Leslie tugged on her shirt. Mussing with it didn’t give it or her the laundering they needing. Leslie stank of what you or I would, if we had at fifteen, ran toward a twenty-five year old, running toward something more so than what others might call, running away. He was what she wanted and she had simply responded. But now just one week later, she was for the first time, truly running away. He had been a lot different from she imagined. He had been, brief, let us say. And almost immediately unfaithful.
Leslie pulled on her shirt again. She was running away. But what was she running toward? Her eyes blinked and stung and her anxiety was so high, she couldn’t process. What was she doing again? Running away; not toward anything. Where could she go? Another tug on the stained cotton-T. Her long hair stuck to her damp neck.
No matter how many times she checked, yes, her shirt was down. She had to check again. It was something she might never stop doing. Now where could she go? The car on the corner honked at her and she jumped.
Nice! I like what I see! a voice delivered.
Why some cultures think it’s rude not to ogle women would always be a mystery to her.
Could she go to a friend’s? No. CPS might get called, maybe the police or worse, her parents. Some part of her split off then and asked the other,
Would going home be the worst?
The thought of facing her mom and dad after a week of not telling them, talking to them; after a week of subjecting them to that, she was so ashamed. Shame loomed over her, filled her and all she could think of again was what Jared had done. Leslie’s shirt had stretched out. An uneven hem hung the stains from her dirty hands. She gave it another firm two-handed pull down. No. Jared wasn’t with her now. Pull.
On the bus ride home, Leslie let the static and crackling sounds of her frantic thoughts turn into white snow and obscure and hypnotize her. She finally slept and would have missed her stop at the Stop-and-Go if the bus driver hadn’t used his mic to announce it three times. There was a crust of saliva on her cheek. Why was she doing this? The closer Leslie got to home, the surer she was that they hated her. How did she have the stupidity to even try? What was she doing?
Before she knew it, she was on the front porch. She knew the folks would be home because it was Sunday and Dad was ritualistic about Sunday yard work.
A flat of Freesia beside bags of gardening fro-frou lay around. What was she doing here? Tugging, she felt the threads pull apart in front. Her shirt! Leslie let out an involuntary sound, that was something like a growl. There. That was better. Anger came and stood with her. Some of the fear went away.
But this was suddenly awkward. What in the world does girl-gone-bad do when she comes home? Knock? Walk in? Leslie pulled her shirt down. There was another rip and she tried the door. In that moment, icy panic brought the memory of reading Peter Pan with her mom.
“Long ago,” (Peter) said, “I thought like you that my mother would always keep the window open for me, so I stayed away for moons and moons and moons, and then flew back; but the window was barred…”
Q: What can Louise do to be a friend to herself?
….I heard this hymn and thought I’d share it as an aside,
If you should feel sad and dejected,
When no answer comes to your prayers,
And when it seems you are neglected,
Remember, God knows and He cares.
He knows and He cares,
Your burden He bears;
He drank the whole cup,
While we take but one sup,
Your suff’ring He shares.
And when you get weary with toiling,
When no one your sore burden shares,
When evils your efforts are foiling,
Remember, God knows and He cares.
When confidence has become shaken,
You give Satan place unawares,
The Lord will not leave you forsaken,
He sees you, He knows and He cares.
When feelings of joy have subsided,
When sickness your health so impairs,
Don’t fail in your trust, be decided;
God sees you and tests you, He cares.
See Christ in your furnace of trial,
“I’m with you alway,” He declares;
When suff’ring severe self-denial,
Remember, He knows and He cares.