The below story was written more than 15 years ago. I remember writing this story part by part anxious to read what I had written to my mom. She was the best encourager and would listen intently as I read to her my most recent paragraphs.
I never did finish this story – maybe one day Leela’s journey will be completely told but for now you can share the beginning of her adventure.
by: MaryEllen Herrera
Leela was a girl who dreamt of being free. She dreamt of making her own decisions. She dreamt of being a regular girl of fourteen. But she was not and she couldn’t let herself think she was. Other fourteen year old girls didn’t have parents who forced their child to marry and other fourteen year olds didn’t have to leave school, the only thing she really enjoyed, to become a wife and a mother. Leela herself still couldn’t believe that her parents were doing this to her. She always felt safe with her parents. Etched in her mind was that terrible day everything changed.
It had seemed like a normal day. She went to school like always, but when she returned home and was introduced to a tall handsome man by the name of Taylor Clout, she remembered her stomach clenching and she couldn’t understand why. His smile was reassuring as he took her hand in his and she thought that he held it much too long. She tried to return his smile, but it felt awkward on her face and she hoped he wouldn’t notice. She was thankful when her parents excused her saying she had homework to do. She escaped quickly to her room and she only relaxed when her door was tightly shut behind her.
That night as she was doing her homework her mother knocked at the door. A strange nervous knock that made Leela feel dread as her mother entered. Leela remembered the way her mother’s hands were slightly trembling as she walked over to where she was sitting. Her mother was trying hard to smile reassuringly as she sat next to her daughter.
“Leela, honey,” she began a little nervously, “you remember that nice gentleman who came to visit today?” Leela couldn’t answer. She felt a shudder creep up her back as her mother continued.
“He’s really a nice man, Taylor is. He comes from a very acknowledged family. He lives many miles away, that’s true, but he is well off. Maybe he is a little old, twenty-eight actually.” Here she stopped and gazed lovingly into Leela’s eyes. Leela wondered why her mother kept rambling on about Taylor. It made her feel uneasy.
Her mother’s eyes slowly dropped as she began again, “Yes he is a bit old. Your father seems to think that that is good. I guess your fathers right, being of that age he does have a career and a place of his own.” Another pause.
Leela held her breath as her mother turned hard and spoke firmly. “Leela, your father and I both decided that it would be best if you and Taylor married as soon as possible.”
Leela let out a short gasp as her mother continued, her voice like ice, “You will wed tomorrow.”
Nothing more was said. Leela watched her mother leave. She couldn’t believe something like this could happen to her.