Rays of Hope: Chapter 32

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My real world seems look more distopian than my fictional world. More than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in the USA yesterday.

Here’s a link to the tool developed by professors at Georgia Tech. Maybe it will help you make the decision to stay home.

And don’t even get me started about Washington D.C. Ugh! Wondering what to believe? Here’s a website that might help you discern the bias and truthfulness of various media: Media Bias Fact Check. Reuters and The Hill seem to be the most factual and balanced of those I consult. It turns out that Snopes is a pretty good place to go to check out whether something is true or not.

I need a little help with May His Tribe Increase. If any of my readers are in a mixed Catholic:Jewish marriage, please send me a message. Also, if you know a Black person who was in WWII or a family member who remembers stories, I could really use your help. Ephraim and his brother, Thomas will be forever thankful for you helping me get it right.

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

Chapter 32

“I know.” Marla tugs at Ray’s Outsider. “We must.”

“I didn’t even say anything.” Rather than resist, Ray flings her arms around Marla, her inside swirling in a mix of tightening resentment and freeing intimacy. How can she love and hate her aunt at the same time. “Can we look for dandelions on our way home?”

“Sure.”

Now that her mind’s eye is opened to the possibility of a network of mycelium sucking in the bad chemicals and converting them back to Nature’s intent, her actual eyes see evidence all around. A bit of soil pushed up into a tunneled heap in a sidewalk crack could signal life below, a drop of white might be bird leavings, a shriveled bit of brown could be a dead plant.

Marla’s gait lacks urgency as she pulls out her pocket magnifying glass and scapes samples and folds them into labeled slips of paper.

“Why won’t you tell me more about my mother?”

The two of them are alone in their own windowless home. Marla tends to her chores while Marla mixes solutions, tests pH, and looks under her microscope.

“Your mother was the smartest person in the whole wide world.” Marla wipes one eye with the back of her hand and then the other. She beacons Ray to her and leaves her perch at the work bench. “And the kindest. She loved this Earth.”

“But she and my father made all this happen?” Rays voice quivers emotion that surprise her. It’s so much simpler when she’s writing questions in her notebook.

“Sometimes people do the worst things with the best intentions.”

“They made the dominoes fall?”

“Yes. And everything scientists and engineers tried to do to course-correct made things worse.”

“Why didn’t they fix it?”

“They were banned.” Marla pulled Ray to her chest and cradled her head. Both hearts pounded together at almost the same rate. “No one trusted them.”

“Taeden and Alice worked from their home..”

“The house at the lake?”

“Yes, that was your home,” Marla raked her fingers through Rays hair and squeezed the nape of her neck. “No more interruption, let me finish before I lose my nerve.”

Ray’s mind turned over Marla’s words, it was my home.

“Your mother and father worked day and night to come up with a solution, even though it was dangerous for them.” Marla paused so long that Ray thinks perhaps that’s all the information she’ll get. She sucks in her bottom lip, holding back a question. “

“Your mother was arrested and sent to prison for the rest of her life. Remember that memory you had at the lake house? The one where you remembered the birds and the sand? They tried to keep they’re work secret. I tried to stop them. They were so sure they could fix things.”

Ray nods, afraid to utter a sound.

“That was real. But it was almost gone, the Lake nothing more than an acrid marsh when they took her. Taedan was in the marsh collecting samples with you in tow; Alice in the laboratory. He heard the commotion and fled to protect you. He came to my apartment. This apartment. He left you here with me.”

“He left me?” Ray’s words leap out of her before she has a chance to bite them back. She pulls away from Marla and looks her in the eyes. “Why?”

“He wanted to take you with him, but he wasn’t sure where he would go. We both saw the writing on the wall. If he stayed, he’d be arrested, too. He had to go. I begged him to leave you with me. Told him that’s what Alice would want.” Marla draws a deep breath and puts her forehead against Ray’s. “It is what you mother would want.”

“You told me my mother died.”

“She did, Sunshine. She did.” Marla’s breath comes out in hitches. She tries to calm herself with a deep yujaya breath, but her exhalation comes out jagged and ends in a sob that comes from deep inside. “She died in prison. They wouldn’t even let me come to see her.”

“Tell me about it.” Marla pulls Ray to her lap.”What about Taedan?”

“He was on the run. I didn’t know where he was, or what he was doing, or if he was even still alive.”

Ray’s brain swirls with questions that form and dissolve, morph and blend together. Her head feels foggy with thoughts that overlap and her chest feels like someone has a tight grip on her heart.

“Now we know,” says Marla, letting the tears wash over her cheeks and drop onto their interlocked hands.

“She knew how to fix it all along.” says Ray. She smiles through her own tears. “With a hope and a prayer.”

“And the second smartest person in the whole wide world.”


Thanks for coming along for the ride.

I really want to know more about the mycelium. And Alice, of course.

I hope you are enjoying Ray’s journey.

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

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