A Helping Hand From God ...
She hadn't been feeling well for quite some time, as if drained of life. Whereas previously she welcomed the morning with a smiling face and limitless energy, these days it was all she could do to dress and make her way downstairs. 'Maybe I'm lacking vitamins or minerals or something', she thought, so she took them, it made no difference - her lethargy was gaining ground.
Mavis was a rare sort of person. The kind of person some would consider a latter-day saint, but for many she was someone to take advantage of. These were inconsiderate people, hardened to life's knocks, making them emotional vampires of the highest order - hoarders of all they could steal or leech from those around them - and Mavis was their host in many ways. Poor Mavis, it was inevitable she would become exhausted eventually as she had no defense - no barriers in place - no way of stopping the flow, and so her energy dissipated, to bolster up her 'friends', who were oblivious of the damage they were doing. There wasn't much lifeblood left, barely enough to keep Mavis going never-mind those around her. The tipping point was only a short distance away, yet there was no stopping her - to put others before herself was in her DNA.
We live in trying times. People's minds are bombarded with the most extreme, negative images in a never ending stream of morale destroying news and visual stimuli. It seems we are being sent down this road by the very devil himself. The result of all this is moral decay, breeding dissolute, material minded, selfish individuals who have no other thought than to acquire whatever they can from wherever and from whoever, with a lack of conscience to boot. So it came that such people were drawn to Mavis as moths to a flame and she had welcomed them with open arms.
Should we feel sorry for Mavis? Isn't she nothing more than a simple-minded victim? Survival of the fittest means that some are nothing more than doormats to be trodden on. By all accounts then, no, we shouldn't. At least this is what society teaches us more often than not. So, she was trodden on - financially and emotionally. Charities knew she was a soft touch so they would contact her when necessary to see if they could wangle another £5 out of her for this or that cause. She gave when she could, leaving barely enough for her to live on. Great big chunks of filthy lucre had long gone into the hands of family and so-called friends. Although a lack of money was a concern it wasn't the worse of it. The real harm was being done by the incessant phone calls. The phone would ring at all times of the day and night and her uncaring friends would pour their hearts out over something or other. Fair enough a shoulder to cry on is needed at times and in a way Mavis loved providing such a cushion, but there was a cost - their problems became her problems. The needle had been in the overload position for far too long - something just had to give.
To receive help herself had never crossed her mind. Her whole ethos was that she was a bedrock of strength - an unbreakable bulwark - do as you will, she could take it. Her 'friends' were in pain and to take it away was her life's work. She was successful at it. Nothing could lift her spirits more than to hear, or see, the change. From negative to positive was truly a glorious transformation to behold. But where had the pain gone? Where had the confused thoughts and hatred gone? Where had the demonic rantings and ravings gone? Mavis had soaked them all up. In a way she fed off them. They were as necessary to her as food was to others - they sustained her. But by doing so she had failed to take into account the one thing missing from the equation - no-one was helping her to balance the scales. All the pain and suffering she had made her own needed an outlet itself. The emotional reservoir of Mavis was full and overflowing - the damn was about to burst.
In the street where Mavis lived there was a church. All her life she had hardly been aware of it. OK, she was taken there as a child, but such visits left no lasting memories. Strangely enough though her eyes had been drawn to it on more than one occasion lately. Her daily trips to the shops would see her glancing across at the imposing gates at times and the frequency was increasing. Never crossed her mind why though. After all what on earth could be of interest behind such doors? Yet, there was an attraction and a growing one at that even if it was buried deep in her unconscious mind. Something was attempting to break free of the impasse. A much needed lifeline was on its way and gaining ground. It was just a matter of time before the struggling hero would scramble free. What would it take? Well, the straw that broke the camel's back wasn't long in coming as it could have been one of many - the camel was on its last legs.
Sure enough, the next phone call wasn't long arriving. This call could be considered catastrophic in nature as Mavis realised she couldn't offer support as she was unable to make any sense of it, as all she heard were garbled ramblings. Only after the caller repeated: 'are you still there', a few times did her mind settle enough to hear the actual words. As you could expect this was alarming. This person needed her help in the form of comforting and supportive responses, but how could she give them if she couldn't make out what the person was talking about? The caller rang off eventually in a despondent manner, itself enough to send a shooting pain through Mavis's temples.
What on earth was going on? Something wrong with the phone? Couldn't be as she was able to make out some sentences. Maybe a paracetamol would help so she taken a few and tried to settle her nerves. The much needed settlement didn't have time to arrive as the aggrieved caller called once again. Still oblivious to Mavis's plight - just another selfish attempt to garner succour once more. Total failure though, as Mavis's condition was still the same - just couldn't' make sense of the caller however hard she tried - the words seemed to be all mixed up! Throughout the day she took a few more calls and each time the same ailment struck home. Was she going mad? Surely it was only temporary? But it wasn't and over the course of the next few days there wasn't any improvement. Mavis's mental condition was declining on quite a few levels. If she couldn't help people then what was she supposed to do with her life? What was her purpose? And to think of all these people who needed help! Her headache grew and no amount of tablets would make it go away.
Funnily enough, she had no problem going shopping and dealing with shop keepers. Direct, face to face, speech made perfect sense. This was the case each and every day, but no light was shone on her predicament, until she bumped into another needy friend who attempted to offload some problem or other in the supermarket. As soon as the conversation drifted to one where personal concerns were spoken Mavis's inability to decipher language kicked in once again, but disappeared once the conversation become an inconsequential one. It struck Mavis that maybe she was being punished in some way? Absurd notion though. Whatever was she thinking.
This was relatively new territory. Mavis needed a shoulder to cry on, which she never would have thought necessary in a million years. It just wasn't in her make-up to ask for help from anyone. Not once in all her adult life had she truly opened up to anyone - not even to her departed partner of many years. She wouldn't have known where to start, so she worried herself silly instead. After a few weeks of this the phone calls began to dry up. No concern was forthcoming - just the constant ill will of being disappointed. It got to the point where Mavis couldn't pick up the phone even if it rang. She began to cry oftentimes during the day and night. The increasing worry, along with a lack of sleep and all the other trapped thoughts, eventually began to manifest itself in a bodily manner: for instance her hands shook so badly at times she could hardly keep hold of a cup of coffee. Her appearance too took a knock as dark circles appeared under her eyes. A loss of weight was also apparent as her appetite receded. After a while longer her once steady mind raced with jumbled up thoughts which she couldn't contain or control. Nothing she tried, or could think of, made any impression on her condition. She would not entertain the idea of either visiting or calling the doctor - it was too shameful. With all the really ill people in the world why should she waste the good doctors time? She was losing the battle for her sanity and no help was forthcoming.
Mavis had little time left, but one last trip to the supermarket was on the cards. To think she would become housebound was too horrifying to contemplate - alone without any callers? Absolutely terrifying. Her mental condition was by now at a critical stage - there was very little time left before a complete, mental breakdown occurred. The shopping had gone relatively smoothly, but Mavis was aware of the sheepish looks her way by a few who knew her - she must have looked a sight. On her way back to her horror she spied, up ahead, an acquaintance - a regular phone caller. How on earth would she be able to cope? There was no way she could - then she realised the church gates were right next to her. Without hesitation she opened them, hurrying through the unlocked doors into the vacant building. The coolness, peace and quiet, struck her full on, as if she had been stripped naked and then clothed in a crystal, clean blanket and where other earthly concerns no longer mattered. The atmosphere was so alluring - drawing her in, as if she was meant to be there at this time. For once in her life she reached out to this alien comfort, walking forward to the alter and the statue of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The priest - a Mr Alan Cambell - was aware of a visitor as unbeknownst to all callers a string was pulled when the doors were opened. On being alerted he had made his way to the church with the idea of welcoming the unexpected visitor. His usual practice was to check who had entered the church by peeping through a window first, then preparing himself for a fitting and dignified entrance; but this time he hesitated, being intrigued as to why a person such as Mavis would be at God's house at such a time and also why she appeared to look so strange, so he waited and watched.
Mavis stood below the figure of Jesus on the cross and become enraptured with the outward display of pain and suffering. Here was someone who had endured so much for so many. If an entity such as God thought it so right and proper for his exalted son to take on the ills of the world surely he was someone she could talk to, as she had done the same - had she not? So, without hesitation she knelt before the alter, calling out to God to help her. Finally she began to unload some of her overwhelming burden. With each outpouring she felt a returning buoyancy until feeling quite herself again. Never before had she experienced such a feeling of calm, love and caring as surrounded her at this time. God had held out a helping hand to her - there was no doubt in her mind.
All the while Alan Campbell held his ground and waited. It took a while and during this time he was amazed at the change in appearance he was witnessing. A miracle? Unlikely, but something momentous had taken place right before his very eyes. Instinctively he could tell it was fine to move forward and greet Mavis - and so he did, but as he did so she moved away from him. It was apparent she didn't want to stay and talk things through. He wanted to help her. The only thing he could think of doing was to keep quiet, approach her and place a crucifix in her hands. Mavis smiled at him and turned away holding the cross next to her heart.
Mavis was her old self again. Word got around she was once again taking calls and lending an eager ear, being not only as good as she was before but better! Nothing bothered her and she was as pleasant as pie day in and day out, revelling in the intensity and distress of her unhappy friends - and indeed some became true friends as Mavis provided sufficient understanding to warrant their approval. Mavis was one happy, contented woman.
There was a major change in the routine of the household though, and it was the time just before she jumped into bed. Mavis no longer felt alone as her new found guardian never tired of listening to the 'goings-on' of the selfish and hurt. Her prayers were heartfelt and lengthy whilst hugging the crucifix to her saintly bosom. It felt so good to have someone so strong who was willing to listen to her own and others' troubles and strifes.