“Please, pull over and invite me,” Mallory pled silently to the passing truck, “I’ll jump in. I’ll go with you.” The grey Ford F150 stopped, not to offer a ride, but in obedience to the corner stop sign. Her eyes rested on the door, imagining herself jumping into the passenger seat. The truck paused momentarily, then purred down the lamppost lit street, her eyes followed its departure.

A set of bright headlights drew her gaze. Peering intensely as the smaller car droned closer, Mallory stared, begging the car to notice, to connect, certain it was more alive than she. The petite sedan halted at the opposing stop sign, and she maintained her stare, daring its occupants to gawk as the car crept across the intersection and slowly passed. They glanced curiously at a grown woman crouched curbside, alone in the swamp air filled with mosquitoes. Mallory continued to watch the car travel to its destination, some four houses further, and park at an angle in the street. Questions of, “How anyone could hitchhike?” instantly were answered: risk takers prefer to jeopardize life and limb for a chance, a glimpse of feeling, a shot at adventurous renewal, than to continue in the monotonous, mind-numbing abuse of circumstance. Suicide had been contemplated, but she dare not harm the emotional well-being of her younger children. They did not deserve to question, “Why?” or feel unloved, ever.

She resolved to persevere with a smile for their sakes. Their mere lives merited shelter, protection, love – all of which she desired to lavish freely and generously – although, she suspected they, too, would reject her once they were older, but she refused to scorn them on speculation based upon others’ patterns, shaking her head willfully as she tore blades of thick grass, tossing pieces to the concrete curb. She yearned for love, acceptance, from someone. To be desired for her, not her body, not her money, not her resources; simply to be loved, for her soul to be held, caressed, cherished. She glanced across the street, at a mighty oak’s dense, wide trunk and immediately thanked God for always loving her, apologizing simultaneously for not being satisfied with His faithfulness. But, hadn’t He created woman to be held, loved and sought by man, and companionship with friends?

Perhaps her transient lifestyle since birth contributed to her perception of unimportance and insignificance to any one person outside of her pre-pubescent children. Certainly, people liked her; she was likeable – friendly and funny. She’d give the shirt right off of her back for a stranger, gladly. Yet, she did not recognize one friend as always there for her. She did not blame anyone; they were busy with life, with their own problems. She just wanted to matter – enough to be invited for a Memorial Day BBQ, or out to coffee – not merely for someone to invite her to “check her pulse” as one acquaintance had so delicately explained her invitation for a cup of joe. She did not want to be a charity case – or pitied.

Mallory desired to be celebrated. “Oh, look,” she mused, giggling slightly, “The grass pieces look like confetti!” The pulling across her chest, the threat of heart muscle tearing had subsided. Her breathing was evenly paced. Standing, she brushed her rainbow polka-dotted pajama bottoms. No vehicles had passed for some time. Cicada songs, frogs croaking, and bats squeaking intensified the air’s thickness. The cicada life cycle fascinated Mallory – to live underground in a pupa state for over ten years, emerge as an adult and live a matter of weeks above ground, singing nightly and reproducing, before dying. Was she in an underground, dark pupa stage? When she finally surfaced, will it be for a wisp of time, or will she enjoy a full, long life? Was divorce the only way to ascend from this hellish cycle? She questioned her sanity. She questioned her walk with God. She didn’t doubt His promises or Word, but categorically queried her doctrine.

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