Rays of Hope: Chapter 23

It’s so nice to have people reading along while I have fun with Ray and Marla. And, thanks for the comments.

If you’re here for the first time, and you’re interested in starting at Chapter 1 of Rays of Hope, click here.

A few weeks ago, I committed to 3,000 words each week toward completion of May His Tribe Increase. I’m almost there. Writing every day really helps me stay connected to the story.

Chapter 23


Three weeks went by since they visited the house where her mother and Taedan lived. To Ray, it could have been three years. Each day she opened her notebook and wrote a question. The first day, she wrote a number to the right of the questions to order the importance. She drew a vertical line and wrote another number, organizing the questions according to how she wanted to ask them.

Those two orders were not the same. As she added new questions, Ray changed her mind on the order they should be asked. She erased so much that the eraser left a dark grey smudge and the numbers were hardly legible.

“What’s the height of the wheat?” Marla asked.

Ray turned a page in her notebook and put her finger down on a line.

“3.5 centimeters. More than grass shoots now. Leaves have formed.”

“Any signs of green or yellow or red?”

“A bit a deep green along the middle.” Ray hoped her imagination wasn’t playing tricks on her.

“You mean the main vein?” Marla asked a question that Ray heard as a correction.

“I guess so.”

“You guess?”

Marla looked up from the papers spread out on the table. The papers she’d found at the house. The papers she studied every day for three weeks. The papers she organized into piles every day, put away, and reorganized the next day. The papers she refused to say anything meaningful about.

“Yes,” Ray said. “The main vein. I think it’s green. At least some green is there.”

Ray thumbed back in her notebook to her questions, took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Covering one nostril, she breathed in, covered the other nostril, and breathed out.

“Should it be green? or Red? or Yellow?” she said.

“No one asks a question until they already know the answer.”

Ray closed her eyes and repeated her breathing exercise. Heat tingled her scalp and she felt her heart beat in her neck.

“Wheat is supposed to be green.” Ray said.

She looked at Marla’s head craned back over the papers. Ray slapped both hands down on the table.

“Why is it black? And why do we care? And why do you think Taedan did this? And why does it matter? And I don’t already know the answer.”

Angry tears dropped between Ray’s open hands and onto a pile of Marla’s papers. So many questions that refused to obey her careful planning and ordering. She gritted her teeth, as she saw what she thought might be her mother’s neat handwriting blur.

Marla grabbed the papers and blotted frantically at the tears.

“I’m beginning to think only Taedan knows the answers.”

Marla gathered piles of papers and stacked them into a criss-crossed deck so she’d know where one pile began and another ended. Ray saw colored strips of paper flagged at the top of each pile. Marla had scribbled a number, crossed it out and scribbled a different number. Some, so many times, the flag was almost filled with numbers.

“Why don’t we go ask him?”

“We may have to.” Marla turned her back to Ray and put the papers in the cupboard. She gathered their Outsiders.

“I’m not ready yet. I want more data.” Marla said. She wagged the Outsider and beckoned with her chin. “Let’s go get more samples.”

“Where?”

“Remember where we found the dead bird?”

“You know I do.” Ray smiled at Marla through her Outsider.

The heat prickling Ray’s scalp, melted into a warm piece of butter coating her heart.


Oh come on! Stop with the data collection and go see Taedan.

Are you as impatient as I am?

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

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

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