her.  Even if he did, what would he do?  She couldn’t imagine him telling the driver to stop so that he could talk to her.  Perhaps if Meghan was with her, he would.  It was a slap in the face when they went out for dinner one night, he was a little too attentive to her friend.  And what made it worse was Meghan flirted with him.  Their friendship cooled considerably after that.  It hurt knowing that the two people she cared for and trusted the most were seeing each other.

I have to move on, she thought.  I have to get over him.  There were other men out there.  She just had to figure out where to meet them.  Or maybe she should wait on the Lord as her mother advised her to do.  Maybe she should just enjoy being single and when the time was right for her to meet someone, it would happen.  She could do other things in the meantime like travel, enroll in an arts or crafts class, take up a new hobby or volunteer.  The possibilities were endless.

She was fine with being single.  And it didn’t matter that the man she still carried a torch for had just gone by in his chauffeur driven car.  It would be weeks before she saw him again.  She was fine with that.  Her pace quickened.  She had a busy day ahead of her and was determined not to let anything distract her.  As she was nearing the office building, her cell rang.  She fished inside her bag for it.  When she saw the number on the display, her heart skipped a beat.  It was him.  She answered.  “Hello.”

“Hello, Lonette.  Hope I’m not calling you at a bad time.”

“Actually, I’m my way to work.”

“Sorry.  I won’t keep you long.  I was wondering if you’d have lunch with me today.”

She considered that for a moment.  Why did he want to have lunch with her?  Did it have something to do with Meghan?  The last thing she needed was to sit there and listen to him talk about her former friend.  Did Meghan ask him to invite her to lunch so that he could convince her to patch things up with her?  “I can’t,” she said.  “It’s going to be a busy day for me.”

“How about dinner this evening?”

“Sorry, that’s out too.”

“What about tomorrow?  Are you free for either lunch or dinner?”

“No.”

“Are you giving me the brush off, Lonette?”

“No, I’m not,” she protested quickly, too quickly.

“Yes, you are.  Is it because of Meghan?”

“I was wondering when we were going to get around to talking about her.”

“You know there’s nothing going on between us.”

Really?  Well, that’s not what I heard.”

“Whatever you heard, it isn’t true.  I’m not interested in Meghan.  I never was.”

“When we went out for dinner, you didn’t act like you weren’t interested.”

“I know how it might have looked to you, but I swear to you that I was just trying to be nice to her for your sake.”

“What do you mean that you were just trying to be nice to her?”

He sighed.  “I don’t how to say this so I’ll just come right out and say it.  I don’t like Meghan.  I tried to get along with her for your sake and that’s why I was trying to be nice to her when the three of us were together.  I didn’t expect her to flirt with me.  I’m sorry about that.”

Lonette was inside the lobby now.  She didn’t go into the elevator but went into the sitting area.  She sat down on one of the plush leather chairs.  “Someone said that they saw you with her a couple of weeks ago.”

“I was at The Keg waiting for a client when she came over.  She sat down at the table.  I didn’t want to be rude or draw attention so I told her as politely as I could to leave.  She refused to budge until my client joined us.   She had no choice but to leave but before she did, she said that she couldn’t understand how I could be attracted to you.  She said that was why she liked being friends with you.  She didn’t have to worry about high quality men liking you instead of her.  That’s the woman you thought was your friend.  If you don’t believe me, I can give you the number of my client.”

Lonette sighed.  “No, that won’t be necessary.  I still can’t have lunch with you but I’m free for dinner tonight.”

“Good.  I’ll pick you up at seven.  I can’t wait to see you, Lonette.”

“I can’t wait to see you too.”  She rang off and remained sitting there for a few minutes.  What Meghan said stung.  She had no idea that was how she felt about her.  No wonder she didn’t have a problem flirting with Dexter.  She knew I was crazy about him and she still flirted with him.  Some friend she turned out to be.  And to think I almost threw away my chance for happiness because of her.  Furious, she deleted Meghan’s number from her cell before getting up and hurrying to the elevator.

Harlow’s High-class Woman

He watched her with her friends. They were laughing and having lunch at a swanky restaurant.  He was on his way to back to the youth shelter following his lunch break.  He stood there to see if she would notice him.  She suddenly turned and saw him.  The smile vanished from her face.  Their eyes met and held for several minutes before she turned away.  Her friends had noticed him too and they were probably asking who he was but she shrugged.  Soon they were talking and laughing again as before.

Hurt and angry, he walked away.  Last night she was all over him but now that she was with her friends, she acted like she didn’t even know him.  It served him right for getting involved with a high-class woman.

They met a couple of months ago at a charitable event.  She showed up alone wearing a black sequenced evening dress which flattered her gorgeous figure.  He went up to her and at first she looked a bit put off but by the end of the night, she had warmed up to him.  The following night they went for dinner to an Italian restaurant and over pasta and wine, they got to know each other.  He learned that she was an only child who grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and went to ivy league schools.  She worked as a Brand Communications Manager at a Telecommunications company.  The job paid extremely well and she loved it.

After dinner, they went to her place, a luxurious penthouse overlooking Central Park for a nightcap.   He stood behind her as they looked out the window.   Unable to resist, he pulled her against him and buried his face in her hair.  It and she smelled really good.  She didn’t pull away.  Encouraged, he turned her around and cupping her face between his hands, he lowered his head and kissed her.  Her eager response excited him and his mouth hungrily devoured hers, eliciting a moan from her.  As they exchanged kisses, he picked her up and carried her over to the sofa where they ended up making love.  He spent the night and left the next morning after breakfast.

They saw each other regularly after that night but they never went to the places she and her friends went to and he never met any of them.  She met his friends.  His best friend, Joe told him, “She’s different from the women you usually go out with.  She’s classy.”

There were times when he wondered why she was going out with him.  He didn’t think he was the kind of guy she would be interested in.  Granted, they were great together in bed but he wanted more than just a physical relationship with her.  Last night when they were at his place, munching on Nachos while watching Sunday Night Football, he realized that he had fallen in love with her.  He wanted to tell her but something held him.  Was it fear, doubt?  He still wasn’t sure how she felt about him and it bothered him that she hadn’t introduced him to any of her friends.  Was she afraid of what they would think?

It was clear from her behavior just now that she was ashamed of him.  Why else wouldn’t she invite him to join the group?  He had planned to take her skating at Wollman Rink and afterwards, huddle together as they sipped hot chocolate.  Well, he wasn’t going to bother.  Instead, he would watch Breaking Bad.  What a dismal prospect but it was better than nothing.   When he got back to the shelter, he pushed all thoughts of her out of his mind and got busy.

It was after seven that evening when he finally let himself into his apartment.  He was hungry but was too lazy to cook so he ordered pizza.  After taking a quick shower, he turned on the television.  The doorbell rang.  Thinking it was the pizza delivery guy, he grabbed his wallet.  He peered through the keyhole and stiffened when he saw her standing there.  Taking a deep breath, he opened the door, his expression guarded.  He saw her eyes travel over his tee shirt and jeans. “I wasn’t expecting company,” he said.  “I was planning on having a quiet evening.”

black_women_hairstyles_11“May I come in?”

“Sure.”  He stepped aside so that she could enter.  After closing the door, he leaned against it, arms folded.  “So, what brings you over here?”

“I wanted to see you.”

“You saw me earlier today when you were with your friends.”

“I’m sorry…”

“Sorry that your friends saw me or sorry that you didn’t introduce me to them?”

“Harlow, I haven’t been completely honest with you.”

“I’m listening.”

“I didn’t tell you about Malik.”

His expression darkened.  “Who the devil is Malik?”

“He’s the guy I was dating when you and I met.  The friends you saw me with know him.  I didn’t want them to know about you.  That’s why I didn’t introduce you to them.  I didn’t want them to say anything to Malik before I got a chance to speak to him.”

“Are you here to break up with me, Lorraine?”

“No!” she cried.  “Breaking up with you is the last thing I want to do.”

“What about Malik?”

“I broke up with him.”

“You did?”

“Yes.  I couldn’t continue dating him when I’m in love with you.  It wouldn’t be fair to him and–” the rest of her words were smothered under his lips.  She put her arms around his neck and pressed against him.

Several minutes later, he raised his head, his face flushed, to gaze down at her.  “Today when you looked at me and then turned away, I was hurt.  I thought that it was because you were embarrassed.  You didn’t want your friends to know about me.”

“Do you know what they said when they saw you?  They said, ‘whoever that guy is, he’s real cute.’  And I agreed with them.  And one of them said, ‘it’s too bad you’re already in a relationship.'”

“So, you think I’m real cute?”

“Yes.”  She reached up and to pull his head down towards hers when the doorbell rang.

“It’s the pizza I ordered.”

“What kind did you order?”

“The Sicilian.”

“Hmmm.  My favorite.  I’ll go rustle up a salad to go with it.”  She reached up and kissed him before heading for the kitchen.

He watched her go, grinning.  This night had turned out better than he had planned.  And it was the first of many nights together for the rest of their lives.

 

Sources: NarcityCentral Park

Best Friends

mens-hairstyles-curly-hairstyle-menHe raked his fingers through his disheveled hair, frustrated.  It was no use.  He couldn’t concentrate on his work.  He had come here to the cottage to work on the manuscript which was due in a couple of days.  The quiet, solitude were exactly what he needed to get him going but his mind was refusing to focus.  His eyes shifted to the time at the bottom of the screen.  All he could think about was her with someone else…  Muttering under his breath, he jumped to his feet and walked over to the window.

He looked out at the mountains as they loomed in the distance.  The lake was calm.  He envied it.  Sometimes, he wished he didn’t feel anything.  It would make life so much easier.  Right now, he didn’t want to feel the pain that gnawed at him.  Why on earth did he break his own rule and fall in love with his best friend?  They had known each other since high school.  Back then, she was a skinny girl with the terrific smile and who wore glasses that were too big for her face.   She wasn’t pretty like the other girls but she was smart and he liked hanging out with her.  They were interested in the same things.

Over the weekends, they went to Art galleries, museums, poetry readings and the theatre.  They weren’t into parties or hanging out at the mall.  They went to the prom together and enrolled in the same university.  His major was Creative Writing and hers was Journalism.  Whenever he wrote a story, he would have her read it.  She was his best critic.  She was more excited than he when his first story was published in the local newspaper.  And it was she who encouraged him to consider writing novels.  One snowy day, he sat down and crafted his first novel which he dedicated to her.  It was a bestseller.

They were friends for life—inseparable until her career as a journalist took her to LA where she got to work at the magazine she had always dreamed of writing for.  It was too great an opportunity to pass up.  It was when they were facing each other at the airport that he realized that he wasn’t just saying goodbye to his best friend but he was saying goodbye to the girl he had fallen in love with.  When they hugged, he closed his eyes and buried his face in her hair.  He didn’t want to let go.

When they drew apart, she gazed up at him, her eyes brimming with tears.  “We’ll see each other in the summer and for the Christmas holidays,” she said.  “We’ll keep in touch every single day.”

He smiled even though his heart was breaking.  “Yes, we will.”

“I love you, Jonas,” she said, reaching up and touching his face.

He swallowed hard.  “I love you too.”  He knew that she loved him as a friend but he was telling her that he loved her as a man loved a woman.

“Take care of yourself.”

“I will.”  He watched her walk away, taking a part of him with her.

The drive back to home had been a depressing one and when he got in, he went into the study and sat down in front of the laptop to write.  Writing was the only thing that gave him any comfort and purpose.

They kept in touch through texting, emails, phone calls, Facebook and Skype.  They saw each other during the summer and over the Christmas holidays.   She had changed somewhat.  Gone was the awkward and shy girl.  In her stead was a glamorous and confident woman.   Gone were the glasses and in place of the braids was her natural hair.  She looked great.  Although they had both changed, they still connected.  Neither was dating.   That changed however, last summer when he visited her for Christmas and was introduced to Roger, the man she had started dating.

They met at some function or the other—he couldn’t remember.  His heart was aching.  Pain and jealousy consumed him.  He smiled but it was a facade.  It masked the hurt he was feeling.   He thought that was the worst moment of his life until that afternoon when they were walking through Seward Park where she told him that she was engaged.  It was too much.  He couldn’t hide his distress.  “I’m sorry,” he mumbled.  “I can’t do this.  I can’t pretend that I’m happy for you when this is killing me.  I have to go.”  He turned and walked away.

That was the last time they saw each other face to face.  She had called him but when he saw her number on the display, he let it go to voicemail.  She sent him emails but they sat unopened in his inbox.  Last week, she left a message about him going to LA for Christmas which was a week away.  He couldn’t go.  He couldn’t face her.  He couldn’t bear to see her with Roger.  He couldn’t do it.  That was why he came here instead.  He wanted to lose himself in his new novel but it wasn’t working out.  All he could think about was her.  He was losing his best friend.  He was losing the woman he loved.  How was it possible for a person to live with a broken heart?  Right now he couldn’t see past the pain.

I need some fresh air, he decided.  He moved away from the window.  Grabbing his coat, he left the cottage and went down to the lake where he stood, gazing at the mountains.   What a magnificent view.  The sun hovered over them, enshrouding them in its golden hue.  What he wouldn’t give for Rose to be there right with him now.  Just the two of them, alone out there, no interruptions.   They would sit by the lake and or go for a swim.  Afterwards, they would go and have a bite to eat or go for a drive.  At night, they would sit out on the back porch and watch the stars.

He closed his eyes in despair.  They soon opened.  It was so faint that at first he thought he imagined it.  Then he heard it again.  He turned.  His eyes widened in disbelief when he saw her running towards him.  “What are you doing here?” he demanded when she reached him.

“I’ve been trying to reach you,” she said, trying to catch her breath.

“What are you doing here?” he asked again.

“I came back,” she cried, her expression earnest as she looked up at him.  “I left my job in LA and moved back here where I belong.”

Jonas stared at her, dazed and confused.  “You moved back to Seattle?”

“Yes!”

“But what about Roger?”

“I broke off our engagement.”

“Why?”

“I broke it off because I love you, Jonas.”

He blinked.  “I’m sorry, but did you just say…?”

“Yes.  I love you.  I tried to tell you that when I called and emailed you.”

“I didn’t want to talk to you or to read your emails.  I didn’t want to hear anything about you and Roger.”

“That day in the park before you walked away, you said something that made me realize how you really felt about me.  Before that I had no idea.  I had hoped but I thought you said that because you didn’t think that Roger was the right guy for me.  I didn’t think…”

“Yes.  I was hurt, jealous and angry.  You have no idea how much I wanted to tell you that I loved you.  It was too much to deal with so I walked.”

“I wanted to run after you but I was afraid that I would make a fool of myself.  All the way back to LA, I couldn’t stop thinking about what you said and the way you looked. As soon as I arrived at the airport, I called Roger and asked him to meet me at a café near my apartment.  He took it well.  He suspected that I was in love with you.  After we say our goodbyes, I went home and typed up my letter of resignation.  Then, I booked a flight to Seattle.  And here I am.”

“How did you know I was here?”

“I didn’t.  I went to your place and your neighbor told me.”

Jonas stared at her.  “I can’t believe that you’re standing here in front of me.”

“This is where I belong, Jonas.  Here with you.”

He pulled her against him, his eyes darkening on her upturned face.  “Yes, it is,” he agreed huskily.  “Now, I really won’t be able to get any work done…”

She smiled.  “So, you’re working on a new novel?”

“Yes, but it can wait.”  He bent his head and kissed her.