Stacey took a moment to study the tracks cutting through the fresh snow leading to the church. It stopped snowing overnight but even the bone chilling cold didn't prevent some kids from racing through the parking lot on their way to school.
Nobody in their right mind would be out in the cold like this. And maybe that was exactly what was wrong with her. She wasn't in her right mind. But what else could she do? Bad luck and bad decisions took what little hope she had left and now all she could think of was Toby's future.
Just thinking of her son seemed to waken the sleeping infant in her arms and Toby sleepily began to snuffle and nudge Stacey as he went in search of a meal. Not now, little one, Stacey thought as she murmured a soft lullaby and rocked him back into slumber.
Wrapping the thin blanket more tightly around her son, Stacey trudged the rest of the way to the church doors. What choice did she have? No money, no job, not even a family to turn to. Only the cold and hunger to keep her company and certainly not the life she envisioned for little Toby.
Pushing the heavy oak door open, a blast of warm air rushed out to meet her as she quickly stepped inside, closing the door quietly behind her. Stacey knew Pastor Evans usually made his rounds at the hospital right about this time so no one would be there to watch her as she quickly made her way up the aisle.
No time to wonder if she was doing the right thing. It was now or never and she was afraid her courage would leave her if she didn't do it right away. Salty tears mixed with sweet kisses as Stacy drank in the smell of freshly washed skin and baby powder. Would she ever be able to breath again once she left this place? She didn't think so, but Stacey gave Toby one last kiss before laying the still sleeping infant on the alter.
Into the hands of God. Into a life far richer in things than she could ever give him.
Stacey stumbled through the doorway and out into the bitter cold, stuffing her worn scarf into her mouth to stifle the sound of deep sobs beginning to curl around in the pit of her stomach before melting onto the snow beneath her thin slippers. Knowing what had to be done didn't make it any easier. People around town would think her heartless for abandoning her child and in a small way they would be right.
Her son wasn't the only thing she left at the alter. The aching hole in her chest would forever remind her of that...