Saturday: Ruth

*I’m not quite as pleased with this one; it seems the learning lesson for me here is that I shouldn’t leave a story in the middle and try to come back to it later. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think I probably write best when I sit down and do it all at once. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this one – and think it’s better than I do!

“You are a good person.”

That’s what Ruth heard constantly. Every day. And she thought that about herself, every minute of every hour. She was a wonderful person. She had a beautiful heart. Her inner beauty made her outer beauty shine. She radiated goodness.

Maybe because she heard it so often, she felt compelled to be so courteous, so perfect. She regularly gave money to panhandlers; she was a firm believer in the adage that if you couldn’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all; and she always tried to do the right thing.

And until one day, she felt secure in her virtuousness. She was, to her mind, an angel. Those lucky enough to cross her path were sure to leave her feeling healthier – spiritually and emotionally. But then she met Miriam.

With luscious brown hair and guileless blue eyes, Miriam was stunning. And as naïve as she was beautiful. She took Ruth’s kindness to another level; where Ruth was fully aware that her behavior resulted from pride, Miriam’s was innate. She was, to be frank, a naturally good person; Ruth was not.

“What a lovely girl. Isn’t she just marvelous?”

Ruth heard the whispers, the comparisons. And it wasn’t just that Miriam was so much better, it was that she didn’t take any satisfaction, any pleasure from feeling like she was superior in such a way to make others marvel at her decency. It was just freaking unbelievable.

What was the point of putting such effort into making people like you if you couldn’t indulge in self-congratulatory behavior? Who could possibly benefit more from benevolence than yourself?

Ruth was baffled.

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