Episode 7, Part 2
Courtney entered through the back door and took the rear stairwell straight up to her bedroom. She slipped off her shoes and tiptoed around the room in order to prevent Billy and Isabelle from hearing her as she changed into her bed clothes.
She had cried her tear ducts dry on the drive home, unable to process the oppressive mixture of shame and embarrassment in which her mind was shrouded. Sitting in the driveway, she shot off a quick apology text to Arseman and Jake, knowing full well that this feeble gesture was pathetically inadequate in the wake of the childish tantrum to which she’d treated them.
With shaking hands, she made the sign of the cross and knelt at the bedside.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
Courtney’s mind took over at the conclusion of the prayer.
God, why did you make me like this? Why would you give a grown woman a child’s mind and then take her faith away? Please give me guidance, Lord. I’m lost and scared.
She knelt in silence for a few more moments when she noticed a dim ray of light beaming through the window above the bed. The ray terminated in a small circle of illumination on the hardwood floor. From the corner of her eye, Courtney thought she saw movement within the circle of light, so she got up close to investigate.
Starting as a golden pinpoint of brilliance in the center of the circle, the image moved and grew, expanding the beam’s circumference until it filled the entire room with stunning white light. Courtney was momentarily blinded, but as her vision began to return she was startled by an image of a large dove resting in mid-flight with an occasional gentle flapping of its wings to stay aloft at eye level. Just as suddenly, she felt overcome with rapturous joy as tears streamed down her face.
Courtney knew she had seen the Holy Spirit. With a fresh resolve and rejuvenated heart, she made the sign of the cross one last time before going downstairs.
Ridge Meadows Hospital
Maple Ridge, B.C.
Brooke’s eyes fluttered open on Theresa and Stacy sitting on either side of the railed hospital bed. She tried to speak, but the most she could manage was a barely perceptible smile.
“Don’t try to talk if you’re not feeling up to it, Brooke.”
She felt some strength return to her limbs at the sight of her sister and her friend, so with considerable effort, she raised herself up on her elbows and leaned back against the headboard.
“Thanks for coming, guys.”
“We had a talk with the doctor before we came in. It sounds like they sure put you through the wringer today.”
“That’s how it works, right? The worse you feel, the more invasive they are. Was that all she told you?”
Theresa nervously cleared her throat.
“No. They told us that the cancer has metastasized.”
“It’s in my spinal cord, Theresa. Do you really need me to spell oot the prognosis?”
Stacy attempted to stifle a sob.
“You better get that all oot right now, Stace, because you’ve got work to do.”
“I know, Brooke.”
“This is my fight, Stacy, and we all knew it was coming. I just wanted to be…a little further along before it came to this.”
Stacy bit her lip and dabbed a tear from the corner of her eye.
“The papers from the CRA came back today. Empowering Women, B.C. is officially incorporated.”
“Oh, thank goodness. Okay, you know what to do when it comes to Kelly. Any luck tracking down Ashley? Or Janice?”
“Actually, yeah. I was just gonna bring you up to speed on those two. Janice is the programming director for Broadband TV in Vancouver. As far as Ashley’s concerned…you’re not gonna believe this.”
“Would you believe that for the next 28 days, she’ll be living in a drug rehab?”
“No joke. I can’t help but wonder how you would have reacted to news like this back in high school.”
“Who says I’m not laughing on the inside, Stace? Making amends doesn’t mean you have to lose your sense of humor, you know. But this is good…I can work with this. You didn’t happen to bring your laptop, did you?”
“No, I left it at Theresa’s.”
“Okay, then grab a pen and paper. I hope you know shorthand because you’re aboot to transcribe a pretty lengthy letter for me.”
“No, to Justin Trudeau. Of course, to Ashley! Don’t ask stupid questions, Stacy.”
A smile spread across Stacy’s face.
“Now that’s my Brooke!”
North Vancouver, B.C.
Kelly was watching TV when Valerie came back in holding a stack of mail.
“There’s some mail for you here, I think.”
“Well, it’s your name on the envelope, but then it further identifies you as the Chief Operating Officer of some place called Empowering Women, B.C.”
Valerie tossed the envelope at her sister. Kelly opened it with her fingernail and pulled oot the form letter from the Non-Profit Division of the Canadian Revenue Agency.
“You’re not gonna believe this.”
“What does it say?”
“It says that I’m the COO of a charity for battered women.”
“Boy, your drunken blackoots are sure a lot more productive than mine.”
“Funny. I’m not in the habit of drunk-incorporating, Val. Whatever this is, Brooke is behind it.”
“Brooke? You think it’s a gag?”
“I’m not sure. I doubt it. She was really different than I remembered her when we got together a few weeks ago. This is either a naïve gesture to repair her image, or…”
“Or a motherfucking miracle, Valerie.”
Options Vancouver Treatment Centre
North Vancouver, B.C.
The group of new admissions sat silently in folding chairs arranged in a circle when the Hospital Intake Director entered and walked to the front of the conference room. She handed a stack of pamphlets with the facility regulations to the man sitting closest to her and asked him to pass them around.
“Good afternoon, Everyone. Welcome to the Options Vancouver Treatment Centre. My name is Marjorie. Today, you’ve made the choice to change your lives for the better and I think you all deserve a hand for that. Come on, give yourselves a round of applause!”
After a smattering of half-hearted hand claps, she resumed the orientation.
“For the next 28 days, you will be working with our incredible team of counselors, psychologists and, of course, each other in your journey to recovery. You’ll learn to live with dignity and honesty as you rebuild your lives and forge new, healthy relationships with people who are on the same path. We subscribe to the twelve-step recovery program, so you’ll be able to network with other recovering addicts and alcoholics while receiving personalized counseling from members of our staff. I know this is an intimidating time, but it’s also the beginning of your life free from the shame, fear and insecurity that are part and parcel to the disease of addiction. I’d like to begin by going around the room and having everyone introduce themselves.”
She motioned to the man on her right.
“My name is James. I’m an alcoholic.”
The group’s eyes turned to the woman sitting next to James. She sat with her head down and her hands folded in her lap.
“oh, sorry. ashley. i’m…a drug addict.”
They continued going around the circle until a man walked into the room and apologized to Marjorie for arriving late.
“That’s alright, Sir. Please take a seat. We were all just going around introducing ourselves.”
“Ah, right. My name is Matt and I’m an alcoholic.”
The quiet woman sitting next to James let oot an audible gasp.
Marjorie looked at Matt with confusion.
“I’m sorry, do you two know each other?”
“You could say that.”
Matt glanced over at Ashley, who was staring at him with her mouth agape.
“Hiya, Hon. So what have you been up to lately?”