One Door From Heaven
believe about life. That's hard, sweetie. When we make our own misery, we sometimes cling to it even when we want so bad to change, because the misery is something we know. The misery is comfortable."
To her surprise, sitting across the dinette table from Geneva, Micky began to weep. No racking sobs. Discreet, this weeping. The plate of homemade lasagna blurred in front of her, and hot tears slid down her cheeks. She kept her fork in motion throughout this silent salty storm, loath to acknowledge what was happening to her.
She hadn't cried since childhood. She'd thought that she was beyond tears, too tough for self-pity and too hardened to be moved by the plight of anyone else. With grim determination, angry with herself for this weakness, she continued eating even though her throat grew so thick with emotion that she had difficulty swallowing.
Geneva, who knew her niece's stoic nature, nevertheless didn't seem surprised by the tears. She didn't comment on them, because she surely knew that consolation wouldn't be welcome.
By the time Micky's vision cleared and her plate was clean, she was able to say, "I can do what I need to do. I can get where I want to go, no matter how hard it is."
Geneva added one thought before changing the subject: "It's also true that sometimes-not often, but once in a great while-your life can change for the better in one moment of grace, almost a sort of miracle. Something so powerful can happen, someone so special come along, some precious understanding descend on you so unexpectedly that it just pivots you in a new direction, changes you forever. Girl, I'd give everything I have if that could happen for you."
To stave off more tears, Micky said, "That's sweet, Aunt Gen, but everything you have doesn't amount to squat."
Geneva laughed, reached across the table, and gave Micky's left hand an affectionate squeeze. "That's true enough, honey. But I've still got about half a squat more than you do."
STRANGELY, here in the sunshine, less than a day later, Micky couldn't stop thinking about the transforming moment of grace that Geneva had wished for her. She didn't believe in miracles, neither the supernatural sort that involved guardian angels and the radiant hand of God revealed nor the merely statistical variety that might present her with a winning lottery ticket.
Yet she had the curious and unsettling sensation of movement within, of a turning in her heart and mind, toward a new point on the compass.
"Just indigestion," she murmured with self-derision, because she knew that she was the same shiftless, screwed-up woman who had come to Geneva a week ago with two suitcases full of clothes, an '81 Chevrolet Camaro that whiffered and wheezed worse than a pneumonic horse, and a past that wound like chains around her.
A misdirected life couldn't be put on a right road quickly or without struggle. For all of Geneva's appealing talk of a miraculous moment of transformation, nothing had happened to pivot Micky toward grace.
Nevertheless, for reasons that she could not understand, every aspect of this day-the spangled sunshine, the heat, the rumble of the distant freeway traffic, the fragrances of cut grass and sweat-soured coconut oil, three yellow butterflies as bright as gift-box bows-suddenly seemed full of meaning, mystery, and moment.
IN A FAINT and inconstant breeze, waves stir through the lush meadow. At this lonely hour, in this strange place, a boy can easily imagine that monsters swim ceaselessly through the moon-silvered sea of grass that shimmers out there beyond the trees.
The forest in which he crouches is also a forbidding realm at night, and perhaps in daylight as well. Fear has been his companion for the past hour, as he's traveled twisting trails through exotic underbrush, beneath interlaced boughs that have provided only an occasional brief glimpse of the night sky.
Predators on the wooden highways overhead might be stalking him, leaping gracefully limb to limb, as silent and as merciless as the cold stars beneath which they prowl. Or perhaps without warning, a hideous tunneling something, all teeth and appetite, will explode out of the forest floor under his feet, biting him in half or swallowing him whole.
A vivid imagination has always been his refuge. Tonight it is his curse.
Before him, past this final
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