Over time, especially the darkest times, Louie learned how to tell when an Angel was around her. It was a matter of reading The Signs. She learned they were different for each Angel, each time they came.
Here’s how it began. Once, after a time-out and a bitter scolding from her mother for dripping bath water on the floor, Louie ran out the back door and into the yard. She sat down beside the incinerator. It was made of brick and, when she sat down, it was taller than she was. It was a good hiding place. Louie thought it would serve her mother right, if she thought Louie ran away. So Louie sat there, silently, leaning against the sooty brick, waiting for her mother to call out her name.
But she didn’t. Louie waited and waited for her mother to call. Finally, Louie guessed her mother knew she wouldn’t go far. She never did. Louie felt sad she wasn’t missed. And then something caught her eye. A flash of bright red streaked into a tree in a yard, right across the alley. In a minute, as Louie watched, a red bird, with a black mask, hopped out of the tree and onto a branch. The bird flapped its wings. Once, twice, three times. And then it flew away – a red streak like a faint red crayon mark on a page in her coloring book.
Louie didn’t wonder about it until later. Instead, she wondered if her mother was going to come look for her. After a while, Louie grew bored, so she got up and went back inside her house. She felt sheepish. Her mother was mopping the bathroom floor. When she came into the kitchen, she said, “It’s about time you came in. I made bologna sandwiches for lunch.”
Nothing more was said about the wet bathroom floor or Louie’s remorse for slopping bath water on it. Her mother acted as if she’d never yelled at Louie or made her feel bad by putting her in time-out and screaming at her.
Her mother’s discipline went like that. She would flare up at Louie, like fire roaring in a fire place, and burn hot for a while, and then she’d smolder, finally going onto something else. Her mother probably forgot about the bath water, or Louie’s untidy bedspread or Louie’s finger print marks on the refrigerator door. But Louie didn’t forget. Each thing she did wrong and each mistake she made that angered her mother was another dent in her mind.
When Louie went to the Bookmobile the next day, the librarian showed her a Guide book on birds. It had many colored pictures. Louie paged through and saw a Cardinal – just like the bird she’d seen in the backyard. But Cardinals didn’t live in Colorado, the librarian said. She must have been mistaken.
That night, in bed, Louie thought about the Cardinal and wondered how and why she saw it. She decided the Cardinal came to let her know she wasn’t alone in the world. That as bad as things always were for her, there was something beyond – something special — like a hand holding out to her, saying, “This Cardinal is for you – you only. This means things will get better one day.”
There was no one to tell about the Cardinal or any of the other Angel Signs that came to Louie over time. But the Cardinal was the first.
(c) 2015. S.A. Kravetz, The Bully Path.com