Borrowed Truths

Cheryl

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Cheryl

Cheryl had done it again, without even trying this time, what had begun as sport, just simple jesting and harmless taunting had become a habit, and it was not funny to the people who had once called her a friend anymore.

“Maybe next time Cheryl, Dan and I are really busy this weekend.” Cindy had never been her best friend, but she was usually a person that she could count on for a little Saturday night fun, a girl’s night out type of adventure, but even she had been avoiding her lately, had pretended not to be home when Cheryl knew she was. “Yea, well, I can understand, I’d pick Dan over me too.” If a phone could be slammed down, it was then, she had went and done it again, the normal response anymore seemed to be one of contention whenever she spoke to anyone, snide innuendoes were taking the place of simple remarks, catchy little phrases that weren’t meant to harm intentionally were the continuing production of her lips.

She had caught her husband cheating on her five years ago, and the divorce had been bitter, she had made sure of that, the mealy mouthed little man walked out of her life with a suitcase and enough money for bus fare. “If you people would learn to stock those shelves better, we wouldn’t have to go through this every week, would we Missy.” The young checkout girl at the market had learned it best to just keep her mouth shut around Cheryl, as most people had lately, and that did not bother the fifty-eight year old mother of two brats that didn’t even call anymore, in fact it was what she wanted. Cheryl had tried nice, it didn’t work, you took what you wanted in this world, and you kept what you got, everything else was for the losers, the little people who believed being nice was going to get them somewhere. Oh, she could pretend with the best of them, it was how she landed her up and coming husband all those years ago, and suffering thru the child raising years was just part of the price you had to pay for a seven-figure bank account.

“Cheryl, why won’t you play nice with your friends, they won’t come around anymore if you keep treating them like that.” They don’t like me mom, and I don’t like them.” People needed to know who was in charge, and how they felt about that was immaterial to her, you took what you wanted in this life and those who didn’t got left behind. “Spare change lady?” “Get a job, bum.” The waiter at the fine restaurant had gotten an earful about the shabby man outside the entrance of the upscale establishment, and within ten minutes the police had escorted him to a place out of view of Cheryl, which brought a twisted sort of smile to her face. “Keep the riff-raff where they belong, right Emily?” The two women sitting at the white linen table did not smile back at her, but simply acknowledged her presence with a glance, both knowing that no matter their answer, to speak to her was to incur more venomous words hurled their way, spite and hatred were items that one could only be around for so long before it started to corrupt your soul. There was no tip, there never was.

The cab smelled like a brewery and she let the driver know it. “Lady, there’s nothing I can do about it, union rules don’t allow me to fix a flat, you can wait until the replacement shows up, or you can walk, your choice.” The smelly cab driver had actually sunk into his seat when the words came from her mouth, and again another of those all-powerful smirking smiles came to her face as she began to walk the last few blocks to her apartment building.

She was on her side in less than a second, her arms limp and useless at her side, and then it was dark. “Take her shoes man, we can get fifty in cash for them.” Cheryl’s head was pounding, but that was all she could feel, the full moon was visible, the straight lines of the buildings were cut into the sky, and she was dizzy. She saw her legs jerk but felt nothing, and then the two young looking men ran down the dark alley, shadows disappearing into the night. The mugger had grabbed her purse with great force, it had not broken the strap though, but instead broke her neck, and all she knew now was panic and fear.

Stuffed between mounds of garbage, she was unseen from the busy throngs just a few steps away, her voice was useless, damaged in the attack, only small whimpers and guttural sounds would come out. Several of the forgotten of society passed by her the next three days, some starring for a moment before moving on, others simply glancing at her like no more than the refuse that she lay surrounded by.

“Call on me.” The words shook her awake, they sounded as if they had been whispered in her ear, but echoed down the long dark alley at the same time. She saw herself sitting in the lap of her great-grandmother, a frail, small woman who was immensely old to a small five-year-old Cheryl, the thin, always warm embrace continually surrounding her in the presence of this most loved old woman. “Tell me about the man who got swallowed by the big fish again, granny M.” “Well, my sweet little treasure, I have got something else to tell you today, someone else I want to introduce to you.” Cheryl saw it in her mind’s eye as if she was there, leaning against the person she loved above all others, warm in her embrace, she listened about His love, His mercy, His kindness, “How much Jesus loves you my little Cheryl, and always will.”

“Call on me.” She could not see through the tears, the light in the dark alley was real, she knew that, but all of a sudden she did not want them to come for her, she did not want to hear the voices of the ambulance men asking her if she was alright, she wanted to be alone with her Savior, she wanted nothing more than to be in the presence of the One who had said “Call on me,” on the One who answered that call from her.

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