The broken window by her bed was just covered in cardboard. But the loud sirens in the middle of the night no longer scared her. In fact, it meant that the fights and scary people might disappear for an hour or two. She wondered if there was a world where she wouldn’t have to sleep with one eye open. ---
“C’mon, Janette!” Her step brother nagged her the next day. “We need someone to jump off of. Lay down there.” It had always been like this; if her brother told her to do something she had to do it.
She laid down in the alley, cluttered with garbage, puddles and older kids in bandanas and big jackets watching how this would play out. Her brother leaned one side of a board on her. He called out to his friends, “Look our jump is ready! We can jump over her!” He pedaled over her on his bike, thumping Janette as he went off the jump. Then his friend rode toward her too. But he was a little bigger, fatter. As his front tire hit the jump she flinched and his bike somehow went out from under him, and the board clattered to the ground. The boy fell off backwards and landed fully on her.
She groaned, apathetic on the ground. The older, tattooed boys in the alley chuckled between puffs of weed, and the girls in spindly clothing gasped and then laughed. Whether in school or in the alley, it always ended in her getting used up in some way. That was just how the world was; the weaker were used by the stronger— a dog eat dog world.
Janette rolled away and started to get up.
“There now, hunny. Give me your hand.”
Janette stood up and looked at where the unfamiliar voice had come from. A woman, maybe 23, was reaching out to her. Janette was already up but she took her hand anyway. She just kept looking up at the woman because it was such an unusual and wholesome sight. The lady’s caramel-colored skin had no tattoos. Her blouse covered her shoulders and skirt covered her knees. “Do you want to be here, darling?”
Janette shook her head with tears brimming in her eyes.
“Why don’t you go somewhere that it's not like this?”
Janette scrunched her eyes and asked, “Where is it not like this?”
“Hunny,” The lady looked both ways and said, “If your mom is okay with it, follow me. Just come and see.”
Janette said, “My mom don’t know where I am anyway. And I don’t know where she is.”
The lady nodded and said, “My name is Benita. I used to live here too.” She gestured with her head, motioning Janette to follow her. She glanced at one of the regular boys as she passed and told him, “Take care of momma til I get back.” He nodded nonchalantly.
Benita took Janette to her seminary campus. Janette looked around, wide-eyed. The buildings were so nice and so were the people. Benita introduced Janette to several of her friends as they stopped to talk. She showed Janette her cute, clean dorm room and even let her come to one of her classes with her. The professors were so smart, kind, and dressed so well.
It was nothing like it was on the streets. Here even the ‘weak’ were welcomed and could thrive. That day she went home with an entirely different trajectory to her life. All she needed to do was see a new vision that expanded the horizons of what she understood life could be.
Do you feel stuck? I pray that you have a new vision of how to pray, or how to love others, or of a new ministry to start or become a part of. I pray for one that will blow your expectations of what life in this world, and the next, could hold.
Raw Spoon 9-22-22