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Catherine

Susan always looked forward to the time her daughter Catherine came home from school. At three O’clock she could look out her window and see Catherine coming around the bend with her friends. It was a lively party, full of laughter and merriment. And today was Friday, so she could look forward to spending a whole weekend with her daughter. Susan loved Catherine with an intensity surpassing the normal expectations of a mother. It was Catherine who transformed the shanty apartment into the richest mansion. Catherine could make rainy days sunny. When Susan felt overwhelmed with the bills, she had only to think about Catherine, and they didn’t seem so high.

Presently, she saw the familiar group of girls coming towards her. They were walking slowly and seemed to be engaged in a serious conversation. Susan watched Catherine closely. She couldn’t help noticing how tall she had grown this year. “Why, she’s becoming a woman,” Susan thought. “It seems like only yesterday that she was born.” Catherine was thirteen years old now and considered herself quite grown up. Susan laughed as she remembered how grown up she felt like when she was thirteen. “Catherine’s really developing a mind of her own. We’ve even had some small disagreements…”

“Hi Mom, I’m home!” Catherine’s musical voice interrupted Susan’s thoughts. Catherine dropped her book bag on the table and embraced her mother. “Thank God it’s Friday!” she sighed.

“So what were you girls discussing on the way home?” Susan asked.

“Oh, we were having a debate about abortion,” Catherine replied.

“I didn’t think it was an issue anymore. It’s been illegal for almost eight years now.”

“That’s the point. We were arguing about whether it should be legalized again. My friend Kyla’s mom was in the pro-choice movement back when abortion was legal and she’s collecting signatures to introduce it on the ballot. My other friend Maria’s parents were in this group that blocked abortion clinics and pressured the government to make it illegal because of all the trouble they were causing. Anyway, they were arguing about it. For a while, I felt caught in the middle, but now I’ve made up my mind, so I was arguing too.”

“So what do you think?” Susan asked.

“Oh, I’m pro-choice,” Catherine said in a matter of fact way.

“Oh brother,” Susan said. “Good grief!”

“Oh Mom, I know you’re pro-life. So we disagree. Big deal.”

“It is a big deal,” Susan said weakly. “It’s ah… well you see…” she stuttered. She seemed helpless and glanced at the Cross hanging on the wall, with a blank, what-do-I-do-now look. Catherine stared at her, making her uneasy. After an uncomfortable silence, Susan said:

“Catherine, this is something you have to make up your own mind about. But before you do, I have to tell you about something. It has to do with my—an your—past. It’s something I dread to think about but on the other hand, I thank God for it.”

“What could that be?” Catherine asked cautiously.

“Sit down next to me and I’ll tell you.” Catherine gingerly sat down on the sofa and Susan told her story.

“You once asked me who your father was and I told you that I didn’t know. I wouldn’t tell you anymore because you were too young to really understand. About fourteen years ago I met a guy at school. This was my first year away from home and felt really independent. I could do whatever I wanted without my parents breathing down my neck all the time. It really was freedom. Well this guy and I really liked each other, so we went on a few dates. Pretty soon, our friendship turned into love and then passion. One evening we went to the beach for an evening swim. But he did not want to swim; he wanted to be with me and I with him. So we found a quiet, secluded area behind some trees and made love.

“The next morning I woke up and couldn’t believe what I had done. I hoped that it was just a nightmare, but I knew it wasn’t. I felt that if my parents ever knew they would kill me. Then I began to believe that God had abandoned me.

“After a few days I was able to think about it rationally. I decided that I could deal with God hating me. After all, I had turned my back on Him the day I left home. But I knew I would just die if my parents ever knew. I just wouldn’t be able to bear the shame and hurt it would cause us. So I resolved not to tell them. The only other way they would know would be if I got pregnant. So then I became quite fearful, constantly worrying about it.

“I finally got so afraid that my roommate asked me what was wrong. I told her the whole story and asked her how I would be able to know if I was pregnant. She told me that I’d have to wait a couple weeks and then I could take a test at a clinic she knew of. Needless to say, the next two weeks were the most torturing two weeks I have ever lived. What added to my anxiety was the fact that I was going to go home about three months later. If I was pregnant I would certainly show. Even if I didn’t, how could I live at home for a whole summer and keep it secret especially from my all-knowing mom?

“Finally, the two weeks expired and sick with worry I drove over to the clinic my roommate had talked about to take a pregnancy test. The test came out positive. So my worst nightmare had come true. The nurse who gave me the test asked me if I would like to talk it over. I wasn’t used to telling strangers my problems but she seemed so nice and concerned that I said I would like to. She quickly assured me that it wouldn’t cost me a penny. She then ushered me into a little office and we sat down to talk.

“I told her everything—about my fear of letting my parents know, about my uncertainty about raising a child and my reluctance to give it up for adoption. I must tell you, Catherine, that the moment I found out I was pregnant, I considered myself your mother. It was only after a few minutes that the problems came crashing in. for a few seconds, though, I felt only love and tenderness for this baby that was living inside of me. But talking to the counselor made me think more and more of the problems.

“She listened patiently to all I had to say. Then she bent her head deep in thought for a few minutes. The silence between us was unbearable. Finally, she put this big smile on her face and said: ‘I have the perfect solution for you!’

“’Really?’ I asked?

“’It’s really quite simple. Your parents will never have to know. You’ll never have to worry about leaving school to raise a kid. You can keep living as if this never happened,’ she answered brightly.

“’What do I have to do?’ I asked.

“’You know what an abortion is?’ she asked. I had heard the word before but I had never thought of it applying to me. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? I had gone through two weeks of torture when all I had to do was get an abortion.

“’Yes I have,’ I said, relieved. ‘I’ll get an appointment. I don’t care how much it costs. Just sign me up.’

“the counselor smiled as she flipped through a notebook. She brightened up as she found a place for me.

“’I can set you up for April 29. That’s the day after tomorrow,’ she said happily.

“’Does it have to be so soon?’ I asked. Now that I knew the solution to all my problems I wanted to relax and take my time.

“’Well, if you want to terminate your pregnancy, you ought to have it done as soon as you can,’ she replied. ‘Why would you want to carry a burden any longer than you need to? Or if you want a scientific explanation…’

“’No, that’s OK,’ I said. ‘the first reason sounds good to me. When should I be here?’

“She laughed pleasantly. Then she said: ‘Come here at about quarter to seven and plan to spend the morning here because there are some tests we have to do before the procedure, and then you’ll need some time to recover afterwards.’

“’Recover?’ I asked. ‘You’re sure it’s safe?’

“’Oh yes, it’s quite safe,’ she assured me. She handed me an appointment slip and I left. I felt so much better coming out than I had going in. In two days I would be free. I called my boyfriend as soon as I got home. I felt bad for the way I had acted around him lately. I hadn’t told him that I was pregnant and I had been so anxious that I couldn’t enjoy him. I meant to apologize to him.

“But when I called him he wouldn’t accept my apology. He thought I had been playing around with another guy, and so to get even, he had found another girlfriend who was much more considerate than what I had been. For some odd reason that didn’t bother me at all. I realized that I didn’t want him anymore. I blamed him for the agony of the past two weeks and for the expense of the abortion. I had planned to put a down payment on a used car with the money, but now it was needed elsewhere. I started to hate him for not knowing that I was pregnant and trying to help me even though he really had no way of finding out.

“Two days later, on April 29, I woke up early and drove to the clinic. I had barely parked my car when about six men and women wearing blue vests swarmed my car. I rolled down my window and asked what the trouble was.

“’We’re escorts from the clinic and we can walk you to the door,’ one of them said.

“’Why that’s really nice of you,’ I faltered. ‘But why so many of you?’

“’We’re here to protect your choice,’ another one said.

“’What choice?’ I asked.

“’Your choice to have an abortion,’ someone said.

“I got out of the car and two of the escorts held my arms and the others made a circle around me. We began our parade to the door in that fashion.

“I had barely taken ten steps when I noticed a woman out of the corner of my eye trying to get my attention. She was shouting something but the voices of my bodyguards kept drowning her out. She seemed to be trying to tell me something very important and I thought it was rude to ignore her so I stopped. The escorts pulled me forward, but my brief halt had given the woman time to get closer. One of the escorts, a girl with brown braided hair, roughly pushed her aside and our procession kept going. Undaunted, she tried to hand me a pamphlet, which one of the escorts grabbed and threw on the ground. She quickly picked it up and again tried to give it to me. It was again snatched from her hand and one of the escorts kicked her in the shin. She didn’t seem to notice and she kept shouting to me. We were about five feet from the door when I again stopped. The escorts tried to pull me in but I just stood there. I wanted to talk to this woman. I figured that she must have had something pretty important to tell me if she was going to put up with all that grief.

“’Wait, I want to talk to this lady,’ I said to one of the escorts.

“’Oh, don’t listen to her. She wants to interfere with your choice,’ was his impatient answer.

“’Let’s go,’ another one said.

“’I appreciate all your help but if you don’t mind I would like to speak with this lady,’ I said again. I was starting to get annoyed at these persistent escorts. I looked over at the woman and saw that she had her head bowed in prayer. After quite a bit more coaxing my bodyguard left me and went into the clinic. The last person called over her shoulder: ‘If that lady does anything to you, just holler and we’ll be there!’ I hardly heard her.

“I started to walk over to the woman. As soon as she saw me coming she ran over.

“’Wow, you had quite a time with those escorts, didn’t you?’ she said. ‘I heard everything.’

“’Yeah, it sure was rough,’ I replied. We both laughed. I liked this lady; she was pleasant. The counselor at the clinic had been nice but this woman was nice in a different way. I noticed a bruise on her leg where she had been kicked and that reminded me that she had something important to tell me.

“’What were you trying to tell me?’ I asked.

“’I want to tell you that I’m here in Jesus’ name because I care about you,’ she replied. ‘Oh, by the way, my name is Ginny.’

“’Mine’s Susan,’ I told her. ‘I’m here for an abortion,’ I added by way of explanation.

“’Oh really?’ Ginny said. ‘Do you know that you’ll probably end up with some lousy complication? Look here.’ She opened her pamphlet. ‘See you could end up with a nasty infection if the abortionist doesn’t sterilize the machine. Or you could be so maimed by the procedure itself that you might never be able to have children again. You could even die.’

“’That’s really scary,’ I said. ‘But if I don’t have an abortion I don’t think I can care for a child, and besides, my parents would disown me if they ever found out I was pregnant.’

“’I know people who would gladly give you all the practical help you need to raise a child because it is a challenge,’ Ginny replied. ‘But are you sure your parents would kick you out?’

“’Well, actually, the subject never came up between us. You see, I was always a good girl,’ I answered. I started to choke up, so I continued abruptly, ‘I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, but I’m going to be late for my appointment.’ I started to walk to the door.

“’Wait a minute,’ Ginny called after me. ‘Won’t you take this pamphlet and look at it before it’s too late?’ I took the pamphlet and put it in my purse, not intending to look at it.

“’Mind if we pray together?’ she again asked. She was starting to get on my nerves, and I got sharp with her.

“’Look,’ I said. ‘You can pray that none of those horrible things happen to me, OK?’ Then I went in.

“I was greeted by one of the escorts that had tried to help me in. She smiled at me and asked if ‘that anti-choice person’ had given me any propaganda. I told her to lay off. I don’t understand why I was so mad at everyone. All I could think of was that both the escorts and Ginny had made the whole thing more complicated and more of a hassle. I decided to ignore everything that all of them had said. I just couldn’t handle thinking about it.

“The nurses there got me started on all the pre-abortion procedures. When they were all done I had to wait for the results before going on. I never liked waiting for anything, but I was especially nervous this time. After all, it was an operation. And all the things that Ginny had told me started whizzing through my mind. I simply could not ignore them. I had brought a textbook with me, so I opened it up and tried to study.

“I couldn’t concentrate on that so I just sat there. After a while I couldn’t stand just sitting there worrying, so I got out the pamphlet that Ginny had given me. It was really easy reading—just what I needed to pass the time; something unintelligent but able to occupy my mind for the moment. In it there were statistics on the problems abortion caused, and few phone numbers to call including Ginny’s, a picture of an unborn baby, and a few Bible passages. The one that I remember the most said something about knowing the truth and the truth setting you free.

“’Then I found a contradiction: on the wall in front of me was a poster showing the development of an unborn baby. I checked the age of the baby pictured in the pamphlet and compared it to the corresponding representation on the poster. The one in the pamphlet had arms and legs and a face. The one of the poster was a shapeless mass with five bumps sticking out, which I suppose were the head, arms, and legs. I looked at the captions and both of them claimed that the picture was an actual photograph of a human fetus. That got me really confused; I kept thinking about the truth setting me free and I very much liked the idea but now I did not know the truth.

“I decided that I would have to ask Ginny about it and see if she had any more pictures. Much as I dreaded to, I felt compelled to go back outside and talk to her. When I got out, however, I looked all over for her but she was nowhere to be found. She must have gone home or to work. For some reason, I was angry at her for not being there when I really needed her. I dejectedly walked back in thinking that maybe she didn’t really care about me at all. I sat back down and continued to wait. I threw the pamphlet away in disgust.

“After about five minutes I got really uneasy. Although I had thrown the pamphlet in the garbage I still saw the picture of the baby in it, and staring at me from the wall was the eerie shapeless ghost of a baby. I still did not know which one was the right one. I just knew at that moment that I could not go through with the abortion until I knew the truth. The reason was that one of the ‘babies’ looked like a real person, and I knew I would be committing passive murder if that was what my baby looked like.

“I had already paid the money for the abortion so I went up to the front desk to get a refund. They really gave me a terrible time with it. The results of my tests were almost completed; the physician would be at the clinic in five minutes; the nurse was just about to take me in to the procedure room. It wound up to the fact that I had gone so far, so why should I turn back now. But I persisted and got my money back in the end and I left.

“I got into my car and then realized that I still had the better part of the day to spend. I decided to go to the university bookstore and look through one of the biology books to see if they had any pictures of pre-born babies. I never did go because I got so sick that I had to stop the car on the side of the road to throw up. After that I went to my dorm room and slept the rest of the day.

“That evening the worst happened. My parents called me up. Throughout the whole conversation I kept trying to muster enough courage to confess and I wasn’t really paying attention to what they were saying. Finally my mother said, ‘Susan, is something the matter?’

“’Why do you ask that?’ I asked.

“’Well, you sound so distant,’ she replied.

“’Well, I’ve been sick all day,’ I said casually.

“’Are you sure that’s all?’ she asked. The way she said it made it seem like she already knew, so I decided that I’d tell her and get it over with. Sometime that day I had decided to keep my baby. I don’t recall a moment of decision, but when I was talking on the phone I already knew that there was no way I was going to go back to that abortion clinic.

“’I do have something to tell you,’ I said gravely. ‘You have to promise me you won’t interrupt me or get mad at me.’

“’I promise,’ Mom said seriously.

“So I told her everything. I was surprised by how well she took it. She told me over and over that she still loved me and that I was still her daughter. She encouraged me to finish the school year; we could talk about it more over the summer. It was a real good time of healing, and we prayed together and cried together, and I promised Mom that I would start going to church again. I saw that Jesus still loved me. Finally, Mom told me to get some sleep. After we said goodbye to each other, my dad came on and we talked for a bit. He told me he loved me. After that I went to bed without bothering to undress and for the first time in several weeks I slept peacefully.

“Well to make a long story short, you were born on December 17th of that year. I had to make a lot of changes so that I could be a good mother to you. I finished college by taking night courses and classes by correspondence. I found a job at a Christian bookstore that didn’t mind if I took you along. And my parents were the most supportive people I have ever known. I could always count on them to help me get back on my feet; I could call them when I was down and they were always glad to watch you if I needed to be away. I eventually gave my life back to Jesus and experienced His love and mercy in a big way. I guess I turned out better than most girls in my situation do. For that I have God to thank, my parents, and Ginny.

“I loved you as my own daughter the day you were born, Catherine. After I recovered from your birth I thought about what a gift you were to me. That thought reminded me of the day I almost killed you, and I got frightened. What a narrow escape you had, Catherine. Jesus definitely wanted you to live. I then finally realized that Ginny had saved your life! I wished with all my heart then that I had kept the pamphlet so I could have called her and thanked her with all my heart. Since I couldn’t do that I prayed for her every day from then on and I still do. No day has ever passed when I haven’t watched you or thought of you and not thanked God for Ginny. I keep praying that I might meet her sometime and see how she spent the last fourteen years, completely unaware of the miracle that happened that day.”

There were tears in Susan’s eyes as she finished her story. She looked over at Catherine who was sitting next to her with a completely blank expression on her face. Susan wondered if Catherine was shocked and disappointed in her for not loving her from the beginning. Maybe she shouldn’t have told her; maybe that was too much for her to take. But Catherine did not betray any emotion. If only she’d say something.

“So, what do you think?” Susan finally asked awkwardly. Catherine didn’t say anything for a long time. Susan waited patiently for an answer. At last, Catherine spoke. “Gee Mom, that’s quite a chunk of information! I need to think it over by myself. I’m taking a walk in the park. I’ll be back for dinner.”

“OK Catherine. Make sure you stay off that bridge.”

“Oh come on! I know that,” Catherine said as she kissed her mother. The bridge had been declared unsafe three years ago and the city still hadn’t done anything about it. Susan kept complaining that someone would have to drown before anything got done about it and she did not want the victim to be her own daughter.

Catherine purposefully made her way toward the park. She still could not believe what her mother had just told her. Different parts of the story kept spinning through her brain but id didn’t seem to make any sense at all.

Presently she saw Kyla across the street and waved to her. Kyla came running over with a bunch of papers in her hand.

“Catherine, guess what!” she called as she ran. “My mother had a great day collecting signatures today, and all we need to get it on the ballot is another 800 people to sign. See, this is all the signatures my mom got today!”

“Here, let me see,” Catherine said. Somehow she felt that if Kyla knew what Susan had just told her she would not be showing this to her. She flipped through the pages. There were about five of them all full of names and addresses. As Catherine looked at them, the names became faces—awful, hideous faces with big, ugly mouths which said “Die Catherine, die Catherine. You are an unwanted pregnancy. You have no right to live.” She looked at Kyla. Maybe her mother had been one of the escorts who had tried to drag Susan in that day Catherine almost lost her life.

Catherine could not stand looking at them anymore. She put all the pages together and tore them up into shreds. Kyla stared at her aghast but Catherine kept on shredding paper until she was sure that none of the names were in one piece. Finally, Kyla blurted out:

“What the hell are you doing, Catherine? I thought you were…”

“You guys don’t know what you’re talking about,” Catherine choked. She was now sobbing uncontrollably. “How could you do this to people? Thanks to people like you, I might not even be here, but I’m glad I am for all the innocent people that you want to kill!”

“What the hell are you talking about, Catherine?” Kyla asked.

“Don’t you call me ‘Catherine!’” she screamed back. “Why don’t you just call me an unwanted blob of tissue or a product of conception or any of those other awful names!” Catherine shouted and ran ahead to the park, leaving Kyla shaking her head in the middle of a pile of shredded signatures.

Catherine did not stop running until she was out of breath. Then she nearly collided with Maria.

“Hi Catherine, how’s it going? Gee, something wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Catherine lied. “Listen Maria. If there is anything I can do to keep abortion illegal, I want you to let me know immediately. Do you understand?”

“Sure Catherine, I’d be happy to. Did I convince you?”

“No.”

“Oh well, I’m glad you see the truth now. How did you change your mind so fast?”

“I’ll explain later. Right now I gotta get going.”

“OK, see ya later.”

Catherine ran on ahead, but this time it wasn’t to run away from anything. It was a sense of urgency she suddenly felt. She pictured herself in Ginny’s shoes, driving to the abortion clinic trying to get there before Susan went in. It was as if something kept urging her to go faster—a voice saying “Hurry up! Faster! A baby’s life is in danger!” Every red light spelled out more danger for the unknown child. Every moment was critical…

Finally Catherine arrived breathless at the park. She started to walk along the river, admiring the giant waterfall up ahead. The roaring of the falling water was soothing to her. There was a clump of trees right next to the falls and that was Catherine’s goal. She loved that little place; it brought back so many happy memories—memories she might never have lived. There was also a sense of terror connected with this waterfall; several people had lost their lives there. One of them had been a lifeguard at the local swimming pool. He had slipped in and even though he was an expert swimmer, the water was so turbulent that he could not make it. The waterfall was treated with respect, for once a person fell in, he was as good as dead.

Right on the bank by the clump of trees was a stray vine that grew into the river in the most unbecoming way. Catherine wished the park rangers would cut it off because it looked so ugly. She had once tried to sever it with her jackknife. The vine wasn’t even scratched but the knife broke. Then crossing the river at the base of the waterfall was the fateful bridge. It had been built a long time ago by some enterprising millionaire in an attempt to attract tourists by having it so close to the waterfall that one could feel the spray. He didn’t make any money from it, so he disappeared and the wood slowly started to rot because it was constantly wet.

As Catherine got closer to her destination she noticed a woman walking towards the bridge from the other side. Catherine didn’t give her a thought and went on her way. However, something made her look up about a minute later. The woman was standing in the middle of the bridge. “She must be a stranger,” Catherine thought passively. Then, reality hit her and she shouted:

“Hey, get off the bridge! It isn’t safe!”

The woman turned and looked at her questioningly but didn’t make any attempt to move. Catherine broke into a run and hollered again for the woman to get off the bridge. Finally, she heard Catherine and turned to go. But it was too late. The next thing Catherine heard was the hollow crack of the old wood as the woman fell through into the water.

Catherine was on the bank in a flash watching the woman struggle against the current and trying to attain the shore. There was no way she was going to make it; the current kept trying to suck her under and it was just a matter of time when she would get too weak to struggle anymore.

“Oh my God, I have to do something!” Catherine thought. It wasn’t exactly a prayer but it got answered. She immediately saw the vine sticking out into the water and knew what she had to do. Without wasting another moment she reached out and grabbed the end of the vine and jumped in. She felt the overpowering pull of the current and hoped that the vine would hold out. The woman saw her and reached for her, but Catherine was too far for her.

Catherine let go of her right hand and reached for the woman, her left hand clinging desperately to the vine. She grabbed something—it was the woman’s long hair—and pulled with all her might. The woman started flapping her arms wildly in an attempt to grab something solid.

“I’m right here!” Catherine called. “I’ve got you and I won’t let you go. Try to find my arm.” The woman obediently groped behind her head for Catherine’s arm. When she found it, she grasped it. The current pulled back so hard that Catherine’s shoulder dislocated. It was all she could do to keep from crying out in pain.

“Climb up my arm!” she called urgently. “Hurry up! I can’t hold on much longer.” The woman worked her way up Catherine’s arm, causing her excruciating pain, until she reached the vine. Then she pulled herself out, and then helped Catherine out. They both collapsed on the bank out of breath. Catherine felt her right shoulder. It was completely out of joint. “Come on,” she said to the woman. “I gotta go to the hospital. My shoulder’s all messed up.”

The woman got up. “I’ll take you,” she said. “What’s your name?”

“Catherine.”

“You saved my life, Catherine. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“My pleasure,” Catherine replied, not knowing what else to say.

“You know, I tried to save someone’s life once but it didn’t work. Actually, that happened many times.”

“Oh, how awful!” Catherine exclaimed. “So you saw all these people die?”

“No, I didn’t actually see them die, but I knew.”

Catherine somehow felt drawn to this woman without understanding why. She recognized in her a kindred spirit—someone she could confide in. they walked on in silence for a little while before Catherine broached the subject.

“You know, I almost died once,” she said slowly. “Someone I didn’t even know saved my life, kind of like what I just did. What exactly do you mean when you say you tried to save people’s lives but didn’t succeed?” Catherine was hoping she’d give a certain answer. “What’s your name?” she asked even more hopefully.

“I’m sorry, I never told you my name. My name is Ginny. When abortion was legal I was a sidewalk counselor. Do you know what that is?”

“Oh my God!” Catherine gasped.

“What?” Ginny asked.

“Tell me more!” Catherine demanded. “What did you do as a sidewalk counselor? Who did you talk to? Did you save a Baby?”

“That’s what I mean. I tried to talk to many women going in for abortions but they all went in anyway. I guess I blame the escorts for that. They dragged all the women in.”

“All of them?” Catherine asked. “How awful!” Catherine was trying to get information out of this woman without letting her mounting excitement show. Could this woman walking next to her, soaking wet, be the same Ginny who had saved her life so long ago?

“Actually, there was one girl who fought the escorts to talk to me. I remember her quite well. We started to have a really good conversation. She was about to say something about herself when all of a sudden, she turned cold on me and went in. I gave her some literature, but she still went in and to the best of my knowledge she had the abortion anyway. I really prayed for her for quite a while after that; she had been my best contact.”

“What was her name?”

“It was Susan. She was a really sweet gal. My heart really went out to her. She’s the kind of person who would have been completely ruined in every way from an abortion to say nothing about her unborn child.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Let me see. I was twenty-three years old at the time. That was fourteen years ago. Boy, time flies! It seems like yesterday.”

Catherine was really getting excited. Everything fit! Here she was, talking to a woman who thought she was dead. It was a weird feeling. “Just one more question,” she thought. “Lord, make it fit.”

“You said that Susan fought the escorts to talk to you. What made her want to talk to you in the first place?”

“Am I in court or are you just too curious?”

“Oh please answer this question and I promise I won’t ask you anymore.”

“OK, I wasn’t able to read her mind or anything, but right before she stopped, one of the escorts kicked me right below my kneecap. I’m almost positive she saw the escort do that and that made her think. I’m just guessing. Or it could be that there is value in suffering. If that’s true, I wish the escort had knocked me black and blue so that Susan’s baby could live.”

Catherine suddenly stopped and faced Ginny.

“What’s the matter, Catherine? The hospital is still a block away.”

“Hospital? Oh yeah, my shoulder,” Catherine said dreamily. “Ginny, that was all it took.”

“What do you mean?”

“You were just then talking about suffering and how you wished Susan’s baby had lived. All it took was that little bit of suffering to save Susan’s baby. Ginny, Susan’s baby is alive today. I know the story from Susan’s point of view. It was seeing you get kicked that made her think you had something important to tell her.”

“You mean Susan did not have the abortion after all?”

“Yeah, she left because the whole incident got her so confused, and then she just didn’t come back.”

“Do you know where Susan is now? Do you know her baby?”

Catherine paused dramatically. She was enjoying every minute of this.

“You are looking at her. Susan is my mother. I was her unborn child. Ginny, you saved my life. I thank you with all my heart. Thank you! Thank you!” Catherine cried emphatically.

“Oh Catherine, I’m so happy!” Ginny cried. Suddenly, without warning, they both ran into each other’s arms and were both crying tears of joy. For Ginny, it was a dream come true—to be able to hold the baby she had saved. She wanted this moment to last forever. It was Catherine who cut it short.

“Ouch, my shoulder!”

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I had forgotten all about it. We better have a doctor look at it right away. I wish you didn’t have to hurt yourself while pulling me out of the river.”

“Hey, it could have been worse,” Catherine chuckled. “Anyway, we’re even now.”

Fiction


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