She felt the blood trickle down her leg and the scent of raw earth whispered in her face. Pine needles pricked at her hands and agonizing pain shot through her knee.
Racing through the dark woods at breakneck speed with tears raining down her cheeks, Lana hadn’t seen the patch of rocks.
Trip, fall, and she smashed her knee on one of the jagged boulders.
A sob escaped her lips, followed by a primal scream that rose up from her gut and rang through the air, muffled in the forest like a wild thing trapped in a cage.
She let the tears play out and lay in the stillness, the cool, dampness of the ground seeping into her.
A seagull cried and Lana glanced through the trees to see the dark outline of the bird soaring above the sea.
The moon was rising above the low-lying clouds on the horizon and illuminated the white cliffs in stark brilliance.
Lana slowly pushed herself up from the ground and hobbled out of the woods to the cliffs.
She walked to the edge and stared down at the dark ocean washing in over the black rocks below in a frothy maelstrom.
If she drowned in the ocean, they’d likely never find her body unless it washed ashore somewhere.
If she fell on the rocks, they’d find her body in a bloody mangled mess. The story would be all over the news.
She didn’t want her kids being subjected to that.
But what would it do to them, their mother committing suicide?
If she just disappeared in the ocean so that no one knew what became of her, it wouldn’t be so bad, but still…
Jewell and Katie would be left orphaned.
But Keith’s Mom would likely become their guardian.
And wouldn’t that be better after all?
She couldn’t be the mother they deserved.
She was an alcoholic, her boss had raped her, and she was fairly sure that she was pregnant with his child. Now to top it all off, she’d been fired by that same boss and her husband was dead of a heart attack.
What was their left to live for?
Her daughters, yes, but wouldn’t they be better off without her?
Somehow she couldn’t completely manage to convince herself of that.
And what if she was pregnant? She had no right to take the life of the unborn child with her. Even if the child was conceived in rape by a despicable man, wasn’t it her baby also? Could she love the child just the same?
Somehow she couldn’t completely manage to convince herself that she wouldn’t.
But she had no strength left to go on, no hope. Her life had been snuffed out like a flame, leaving only darkness behind.
She couldn’t endure it any longer. Living had become an intolerable burden.
If her mother were alive she’d tell her that there was always hope, that God had it all under control, that He could make something beautiful out of her brokenness. She’d say that all she had to do was have faith that He would work it all out.
But Lana didn’t have any faith left. She doubted that there was even a God anymore. Everything was out of control; there was no hope, no light.
“God, if you’re really there, give me a sign! Prove that you’re really the almighty God that my mother believed in! Show me your light!”
The demands turned into a plea. Despite everything, she desperately wanted there to be a God, to have some sign that He was real, that there was some kind of hope, to feel His love…to see His light.
But the darkness continued and the night was still and silent, only the sound of the waves crashing in upon the rocks filled the air.
She took a step forward, her toes at the edge of the rock.
She was just getting up the nerve to jump, when she saw something.
A faint light…was it under the water? It grew stronger as if it were moving closer to the surface.
Then it broke through the water and rose up above the waves.
Lana watched…a Japanese lantern rising up into the night sky…far away in the darkness.
She’d asked for a sign. She hadn’t really expected it, but she’d gotten one.
God was there, showing her that He loved her, that her life was precious and sacred, that it had meaning and purpose.
How far the light…yet there was light.
It was there…all she had to do was open her eyes and see it.
There was hope…all she had to do was open her heart and take it.
© Whitney L. Schwartz
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