Rays of Hope: Chapter 9

Twice in the last week I woke up thinking about systemic racism.

I almost ditched my Rays of Hope post to discuss why white people fail to see what is systemic.

Although today, Juneteenth, is the best day to write that post, Ray and Marla are calling me, too.

So I’ll hold the ‘systemic’ thoughts until Wednesday.

The more I write, the more I think about things to write about. Do you ever have that problem? Or do you suffer from writers’ block?

For today, come join me on Marla’s and Ray’s adventure.

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

Chapter 9

“How many birds can you name?” Ray read a question from the laboratory notebook Trumble gave her when she and Marla visited the previous week.

Marla rolled her eyes. “I sometimes wish Trumble had never given you that notebook.” She returned to tending the lettuce in her aquaponics garden. She held a leaf to her nose. The smell of chlorophyl flooded her memory bank.

“You want me to think like a scientist.” Ray cocked her head to one side and looked up sideways at Marla.

Marla laughed. “Get the Visual Dictionary and we’ll go through them again.”

Ray lugged the book from the shelf and turned to the section marked Animal Kingdom. She hesitated on each page and got waylaid on the life cycle of a frog.

“Have you ever seen a tadpole?”

Ray opened her notebook to a new page and wrote Amphibians in large block letters at the top. She added the date up in the right corner in small print. She scribbled the question about the tadpoles and held her pencil waiting expectantly for Marla’s answer. When none came, she looked up to see Marla now sitting at the table, elbows supporting her face buried in her palms. Bits of wilted lettuce sifted out between her fingers.

Ray crept over and stood very still for a moment before she tried to pry one of Marla’s fingers from her face.

“Peek-a-boo.” Marla smiled through wet eyes.

“Have you?”

“Frogs and toads were so common when I was a child,” said Marla. “Every child dissected one in science class, so we could learn about anatomy.”

“You killed them?” Ray stepped back from Marla and balled her fists, stiffening her arms beside her.

“No one knew,” offered Marla.

Without another word, Ray wrote in her notebook for several minutes. Marla wanted to look over Ray’s shoulder, but respect held her back. Ray slapped the notebook shut, marched to her bed and shoved the notebook under her mattress.

Of course she knew Marla knew right where to look. Nothing was hidden from each other in their one-room home. Still, she understood what respect and trust meant and Marla would never break either of them. It was an agreement between them that no one needed to say out loud.

Oh wait! I didn’t expect amphibians would enter into this story. I guess if the Lake is gone, at least some amphibians would go, too.

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