Derrick stood behind the Akrobea’s smallest guest room, for a moment hesitant to knock on the door. Judith will be on the other end of it, drunk maybe and certainly angry. He didn’t want to imagine how she’d be looking but his mind already had. She’d perhaps look tired, her breath stinking from refusal to brush for days and she’d have her hair messed up, her jeans tight around her abdomen as she liked it.
Whatever she’s thinking Lord, help me get through.
He formed his right fingers into a knot, the middle one sticking out and knocked the hardest he could. The sound from it was echoing in his heart. He stood a while, felt movement towards the door. Judith pulled the door open.
“Here we go.”
Derrick mouthed to himself and took two giant steps into the room. He smiled. What else was there to do? The room was too dark for late morning- all curtains were drawn down, windows closed and there wasn’t a feel of air. It was a sharp contrast to the hall he had just walked out of three minutes ago.
Judith’s shrill voice commanded. Derrick pushed the door shut and stood. He had forgotten about the door the minute he entered the room. He had been taken aback. The scene was so similar to one from a movie he’d watched, a girl trapped in a dark room by a rapist who wanted to give her as much emotional torture as he could after the rape. Here, Judith looked like her own rapist.
“Can I get the switch. Or you’d get the curtains apart. We’ll need the light.”
Derrick strolled towards the switch on his far right, being careful not to kick anything. he flipped it on and there was Janet. She squinted a full minute and opened her eyes, indifference strong on her face. She was bundled up on the floor, an open bible between her laps and no sign of an alcoholic bottle. Her face had no makeup but was clean, hair pulled into a tight ponytail. Her slim body was pressed gently against the bedpost.
Derrick smiled, then chuckled out of disbelief. Was this a sham? Judith was supposed to be in a bad state, a very bad state. That’s why Janet called. She mentioned drinking, she wouldn’t talk. And he had come determined to bring her back to a good place with her dad, get a commitment for Jesus. Whatever shock he felt was gone from his look the minute Judith made eye contact.
“Janet sent me a text to come over.”
Judith didn’t smile. Her countenance was still indifferent and cold.
“Will you marry a prostitute?”
Her question was sharp. As she spoke, she tossed the bible. Derrick caught view of it. It’s the bible he gave her, same purple ribbon was hanging from it and from the question she asked, she’s been reading Hosea, the book he had bookmarked for her after their second conversation.
“If God told you?”
“Yes. That’s one. And if she’s changed. Say she used to be a prostitute.”
Derrick wasn’t sure the direction of the conversation, neither the reason. He decided to let her lead it till he figured what was at stake here. He sat on the floor, by the other bedpost and hugged his knees. The room was taken by silence. Derrick looked straight ahead, looking at Judith only from the corners of his eyes. She seemed to be thinking – deciding what her next question should be.
“Marrying a prostitute will be same as marrying any other woman, supposed God asked you to or she’s christian. That’s what you mean?”
“In a sense yes. In another sense no. Marrying a prostitute, christian or as obeying a command from the Lord won’t be the same as any other lady in the eyes of society.”
“Once a prostitute, always a prostitute huh.”
Judith let a soft mocking smile out her throat.
“Always a struggle for humans to accept another human different from who they knew him or her to be.”
Derrick smiled, some words from Lecrae popping out into his head -telling tales- some saw saved folks as doing that. There isn’t much you can do to get people to accept what they don’t want to.
“Reading Hosea is a good place to start looking at God’s steadfast love.”
Derrick felt a strong sense of need for diversion. He hoped the God was leading.
“It sounds like a sour Telenovela plot.” Judith laughed. “The faithful priest marries the unfaithful prostitute.”
She didn’t seem done with the prostitute bit as yet.
“Quite a story. Always be ready for it to strike you with the depth of God’s love and forgiveness.”
Judith sat awhile, her eyes seemed to be lingering on nothing.
Am I getting through at all Lord?
Derrick felt his store of patience dissipating. A serious look settled on Judith’s face. Her jaws were steel set.
“Could you have forgiven my dad say you are me?”
“I think I could.”
Derrick was tempted to go into all the theology behind why but he didn’t. Wouldn’t she already know? She was a Pastor’s kid all her life.
“Do you think I should?”
Judith said, twisting her thumb, looking at Derrick. She hadn’t taken notice of his looks since he got in. He was in a T-shirt, a trouser and a flip flop, not close to a pastor who has been called for a counselling session. Was she that important? He must have thrown on whatever he found and rushed out, to her side. Perhaps she wasn’t just a soul to be won and added to his statistics after all. She had thought that after she texted him not to call again. She feared that’s all he wanted – a new person to add to the numbers busting off the pews.
“Should forgive your dad you mean? Yes. And also ask for his forgiveness but you may lack the power to do both fully Judith.”
“Because I’m not born again?”
The soul project Judith.
She chuckled and looked away.
“Mmhm. Without Jesus, you don’t see the full reason of forgiving.”
“What full reason?”
Derrick’s phone buzzed. He took it out and looked hard. An emergency board meeting? He stood and took some few steps towards the windows.
“I need to place a quick call.”
He said almost in a whisper to Judith, phone on his ears.
Judith kept her eyes on Derrick. His face was drowning, a scowl about forming.
“I’d have to rush for a meeting and be back in an hour. You’ll wait?”
Derrick put his palm on the phone and asked Judith worried. Today could have been it – the moment of the clear conversation about her heart’s state, about who she’d trust it to – and Francis calls.
Judith nodded and smiled faintly, her first in a while. He’d be back in an hour. Was she ready to know the full reason? She studied the purple ribbon on the bookmark. Since she read those pages in the book of Hosea, she knew she was Gomer. The reality was striking. And somehow she saw her dad as Gomer too, needing her unconditional forgiveness. And no matter how she tried to deny the fact, she knew she couldn’t be Hosea – love as hard and sacrificial as that.