A tall figure underneath an umbrella walked through the pouring rain at a rapid pace while keeping a tight grip on the basket he was holding in an arm. The figure kept to the shadows, making it difficult to see them despite the bright street lamps illuminating the empty street. The figure also wore a long black trench coat with a fedora covering their face. Whoever they were, they did not want to be seen. The figure found their destination and hurried up to the door. They placed the basket down for a moment to test the door. They placed their hand on the handle and found the door was unlocked! They picked the basket back up and entered the empty church.
With one hand, the figure closed the umbrella and walked up to the altar. As they walked to the altar, they couldn’t help themselves in admiring the beauty of the church. The stained glass windows had angels with their names in panes. The lights were typical church lights and the candles in their red holders were out. The church had two rows of pews and more on a balcony behind him. They decorated the front of the church where the altar was located with seasonal flowers to accent the main white color. The massive crucifix hanging on the wall before him and a golden cabinet made the figure shudder, like the statue of the Lord was judging but also giving him His love and support. The altar was a table with a cloth covering it with a slightly smaller red cloth on top of it. A podium was to their left, and to his right was a board with numbers. The numbers were paged numbers to find that hymn. The church was beautiful even on this dark and depressing night.
They placed the basket on the altar and looked inside. Inside the basket was an infant. A newborn girl that was only a few weeks old, was peacefully sleeping, unaware of what was going on around her.
The figure sighed sadly and knelt down in front of the altar. They made the sign of the cross with their hand and prayed for forgiveness. They didn’t want to do this, but they had to. They stood up and looked back in the basket. They palmed the baby’s cheek lovingly and gently with their giant battle-worn hand.
“I’m so sorry baby girl,” the figure whispered. “I don’t want to leave you, but my life is not one for a baby. I will not risk yours like I do mine. I hope you can forgive your Daddy someday.”
The man rubbed his thumb over the small cheek, then he turned around and dashed out of the church. This was the only way he could protect his daughter.
The newborn woke to sense she was in a strange place and that her father was gone. She began wailing for him, but he didn’t come. She wailed louder to the point of screaming. She heard footsteps approaching and continued her wailing. The footsteps stopped for a moment before rushing over. She was gently lifted out of her basket and cradled gently to a warm, broad chest.
The priest had been doing work late in his office at the back of the church for the daycare when he heard something. A wail. Not just a wail. It was the wail a baby made when they needed comfort. He bolted from his desk and ran out to the main part of the church where the wailing was coming from.
He stopped in his tracks when he spotted the basket on the altar. He rushed over to the basket and gently lifted the newborn out and cradled her. He looked around the church and spotted no one. He went to the front door and opened it. No one was outside. He shut the door and headed back to the altar.
“There there now,” he soothed. “I’ve got you. You are safe, my child.”
The priest rocked and soothed the baby until she calmed down. He then looked into the basket to see if there were any clues where she came from or who left her here so late into the evening or early morning. He found an envelope, and that was about it. The priest placed the envelope in his pocket for safekeeping.
The priest looked again and sighed. There were no supplies for the baby except the blankets in the basket and the blanket they swaddled her in. He would have to use and borrow supplies from the daycare nursery. Before heading to the nursery, something told him to check the basket further. The priest shifted the baby, so he had a free hand and felt the blankets. There was something underneath. He reached underneath the blankets and pulled a small black book. He pocketed the book along with the envelope. He gave the basket one last check.
The priest nodded his head and headed through the door to the left and down the stairs where the daycare was located. He walked over to the last door on the left and pulled out his keys and then unlocked the door. He walked in and flicked on the lights. He gently placed her into one of the cribs and gathered some supplies such as a basin with lukewarm water and a washcloth, a clean diaper which would fit her fine since they had a preemie in their care and was small, he peeked in the donation box and pulled out a sleeper that would be a little big but it would have to do for now, and a bottle which he filled with milk and placed in the warmer. He took his supplies to the changing station and then gathered the infant, ready to cry again.
He shushed her gently and got her ready for bed. He fed and then burped her before swaddling her in her blanket. The priest rocked her until she fell asleep then placed her into a crib. He went to the other room and grabbed a cot. He would spend the night, just for tonight. He settled in and took the envelope out of his pocket and read it.
Dear Father or Mother,
I am leaving the care of my daughter to you. She will not be safe with me. My lifestyle and work, well, let’s just say that it’s not something I want my daughter to be around. I want her to have a normal and happy life.
"Why not give her to her mother?” you wonder.
I would. My wife, however, committed suicide after our daughter was born. There was no warning or signs. One day, she was just gone.
Please, I beg you to take care of my little girl. My sweet baby girl.
Her name is Arrow, Arrow Elizabeth. Her birthday is June eighteenth, two thousand and four.
The little black book. I assume you found it. It’s a diary, my diary. Give it to Arrow when she’s ready. Eighteen should be a good age.
The priest folded the letter and placed it back into the envelope. He looked at the clock and saw it was nearing midnight. He decided to get some sleep and look through the diary tomorrow. He looked into the crib where Arrow was still sleeping peacefully and smiled.
“Nice to meet you, Arrow,” he whispered.
He lay down and got comfy. The cots were built for small children, but it would have to do for the night. He closed his eyes and let himself drift. He would deal with the shock of all this later.