It was the perfect Spring morning and Rose was working in her garden. Though hesitant to embrace early retirement, she’d grown to love the serenity it offered. A gentle breeze caressed her face and the golden sun beamed its welcome to her as she pruned the bushes aligning the fence, taking care not to tarnish the delicate pink blooms. Macy was chasing after a Monarch in the yard, the orange tabby pouncing at anything that moved, and looked to be having the time of her life.
Rose stood back to admire her work, when a splint of silver caught her attention. She knelt down, dusting the fertilizer aside and unearthed a doorknob, realizing there was an old wooden door planted in the mist of her roses.
‘Is that light coming from the keyhole?’
Rose couldn’t see anything distinctive inside, but what she heard almost made her heart stop.
It was the voice of a crying child.
Coming from behind the door.
Rose clawed at the soft earth, desperate to aid the poor soul buried in her backyard. She didn’t think twice about slipping inside once she got the door open and found herself at the top of a short narrow staircase. It didn’t matter that she was a 47-year-old woman, alone, bolting off into the unfamiliar.
Someone needed her.
Rose hurried along and ended up in a dim hallway, tripping over something on the floor. She picked it up, turning it over in her hands. It was a pair of swim bottoms tangled in a bath towel with her name on it. She dropped the bundle and stood slowly, her eyes meeting the gaze of the framed solemn faces of her brothers and sisters along the wall.
An eerie sense of nostalgia loomed as Rose realized that she was standing in her grandmother’s house, the place her family lived after granny passed away because they were evicted from their home in the city. And the whimpering voice she heard was her own. It took everything in her to muster up enough courage to open the door of her old bedroom, but it wasn’t where she was that sent chills down her spine.
It was when.
Rose stood frozen in the doorway, the familiar feeling of remorse washing over her at the sight of her childhood belongings. It had to be the year she’d be starting eighth grade, because her walls were still painted that awful shade of lime with sample swatches piled all over her nightstand. The bedroom light was off, but the closet offered a manageable view of 14 year-old Rosie laying in the fetal position on the bed.
She stirred and locked eyes onto present day Rose.
“Are you an angel?”
Seeing no reason to frighten the girl, Rose said, “Yes, Rosie. I’m an angel.”
Pain was apparent on her tear-drenched face as Rosie tried to console herself, but it was of no use. Her sobs overwhelmed her once more and she buried her eyes into the pillow, clenching onto it for dear life. Rose swallowed hard and took a step inside the room.
“What, uh… day is it?”
When she didn’t get a response, she eased over to the foot of the bed, sat down and put a gentle hand of the girl’s arm.
“Please, sweetie, I need to know.”
Rosie rolled onto her back and a long trembling breath blew from her lips.
Rose resisted the urge to throw up. She had returned to the day that destroyed her innocence some thirty-four years ago.
“Why?” Rosie said, staring at the ceiling.
“Why didn’t you do anything? You saw what just happened, why didn’t you save me?!”
Rose felt her breath get caught in her chest. “I—“
“HE RAPED ME!” Rosie screamed, slamming her hands into the mattress. “He pinned me to the floor, ripped off my clothes and… you didn’t do anything about it. What kind of guardian are you?”
“I’m not your guardian,” The gears in Rose’s mind cranked. “I’m the voice of faith. My name is Hope.”
Rose reached out to stroke the girl’s hand, but Rosie snatched it away. She closed her eyes, praying for the right words to say.
“I couldn’t stop him.” Rosie whispered. “I tried to fight, but he was too strong. Once he was inside, I couldn’t even scream.” She gripped the comforter until her hands hurt. “He was my friend, how could he do this to me?”
Tears streamed from the corners of her eyes, running down her face to her ears and disappearing into her hair.
“Who will want me now?”
Rose kneeled down beside her on the floor, her eyes welling up for her younger self.
“Rosie,” She took a deep breath and spoke firmly. “Listen to me now. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. No matter what happens to you, no matter what you think of yourself, God has made you entirely perfect. You were created in HIS image, and no man, woman, no one can take that away from you. You’re still precious, still lovely, and still worth dying for.”
“I, I feel disgusting.” Rosie whimpered. “Like I’ll never be clean again. I can’t trust anyone, ever.”
“I’m going to share something with you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone.” Rose winked. “I could get into real trouble upstairs, if you know what I mean.”
Rosie lay silent for a moment.
“I can keep a secret.”
Rose smiled. “I’m going to tell you about the future. Your future.”
Rosie turned her head to face her angel, eyes wide. She nodded and Rose began.
“After tonight, you’ll become a hermit. You’ll stick to yourself throughout high school, and eventually become a social outcast, that is until you go to college.”
“Community college. You won’t have the confidence to try out a four-year university. Then, you’ll start working for an insurance company and stay there for ten years until you meet an editor who will help you launch a career in public speaking on financial topics around the country. You’ll make a lot of money and retire early. You’ll never marry and have no children.”
“So it’s true.” Rosie frowned. “I’ll end up alone because nobody will have me.”
“No.” Rose shook her head. “You’ll end up alone because you convinced yourself that you weren’t worthy of love.”
Rosie began to sob again, covering her face with her hands. “It’s all my fault! I shouldn’t have let myself be alone with him.”
“You couldn’t have known this was going to happen. There was nothing you could do.”
“Why are you telling me this? What good is knowing my future if I’m just going to be an old cat lady one day?”
Rose chuckled. “Funny you say that.”
“There is a cat, isn’t there? I knew it!”
“Sweetheart, there’s still hope.”
“But you just said—“
“You are more powerful than you think.” Rose peeled one hand away from Rosie’s face and held it. “You can grow in the knowledge that God loves you, and He has plans to prosper you in ways you can’t imagine. Somewhere out there, there’s a boy who God made just for you and you’ll experience God’s love in its deepest form through a beautiful marriage and the promise of a family. If that’s what you want. Or even if you decide not to get married, you life can be anything you want it to be. But it’s up to you.” Rose kissed her hand and stood.
“Where are you going?” Rosie propped herself on one side.
“I have to go back now, but I don’t want you to forget what I told you.” Rose made her way to the door.
“Wait!” Rosie scrambled to the edge of the bed and grasped Rose’s hand. “Will I ever see you again?”
Rose looked down at her, tears escaping down her cheeks. “You will. I love you.”
Her legs felt like lead, but somehow they carried Rose back down the hallway to the staircase, everything growing dark behind her. As she climbed, she began to sob. She had lived with this dark secret for over thirty years, never telling another soul. Rose used to have so many dreams, but she let them all die because she thought she didn’t deserve them, didn’t deserve to be happy. In that moment, she realized how she had let it consume her. Approaching the light of day shining into the tunnel from her garden, she resolved to make a change and start living fully and freely. She would take back control over her life.
“There you are, Rosie, I was looking for you.”
A handsome, tall man in jeans and a t-shirt came strutting from around the house and wrapped her in his arms.
“Beth just called. They say they’re on the way to the hospital now. Time to meet Baby Luke!” He brushed his lips against hers, kissing her deeply. “You’re finally a grandmother.”
Rose stumbled back and whipped her eyes to the plot beneath her feet. The soil lay undisturbed, every flower in its proper place and not a door in sight. She looked up at the man before her, heat rising to her cheeks.
“Daniel?” She whispered.
Somehow, Rose knew his name. She knew he was her husband and they had had five kids together. Three girls and two boys. She knew they had been married for twenty years and she worked from home as a freelance writer. Everything over the last thirty years washed over her and her legs gave out.
“Honey!” Daniel reached out and caught her. “Are you okay?”
‘She did it.’ Rose thought.
‘She, I mean I, no we. We did it.’
‘We changed the future.’