Rays of Hope: Chapter 33

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Is it just me, or did a 22 year old poet just sweep the clouds out of our hearts?

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.

I wonder how my real world experiences will impact my distopian world.

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

Chapter 33

“When can I see my fa…. Taedan?”

Ray had rolled around the word, father, in her head, tucking it into the folds of her heart, but never spoken it aloud. Now, she almost did. She purses her lips together and stands in a strong mountain pose, waiting.



“We’ll see.”

“That’s what you say every day.”

“I’ll talk to Trumble.”

Once a welcomed and interesting person interrupting the sameness in Ray’s life, she feels the back of her neck bristle. Why must he be involved in every decision her aunt makes?


“No time like the present.” Marla closes her notebook, rakes her papers into a pile and claps the pile against the table, first horizontally, then vertically until each page show obedience to the next and marches into alignment. She secrets them into a manilla folder.

Marla and Ray walk silently to the Pedalabout stop, both of them intent on observing the tiniest changes in their environment. Is that a new mound of dirt pushing up between the cracks? Is that a piece of old parchment someone dropped, or a dried leaf? They silently collect samples and tuck them into their pockets.

“Extra charge for those who can’t pedal their fair weight,” the pedal master says to Marla.

“I’ve done it before.” Ray gives what she thinks is a stern look to the pedal master, but he’s looking at Marla.

“No worries,” says Marla. “She’s much stronger than she looks.”

Ray feels her neck bristle again. I look strong, too, she thinks. Instead of voicing her objection, she fastens her pack onto the hook and adjusts herself on the seat so her feet are firm on the pedals. Soon the rhythm of pedaling allows her mind to wander free. Every time a question pops into her head, she pushes it back, allowing her thoughts to cascade into daydreams. Memories folding against hopes. Reality rippling her desires.

By the time they get to Trumble’s, Ray resolves to listen. Just listen. In order to do that, she devises a plan. She won’t let any of her own thoughts seep into her consciousness. Instead, she will simply repeat each word the adults say inside her head, so she cannot anticipate or question.

“Do you remember where you collected the droplets?” says Trumble.

Ray hears inside her head, do-do, you-you, remember-remember, where-where, you-you, collected-collected, the-the, droplets-droplets?? She wills herself not to question why it’s important.

“Of course. Besides, I wrote it down.” Marla sounds annoyed. “Why?”

“We should check for changes? Did you notice the sky?”

“What about the sky?”

This exchange nearly de-rails Ray’s resolve. Her mind skitters and her eyes look up, in spite of knowing that Trumble’s laboratory is windowless, like most places. She closes her eyes and breathes in counting to five before she exhaled.

“It could be my imagination.”

Ray concentrates on her listening exercise and wills her mind to be still.

“We need to get out of the city for more observations.” Trumble covers both of Marla’s locked hands in his. “There must be a way.”

“Taedan will know?”

Marla’s words come out as a question as Trumble nods. Ray’s heart beats so hard in her chest that she feels it behind her eyes. She presses her lips together so firmly that her ears pop.

The two adults pull open their notebooks. Their shoulders touch and their heads bend together creating a heart shaped shadow over their work. Ray pulls out her own notebook and begins to write, too.

She writes in large block letters next to the date:


She adds numbers along the left side of the page, leaving ample room for answers.

  1. Birds
  2. Studies
  3. Jail
  4. Death

A tear drops onto the page and smudges the ink. She blots in with her sleeve. Now the word looks more like Oath.

5. Mother

6. Father

Ray stops to consider and adds one more word.

7. Me

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

I didn’t expect things to go in quite this way. I’m finding Ray’s journey quite a bit of (disconcerting) fun.

I hope you are enjoying Ray’s journey.

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


Reading is like food for the soul. u003cbru003eWriters like to eat biscuits, too.

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