Rays of Hope: Chapter 13

I’m back home after visiting home. Does anyone else feel like there’s a home where I live and a home from whence I came?

I had a great visit with Mom. She put me to work edging around her driveway and sidewalk and cleaning her baseboards.

On Sunday we had an outdoor picnic with a few sibs and their kids: Wearing masks, watching our distance, and washing hands.

My research into what was going on politically as a backdrop to May His Tribe Increase led me to the Dorie Miller, a black sailor who manned an anti-aircraft gun during the attack at Pearl Harbor and to Joe McCarthy who led the red scare. A mixed bag of things that seem all but forgotten.

In the meantime, Raincoat Man tickles the right side of my brain.

If you’re interested in starting at Chapter 1 of Rays of Hope, click here.

Chapter 13

“Can I go outside and look for birds?” Ray turned from their hydroponic sprout farm, hands clenched in fists at the bottom of stiff arms.

“Uh-huh,” murmured Marla, not looking up from the sample she was examining under the student microscope she’d saved from her childhood. The only gift she remembered ever craving. No thing before or since had seemed as important to her.

Ray knew full-well that Marla’s response was automatic and that she didn’t actually take in the question she had posed. It was a strategy she had for getting permission without actually getting permission. Usually, her effort ended in restrictions, punishment, or both. Usually, it was worth the trouble.

Ray donned her Outsider in the bathroom so as not to alert Marla. She tiptoed to the door and opened it like a cat-burgler, just enough to slip through, and pulled it shut with a single click. Her heart pounding in her ears seemed louder than the door latch and her legs felt wobbly enough to betray her on the stairs.

Outside, she proceeded to the dandelion. It was gone. Ray might have thought it was all a dream except that a small hole bore down into the blackness of the crack in the sidewalk. Ray knelt to examine it closer. She thought she saw a bit of white something or other staring up at her. She pulled out the magnifying glass she’d lifted from Marla’s table a couple of nights ago. She moved it up and down to get the best focus.

How long she knelt there she didn’t know, but her knees resisted when she stood again. That must be what inertia feels like she thought.

“Are you ready to pull your weight?”

Ray’s nerves shot through her like an electric shock. Raincoat Man’s voice, soft and low came not more than two feet from Ray. She tugged at her the straps of her Outsider as she looked into his dark eyes.

“What did you mean by ‘keep your eye on the sparrow’?” she said, trying hard not to blink.

“I know he watches me,” replied Raincoat Man. He turned and headed down the street in long, even strides.

Ray hesitated before following, looking back over her shoulder. She thought, perhaps, she heard Marla calling her name. She felt a familiar tug in her chest not unlike a tug-of-war. One part wanted to flee back to her home, the other pulling her after Raincoat Man.

The curious part of her insides gave a jerk and she trotted after Raincoat Man.

Whoa-oh! I think I tried that trick on my Mom more than once. But I never followed a stranger down a street. I hope Ray is safe.

Until next Friday, when we’ll both learn more.