Out of Wreckage
by Susan Sage
Tess walked down the street headed toward her office. The old burned-out factory loomed above her, and she stepped off the curb to cross the street. This place always gave her the feeling of being watched. Movement caught her eye. She hesitated, then moved back onto the sidewalk. She stood perfectly still. Hmm, strange.
As she began her journey once more, she sensed someone, or something, again. She tiptoed toward the broken-down building. Just take a step and quit being so scared. One step, one breath, she stopped. Nothing.
She was about to change direction when saw a silhouette through the crumbling wall. Tess took another tentative step. Breathe, keep breathing. It’s probably just …
But as she grew close enough to see shadows and depth behind the empty window openings, the hair on her arms stood up. Her breathing quickened. Sweat appeared on her lip.
What should I do? What if a homeless person is living in there? What will I do if someone jumps me? She reached into a pocket. If she hit the panic button on her phone, help would come.
Tess drew in another slow, deep breath to calm herself. Just take another step. Maybe someone’s in trouble. She leaned in the open window space. “Hello. Is anyone here?”
The sound of crunching leaves met her ears. She pulled back from the space and drew her phone out. “I have my phone. I can call for help.”
“Why?” The sound of coughing carried across the soundwaves. “Do you need help?”
“Who are you? I was here first. Go away.”
“My name is Tess. How old are you?”
“What does it matter to you?”
Sounds like a kid. Why would a child be in this factory?
“I just want to make sure you’re OK.”
“I am, now leave me alone.” Coughing followed the quivering words.
“I don’t think you are. Do you need help?”
“No. Now leave me alone.” A fit of coughing racked again as the crunch of leaves sounded for a second time.
“What’s your name?”
“How old are you, Marta?”
“I’m old enough to take care of myself.”
“My grandma’s name is Marta.”
“Where’s your grandma now?”
“Living with my mom nearby.” She dropped her phone back in her pocket.
“I don’t have a grandma.”
Tess heard the sound of sniffles.
“I want to help you.”
“You can’t. No one can.”
Laughter carried across the breeze stirring through the open spaces where windows once opened and closed. “No, He can’t.”
“Maybe He already has.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, He sent me here, didn’t He?”
“How would I know? Besides, He doesn’t care about me, otherwise He wouldn’t have …”
Tess heard whimpering and more sniffling.
“Marta, God cares and so do I.”
“You said you care. Why would you care about someone you don’t know? I’m nobody.”
“Why do you say that?”
“My mom left me all alone. I had to stay with strangers who just bossed me around.”
Tess stepped around a corner and meet a child with the darkest eyes Tess had ever seen. Those orbs looked as if a storm brewed behind them. Tears flowed down Marta’s face as her shoulders shook. I just want to help.” Tess reached out with a tissue.
“Wh … why?”
“Do I have to have a reason?”
“Everyone wants something. Mom wanted to be left alone. Those people wanted money.”
“And what do you want, Marta?” Tess almost missed the whispered words of the young girl now sitting in front of her, the honey color of her skin touched with morning sun.
“Someone to love me just because I’m me.”
“I can help you with that.” Tess reached out the tissue again.
Marta took it.
“First, let’s go find you something to eat. Are you hungry?”
Marta tipped her head up and down.
“While we’re eating, I’d like to tell you about my best Friend who loves you more than anyone.”
“You mean God again?”
“Yes. I also care about you.”
“Because God loves me. He took care of me when no one else cared.”
Marta glanced up from under a shroud of mussed, dark brown cornrow hair with sprigs sticking out. “What good will it do if He cares?”
“Well, since He cares, and I care, maybe between the three of us and my husband, we can find what works for you.” Tess reached out her hand again. Their hands melded together like piano keys. “I’ve always wanted a little girl to care for. How about if we do some talking, praying, and I’ll make some phone calls? We’re foster parents already.”
“You mean, you … take care of … me?”
“Yes. Would you like that?”
For the first time a hint of a smile teased at Marta’s mouth. “Very much.”
“Then let’s get started.” And they walked out of the wreckage together.
About the Author
New to north Idaho, Susan Sage and her husband are enjoying getting to know the new area. She continues to work on her craft writing about God’s purpose and sovereignty in all aspects of life. She enjoys writing devotionals and flash fiction. She enjoys mentoring other writers who are new to the craft.
You can read Susan’s flash fiction column on the 2nd Thursday here at Pandora’s Box Gazette.