She peels her eyes open, cracking the dry seal that held them close. She twists her body as she stretches her arms and legs under the sheet, blanket, quilt and her coat that rests on top. She braces herself for the cold as she crawls from under her warm spot. Sitting on the side of the bed she wraps her sweater tight around her chest and shivers from the cold biting her hands and cheeks. She takes a brisk walk to the kitchen and turns on the oven and the pot of water on top of the stove. While waiting she says her morning prayers asking God to show her a way to make it.
Her husband Charles left her three months ago. He took the car and wiped out their joint savings account. Marla is out of heating oil and the warmth that once hid in the walls is long gone. The shut off notices from the Gas and electric company sit unopened on the kitchen table. Luxuries she will have to learn to do without. Her salary is barely paying the mortgage. Her mother always told her to have a secret account for herself. Marla laughed at her mother believing Charles would never abandon her. Mother always did know best.
Marla carries the pot of hot water to the bathroom and pours it in the sink. She scrubs her face then removes the layer of clothes that are keeping her from freezing. Quickly she works a latter into her wash cloth the does a PTP (Pits, tits and pussy) wash. If she doesn’t soap and rinse immediately the water will turn cold in no time.
She pulls on the panties she washed out and fresh lip stick. She swallows down a cup of chicken broth to keep the gas away. She leaves an hour early giving herself enough time to walk five miles in the frigid cold and ice. She tries to arrive before everyone so no one notices how she gets to work.
Marla is a private person. At work she minds her business and keeps her personal life separate from her co-workers. She isn’t close to anyone despite being the receptionist there for six years. No one knew she was going through a hard time. There is a group of older women that gather in the conference room for a ten minute prayer meet in the mornings. Marla began joining them shortly after Charles left her. They welcomed her to the group with open arms and sisterhood. No one asked her any questions
On Saturdays Marla volunteers at the food pantry. They compensate her with enough staples to prevent her from totally starving. Still she needs help with her utilities and car fare. She has applications in for a second job at the neighborhood grocery store and the local McDonald’s neither of which are hiring. There aren’t many other business she can apply to in walking distance.
On Sundays, after worship, she wanders the neighborhoods collecting recyclable soda and beer cans and bottles. She uses that cash to help with her car fare to and from work but it’s not enough for the whole week so she walks in the mornings and rides the bus in the evenings.
She thanks God everyday she couldn’t give Charles a baby. Funny that’s the reason he left, her former best friend Janice is three months pregnant with his child. Janice is the only other person besides Charles she could count on. Well was the only other person. Marla is an only child, her father left when she was a baby and her mother died a year after she and Charles married. She has no one she rely on but God. But even He seems to have abandoned her.
Tonight Marla twists the last strand of hair in the curling iron. She adds the finishing touches to her makeup. Then pulls a black tank top over her push up bra and adjusted her boobs so they spill out over the top. She wiggles herself into a pair of tongs, then into a spandex mini skirt. She looked at her reflection with disgust. She slips into a pair of six-inch heels, puts on her faux fur, grabs her purse that contains pepper spray, a switch blade and a hand full of condoms then walks out the door.
It wasn’t long before a stray asks, “How much?”
“Fifty dollars an hour.” Marla says.
Marla feels cold metal on her wrist as the cop snaps the cuffs on. He escorts her to his squad car. Well she thinks at least I’ll get three meals and a warm place to sleep at night. However in the morning the judge lets her go with a warning and a ticket. She’s no better off than she already is. Where are you God? I need you. She whimpers as she walks the street in a daze.
Marla is defeated. She can’t even succeed as a prostitute. She walks into her church and takes a seat in the back. Tears fall freely from her eyes. She is hugging herself and rocking back and forth, reciting the Lord’s prayer.
The minister comes out of his office with an elderly couple. The woman looks like she too is crying. The couple sits in the first pew holding each other.
The minister sees Marla and leaving the couple and walks toward Marla.
“Good morning sister,” Minister Brown says.
Marla is too choked up to speak so she forces a smile and nods.
“What is troubling you?” He asks as he sits down beside her.
Marla starts crying hysterically and blurts out all her troubles. The minister hands her a box of tissues.
“Do you see the couple in the front?” Minister says.
Marla nods. “Well,” says the minister, “Their house burned to the ground last night and they don’t have any place to go. You say you have a house, would you mind renting a room to them?”
It’s the answer to her prayers. The minister gives Marla enough money to buy oil and bring her utilities up to date. The couple Alvin and Susan McKnight is a sweet couple. They always wanted a daughter but were never blessed. Marla comes home to a hot meal every night. Susan is a great cook and Alvin can fix anything, he took care of the leak in the bathroom and replaced the cracked window in the living room.
God might not come when we want Him but He’s always right on time. It’s good to keep the faith and learn yo live in the now. God, faith, prayer or karma. Things have a way of working its way out. So don’t give up try something new.
©Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria 02/17/14