Janet didn’t know what she was going to do, the small clothing shop that she worked in had informed all six of their employees that they would be closing their doors in three weeks. She had worked there almost five years, had made good friends, and really enjoyed the discounts on the clothes and other merchandise the store carried, which her closet attested to.
Janet understood that almost all the small shops in the neighborhood were having difficult times, they just couldn’t sell as cheaply as what people could purchase on-line, even the corner market store had a “going out of business” sign up now. “Things are going to get tough” she thought as she began her eight blocks walk home, dodging the perpetual drug addicts, drunks and homeless people, many of which she knew by sight from each day’s walk to and from work.
She stopped in the small restaurant just a block from her apartment to see if they could perhaps use her help tonight, and although the smile of the owner was genuine and polite, the answer again was “No, but thanks for stopping.” This part of town was not one that the ‘uptown folks’ wanted to turn into a trendy location like they did down by the waterfront, most of the buildings were far too old and disintegrating, there was no water, no historical significance, not even a park in the area, just a lot of broken down buildings with a lot of broken people living in them.
“Hey Janet, I thought you were going to call me before you left work.” “Oh, hi Tim, I’m sorry, it slipped my mind I guess.” “You’ve got to be careful around here, but you know that, don’t you,” the young man said. Tim was about the only one who didn’t seem to fit in around here, in fact, Janet didn’t even know why he was still in the neighborhood. He had a good paying job that took two buses and then a ten-minute walk to get where he worked, but he still continued to live in this rat trap.
“Yeah, I know that. Look Tim, I really have to go and collect Emily before I get yelled at by the babysitter again, okay?” The young man was out of her thoughts before she unlocked the big double doors leading up to her third-floor apartment. She had done enough daydreaming about Tim and was tired of pretending that her prince was going to come some day and rescue her.
“Just you and me, huh, cutie-pie” she said as she tried to wash the just add water mashed potatoes off her year-old pride and joy. She had definitely not expected to end up pregnant after her one-night stand, she had been taking all the precautions, but apparently that wasn’t enough. When she had told the man, “Well boy actually, he was far from a man,” that she was pregnant from the encounter, he had replied, “What’s that got to do with me, go get an abortion if you don’t want it.” She had not pleaded, not cried, she had simply looked at him with a mixed sense of disgust and relief and went her way.
“Six-hundred and thirty-one dollars, how am I going to make that last,” she said out loud, not loud enough to wake Emily at least. She had been lying in bed wide awake now for over two hours, and still didn’t have a clue what she was going to do. It’s hard to look for work when your working, but she had tried. On the day that the clothing store closed, she got her final check, some jeans and a pair of shoes that hadn’t sold and a thank you before they locked the doors for the last time. The money she had wasn’t going to last much longer, the rent was due, but if she paid it, she would have no money for food for her and the baby. “Maybe I’ll end up like you” she said to a passed-out junkie on the sidewalk as she walked home from the shop for the last time.
“Rents due, missy.” The fat slob of a landlord had said the words to her before she even reached the third-floor landing, and Emily’s squirming and crying was not helping the matter any. “Look, I got my hands full, okay, come back in an hour.” Janet felt like jumping out of the window, she had never felt so disgusted and upset with herself in her life. She knew that some of the other tenants had paid their rent that way, but she had always told herself that it would never happen to her. “It was for Emily” she told herself but knew that type of payment wasn’t accepted at the grocery store she had to take a twenty-minute ride to get to now.
“You know, this ain’t gonna keep working, I got responsibilities too, and you ain’t exactly no fashion model.” The landlord slammed the door behind him, and it felt to Janet as if a part of her had been slammed shut with it. She had been making money on the street now for almost six months, enough for food for the two of them and the new habit she had acquired.
She had nearly had a heart attack when Emily had gotten ahold of one of her rocks of crack and swallowed it, thinking for sure that she was going to die. She couldn’t bear to lose her, but if she would have taken her to the hospital, they would have taken her away, so she waited. Emily had cried for almost an entire day and night, and had thrown up several times, but seemed alright after a day or two. Janet couldn’t afford the babysitter anymore, and since she was “working” nights, she fed Emily more in the evening hoping she would sleep all night.
It was cold out tonight, much colder than normal and the wind was howling between the buildings. Janet had her warmest coat on and not much else, she had sold nearly all the clothes that she had acquired from the clothing store job for food and drugs, and really didn’t need much than what she had on for her line of work.
“Need some warmin’ up Mister?” “Janet? What are you doing out here in this freezing weather, come on, I’ll buy you a hot cup of coffee.” Forty-five minutes and three cups of coffee later, Janet felt empty, completely drained. She had never spoken to anyone this long about herself, but it just all came out like a flood. Tim had looked at her several times with a type of despair on his face, but never with disrespect or in a judgmental way. The very tired looking waitress poured their fourth cup of coffee for them and then shuffled back to her television.
“Why didn’t you call me, oh right, you don’t have a phone anymore, sorry, I forgot.” Janet let out a big sigh and started sobbing again, accepting the umpteenth tissue from Tim. “I want to suggest something to you, and I don’t want you to answer until I’m done talking, okay?”
Janet thought back on that day more than any other day in her long life, she and Tim were in their early eighties now, and Tim’s health was failing, but they were both more than happy. They had raised not only Emily, but three other children as well, and along with their eight grandchildren had known a content life.
She remembered being on her knees in that coffee shop now long gone, how the waitress had looked on as the two of them had held hands and cried together. “The night of the miracle” they had called it as the years had passed. When Janet had got up off that dirty café floor, she felt like she had shed her skin, a part of her was just left there like old filthy clothes. Tim’s prayers had been intense to her, she could feel a kind of awesome power coming from him, a power that now resided in her and had since that night.
Their marriage had been long, fruitful and blessed, and they both knew that it was because Christ was at the center of it. They had loved Him and served Him, and He had remained faithful and true.
Tim was the handsomest that Janet had ever seen him, in fact beyond handsome. They were walking down the street of the old neighborhood, but it was different, it was clean and fresh like it all had been built just yesterday. “I have someone I want you to meet, my love.” This wasn’t a dream and Janet knew it, she had just been laying in a hospital bed with Emily and two of her other children standing by her side.
She turned from her husband and saw her Lord, the one that she had been waiting to see since that day that she rose up from the café floor. “I’ll see you soon” she heard Tim say as she ran and fell into the loving arms of her Savior and felt a peace she never knew existed.