That evening, Marla grabbed her purse and ventured into the bathroom. Something in her expression sent off an alarm inside Mary Lou. The angel felt compelled to follow her.
Mary Lou stood behind Marla. It appeared it took all of Marla’s strength to raise her head and face her own reflection in the mirror. She was instantly repelled by what she saw. She despised the person looking back at her, and no longer recognized her.
Her chin quivered as tears again threatened to spill from her red, swollen eyes. She opened her purse and began rummaging through it, obviously searching for something. She soon held a prescription bottle in her hand. She stood staring at it much longer than would have been necessary. Mary Lou felt even more uneasy, as she suspected the woman’s intentions. It looked as though she would certainly have a challenging case on her hands.
The angel wasn’t surprised when Marla took the lid off the bottle and looked at its contents. Mary Lou peered over Marla’s shoulder hoping to see what the bottle contained. It was as she had feared. There were plenty of pills left in the bottle to accomplish the task Marla was contemplating. Marla suddenly dumped the bottle’s ample contents out in her hand. She studied the tiny capsules, wondering if she should attempt to count them. Then she realized that was unnecessary. There were definitely enough for what she had in mind.
When she raised her head to again glance in the mirror, she jumped back, startled at what she saw there. She no longer saw her own face in the mirror, but Ashley’s instead. She was seeing her poor little girl’s black and blue face, her bruised and battered body. That was the picture that tormented her dreams at night, if in fact, she was ever able to fall asleep. Yet Ashley’s face tortured her in the daytime as well. It seemed that everywhere she looked, there was Ashley, staring at her with accusing eyes. She couldn’t seem to get away from her. Marla felt as if she was losing her mind.
The young woman gazed into the mirror, into Ashley’s battered but beautiful face. The bereaved mother whimpered in a barely audible whisper.
“I’m so sorry, Ashley. I was never there for you. I was a terrible mother. You deserved so much better than you got, baby girl. How I wish Derek had killed me too. He might as well have, because now it’s up to me to finish the job for him.
“But I won’t be able to join you, baby. You were a good girl, and I know you’re in a good place now. But I’ll be going somewhere else. And it’s exactly what I deserve…”
Just as Marla was about to pop the first few pills in her mouth, Mary Lou intervened. The angel whispered into Marla’s ear.
“You’re making a terrible mistake, Marla. You don’t want to do this.”
The young woman’s hand halted in mid air, a surprised expression on her face.