Today's Reading

1

Midlothian, Texas

I'm supposed to be on an airplane, flying to Central America to teach children to speak English. Instead, I'm sitting on the couch and nursing my third pint of Rocky Road ice cream, watching a Telemundo soap opera in Spanish.

As if the woman on-screen understands my devastation, she cries out and slaps her now ex-boyfriend, who's cheated twice in the last six episodes. I wish my own heartbreak could be resolved with a hand slap. But I don't get the luxury of blaming a person. Only rotten circumstances.

"You tell him, girl!" I say as ice cream dribbles down my chin onto my wrinkled T-shirt. I grab for a towel, but I must have dropped it somewhere between my third trip to the freezer and my pity party on the couch. I check under the coffee table and spot it five feet away, right on the threshold where my living room carpet meets the kitchen tile.

"Piper." My three-year-old Maltipoo pops her nose in the air from the spot beside me, her ears keen to hear my next command. From that angle, she could be mistaken for a teddy bear, which is why her breed has been lauded one of the cutest in the world. And my gal is especially beautiful with her soft array of caramel-and- white fur, a little button nose, and a forever puppy face to match her 8.2 pounds. "Piper, fetch."

She jumps off the couch, her head swiveling to look for our usual play toy—a stuffed mouse she fell in love with at the pet store.

"Fetch the towel." I point to the crumpled blue cloth and give her the hand signal to retrieve it. She's a smart gal, so it only takes two round trips to the kitchen to find what I'm pointing at. "Good girl!"

She hops back on the couch and drops the dangling cloth on my lap. I reward her with lots of neck scratches and a few tasty chin licks before I wipe away the rest with the towel she brought me. If only people were as predictable as dogs. In fact, I would venture to bet that if the nonprofit mission organization I chose to partner with were run by animals, they would have told me months ago that the Guatemalan school was in financial crisis and not to spend every free moment I've had for the past year desperately raising money to fund my teaching salary.

"Ugh . . . Why?" I scream at the ceiling nearly as loudly as the woman did on my TV. It's not the first time I've yelled at God since getting the heartbreaking news three days ago that my one-year mission trip was canceled, and I doubt it will be the last time. That is unless I quit speaking to Him altogether, which is not off the list of possibilities.

I slam my head into one of my throw pillows, replaying the phone conversation again and again.

"I'm so sorry, Darcy," she had said. "If there was anything we could do, we would have. They raised our taxes again, and it crippled us."

"Rest assured all your money will be refunded."

"We're heartbroken, too, but when God closes one door, He usually has another opportunity just waiting for you."

Then she cried. My sponsor—the woman who walked me through every application, background check, and financial deposit—sobbed on the phone with me for five minutes while I sat there numb and unmoving.

Even now, days later, it still doesn't feel real to me.

After two years of preparation, one year of brow-beating savings and fundraising, quitting my job, ending the lease on my apartment, and giving half of my worldly possessions to charity, I have nothing except humiliation and a Facebook post with 143 comments. If I see another prayer emoji, I may just smash my computer against the wall.

Piper snuggles under the pillow covering my face and licks at my neck until I sit back up. She knows I'm upset, has sensed it since the moment I ended the worst call of my life, and she hasn't left my side since. I guess I should be grateful, especially considering I've had my phone on 'do not disturb' for forty-eight hours now, so contact with the outside world has been nonexistent.
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