Victoria settled in under the shadows of the huge oak and just closed her eyes to cherish the moments of quiet. Her toes played with the soft green grass when she heard scampering, barking, and then grunting sounds as two squirrels chased each other above her head. They were jumping from one branch to another digging their claws into the tree bark loosening the crusty lichen as it floated down like moss-green snow.
Victoria reached for her journal when she heard a swishing sound behind her. She turned to see Paula walking toward her with feline like steps carrying a glass of iced tea garnished with a wedge of lemon, just the way Victoria liked it. Jessie and I thought you might find a glass of tea to be refreshing.
“How did you know,” smiled Victoria, as she took the sweating tea glass from Paula, with a small salute with the glass as a gesture of thank you. Victoria took a drink followed by a ‘ahhh…’ to show it was just what she needed.
Paula asked in her in an apologetic voice, “may I visit with you for just a moment before I head back to the house. Oh, the kids are loving Jessie as they chase her around the living room in a game of tag.”
Victoria looked up after taking another sip of her ice tea. “Sure, sit,” as she patted the ground next to her offering a welcomed invitation to Paula to join her.
Paula responded as she sat down, wrapping her arms around her knees, and rocked back slightly to look up reminiscing. “Did you know my parents were old school with old fashioned idea, in other words, it was always an understood hierarchy of rules in our house where God was supreme, my father ruler, and then my mother at the bottom of the rank. As a child, I wondered how God played into the hierarchy of our home, because the only time I ever heard a verse quoted was the one that says that women are to be submissive to the man of the house. I never heard the bible verse about a team being unequally yoked where one ox is stronger than the other ox. The weaker ox is smaller in size and not nearly as strong physically or mentally making their cart go in circles. I believe that couples need to be of equal strength because the weaker ox will be unable to keep up with the stronger ox, and the stronger ox will attempt to compensate by pulling even harder making the lead ox angry, very angry over time. I heard the parable of the ox in vacation bible school as a child that was how I saw my parent’s marriage as a child because my mother was such a tender soul and my father was so domineering. It was as if he were resentful for the burden of being in charge or scared that he would lose his dominance and appear weak. My father would become so angry, scaring my mother and that seemed to make him even angrier until one day it was obvious that they hated each other. Mother became this weak little mouse, rushing to do everything perfect to keep his anger from flaring up. She would keep her children and her house in such perfect order to keep my father’s monster within its lair. Eventually, my mother became a nervous wreck and she hollowed out and died spiritually deep within herself simply because she could not keep up. I hate to see anyone hollow out.”
Victoria’s eyes became heavy as she desperately attempted to listen to Paula’s story of an ox.
Paula looked over at Victoria to see the half glass of tea slip from Victoria’s hand and land sideways in the soft grass next to Victoria’s leg.
Everything went black for Victoria. Shivering, she reached for the blanket that she kept at the foot of her bed, only to discover there was no bed or any blankets. She sluggishly opened her eyes to discover that she laid naked on a cement floor in a darkened room with minimum light coming from a small hopper window above her head. Victoria thought surely, she was dreaming.