Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Aborted Love


Who can tell what tomorrow speaks?  Our mind often listens to the thoughts of today and we are mindless of what the consequences may be.  So be careful who you listen to and what your choices are.  You may miss a chance to fall in love. You may throw away a star.

Mike had been friends with Anthony for many years.  They played football together in high school, went to the same college and then gotten similar jobs.  Anthony was an anchor man and Mike worked as a camera man.

 Anthony  had an aggressive personality and a vitality for life. His  ever curious side

worked well in the field of reporting news. He had trouble at times with his aggressive personality  but usually he could

force a calmness that wasn't entirely sincere but businesslike.

Mike  was laid back most of the time. He enjoyed seeing life through the eye of a camera lens. He wasn't

exactly quiet but he seldom provoked a conversation. He was a perfect balance in friendship for Anthony.

Neither tried to out- do the other. Their relationship had been built on years of time spent together.

Mike  stared out the window and wondered where the time had gone. Six years ago they were in college.

Now they barely saw each other.

Angie  was a tall well built woman with jet black hair.  She wore it long. Some girls dyed their hair to look like hers, but she

didn't need any dye job. In fact, she didn't need anything. Angie was a television anchorwoman,

barely twenty five with her life ahead of her. Her fair skin and deep blue eyes ate up the cameras. Anthony had phoned him when he came home from a trip.  Mike had been working when

 WAYR had spotted him with his

camera while working for a local news station and hired him on the spot. Mike was tall and lanky, and

quietly worked behind the scenes. His work had earned the local news station status award.  Suddenly he was working on the same news station as Anthony.  Then Angie was hired.

Anthony had spotted her first and by his voice on the phone, Mike was on location.  Mike knew he was in deep. A few days later, he

could see why. Angie was a painter's paradise. Her face was like porcelain without a flaw. Full lips

and high cheekbones accentuated wide deep blue eyes. Her eyes sparkled as she gave Mike the once over

the first time they met.

He remembered their work together and sighed.

'Hey, we're going over to have breakfast. Why don't you come along Mike?' Anthony had such an easy going

way about him. Everyone was comfortable to sit down and spill their guts within minutes for Anthony.

That is what made him a great news reporter.

Mike remembered the little outdoor cafe' they went to. They were on assignment in France and they

decided to use it as a brief holiday. During that lunch, Anthony had taken a call and walked away from the

table to speak in private.

Angie crossed her legs and sat back in her chair while she sipped her coffee. 'Looks like Anthony has a

lead on that story we are working on.'

Mike turned to him and Anthony gave the thumbs up sign. 'Well, I guess that's the end of our frolicking for

today. I think I better go check on my camera equipment.' He started to get up but felt Angie's arm

restrain him.

'Why don't we go for a walk this afternoon. I would love to see the shops and Anthony isn't interested in

the least.'

The two of them had walked and talked and found themselves laughing over the slightest things. When

it was time to go back to the hotel, they held hands walking down the street as if it were the natural

thing. Mike turned to Angie as he left her at her door and swooped down to kiss her without thinking.

He could still remember part of her face in the shadow and how the hall light revealed shimmering

blue eyes.

As their eyes met, they knew they were in trouble. An awkward good bye and Angie had scooted

inside her door.

Anthony had work to do and barely noticed the growing attraction between his best friend and his

girlfriend. One evening as they were walking to the plane, he watched as Angie's eyes glowed while

talking to Mike. Mike had hung his head and shuffled his feet before turning around.

It was too late though. Anthony was hit with it broadside. Angie had phoned later that evening to tell

Mike that Anthony had broken it off. As much as Mike was relieved, he was also alarmed. Anthony sometimes

went into depression or tried to hide his hurt with a sudden outburst of energy. He went to the local pub

to see if he was there.

Anthony sat on a bar stool nursing a drink as Mike spotted him from the doorway. He took a deep breath and

strolled over. 'Hi' he said.

Anthony turned slowly and gave a half smile. 'Yeah, hi.'

'Look, I never meant for this...'

'Save that old line, will ya? The girl just found you the better man. Simple. You are in and I am out.'

Anthony threw back his drink and motioned to the bar tender for another. 'I can find someone else. Fact, I

don't really need a chic shadowing me right now. I'm on my way up Mike. You know that.'

Mike knew he wouldn't even be drinking if this hadn't hurt him. What to say? He didn't have a clue. He

ordered a ginger ale. 'Anthony, you are my best friend. Man, this sucks.'

Anthony gave a half-hearted laugh. 'She broke my heart and your life sucks? Give me a break.'

The bartender brought over some pretzels and the two of them watched the tv at the end of the bar. A

Mets game was on. Mike loved the Mets. Anthony was a Cardinal fan. The Mets won.

'It must be your lucky day best friend.' Anthony smacked him on the back and staggered toward the door.

Mike took his keys away and shoved him into his car. 'Come on, I'll drive you to our hotel.'

'It's the least you can do.' Anthony muttered. 'I walked here. Give me back those keys.'

Mike smiled and handed them back. 'You intended to get sloshed?'

'I'm a big boy now Mike. I do not get sloshed. I just drink till I am tired. I just aimed too high. I'm a little

sloshed.' He put his head back and closed his eyes.

'I really loved her Mike.' he said quietly. No more was said that night.

A few weeks later Mike eloped with Angie. They weren't surprised when Anthony accepted a job as news

anchorman for another network. Mike didn't always work with Angie. He was out on assignment often

when she stayed in town. Yet, he enjoyed their time together.

They had a high-rise apartment that overlooked the city. Each night the lights of the city entertained

them as they ate Chinese food on their balcony. Angie's days off were filled with shopping and

theaters. Mike went to ball games with her and they found the best burger joints in the city. New York

never closed down and for the kind of hours they worked, that was handy.

He remembered the day Angie's period came late. She had begun to get moody and filled with

anxiety. Then, her moods went beyond anxiety. She was in a frenzy at times. Then, Mike found the

sanitary pads and figured it was just her time of the month.

Angie sat in her high rise apartment and gazed at the city below. She knew her husband had no idea

of what she had done. She was trying her best to act like it was no big deal. But, her body was

betraying her. She felt like she was ready to bust from the anxiety of lies to him. She had rehearsed the

scene in which she was about to proceed into. 'It's my choice. It's my body, not yours.' While she

rehearsed what she would say, she felt the sting of disbelief. She had actually gone through with it.

It wasn't what she had expected. She didn't feel the sense of freedom that she thought she would feel.

The sensation of a live body being swept away from her clung like a knife. She was farther along than

she had thought. The fetus was mostly formed and she had a glimpse of it through the mirror in the

room. It was moving for short while and then still.

She had thought it would just be a clump of blood. It had never occurred to her that this 'thing' she so

often called it...

was alive. Yet, she forced those thoughts away as another wave of a hot flash went through her.

It was time to phone the doctor at the clinic. She noticed her fingers trembling as she dialed the phone.

“Hello, this is Angie Johnson. I was there a few days ago. Yes, that's right. Well, I am having these

hot flashes and I think I have a temperature.'

Angie became silent as she was told this was normal. Her body had to get used to not being in a

pregnant state. She didn't feel too reassured. She was sore, bleeding heavily and was suffering from a

strange feeling of loss. She was asleep when her husband came home.

Mike smiled and held out a bag to Angie. 'Wait until you see what I bought you. A box of chocolates,

a romance novel and some of those pills you take for PMS.' He smiled and felt he done a good thing.

In any other time, Angie would have realized how thoughtful he was trying to be. However, this

wasn't any other time. She gave him a weak thank you and gently took the bag from his outstretched

arm.

Mike watched in amazement as she carefully set it down next to her chair and sat back. 'Do you want me

to get you some water?'

'What for?' she asked.

'To take those pain pills silly woman! The sooner you feel better, the sooner I'll feel better.'

Angie was feeling a little dizzy. She stared up at Mike with glazed eyes and everything suddenly went

black.

The lights were dim when Angie opened her eyes. Mike was pacing in front of a window. 'Where am

I?' she asked.

'You're in the hospital. You were in shock after losing so much blood.' Mike's face crumpled and his

shoulders shook. 'You had an abortion! I can't believe it! You never even told me you were pregnant!

What were you thinking?' His voice broke as he broke into sobs. 'You never even told me.' he said over

and over.

'It's my body, not yours.' Angie's voice shook as she repeated her practiced speech. Even as she said

it she knew she didn't really feel it.

Mike spun around with tears streaming down his face. 'I need to leave.'

Angie thought he just needed to understand things and he would be back. Mike never returned to the

hospital. He phoned Anthony from their apartment that night.

Mike cried into the phone as Anthony listened on the other end. Finally, when Anthony sensed Mike was spent he

spoke calmly. 'Mike, I'm flying up there tomorrow morning. Meet me at Sam's diner at six tomorrow.

Mike, did you hear me?'

Mike struggled to compose his voice. 'Y-Yes, I'll meet you. Thanks Anthony.'

Anthony didn't want to hang up. He had loved Angie once, but now he was married to a beautiful

woman named Marie. His heart went out to Mike. All through their childhood Mike had told how he

wanted to have three kids. He had been an only child like Anthony and neither of them wanted just one

child. It seemed silly for him to remember that just now. He truly didn't care if he had one or a dozen

now. Yet, this was Mike. Mike was the softy. He tried to imagine Marie having an abortion and not telling

him. He just shook his head.

Marie packed an overnight bag and hugged him. 'Remember, no matter what time it is; call me.'

Anthony smiled and bent down for an extra good bye kiss. 'I have my cell phone and I will call many

times. Thanks Marie. I wanted you to meet Mike and Angie. Not like this though.'

A tired and haggard woman stood in the doorway of her apartment four days later. Anthony had stopped

by the hospital. She was amazed to see him. Yet, he brought such bad news she wished he had never

come at all. Mike had decided to take some time off and clear his head. He was going to California for

two weeks with Anthony. Anthony didn't say anything mean but Angie felt like they all judged her for a

monster.

She had told Anthony her reasons. Her job was getting more hectic. She had plans to go to Holland for a

big story. Babies could come later. She wasn't sure what else she had said. It was all a blur. At the

moment she just felt relieved to be home.

She set her bag down and opened her medicine bag. The doctor had told her several times how much

and when to take it. She was scheduled for a mammogram for six months later as well. She did not

know that with first pregnancies that ended in abortion, the National Cancer Society had said there was

a increased risk of breast cancer. Each year she was to have a mammogram and do monthly breast

exams. He had explained something about breast tissue cells but it all went over Angie's head.

Angie just hoped she would be able to sleep without a nightmare. It might be all right in her own

bed. She was scheduled to have four days off. She went to the refrigerator and noticed the box of

chocolates that Mike had bought her the week before. She took a few bites of one and made herself a cup

of tea.

It was so quiet. No place to go, too tired to go anywhere, so tired. She stretched out on the couch and

covered herself up with a fleece blanket.

Her feet were up in the stirrups and a bright light shined down on her. The doctors had masks on and

the bright lights...the lights...the reflection off the chrome showed...

She woke up breathing hard and sweating profusely. Her heart pounded and she sat up wondering

where she was. The lamp was on and after a moment she realized she was on her own couch.

Leaning over she reached for the phone to call Mike. With a shaky hand, she put the phone back down.

'Our future is shaped by the choices we make today. Yet, we are not bound to them. So do not look at

me from my past mistakes. I am not there anymore.'

All down the long hallway Angie could hear the click, click, click of her heels. It was her first day

back at the television news station. Everyone was to believe she had a procedure done on her uterus.

She didn't lie. She just didn't feel the need to let everyone else know her personal business. She had told

her boss she was having a cyst removed and would be out for a few days. The extra time in the hospital

was not planned. She couldn't imagine how she had gone into shock from all the blood loss but there

was nothing she could do about it.

Her hair and make-up artist was ready for her as she turned the corner into the make-up room. It was

just a little before four a.m. She had been prepped with the headline news and she had kept up with

things even when she was home via her computer. Now, to just sit and read the teleprompters and stay

focused. She was a pro, she didn't even think of being nervous. 'I need to get on with my life.' she told

herself.

Mike had not returned and she knew he was going to be gone for at least another week. He had not

phoned and she felt it was a good time for him to cool off. She had spent a long time preparing herself

and telling herself she had done the right thing.

Her hairdresser was smiling as she walked in the door. “Good morning! Yikes, what did you do to your

hair? Come over and let ''Mama' fix it.

Angie sat down while Gina kept chattering. 'I keep telling you not to put your hair up!' Angie

always put her hair in a up sweep when not on camera. It was easy, stylish and out of her face. Yet,

Gina always styled it down for the camera. 'Did you hear the news about Haley?'

'No, I've been out of the loop for a week.'

'Oh, that's right. How are you sweetie? Was it a cancerous tumor or don't you know yet?' Gina

looked genuinely concerned through her thick glasses and bright red hair. If you looked at her just

right, she looked like a person getting ready to do a clown act for children. She always wore the smock

over her chubby frame. It was a bright green and orange. Gina was many things but never

understated.

Angie flinched at her remark. 'No, no I am fine.'

Gina saw that she was uncomfortable about the subject so she went on to her own news. 'Well,

Haley's hair has been so limp since she got pregnant that I've been using all sorts of mouse or jell.

Finally I suggested she get it layered and she let me cut it. She looks amazing now.'

'Haley? Pregnant?' Angie thought. 'How can that be, she just got married. They had gone to the

Bahamas with them on their honeymoon.

Out loud she said 'I can't wait to see her.'

Gina fiddled with her hair and then applied make up. When she felt Angie wouldn't shine like a

greasy mask she stood back. 'There, voila!'

'Thank you Gina. I'll see you later.'

'You betcha! I'll be retouching your make up around nine a.m.'

Angie was dreading seeing Haley but what could she do? She sat with her while reporting the news.

Haley did the world wide weather report.

The camera men were adjusting angles as Angie took her seat with her papers. The sound men wired

her up and she was ready to go. Haley walked in with a smile. Gina was right about the hair. It looked

great.

'Hi Haley!'

'Hi yourself!'

They didn't have time to say much more as the fingers went up. Three, two, one....'Good morning, this

is Angie Johnson and this is the morning news...'

Three hours later Angie sat in the cafeteria with juice and a bagel. Haley walked over with a spinach

omelet, juice and water. 'I have to watch my protein now.'

'Yes, I heard. Congratulations.'

Haley sat down. 'I can't believe I am a text book wife. I got pregnant while in the Bahamas. Remember

how much fun we had?'

Angie smiled to herself. She was pretty sure that was when she had conceived as well. 'Yes, it was.'

She began to sip her juice. 'So, what are your plans?'

Haley looked up. 'What do you mean?'

'Well, having a baby will change everything with your life. Are you still going to work?' Angie sat

back and crossed her long legs.

'Of course I will work. In fact, our producer wants to make my pregnancy part of the show. He plans to

give updates and do a segment on prenatal care. He was shocked when I told him. Then he got this

gleam in his eye.' she laughed.

Angie nearly choked on her bagel. 'Well, that IS something.'

Angie didn't hear much of the conversation after that. She really didn't want to hear how Haley's

husband was building on to their home or painting the baby's bedroom. She became agitated suddenly

and told Haley she had to get back.

Haley didn't seem to notice anything and Angie was glad of it.

When it came time to go home, Angie was exhausted. She turned the key to her condo at 7 p.m. She

kicked off her heels and changed into her sweats. She went to the refrigerator and took out some

yogurt. She turned on the answering machine and heard Mike's voice.

'I'll be home next Wednesday. We will talk then. Bye.'

He knew she wouldn't be home until around 7 p.m. He had chosen not to speak to her. Angie

dumped the yogurt in the trash and took a shower. She fell asleep on the couch afterward.

She woke up at midnight in a cold sweat from a horrible nightmare. She had dreamed of being in a

nursery with several babies screaming and one empty crib. The crib had blood in it. Angie got up and

made herself some hot chocolate. She sat staring at the television until she nodded off. She woke up to

the sound of her alarm clock buzzing. 'Good thing I set it as soon as I get home.'

Slap..whoosh...slap....whoosh...slap...whoosh. Mike sat on the beach watching the Pacific ocean. It

seemed as if the sounds of the sea reminded him of how quickly his life was slapped and then

whooshed away. The past few days with Anthony and his dear wife Marie were like a soothing balm to a

wounded soul.

He had snarled and screamed out his emotions with Anthony as they walked along this beach . He had

suddenly crumpled on the sand and wept and found Anthony's arms around his shaking shoulders. Anthony

had suggested he and Angie get counseling. Mike didn't know what that would do.

'Angie was my perfection. She held my heart. Now, I find she is capable of this? What kind of

counsel would help us now?' he wondered if he sounded like a lunatic. He asked Anthony.

'Here is what I know to be truth. You are hurt deeply. Yet, I think you still love her. That makes the

hurt even more complicated.'. Anthony wanted to help but found he was not really sure how. He

remembered something his wife had told him.

Mike stared ahead in silence and watched the waves slap onto the beach and roll away with a swoosh.

The silence was met with the cry of a seagull. Mike watched it soar high against a bright blue sky.

'Mike, do you remember how we used to go to Sunday school a thousand years ago.' He leaned back on

his blanket and waited to see how this line of talk would go with his old friend.

Mike sighed. 'Yeah, old lady Bennet was a real jewel.' Gina was about sixty three and taught a group

of twenty or so kids.

'She sure was. She had more energy at sixty three than you and I put together have now. Well, my wife

has been a church goer all of her life. She reminds me of Gina.'

'No kidding? She does the flannel boards and all that junk?' Mike asked.

Anthony smiled. 'Things have changed. She uses computers, power point, and takes the kids out on our

boat to teach them as well. One kid was afraid she'd try to get him to walk on the water.' He began

to laugh.

Mike found himself laughing in spite of himself. 'So, our little Marie is a Sunday School teacher?

Anthony shook his head. 'No, my wife and I are youth leaders for our church.'

Mike turned and stared at his lifelong friend. 'You? But you are a world renown news reporter. Where do

you get the time? For that matter, it doesn't sound like your style. I mean you don't go around saying

prayers and junk. I mean, I never noticed except at dinner.'

Anthony swallowed. 'Mike, when I came out here for my new job I was only thinking of getting over

Angie. I dated every woman I could get to go out with me. Marie worked at the station as a

receptionist. Each morning I would walk in all bleary eyed from being out drinking all night and with a

new woman nearly each night. One day, I came in drunk and stumbled across the hall of the foyer and

fell on my face. Marie got the security guard to help me to her desk. She laid me down on the floor

behind the desk and took one of the pillows off the lobby's couch for my head.'

Mike smiled. 'You sure knew how to charm her.'

'It turned out I couldn't remember the night at all. Yet, if anyone had seen me behind her desk I would

have lost my whole career. Marie drove me home later after calling me in sick. I asked Marie why she

did it. She told me that I was like a lost sheep who needed help. We began to talk about lot of things.

She refused to date me though. She asked me to come to her church instead. I refused for a long time

and even grew angry with her. But, I found my life became so dull and each morning without fail I

would go to work and walk through that lobby. There she would be at her desk with that same smile

and something nice to say. She wore me down.'

Mike grew antsy and began to get up off the sand. 'Hey, that's fine Anthony.'

Anthony grabbed his arm. 'She didn't judge me Mike. She loved me.'

Mike glared down at his friend. 'She didn't kill your baby. End of story.'

Anthony took in a long deep breath. 'This is too much for you to carry Mike. You are going home soon. I

know a guy from Dave Wilkinson's church....'

Anthony got up and followed Mike. Mike walking briskly towards the condo. 'I don't go to church. You know

that. I don't need another Gina!'

'No, but I think you need someone to talk with you so you can get through this. I'm here if you need to

call. You know that. But..'

'But out!' Mike interrupted.

The plane landed at La Guardia airport at six p.m. Anthony and Marie had hugged him and gave him a

warm send off.

Mike took a taxi and found himself opening his door to the condo within the hour. Before he had set his

suitcase down, Angie walked in the door.

It was an awkward moment as they stood staring at each other. Angie moved to the couch and

removed her shoes. 'Are you all right?' she asked.

Mike set his suitcase down and said 'Yeah, great.'

'Are you hungry?' Angie asked. She knew this was too weird but had no idea how to proceed.

Mike turned around. 'Angie, I'm not hungry, I'm fine and I don't feel like playing along like everything

is normal. I am tired and need a shower. Then, I plan to go over to the station. Don't wait up.'

Angie felt the warmth drain out of her. She fixed herself a cup of tea and sat in the dining room with

her laptop. She couldn't concentrate. She got up and threw some laundry into the washer and changed

into some comfortable clothes. Her normal routine was to check on the upcoming news stories online.

An hour went by as she stared at the screen. Her husband walked quietly past her and left the condo.

Tears slipped down her face as she tried to read the monitor. She dashed them away and continued to

read. Nothing made sense.

Finally, she turned her laptop off and sat in the living room. It had been three weeks since she had

terminated her pregnancy. The nightmares continued. Each day she listened to a bubbly Haley talking

about how her body would be changing soon.

Now, Mike was home and yet he wasn't. She was sure he would go off on the first assignment offered to

him.

Her thought was confirmed the very next day. Mike packed and told her he was on his way to Turkey for

a month. She went to work the day after he left and found more pain.

The silence that met her as she went to work made her uneasy. She spoke to the producer. 'Did I do

something wrong? Folks are unusually quiet when I walk in a room.'

Ben was a barrel chest man with a beard and mustache. He always reminded her of Burl Ives. 'No,

there is nothing wrong with your work. There is some gossip though. I was going to talk to you. Your

husband was like a hurricane the other day. He told some people you had an abortion. It spread like

wild fire. Now, I realize that it is not unusual for someone to have an abortion. In fact, I think some of

the girls here had one. That's not the point. I can't explain it, they just feed on this stuff.'

Angie stood stunned. She couldn't believe Mike would do such a thing. She nodded and left Ben's

office.

That day she was sitting in the cafeteria having a latte' when two women came by her table. It was

widely known these women were church ladies. They protested everything from dancing to having a

glass of wine. 'We know what you did. It's murder you know! That's what you are, a murderer! God's

says 'thou shalt not kill!'

Angie sat with her mouth open. She was too stunned to speak. Gina happened to be nearby and

came to her rescue.

'Get outta here you old bitties! Who died and left you judge over all creation. Let he who has no sin

cast the first stone or something!'

She put her arm around Angie. 'Honey, let me get you more than just that for your lunch. You're

fading away to a tooth pick. Soon, I won't have enough face left to paint in the morning.'

'I'm not hungry. I would only throw it up. So, now my private life is on the front page news. Good old

Mike....' She began to shake and Gina stayed with her for a while.

Ben called her back into his office. 'I need to send you out on location. Do you feel up to going to

California?'

Angie was glad to get away. That night she received a call to an old friend. Anthony was phoning to

check on Mike.

'Mike has left for Turkey. He won't be back for weeks.'

'How are you doing Angie?'

'Oh, do you really care? I'm the monster aren't I?' the venom was released full strength from her pent up

feelings.

'You know better than that. I love Mike like a brother but I do care about you too Angie. I was hoping

you would get to meet my wife one day. Marie is a sweetheart and I have told her all about you.'

'I'm sure.' Angie spoke into the phone as she paced back and forth in her condo. She glanced outside

at the lights from the Brooklyn Bridge. It didn't calm her as usual.

'I'm getting ready to leave myself. I have a field assignment in San Francisco.' she was trying to get off

the phone.

'What? Hey that gives me an idea. Why not stay with us then while you are here? Marie cooks better

than that hotel food. Come on, I'm just ten miles east of where you need to be. You could spend your

off time at the beach.'

Angie was speechless. 'You sure you want to see me?'

'Of course, you'll have a ball. I promise!'

'Are you pro-choice or pro-life...'

'I am a pro-lifer who chooses to love the pro choicer.'

Angie was silent. 'You’re not going to tell me I am a monster?'

'Do you want me to? I was going to call you Angie but I'll address you any way you like.'

Angie was encouraged as she got off the phone. She had heard Anthony had gotten married. 'Well, if it

goes bad I can always go stay at the hotel.'

Two days later....'This is getting to be a habit honey!' Marie said.

Anthony smiled as he opened the convertible door for his wife. 'I just hope we can be an encouragement

for her. I wonder if she will realize how much I've changed the past few years. I was pretty rough back

then..'

'You're telling me! But, you are not that man anymore! Anthony Sellers has a brand new attitude!'

'The thief that hung upon that cross looked over at the King. 'Remember me in Paradise' and mercy was

given to Him. For that man knew his deeds were such that deserved a judgment thus. He also knew the

King was there and dieing just for us.'

Mike was glad to be on assignment far away from Angie. Yet, he was forever thinking of her. He

would be taking photos of all kinds and suddenly see her. He checked himself into a fancy hotel and

found himself checking his phone messages to see if she had called. He shook his head and began to go

over his itinerary.

Meanwhile, far away in California...'I'm so happy to meet you Angie!' Marie's arms went around her

and Angie was a bit taken back. Marie was a beautiful blonde with green eyes and a winning smile.

She could see that Anthony was totally in love with her. It was a little awkward at first but Marie had a

way of making everyone feel at home.

Their home was a rambling adobe looking house with six bedrooms, and tons of land. She was amazed

to see an orchard nearby. 'Are those your grapes?' she asked Anthony.

Actually, yes. My wife's family gave us this property. They have been making wine for years. We let

them harvest the grapes but we still get a percentage of the profits. How do you like the flowers? Marie

has her own greenhouse too. She loves to grow all sorts of vegetables and even has an orange tree. It

smells great during blossom season.'

'Wow, I just never pictured you living like this.' Angie noticed the palm trees around their in ground

pool. The patio was something out of Better Homes and Gardens. The furniture was surrounded by

plants and she noticed a gas grill in one corner that was the size of her entire kitchen. 'I take it you do a

lot of barbecue.'

'Yes, we have a lot of young people over so it gets a lot of use.' Anthony said.

Marie took her to the guest bedroom. 'If you don't like this one, I have three more. But, I thought you

would like to see the mountains in the morning. Sunsets are nice too. We have a wrap- around terrace.'

She opened the French-doors to the terrace. It too boasted of lawn chairs and more plants. The smell of

jasmine met her.

'Oh, that smells nice.' she said.

Marie smiled and showed her the bathroom. 'Just make yourself at home. I have to go fix dinner. I hope

you like fish. I have a lemon recipe that melts in your mouth.'

Angie smiled. 'Ok, I'll be right down.'

When Angie went downstairs she found the aromas to be mouthwatering. For the first time in weeks

she had an appetite. She sat down and was amazed to see Anthony hold his wife's hand and ask God to

bless the meal and their time together. She sat in awkward silence not knowing what to do.

Anthony didn't act like anything was unusual though. He passed the dish of brown rice to Angie and she

took a spoonful. Next came the fish and asparagus. She found the food to be delicious. Marie had

opened the windows and they could hear the wind whistling through the trees outside.

'I'm surprised you went for a pool with the ocean so close by.' she commented.

'It was already here when we moved in. My father built this house, or had it built. The ocean is

wonderful but I like to swim at night and I like to know there are no sea creatures lurking around. The

pool has lights on the bottom too. You like to swim?' Marie asked.

'Never get much chance to. But, yes I do.'

Anthony refilled her iced tea and gave himself more. 'What time do you have to be where you need to be?'

'I'm supposed to be at San Francisco city hall by nine a.m. Tomorrow, is going to be busy. I doubt I will

be back here before ten. Is that OK?'

'Sure, I think you said you would be here for two days. Does that include any time off?' Anthony asked.

'Not really.'

'Well, we'll make the best of what we have.'

The following day was hectic and Angie was glad for her rental car having a GPS system. She found

her destination with no problem. The sun was high all ready. As soon as she met up with her team, she

was told where to stand and briefed on who she was going to interview.

A young woman of about 22 came into view. It was obvious from her protruding tummy that she was

due to give birth any day. Yet, she was being interviewed along with many other people regarding a

identity theft ring. She had been a victim. Angie kept to her questions and tried to remain focused.

'This is Angie Johnson in San Francisco California where a huge scam has taken place. Identify theft

is horrible in any capacity but we have discovered a ring of crime like no other....' she went into her

introduction of the young woman.

'I don't believe I could have been so stupid I have lost everything. We have a baby due any day now

and not a cent to our name...' The day's interviews were long and tedious. Angie was surprised to see

so many pregnant women. It seemed they were all having babies. Each time she turned around she saw

someone with a protruding tummy. By six o clock that night she felt like San Francisco must have a

huge fertility quota. Or, was she just vulnerable right now to them? She began to feel out of place and

uncomfortable.

It had been so long since she had spoken to Mike. She'd had no idea how much she depended on him.

She took out her cell phone and phoned him without thinking.

Mike was sitting near a bus stop and heard the buzz. 'Hello?' he said without waiting to see who it was.

A little static came on the line and then he heard Angie's voice. 'Mike?'

Mike was in shock that he could hear Angie's voice. He was in Turkey and she was...where? He had no

idea. 'Yes, Angie....?'

'I just wanted to hear your voice.' He heard the words and they echoed his own thoughts. No matter

how much it upset him, he did still love her.

'We'll talk in a few weeks.' was all he could think of to say. He didn't know what he would say in a few

weeks either.

'Do you still want to stay married?' she asked in a serious small voice.

'Angie, I can't talk this out over a phone. Maybe in a few weeks.' He hung up the phone.

Angie's heart was pounding. Her job here was not done and she knew she had to hold it together for

a few days and then return to New York. She drove to Anthony's in a bit of a stupor. She got there long

before she thought she would.

Marie was out in the green house when she came inside. Anthony had a bunch of young people ages 18-25

yrs old out near the pool with him. Angie didn't feel like meeting a bunch of people. She went

upstairs to her room and showered. After donning a pair of white slacks and a peach colored blouse,

she went out on the terrace with a glass of water.

She watched as the sun began to disappear behind the mountains. The sound of people getting into their

cars floated up to her. 'I guess everyone is leaving.' she thought.

She stretched out on the lounge chair and continued to watch the sunset. Marie shook her out of a night

mare an hour later. 'Hey, you OK?'

'wha...? oh, fine' She was shaking and realized she had been dreaming about being chased by hundreds

of doctors with scalpels. The bright lights and white sterile room gave way to a moonlit night and

Marie's outline.

'I heard you scream from down in my green house. Do you have nightmares a lot?'

Angie took a deep breath and nodded her head. 'Today, it seemed like everybody was pregnant. I

dream of graphic scenes like out of a horror movie. It's sorta like the abortion I had only worse. Blood

everywhere, people coming at me with scalpels. You don't want to know.' She wiped a hand over her

forehead and swung her legs over the side of the lounger. 'Sorry, I hope I didn't scare you.'

'No, that's all right. I understand.' Marie sat on the chair near Angie.

Angie then noticed that Marie had her hand on her face. 'I'm OK, really'

'No, you’re not OK at all Angie. You don't have to be brave with me. Tell me, how do you really

feel?'

'I am in a nightmare. I thought being free of being pregnant would keep my life going forward. Now, I

suddenly burst into tears without warning. I get angry but I don't know why. I guess the hormonal

changes are to blame. The nightmares are the worst though. Then, I have to deal with seeing folks

pregnant all around me. This girl at the station is having an entire episode done on her pregnancy. I just

can't get away from it. Then these religious do-gooders are out there too calling people like me

murderers.' She stopped suddenly aware that Marie was a Christian too.

Marie reached over and took her hand. 'It's OK. I would love to tell you about the love and caring I

have found in Christ. He is a restorer. He can help you. I can point you in the right direction so you can

see Him, but not if I pour down condemnation on you. I don't expect you to want to hear about the ten

commandments if I don't first show you the love of the Father.'

Angie got up and walked to to terrace railing.

'Why don't we go downstairs and grab a cool glass of something and then sit out on the patio? Anthony is

going to be busy for a while.'

Angie looked outside and saw that he was talking with a group of people still. 'Sure.'

The patio was filled with colors and twinkling lights sat on the bottom of them. It gave the patio a

romantic atmosphere. The candles glowed on the side tables as well. Marie truly had a green thumb.

Most of the tropical plants were foreign to Angie. She sat quietly sipping mint tea.

Marie set her drink down and began to pick up where they had left off. 'I have found that most people

do not need to be told what is right and what is wrong in the eyes of the church.'

'Yeah, I pretty much know the ten commandments all right. What I can't figure out is why you and

Anthony aren't preaching at me.' She stared Marie down.

Marie was ready for the stare down. 'Oh Angie, you are in need of compassion right now. What good

would our judgment do you? I prefer to show you God's mercy. It's not up to me to judge you. You are

not following after God, and I am not sure if you ever have.'

'Mercy? Well, I've never stepped foot in a church except for Easter as a kid. I'd be all dressed up and

then find jelly beans etc.' The sun had gone down and the lights from the bottom of the pool sparkled

up at her.

'Why would God want to show me mercy anyhow? I just aborted one of his miracles.'

Marie was silent for a moment. 'Is that what you truly think? The baby was one of His miracles?'

Angie shrugged. 'I never thought of it as anything until I saw the reflection off the chrome of the

lights above me during the operation. It was formed pretty much and moving.' A cold chill went

through her. 'I had just thought of it as a clump of well, just a clump.'

Marie reached over and touched her hand. 'I'm so sorry for all this.'

'Yeah well, it looks like you might be one of the few who show mercy. It looks like Mike is ready to call

it quits now. I phoned him earlier. He wants to talk next week.'

'Well, that might not be bad news.' Marie said.

'He hung up on me. I can't imagine he wants to talk about anything good.' Angie sat back. 'If I hadn't

gone into shock he never would have known.'

'That's true. However, you would always know. Secrets like this have a way of eating their way out.'

Angie was quiet for a while. 'I guess I should turn in. I have work in the morning and then it's off to

the airport.'

'Sure, we'll drive you.' Marie looked up as Angie stood.

'Thanks for everything. I'll be ok. See you tomorrow.'

Anthony and Marie drove Angie to the airport the following day. Marie tucked some pamphlets into her

hand. 'You read this when you feel like it. It's a list of side effects you might be feeling. I have the

name of a good post abortion group that deals with things if you need help. You can always call me.'

Angie said thanks and boarded her flight. She stuffed the pamphlets into her purse.

The next few days were hectic as she went to work and waited for Mike's return. The rumors died down a

bit at work since she didn't respond to them. Mike came home at eleven p.m.,a week later.

He took a shower and climbed into bed. Angie was sound asleep. She had decided to try sleeping

pills. The following morning she barely made it to the make up chair on time.

Gina was humming as she came in. 'My don't we look lovely!'

Angie explained. 'I tried some sleeping pills as I kept getting nightmares and awake half the night. I

slept at least but now I'm fried.'

'Well, let’s see what a little make up can do.'

It was a brittle yet awake Angie who sat at the news desk at six a.m.

That evening Mike was home before she got in. He was watching sports and eating a pizza in the living

room.

Angie put her stuff down and showered. When she came out with pajamas on, she sat down and

waited.

Mike turned the television off. 'I guess it's time we talked.'

'Alright.' Angie sipped her tea and waited.

Mike looked over at his wife. He noticed she had lost weight. Perhaps five pounds. He could see the

hollows in her cheeks. His anger was still there and the hurt was still there as well.

'I'm going to ask if you want to ever have children.' He sat staring at her.

Angie was surprised and it showed. She thought for sure he was going to leave her. 'Yes.'

Mike nodded and took a sip of his drink. 'Ok, then my next question is this...if you find yourself pregnant

again are you going to do the same thing? I don't want to lose any more babies.' His voice wavered a

bit.

'Oh Mike, no.... I promise I will be careful and never get pregnant until I want to be.' She began to

breathe easier.

Mike stared at his hands for a moment. 'I won't lie to you. I thought about leaving. I really don't know

what I'm doing though.'

'I understand.' Angie's heart began to beat faster. She went over to where he was sitting on the couch.

She was surprised to feel his arm come over her shoulder. They were silent for a while. She was glad

Mike held her. Everything would be all right. Maybe.

Yet, Angie's head would not stop spinning. During the day she still found herself on the verge of

tears with feelings of guilt. Each time she spotted an infant or a pregnant woman she became ill. Soon,

she lost almost eighteen pounds.

Mike noticed her weight loss and something else. Angie didn't want to go out anymore. She avoided

old friends. Her sleep patterns were often interrupted with nightmares. She would have flashbacks.

During the day he tried to get her to talk about it.

She didn't want to tell him that she felt angry one moment and grief the other. She found the time

worsen when her co-worker Haley was getting bigger with her pregnancy. The producer had several

episodes of baby stories coming up.

Though he didn't think about it, having Angie help Haley deliver the baby news was very difficult.

One morning she was getting ready to interview someone who had had nine babies. She kept herself in

check. Her questions were written and on the teleprompter. Yet, she could not remember anything that

was said during the interview.

All that went through her mind was, 'I can't take this anymore. I want to die.'

She went home that night and took 14 sleeping pills. Mike found her with the empty bottle her in hand

and dialed 911. While she was having her stomach pumped, he phoned Anthony.

'I think she tried to kill herself.' he said.

'Where is the sign that points the way? Why does my troubled mind continue to stray? For I chose the

path that seemed right and good. So why don't I taste victory like I should?'

Angie woke up slowly with a sour taste in her mouth. The monitors blinking made her wonder at

first where she was. The lights were on yet she wasn't home in her bedroom. A gentle hand touched her

forehead.

'Angie? Are you awake?' She looked up and saw the face belonging to that voice. A woman wearing

a white cap and white uniform was leaning over her.

When she tried to speak she found her throat was sore. 'Yes' was all she could muster up the strength to

say.

'Your throat might be a little sore from having the tubes in. We had to pump your stomach. Do you

want to have some ice chips to suck on?'

Angie nodded and the nurse pushed the button to raise the head of the bed. She noticed a tray on

wheels near her and the nurse handed her a Styrofoam cup with a few ice chips in it. She looked down

at her arm and noticed an IV.

The nurse sat down next to the bed as she took a few ice chips into her mouth. Angie looked over

and saw that she was writing something down. 'So, I'm not dead.' she thought. She glanced around and

noticed no one else was in the room. She was glad not to have to face Mike right now. Yet he had to have

been the one who found her. It wasn't her plan to have him part of this. In fact, she didn't make a plan at

all. She had gone into the bathroom to get her usual sleeping pill and thought why not end it all?

Without any thought, she took the entire bottle and lay down on the bed. She figured it would be a

painless way to die. No more seeing babies and having nightmares. No more feelings.

The nurse stood up and checked her tubing. 'Angie, there is someone here to see you.'

'I don't want to see any family.' she rasped out.

'This isn't family.' The nurse walked to the door and a man of middle aged years walked in. Angie

watched a brief exchange and the man walked over to the bed.

'Good morning Angie. I'm Dr. Jack King. I'm a friend of Anthony's. ' He approached the bed and sat in

the chair next to her.

'Anthony knows I'm here?' Angie took a deep breath.

'Mike phoned him after finding you. Angie, I work primarily with people who feel that life is too much

for them to cope with. I'm on staff here at the hospital. Anthony thought you might like to talk to someone

who doesn't know you rather than your husband or even a friend. Right now, you are on a 24 hour

suicide watch. I'll be coming in from time to time to check on you.'

Angie didn't know what to say. She was too tired to be angry or come up with a smart remark.

'Angie, for now I just want you to sleep and take some food in. You and I can talk later. Do you wish

to see Mike or Anthony? I believe his wife is here too.'

Angie realized that they were actually in New York ,not California. 'I'd like to sleep.' She looked up

at his name tag. Gold tag with the name 'Dr.Jack King' engraved on it. She hoped he wouldn't send in

everyone.

He smiled through his glasses. 'Good then. I'll be back later.'

Angie closed her eyes and felt herself doze off into nothingness.

The doctor opened the door and spoke to the nurse before he left. 'She will need some rest but keep the

IV going another 24 hours. I'll be back around six this evening.'

He walked to the waiting room and met Mike, Anthony and Marie. He knew they all wanted a reason for all

of this. Family always did. He sat down on a orange vinyl chair. 'She is quite sleepy but did request no

visitors for tonight. I'll check on her around suppertime. I can tell you very little right now. She is quite

thin and it's obvious she hasn't been eating or sleeping well. The dark circles under her eyes didn't just

come overnight. We are doing some lab tests to see if the liver was damaged. I've got a 24 hour watch

on her, I will change that to 48 though. She'll probably dose off and on today.'

Mike was sitting in a rumpled shirt and jeans. Marie had gone out and bought a fast food breakfast for

him. It lay half eaten on the table next to him. 'I'll have to tell her boss something.'

Dr. King knew this was a delicate situation because she was a celebrity.. 'For now, the diagnosis is an

accidental overdose compounded by malnutrition. I will indeed be willing to counsel her. You say she

has been like this since finding out she was pregnant?'

Mike nodded. 'She got really frantic and then had the abortion. It just went downhill from there. I couldn't

cope, I took an assignment away for a month. She went to see Anthony and did some work in California.'

Marie spoke up. 'She confided in me that she's been having nightmares. I heard her shouting one day as

she was dreaming. Plus, she was stressing out at work when a coworker is having a baby too.'

'I see. Mike, I take it you didn't agree to this abortion?'

'I never got the chance to. She did it without telling me. I didn't know she was even pregnant.'

Dr. King sat back for a moment. 'Her body has undergone some horrific hormonal changes. Right now

she needs support or she'll try this again. Are you able to give the emotional support she needs?' He

directed his question at Mike.

'I'm gonna be honest. I'm a mess. I mean, first I find out what she did, now this? What next? I suppose

you think I did the wrong thing.' Mike ran the fingers of his left hand through his already messed up hair.'

'At a time like this Mike, I do not think there is a right or wrong way to react. In fact, if you had stayed

home right then, in your state...you might have done more damage to yourself or her. I really don't

know. But, playing the blame game won't help us. Honesty is the best you can give me Mike. I'd like to

extend my services to you if you think I can help.'

Anthony put his arm around Mike. 'He's a good man Mike. I knew him in California before he took the job

here.'

Marie reached over and took Mike's hand. 'Jack King is the only person I would trust with you and

Angie. He's a solid guy.'

'Why, thanks Marie!' Dr. King smiled. 'Mike, I don't want to pressure you. Yet, I can't help feel that you

were affected just as much as your wife through this decision. I will counsel you separately at first but

eventually I would like to get you together.'

Mike took a breath and said 'Why not, I'm not doing any good just hashing and rehashing it in my own

head.'

Dr. King made an appointment for Mike for the next day at his office in the hospital. 'Meanwhile, I think

the three of you should go out to dinner and then get some rest. There is nothing you can do here and I

can phone if any changes occur.'

Anthony nodded and shook his hand. 'Good to see you!'

Marie gave him a hug. 'I thought you were nuts to leave our church but I guess God had need of you

elsewhere!'

Jack smiled. 'Well, I've been kept busy. The thing is Marie, this is so sad. I see it all the time. Angie

is fighting between what she feels is her right to make her own choices and now the result of those very

choices. The physical aspects of it all are battling with her emotions. It's a wonder Mike found her in

time. I've seen much worse.'

'How can we help?' Marie asked.

'Show them love and compassion. Remember, when Jesus ate with the sinners he did not compromise

who he was by showing love and compassion. When Angie is ready, God will show us how to teach

them His word. But, we teach the truth at the right time and with love.'

Marie smiled. 'That's why you have so many awards and certificates all over your walls!'

'Nah, that is just wall paper! The good stuff happens in here!' He pointed to her heart.

The morning came too late for Angie. She had battled yet another rough night with nightmares, and

vivid scenes in her mind's eye of things she wanted to forget. Mostly, she wanted to forget the image of

a living person rather than a piece of tissue. She shook her head to clear it and sat up in her hospital

bed.

The nurse sat in a corner with a book. 'Did you spend the night in here?' she asked.

An older woman smiled and got up. 'I am an 11-7 nurse Angie. I was hired to watch over you in case

you needed anything.' She walked over to the bed. 'Would you like me to get the basin so you can have

a sponge bath or would you prefer a shower?'

Angie took a deep breath. 'I forgot, I'm on a suicide watch aren't I?'

The nurse nodded. 'You slept rather fitfully.'

Angie avoided her response and answered her first question. 'I think a shower would be great.'

'Fine, there are towels, a fresh nightgown and everything you might need in the bathroom. The shower

stall has a call light in case you feel dizzy.'

Angie swung her legs over the edge of the bed and she did feel dizzy. She had been awake but not

moving for quite a while. It took a moment for her to gain her balance. She found she was a little weak

but able to shower herself without help. 'Thank you. I'll pull the light on if I need you.'

As she was under the shower she realized that she didn't have any of her own clothes to put back on.

Once again, it came to her. 'I'm supposed to be on a suicide watch. I guess they think I'll leave if I have

my own clothes.' She finished her shower and came out of the bathroom to find her bed was neatly

made.

'Breakfast will be here shortly. I have coffee though if you'd like.' The nurse seemed less starchy than

the nurse Angie had the day before. Yet, she wasn't sure if she remembered all that well.

'I'll have some. Thanks.' She sat in a chair next to the bed and the nurse handed her a Styrofoam cup of

coffee.

Soon, her breakfast tray was delivered and she sat staring at scrambled eggs, soggy toast, orange juice

and a fruit cup. 'I usually skip breakfast.'

'The medicine you are on will make you quite sick if you have an empty stomach.' The nurse gave her

the facts but left it up to her to decide whether or not to eat. In the end, she picked at the eggs and ate

one half slice of toast. She was sipping the last of her juice when the doctor entered the room.

'Good morning! I see you are enjoying our fine cuisine!'

Angie looked up and smiled at Dr. King. 'Hi.'

The doctor relieved the nurse and she left the room. Dr. King pulled a chair over and sat closer to

Angie.

'I suppose I'm supposed to tell you how I hated my mother and wanted to hide from my father or

something. I really don't know what you want to hear.' She continued to sip her coffee and hoped he

would leave soon.

'Well, rather than asking you a lot of questions or even trying to have you give me a reason for you

being here...I would like to give you a little information that might help you.' Dr. King signed some of

her paperwork and waited to hear her response.

'What kind of information would I want to hear?' Angie took another breath and tried to be calm.

Dr. King put his pen in his shirt pocket and pulled out a few slim booklets. 'Well, I realize you had an

abortion not long ago I was wondering if anyone told you how you would feel after the procedure.'

'I can't remember. No, I think I just wanted to know how long it would take. They assured me that it

would be over in an hour and I could return to work a few days later. Turns out I went into shock

instead.'

'I see.' Dr. King said. 'Well, there are a few points I want to make that might make sense to you. A

woman's body does a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy. I'm sure you realize that. Yet, after a

sudden miscarriage or abortion...the body's hormones take a while to straighten out. Your emotions

seem strange. One minute you are crying and another you do not know why you are crying. Am I

describing you so far?'

Angie nodded. 'That makes sense I guess.'

'Good. Now, can you describe how you are feeling emotionally?'

Angie put down her drink and sat back. 'Well at first I felt relief. Then, I went into shock and had to

deal with Mike as well. I wasn't going to tell him anything. I just figured it's my body and my choice. He

found out though cause I passed out. But, now I don't know how I feel. It's like I'm numb most of the

time to it. Only, now I see babies everywhere and pregnant women everywhere. I just don't want to

deal with it, the other women, babies and all. I'm sorry, I'm not really describing how I feel very well.'

She felt her face getting red and wanted to bolt from the room.

'No, you did just fine. You are having a period of what I call 'emotional paralysis' or 'post abortion

numbness'. It's quite common. Your focus is on having survived this whole ordeal. Am I correct?'

'Yes, I just don't focus on much of anything right now. I just want to get back to work.' She wasn't sure

if that was true or not but it was better than having to talk about this.

Dr. King nodded. 'You are on television news five days a week. I'm sure it's a lot more exciting that

this hospital. However, I think right now you need to let the medicine and your body adjust. I'd like for

you to spend some time reading these two little booklets. If you want to talk about them, just tell the

nurse and she knows how to reach me. It might help you to better explain yourself to yourself. Plus,

they give you a lot of information that you probably did not get before the abortion.' He handed the

booklets to her. 'I will be back tonight.'

A new nurse came in to take her tray and offer to go for a walk down the hall with her. 'Gosh, a walk

down the hall! Why not?' Angie put another johnny on backwards over her nightgown and pulled on

some hospital slippers. I'll have to bring the IV pole?'

The nurse smiled. 'Sorry, the doctor didn't discontinue it yet. But, if you keep drinking and eating...'

'Yeah yeah, I get it.' Angie said.

The nurse and Angie headed down the hall and turned a corner to walk down another hall. In fifteen

minutes she was back into her chair. 'Thanks!'

The nurse smiled and took out some paper work.

Angie sat in the chair staring at the booklets. She looked around and found her purse was not there.

'Of course, Mike probably called 911 and never would think to bring a purse.' The television was above

the bed and she flipped it on. Her coworker sat there with her big belly smiling and reading the

teleprompter. Angie turned the channel. She spent an hour getting caught up on the latest soap

operas, the cooking shows, and a few old sitcoms. Finally, she turned it off.

'I'm just going to go back to bed, all this excitement and all.' She knew she was sounding off but didn't

care. Within minutes, she was asleep.

Dr. King stared across his desk for a moment and then asked Mike another question. 'So, the two of you

aren't talking at all?'

'Well, I came back home. But, I just go about the normal routine mostly. She doesn't want to go out or

socialize any more. I still have to go to work. She spends most of her time in the mirror getting ready

for the set. She talks more to the crew at the station than to me.' Mike sat slumped in his chair.

'Mike, the two of you are going to have to talk. Otherwise, you will develop a dysfunctional coping

mechanism. No one discusses difficulties, and there is no emotion or intimacy. Sooner or later, you will

drift apart. Yet, you will bring this pain with you to any new relationships. It's never going to disappear

without talking.'

'I'm afraid of what I might say.'

'I understand and you have got to let it out. Repressed anger and hurt can lead to violence.'

Mike scratched his head. 'Well, I did bust up a lot of knick knacks while she was gone. Like that?'

Dr. King stared across the desk. 'You are dealing with more than one situation here. Your wife may not

realize it but she will soon. You both lost a child. For you, it is betrayal as well. You trusted her to be

honest with you. You trusted she felt the same way about a child no matter when it was conceived.'

'I don't know how to trust her. Am I supposed to just forgive her? It wasn't an accident. It was

deliberate. Come on, I know you're a Christian if you are Anthony's friend. Are you going to sit there and

tell me God thinks this is OK to just talk it over and forgive her? Mike’s voice started to rise.

Jack King didn't get his degree to just hang out in hospitals. He was on the front lines. 'Well, before you

tell me what God would or wouldn't do...I would want to know how well you know Him?'

'What?' Mike thought for sure this man would agree with him.

'Mike, I will not take sides and judge either of you. My job is help you deal with the mess in front of you.

As for God's view on things, I can tell you how He dealt with some people that the world condemned.

Yet, before I even go that far I want you to know Anthony spoke about you and him going to church as

children. Did you ever take God seriously? If you didn't take Him seriously so far, why use Him to

condemn Angie now?'

Mike sprang from his chair and pounded on the desk. 'That's not fair! I love her! I thought I'd die when I

saw that bottle! She scared the hell out of me!'

Jack nodded his head. He gave Mike a second before answering calmly. 'What do you think would be fair

right now?'

Mike's emotions exploded. 'Don't you get it? I've tried to do all the right things. I brought her to the ER

twice now. I came home and I'm trying to keep things calm.'

'That's just it Mike. It's never going to be calm without talking it over. It's like a dead rat under the Bennetet.

You can't see it but there is a big lump and it stinks. It's got to be dealt with.'

'Just answer me this. How come my friend Anthony got sucked into all this Christianity junk? He used to

be normal like me.'

Dr. King smiled to himself. He knew Mike was too confused right now to think rationally, yet he was

willing to try. It was a beginning.

'Well, you might ask Anthony that question. Mike, what you are dealing with is hard for any man.'

'I feel like...someone died. Not just the baby. Part of me too. I wonder if Angie feels it. I look at her

and I think she is someone...different from what I thought.' Mike began pacing in front of the desk.

Dr. King was glad Mike was talking. He was silent and let him continue.

'I mean, I know I didn't realize I had impregnated her but it just feels like I gave her something and she

threw it away. Like, she cared more for her career than something like that. I just feel robbed.' Mike sat

down and rested his elbows on his knees.

'Mike, right now your wife is emotionally and physically drained. No matter what she might have

thought before the abortion, right now she can't think at all. It's not unusual. It's her body's way of

coping with all of this. However, in time she will begin to feel again. Right now she's having horrific

nightmares and that is how she came to taking sleeping pills. So, because of that I feel strongly that she

will be dealing with a lot of emotions herself. Will you and her let me try to help?'

Mike sat up and nodded. 'Hey, I'm going to try. I don't know what she will do.'

'This suicide attempt was a warning to all of us. She really isn't going to be able to handle things alone.'

Dr. King got up and closed his note pad. 'Look, just do me a favor and spend some time with old Anthony.

I know he's your old friend. But, let him be your new friend now!'

Mike smiled. 'Yeah, listen, I really want to make sure Angie is OK Not that I don't believe you. …'

Dr. King smiled. 'Come with me.'

Dr. King knocked on the door and the nurse opened it. 'Hello Gracie! Can you give us a few minutes?'

The nurse smiled and left the room.

'Angie, your husband wanted to make sure you are all right. He can't stay long though.' Dr. King's

reassuring smile surprised her.

'Oh hi, you said you'd be back.'

Dr. King nodded. 'I want to sit down with you but let's let him come in first. OK?'

'Sure' Angie braced herself not knowing what Mike was going to say.

Mike walked in slowly and sat down next to the bed. Dr. King stepped to the door quietly. No matter

what Mike's feelings were, Dr. King knew he still cared about Angie. This was a good sign.

Mike found himself tongue tied. Angie looked frail. He reached up and took her hand. 'Don't try this

again. OK? '

Angie looked over at him in surprise. He spoke so softly she could barely hear him. Yet, she did. She

looked him full in the face and saw uncertainty, weariness, and pain. She found herself with a lump in

her throat and tears welling up in her eyes.

Mike watched and knew she couldn't speak. He swallowed and spoke again. 'We need help Angie. I

want for us to spend some time with this doctor. OK?'

Angie nodded.

Mike took that as a yes and stood up. He reached down and kissed her forehead. 'Good night.'

Angie stared up at him through blurred vision. She had no idea what to say. 'Good night. Are you

coming back tomorrow?'

Mike nodded. 'I'll be here after lunch.'

Angie wished she could get up fast and cling to him. Yet, she didn't know if he would hold her or set

her back down so she stayed still.

Mike felt the pull to hold her as well. He reached down and drew her close to him. No words were

spoken as he just held her for a while. 'I don't want to lose you.' He whispered in her ear.

Gently, he let go and left the room.

'Beyond the anger lies the hurt and beyond the hurt is a heart longing to love.'

The dim light in the hall illuminated the wall clock. Angie saw that it was 4 in the morning. She

wondered why she had awoken. Then she remembered the disturbing dream. She was sitting in an allwhite

room talking to someone without a face. 'I wanted to be your daughter.' She heard those words

and it chilled her to the bone.

She took a deep breath and sat up. The 48 hour suicide watch had ended so she was alone in the room.

She took a drink of water. 'Why am I being haunted by all of this? I never gave it a thought before. I

must be nuts.'

A soft knock on the door alerted her to look up. Dr. King was standing in the doorway. 'Good morning.

Before I start my rounds I wanted to check on you. Are you doing OK? I expected you to be asleep.'

Angie tried to be light. 'I had another of those nightmares.'

The doctor looked at her chart and then came over and sat down near the bed. 'I'm so sorry Angie.

What was it this time? Blood and gore?'

'No, it was like I was in this all white world and someone without a face was talking to me. I knew it

was supposed to be the baby I aborted. It was a girl's voice.' Angie wrapped her bathrobe a little

tighter around her. 'I suppose it's the meds still or the hormones?'

'Well, some sleeping pills do have side effects. However, they should be out of your system. Your

hormones will make you feel strange emotions for a while. I wonder, what did the voice say?' Dr. King

wanted Angie to talk it out.

'She said 'I wanted to be your daughter.' It was eerie.' Angie got up and said. 'Listen, I need to use the

bathroom. I'll be right back.'

Dr. King nodded. He heard the toilet flush and water turned on. A moment later Angie shuffled back

to her bed. 'It will be great to sleep in my own bed.' she said.

'I am sure it will help. I am going to stop being your doctor for a moment though. As you know, I am

friends with Marie and Anthony. Marie really wants to spend some time with you. I think it would be good

for you to talk with her.'

'Marie? She is a sweetie. Yeah, I think they are staying with us for a week. That's fine. It'll be a little

awkward I guess but it's OK. Marie makes you feel at ease. You'd never know she is one of those

Sunday go to meeting girls. She isn't stuffy at all.'

Jack hid a smile. 'I'm glad you like her. She hasn't had it easy.'

'Huh?'

'Well, I'll let her tell you her story. We all have one you know. Just that, right now you don't need to

hear them all. I'm just glad you have a group of people who care about you nearby now. Our few

counseling sessions here at the hospital can continue once or twice a week. However, a close friend like

Marie is good for you. Unless, do you have someone else you would rather talk to?'

Angie thought for a moment. 'You know, I've been so busy building my career that I seldom took the

time to make close friends. I mean, sure I go to a lot of parties and know who's who but I guess I never

took the time to cultivate relationships. Mike was the first person I connected with. My make-up artist at

work is nice though. She stuck up for me when I was being yelled at by some church people.'

Dr. King had heard the story. 'Not all Christians act like that you know. There is a scripture in the bible

that I often tell people. Part of it goes...'mercy triumphs over judgment'. It's up to God to pass judgment

but for us, and I count myself among the Christian family; I believe in mercy. Part of that mercy is

giving knowledge though so you can make wise decisions. That is what I do. I can give you knowledge

medically speaking but Marie can give you wisdom as well. It would not be merciful of us to not warn

a person before he or she makes a decision that affects the rest of their life. Do you understand

Angie?'

'Why Dr. King, I never realized it but I should have guessed. You knew Anthony and Marie from church

didn't you?'

'Guilty as charged. Even worse, I am Marie's father's best friend. So, I am glad you like our little Marie.

I helped raise her. Well, actually I was her Sunday School teacher.' Jack smiled broadly. 'Are we still

friends?'

'Why not? You have been nothing short of professional so far. You aren't going to preach at me though

are you?'

'Not at all. I will give you facts that pertain to your condition though. One thing I want to go over

again. Your medicine.'

Angie smiled. 'I remember. Mike is going to be handing it out. I will have to have urine tests randomly

or I do not get a new prescription for antidepressants. I promise, I will behave. What about work?'

Dr. King had gone over all of this the day before but even though it was still early in the day, Angie

was having difficulty remembering things. 'You may return to work but only if you are on light duty.

No long distance assignments for a while. I spoke with your supervisor and he had no problem with

that. In fact, you have a few nice coworkers. Do you know James Madison the chief director of the

camera crew sent you flowers? They do not know the full details though. Mike didn't say anything except

the diagnosis I gave him.'

Angie's smile went away. 'Yeah, I guess he felt awful about spilling the beans about my abortion.'

'Yes, he did. This has not been an easy time for anyone involved. However, my focus is on you. I want

you to keep your cell phone on you and if you go into panic mode...call me or Mike, Anthony, Marie or

whoever your circle is. Remember, we talked about having a circle of hope?'

Angie yawned. 'Yes, and I think it is in the papers you gave me.'

Dr. King stood up. 'Try to get some sleep. I have your discharge paperwork at the desk. Discharge time

is 9 a.m. You get one more free meal.' He smiled and exited the room.

A few hours later Mike touched Angie's arm and woke her up. 'Time to eat and then go home.'

'Good morning Mike.'

Mike was glad to see Angie agreeable to counseling. He had spent most of the previous night going

over the new plan. He was in charge of giving her medicine and reporting odd behavior to Dr. King. He

met with the Dr. for grief counseling alone once a week. The two of them would go to counseling twice

a week and Angie would meet once a week alone with him. He had gotten the OK to a leave of

absence from out of town assignments for a few months. Thank goodness Marie had no trouble

managing to move her and Anthony into the guest room. Mike was not up to playing host. She had taken to

making meals and making the apartment sparkle.

Yet, he had no idea how Angie would take to this new routine. Anthony and Marie would be gone in a

week. He was glad to have them around for now though.

As Angie picked at her breakfast, Mike signed all the necessary discharge papers and took the small

envelope of papers from the nurse. 'There are phone numbers for emergencies, a few pamphlets that

might help you both understand at least what she is going through and some other information the

doctor thought you might want to look at when you are home. Don't try to absorb it all at once.'

Mike nodded and returned to the room to find Angie packed and dressed. 'I'm ready to go.'

'Good. Let's leave.'

The ride home was short and Angie was soon greeted by Marie's open arms. 'I made us a nice pot of

tea and your favorite cookies.'

'You mean you made those kind you made in California? I love those!'

'Yes, my home made version of Snicker-doodles!'

Anthony and Mike put the bags away and Marie ushered Angie to the kitchen. Angie looked around

like she had never been in there before. 'It looks different.' she said.

'That is because you were in a hospital. Home always looks so much better!'

Mike walked into the kitchen and sniffed the air. 'Is that spaghetti sauce I smell?'

'Yes, I didn't know if Angie would want to go out or eat in.' Marie answered.

Angie hadn't noticed the kettle on the stove. 'I think I'd like whatever Marie cooked.' She sat down

and sipped her tea and reached for a cookie.

'Good, it will be ready in four hours. It's about 11 now, does anyone want lunch?' Marie asked.

Anthony answered. 'I'm hungry!'

Marie smiled up at her husband. 'You're always hungry. What about you Angie?'

'These cookies and tea will be fine for my lunch. Then, I'm gonna couch potato for a while.'

'Hey, why don't you and Mike go down to Grubbie's diner for lunch and let us have some girl time?'

Marie asked.

Mike looked over at Angie. 'Its’ fine.' she answered his questioning look. The men left Marie and

Angie at the table munching cookies.

'These things are addicting!' Angie said.

'Well, I think you can use a few pounds. Jack said you had lost over 25 pounds. I just thought you were

skinny when you were in California.'

Angie stopped eating and remembered what the doctor had told her. 'Dr. King is a friend of your

family? He went to church with you right?'

'Yes, as long as I have been alive there has always been 'Uncle' Jack. I don't use the 'Uncle' part when

he is at the hospital though. It causes too many questions.'

'I can imagine. But, he sure thinks the world of you.'

Marie grinned. 'The feeling is mutual.'

Angie felt like she needed to lay her cards on the table. 'Look, I know you are all Christians and all

but I still need to be straight with you. I am not in to all that. I mean, I still am pro-choice. I reacted bad

after this ….but I still think it's my own decision.'

Marie reached over and took her hand. 'You are expecting me to preach?'

'Actually, no, I'm not sure what I was expecting. I mean, I believe in God and all that. I'd like to think

there is a higher purpose for life. But, why would a loving God put people in hell?'

The plate of cookies and tea were a great invitation for girl talk. 'I had this awful nightmare last night.'

Angie proceeded to explain the dream. Marie did not interrupt to explain God to her. She felt that

God could and would define Himself.

'Do you believe in Ghosts?' asked Angie was trying to laugh it off.

'I know there are evil spirits as well as Holy Spirit. Let's not go off on that rabbit trail right now though.

The dream you had, it was different from the kind you told me about in California.'

Angie nodded her head. 'Do you think it means anything?'

'Yes, you are thinking of the baby as more than a glob of tissue. Am I right?' Marie spoke quietly.

A huge sigh and Angie decided to speak her mind. 'It was. You can't imagine my emotions these past

two months since I had the abortion. I mean, I was at first relieved to not have to worry about the whole

thing. Then, I end up in the hospital due to shock from blood loss, Mike goes nuts, I end up with night

terrors, sweats, mood swings, and now I just got out of the hospital from trying suicide. You have never

met the real me. I used to be normal.' Angie took a sip of tea and Marie let her talk without

interrupting.

' But, while I was in the hospital I had no one to blame for me thinking of the baby. [At worked I

blamed my pregnant coworker for my emotional roller coaster.] Yet, all alone with no one yakking at

me and just lying there...I felt like, well I'm empty. I don't understand why I feel so guilty. I mean, I

stand on my beliefs and yet I am being perfectly honest with you Marie. I feel so guilty sometimes. I

just can't handle this.'

Marie got up and put her arms around Angie's shoulders. 'I know.'

Marie hugged her for a moment and then sat back down.

'You know something? I was thinking maybe I should get pregnant again. Is that weird?'

Marie carefully poured another cup of tea before answering. Perhaps Angie was just venting and that

was fine. 'Why did you abort?'

'Well, I am going up the ladder to success so to speak. My face is a household fixture now on the six o

clock news. I am hoping to be having my own show soon. I travel a lot and I'm out a lot. No time for a

baby.'

'Well, nothing has changed Angie. Except, you want to stop feeling guilty. Replacing one fetus with

another won't do that. Give yourself some time.' Marie said.

Angie looked over at the pamphlets on the table. 'Did Dr. King or 'Jack' give you those?' Marie

asked.

'Yeah, he thought I should take a look at them when I am calmed down. When will that be?'

'Do you want to go over them together?' Marie offered.

'Sure, but I think I will go stretch out on my couch. Have you sat in it? Softest leather you can buy! I

love it! Soft as a baby's...' Angie's face went white.

'Let's take this to the couch!' Marie intervened.

Marie prayed silently as Angie moved to the couch. She had turned quite pale in making her last

unfinished remark. The couch was indeed of the softest leather and felt like baby's soft skin. Yet, the

reference to a baby had made Angie's face blanch and she seemed a little unsteady.

'Look, I really don't want to go over those papers right now after all.' Angie said. She sat down on

the couch and swung her legs up under her. Marie set her tea cup on a coaster beside her.

'That's fine.' Marie sat down and sipped her tea.

Silence went on for a few seconds. 'Look, I don't mean to sound off like this. I just don't want to read

any bad news about the after effects of abortion. I would like to just forget about it for a day...if I can.'

Marie nodded and touched Angie's hand. 'Really Angie. I'm not going to try to force this issue.

When you are ready to read, then you will. Do you want to watch television or use your laptop?'

'No, yes maybe that is a good idea.'

'Well, what do you prefer then?' Marie asked.

'I've got the remote.' Angie answered. She turned on the news and watched her coworker smile into

the camera.

Marie winced as she knew who that was. 'What now?' she thought. Yet, Angie seemed all right. In

fact she was concentrating on the television so hard that Marie thought she had forgotten she was there.

Angie suddenly got up and reached for her laptop. Marie didn't ask what she was looking up. 'I'm

going to check on the spaghetti sauce.'

Angie nodded as Marie left the room. When Marie came back, the laptop was closed and Angie

was looking off in a distance.

'Angie, are you all right?'

'I don't know.'

Marie went to the couch and kneeled down next to Marie. 'What is it? Can you tell me?'

Angie shook her head. 'I was fine and then I just wasn't.'

Marie understood mood swings with hormonal changes. 'It's understandable. Our hormones have a lot

to do with our moods.'

'I know. I also know that I chose to have an abortion. I know what those papers say Marie. I read them

last night, or early this morning. Do you know what they say?' Angie's voice was getting louder as

she was getting emotional.

Marie sat back in the chair. 'Do you want to share?'

'No, not really!' she screamed. Angie's tears streamed down her face as she began to rock back and

forth. 'I'm sorry, I just feel horrible!' she sobbed.

Marie sat quietly and waited for Angie's tears to abate. Angie wiped her nose with a tissue and sat

back on the couch. 'You know, I actually had the idea this would be a piece of cake. Why am I feeling

so rotten? Don't answer, I know. Hormones.'

Marie looked into Angie's face a moment. 'Well, that is part of it.'

Angie sat quietly for a while and Marie found an old movie to watch. Angie stretched out on the

couch. As the smell of dinner wafted through the condo, Marie prayed for peace to fill the home. She

looked over and found Angie sleeping.

Meanwhile, Anthony and Mike sat over pie and coffee. 'I read all the papers that the doctor gave to Angie.

I have a copy of them all. Do you know that there is a high percentage of people having complicated

pregnancies after having an abortion?'

'Yes.' Anthony said.

'I guess her sleep disorders aren't unusual either. She has horrible nightmares. Now, I know this is

going to sound weird but...she really doesn't want me too close.' Mike said.

'Well, I'm sure she needs to completely heal.'

'No, I'm not talking sex. One minute she acts really vulnerable and yet when I get too close she backs

away like I'm poison. I was so angry before last week that I didn't really notice it. But, as I went over

those papers I suddenly realized that she really doesn't act the same around me.'

The waitress came over and filled their coffee cups. Mike looked over at Anthony. 'I'm hoping counseling

will put put this in a different light. I just feel like I lost more than a baby. Most of Angie is not there.

It's been almost two months and she is just so different.'

'What about you Mike? Where are you now? You reacted like a wild man that first day you called. You

seem calmer...at least on the surface.'

'On one hand I'd like to walk away from her. Then, I think of how empty I'd be. I want to try. I'm a

mess.' Mike stirred his coffee and stared at the brown liquid. 'When I saw her laying there and I thought

she was dead.....'

'I know.' Anthony reached over and squeezed his shoulder. 'I know Mike.'

'Now, I just read how abortion is linked to increased risk of preterm births later on. Some women

become sterile. They can have cervical damage too. Post abortion symptoms vary but Angie's suicide

attempt happens pretty frequently I'm told as well. The doctor explained about the hormonal changes.

She's in a kind of mood swing and also emotional paralysis too. How on earth am I gonna deal with all

this?'

Anthony knew this was his cue. He had prayed about how to approach his lifetime buddy. 'Do you

remember much of Sunday school?'

Mike laughed. 'We had this discussion.'

'Not this one. I remember years ago when you were crying in church. You were about fourteen and the

sermon was about making a stand for Christ. You were the first one up to make a stand. I remember

because you were always the quiet one. Why did you make that stand?'

Time seemed to stand still as Mike remembered back to that time so long ago. He had felt like God had

called him out. He didn't know he was crying and was embarrassed when Anthony had laughed at him

later. The aisle down to the alter hadn't seemed that long because he had run down it. Mike knew

something had happened that day. He'd felt the presence of God.

'I just knew God was real that day.'

Anthony sat back and waited. Mike spoke slowly and he knew that given time, Mike would remember.

'I can't recall what the preacher was yipping about. He was yelling, that I remember. I just was reading

along in my own bible and the words suddenly began to make sense. Jesus was on the cross and the

two criminals were beside him. One mocked him and the other said 'We deserve to be here but you did

nothing wrong. Will you remember me when you get to your kingdom?' I must have read that a

hundred times. I mean, what guy will go to a cross and let himself get nailed on it? He had been beaten

and whipped all night long too. He could have gotten out of it. Yet, he was up there encouraging this

criminal about being with him in paradise!' Mike started to sweat just thinking of it again. 'I can never get

that picture out of my head.'

Anthony nodded. 'We cut up quite a bit over the years but something always held you back from heavy

drinking and carousing. Was that it?'

'I guess so. I mean, I never judged you or anything but it just wasn't for me.'

Anthony looked over at him. 'Yet, somewhere along the line you got lost and I got found.'

'Huh?'

'You heard me Mike. It took me longer to find my way and when I did, I looked around and you were

lost. Are you still following after God?' Anthony knew he might lose a friend here. Better to lose a friend

by telling the truth than lose him for eternity.

Mike inhaled and leveled his eyes at Anthony. 'You know the answer. I got involved with career, travel,

Angie....'

'What about now? Do you still believe?'

Mike nodded. 'I may not have spoken to Him in a while but yes, I know He's real. Let's get out of here.'

They walked across the street to a small park bench and sat down. 'I want to ask you something else.

What about Angie. If she had not recovered from that overdose...'

'She has no idea because I never discussed this with her.' Mike hung his head. 'This could have been so

much better.'

Anthony looked up at the blue sky and white puffy clouds. 'You can't give what you don't have Mike. You

can't fix Angie. You can't bring back the baby. You can bring your focus back to Christ though. You

have a choice in that. It's not like you need to turn from drugs, or booze like I did. You just have to

repent for skipping out on God and living the way you please without making Him Lord of your life.'

Anthony kept watching the sky yet fully aware of his friend. He turned his head and saw what he had seen

when Mike was fourteen. Tears streamed down his face as he sat with his head bowed. This time, Anthony

knew what to do. He reached over and held his friend. 'I'm not gonna laugh at you this time buddy!'

'Oh God, bring me back to where I was. Show me what to do.' Mike prayed. Anthony prayed over his friend

for quite a while. They sat under the oak tree until it was almost dark. Mike didn't make any grand

statements and Anthony didn't expect any. Mike was still the laid back quiet man he'd always been. Yet, his

heart was full now. He didn't look angry or beaten. The problems were still there and he had no idea

what to do. Yet, Anthony and Mike knew that this was a new day.

Mercy called out to Mike. God would never let him go. God would never let him just slip away. Mike

wasn't afraid any more.

Thursday began with a beautiful sunrise over the New York skyline. Deep indigo blue gave way to red,

pink and yellow. Marie stood at the window and prayed for strength. She knew the time had come for

her to speak more openly with Angie.

A shuffle behind her told her that she wasn't alone. 'Looks like the guys slept in.' Angie said. 'I'm

going to fix some tea.'

'sounds good.' Marie said.

The silver refrigerator door opened and Angie took out milk. 'We still have some scones left over.

Do you want some?'

Marie pulled the drawstring of her robe together and nodded as she sat down. She sighed and hoped

this would go well. She had prayed throughout the early morning that it would.

It didn't take long for the tea to steep. The two women sat quietly sipping their tea and buttering their

scones. 'So, how come you know so much about how I feel?' Angie asked.

This was the opening Marie was given. 'Well, when I was eighteen, I had one.'

Angie stopped buttering and stared across the table. 'You? Miss Sunday school teacher

extraordinaire?'

Marie smiled at the sarcasm. She had expected worse. 'The woman you see today was not always. I too

made choices. That one proved to be a horrible mistake for me.'

Silence ensued for a while. 'Well, at least you understand how I feel.'

Marie reflected back on her life. 'I was raised in a small town. Folks think that all parts of California

are liberal but that's not so. My folks had me in church three days after I was born. I had a wonderful

childhood. No abuse, drugs or mean things ever happened. Then when I turned seventeen I met a man

who came to preach at our church. A friend of a friend. He was 12 yrs. older than me and I was seeing

stars in my eyes. My ignorance and the fact that I was naive gave him a chance to do what he wanted. I

thought love was once and for all. He thought love was sex.'

Angie narrowed her eyes at her. 'A man of the cloth?'

'No, more like a wolf in sheep's clothing. But, I had a part to play too. Foolishly, I kept silent. Later, he

moved on. A few months after that I found out I was pregnant. I was too ashamed to tell anyone so I

went to a clinic. Like you, I lost a lot of blood and went into shock. It was then my family found out.'

Angie reached over. 'That must have been awful' she said as she touched Marie's hand.

'It was. I know the guilt, the shame and hormonal changes. It took a very special sort of people to show

me unconditional love. That's when I found out what a real Christian is. They point the way to Christ.

Once there, He showed me how to receive His forgiveness. See, no matter what I DID, it didn't

matter...I still felt confused and dazed.'

Angie shifted. Marie continued to speak. 'I could never look at a baby without thinking what mine

would have looked like. Each year I know how old the child would have been. I see school kids and

think, 'I wonder if mine would have liked sports, or been in school plays...I know what you are and will

go through. For me, it was even worse after I married Anthony.'

'What? How do you mean, Anthony isn't judgmental.' Angie said.

'Oh, no he isn't. I did tell him about it too. The problem was I had gotten pregnant soon after we

married and found out one of the side effects of abortions that you never hear is you have an increased

chance of preterm pregnancies. I lost the baby.' Marie's voice choked and she was unable to speak for a

moment.

'But, that can happen to anyone!' Angie whispered.

Anthony had gotten out of bed and wandered into the kitchen without them noticing. He cleared his throat

to let them know he was there. He stood behind Marie and massaged her shoulders. 'Sometimes, it's

hard to talk about. We ARE going to try again though. In the papers that the doctor gave you, it talks

about pregnancies after abortions are done. Sometimes, they are difficult. Marie just didn't want you to

not know.'

The love and compassion that Angie saw in Anthony's face was overwhelming. Here she was confused

and dazed just as Marie had said. Yet, Marie was going through her own nightmare. It dawned on her

then how their home was huge and yet it was just the two of them.

She started to say, 'you can always adopt' but knew that would not be appropriate. Marie had told her

how one fetus does not replace another. She imagined that they would sort this out.

'So often, we women think of abortion as a quick fix. It is our choice, our body and our decision. The

truth is, it's a long lifetime decision. It involves many people. Yet, for me...I have had to live with the

consequences. That gives me compassion when I see what you are going through Angie. I want you

to have the facts.'

Angie stood up and nodded. 'I have to go shower.'

Marie sat quiet and Anthony sat down next to her. 'You did the right thing by telling her. What she does

with it, we can only pray about it.'

The sound of the shower woke Mike up. He went into the steamy bathroom to find his wife in a towel.

Angie looked over at Mike's tussled hair and unshaven face. Her first thought was to run to him. Then,

she backed away. The thought of being intimate filled her with fear. 'Why?' she thought to herself. 'He

looks incredible and I love to be cuddled. Yet, something holds me back.' the thoughts swirled in her

head and she found herself leaving the bathroom.

She didn't capture the sad look on her husband's face. Mike went through the motions of his morning

routine and emerged from the bathroom clean shaven and showered a few minutes later. 'Want to go

out to breakfast?' He asked quietly.

'No, I had tea and scones with Angie.' Angie was busy applying make-up and glanced at him in

her make up mirror. She noticed the dark circles under his eyes.

Suddenly, she put her compact down and got up. Walking over to him she held out her arms. Mike

scooped her up in a bear hug. They stood in each other’s arms silently for almost a minute. Neither of

them felt any sexual pull. They just needed the intimacy of a close hug. Mike swallowed and Angie

felt him tremble. It had been months since she was able to do even this.

Mike was afraid to speak and ruin this moment. He smelled her hair and reacquainted himself with her

softness. Suddenly, he couldn't get enough of her. He remembered to breathe out. 'Lord, just help to

remember to breathe.' he prayed. 'One moment at a time, one prayer at a time, one day at a time, Lord

show me what to do....'

Anthony and Marie hugged the two of them and promised to call as soon as they got home. Angie and

Mike waved and watched them board the plane headed for California. It had been an emotional week and

Mike was glad to have had Anthony nearby as well as Marie. She had spent long hours alone with Angie

as Mike was reacquainted with his lifelong friend. Now, they were alone and had several days before she

would return to work and he to his camera.

Silence prevailed for the first five miles as Mike weaved in and out of traffic. He drove into the parking

garage and handed his keys to the valet. Amos was well acquainted with the couple and nodded as they

entered the elevator. Mike was soon using his pass card and entering their condo. 'Do you want to order

out or should we go out to dinner?'

Angie sat down and tried to think of what she would like. 'Well, nothing really comes to mind. We

could go down the street to that little deli. I'd love a latte.'

Mike nodded. 'Sure, just let me change out of these shoes.' Angie looked around her and felt the

silence without Marie bustling in the kitchen or rearranging the flowers. She now had several live

plants to care for. Her hyacinth looked pretty. A spider plant and an ivy hung near the windows. Two

other plants with prickly things stared at her from the plant stand. Marie had said to water them once a

week and the rest got a little water each day. Or was it the other way around? She remembered she had

written it down and put it on the fridge. She laughed as she seldom put anything on the fridge but Marie

had bought these cute little magnets in the shape of plants to post the instructions on.

'Well, are you hungry now or do we wait until later?' Mike asked. Angie got up and said,

'Let's eat now.'

They went down the elevator and walked down the busy street. As usual, New York City was filled

with people of every size and shape going in every direction. The smell of pizza and hot dogs wafted

over to her from the street venders. The sound of cars honking and sirens in a distance no were so

common that she hardly noticed. The walked three blocks and turned right to enter the deli.

'Mark's Deli. We slice it nice!' was written on the neon sign in the window. Mike and Angie went to

the counter to give their order. 'I'll have a hot pastrami with the works, chips and large coffee.' Mike said.

'And you miss? What'll it be today?' The man behind the counter was about sixty with gray hair that

was thinning and he wore a white apron over his bulging tummy.

'I'll have a vanilla latte' with a tofu sandwich special.' She said.

'Women!' he muttered under his breath as he took the order. He'd been in the deli business since birth

as his family before him had bought the building. He had put new things on the menu but still couldn't

abide a tofu sandwich. He made them with light mayonnaise, spinach, tomato, and shredded tofu. It

was a recipe his wife found. Still looked un-American to his way of thinking.

Their order was made up and they found a seat near the window. Mike sat munching his food as Angie

looked out the window. She sipped her latte' and found she spotted mostly children and babies with

their parents walking by. 'It must be my imaHaleytion.' she told herself. Just then a young couple came in

with two male toddlers. Twins.

Mike watched as the chubby infants stood with their hands on the glass case and pointed to the bologna

and cheese. 'Cheese!' one of the toddlers said. Both had blonde curls with bright blue eyes. 'Cheese!'

They said in unison. The father laughed and gave his order. As expected, he bought cheese and while

he and his wife ate their meal, their little ones ate cheese sandwiches.

Angie decided not to watch them anymore. Her eyes had been trained on them like Mike's were. She

looked up and found Mike's eyes still watching them. 'So, do you want to walk over and get pie for

dessert?'

Her clipped sentence and forced words gave Mike a start. 'Uh, no but if you want some I'll go along.'

'No, I'm ready to leave.'

The couple walked silently back to their condo. Mike was hesitant to approach the subject but knew

silence would not do well. 'Angie, I know something upset you but I do not know what. Let's get this

out in the open so we can deal with it.'

Angie was trying to busy herself in the kitchen by emptying the dishwasher. She stopped and stared

at Mike. 'I guess I'm just moody.'

Mike went over to her and touched her chin. 'You know, our moods sometimes have something to do

with our physical condition. I understand where you're at right now on that score. They also have to do

with what's going on around us. Which is it this time...be honest. Not for my sake but your own.'

This was a side of Mike she had never seen. He usually backed away from situations that were touchy

feelie. 'I saw how you reacted to those twins and I didn't want you upset.'

'Me? I was enjoying them. You weren't though. Angie, you can't stop enjoying children. They are

innocent and fun, a true gift from God.' He wasn't going to say that but the words tumbled out. 'Listen, I

want you to know I am doing much better with your decision to end your pregnancy. I don't want you

to suffer from it. I want you to be healed.'

Angie was once again taken back. 'Well, aren't you just wonderful!' she said in a sarcastic way. 'So,

kids are a gift from God...so I guess I just discarded my gift in your eyes then.'

'You're turning my words around. Please, focus on your own reaction and not mine. Why did those

twins upset you?' Mike was about to drop the questions when his wife answered.

'Look, I can't put it into words because I don't know. I just wanted to get out of there. Can we please

move on?'

Mike sat down and reached for his wife. He pulled her onto his lap and cradled her for a moment. 'You

are having a problem dealing with things like this. I'm not going to push you. I do want you to realize

that you are acting irrational though. Last week, I took you home from a suicide attempt. Before that

you were addicted to sleeping pills. Before that you were having nightmares. Are you sleeping ok

now?'

'I still wake up with them. The medicine is helping me a little.' She began to get edgy sitting on Mike's

lap and suddenly got up. She put some distance between them and was confused why she needed to.

Mike sighed and got up. 'Well, I'm here if you need me.' Angie watched as he left the kitchen. A few

minutes later she heard him working out with his weights.

Glancing down at her coffee, she spied the pamphlets the doctor had given her. 'Side effects of

abortions vary and are different for every woman. This information is meant to help the person

understand why they feel as they do. Hormones play a large part in the mood swings. A woman's body

prepares for pregnancy by balancing itself with the hormones. The sudden loss of the fetus disrupts this

and may cause sudden feelings of sadness, panic and even suicide thoughts. The woman may panic at

the thought of intimacy even though she was close to her mate in the past....' Angie's eyes widened

and she took the pamphlet with her as she sat on the couch.

'Many post abortion patients use repression of feelings as a coping mechanism and end up with

psychiatric problems. A large percentage of patients go to doctors with unrelated illnesses only to find

that they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. A large percentage of post abortion patients

will be prescribed psychotic medications to help with sleep disorders, difficulty in social environments,

or unexplained mood swings.'

Angie was so engrossed in her reading that she did not see Mike standing in the doorway. He had read

and reread most of what she was reading and knew it described her. 'Lord, now what?'

Later that evening Angie asked Mike some questions. 'Mike, you said you were OK with my abortion

now. What do you mean?'

'I am never going to be OK with abortion. I meant, I forgave you.' He said.

'Oh.'

That night Angie had another nightmare. She was standing on a bridge overlooking a muddy river

watching a woman who was throwing her baby off the bridge. 'Stop! What are you doing?' The woman

turned to her and asked 'It's my decision. I decided I didn't want it.' Angie stood in horror as the baby

fell in slow motion into the muddy water.

Angie's hair was soaked with sweat as she got up for a while. She remembered what Mike had said

earlier. '....a baby is a gift from God..' his voice kept repeating over and over. Without realizing it she

was speaking the words out loud and rocking back and forth. Tears streamed down her face. She

hugged her arms to her stomach as she rocked back and forth.

That was how Mike found her after realizing she had been out of bed a long time. Her nightgown was

soaked with sweat and her damp hair clung to her forehead. Mike reached for her and she acted like she

didn't know he was there. Mike picked her up and brought her back to bed. Slowly he changed her

nightgown and washed her down. He spoke gently as he tucked her in and lay beside her.

'Lord Jesus...' he had no idea what to pray...

Mike found his wife the next morning sitting quietly at the table reading over the doctor's pamphlets. He

brought two cups of coffee to the table and offered her one. 'Thanks' she said.

Mike put his arm around her and reached down to kiss the top of her head. He realized she was reading

about the after effects of an abortion.

'Did you read this?' She asked.

'Yeah.'

'It says here that if I get pregnant again there is a chance I might lose it or have a difficult pregnancy.

Some women even become sterile if the procedure wasn't done right. The cervix might be damaged. I

read about the hormonal stuff but that's not news now. It says that there is a very high percentage of

women being on psychotropic drugs or going on illegal drugs even. Then, the suicide thing. Mike, what

am I going to do? Why are you here with me, when I know you hate what I did?” Before Mike could

answer Angie surprised him with another question. 'Is the baby in heaven Mike? I'll never go there will

I? I'm a murderer now.'

Angie turned her watery eyes to Mike. Mike looked worn out with unshaven face and rumpled hair. He

ran his fingers through his hair and sat back. 'The child is in heaven. Angie, if you and I are ever

going to live through this we need to go to the one who can help us. I know you said you were raised in

church and got nothing out of it. I'd like to introduce you to the Jesus I know.' For the next few hours

Mike explained the God that he personally knew. 'So often we think of a God far away holds up a stick

and is ready to pounce on us. In fact, He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to be our

father. The reason He sent His son into the world wasn't to condemn us, but to save us. You see, God is

the perfection and our own actions caused us to be separated from Him. We can do nothing to erase our

own guilt. God knew that. He sent His son to erase that. When Jesus died on that cross, He died for

every sin that man ever committed. Our only job is to receive His salvation and his love. You can't earn

it or work for it. You can only receive it.'

Angie took a deep breath. 'So, your saying that I just take it?'

'If you believe that Jesus is the son of God and want to be free from under what you are feeling right

now, you have only to realize that you have sin and need the only one who can save you from it. That

would be Jesus. You won't have to worry about following a whole new set of rules; if you allow Him to

be your focus...He will change you.' Mike took a sip of his coffee. His mouth was dry and he knew

something was happening here. He was excited but at the same time amazed. He hadn't spoken to

anyone in a long time about the Lord.

'One thing I want you to know Angie. God isn't far away. He's here in this room right now and

hoping you will turn to Him. You don't have to wait and try to fix everything first. You can't fix

yourself with pills, or self-punishment, or even by following a bunch of rules. If heaven is your goal

then He is the way. If peace is your goal than He is the way. If healing is your goal...He is the way. Do

you believe me?' Mike asked.

'I've seen what you, Anthony and Marie have. I couldn't understand it at first. I guess it's the weird way

you guys are so loving. I want what you have. I'm not sure how to explain it.'

Mike reached over the table and took his wife's hand. 'Can I lead you to my Lord?'

Angie smiled a little. She was a bit uncertain how to pray or go about it. 'Yeah, if you know how.'

It was a simple few sentences and Mike stopped and took the time to find some scripture in Romans. Yet,

in fifteen minutes Angie had stepped over into a new world. She had asked Jesus to be her savior and

to teach her what she needed to know about being free. She prayed aloud that she wished she had never

had the abortion. She asked the Lord to tell her baby in heaven that she was sorry and she would have

loved a second chance at being a mother. She told the Lord that if she got pregnant again, she would

never throw away the gift of love. She started crying many times and Mike took her into his arms and

rocked her.

'Angie, I don't know what the future is going to be like for us. I do know that God is going to be

there and we are going to be all right.'

Mike was going to phone Anthony but as he was showering, Angie beat him to it. He was getting dressed

when Angie came in laughing and talking on the phone. 'It's Marie. Guess what? She's pregnant!

They just found out!'

Mike was glad to see her reaction wasn't resentment. He took the phone and Marie was delighted to hear

the news of Angie as well. 'It's a new day Mike!'

'Yes, but thank God, He never changes.'

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