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A writing challenge: The door to nowhere: By Bill Holland-AKA Billybuc

Updated on January 29, 2015
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I am a writer of poetry and fiction. I especially love flash fiction. My name is Ruby, and I live in Southern Illinois. I am a retired R.N.

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There's nothing they wouldn't do for each other ' cos that's what friends are for.

A writing challenge: The door to nowhere. By Bill Holland AKA Billybuc

The alley below the apartment building was stewn with debris and dumptsters, rats and homeless people.

Was it only yesrerday?

Yesterday, when I was young and beautiful, so full of hope, vim and vigor

Today I'm dining out of a dumptster, holding a 57 magnum in my hand, oh so ready to pull the trigger

Once I stood tall against the turbulent storms that erupted unexpectedly in my safe and blissful haven

Today when the clouds bellow and rain begins to fall. I cry silent tears, remembering a time when my home was like God's refuge, known as heaven

A suburban home, a family, a good job, now my home is this alley behind the sleazy apartments up above

My worldly possessions piled high in a Walmart cart, dirty laundry, no keepsakes, void of memories or humanely love

I'm only one of many who gather here most every night

My story is familiar, my home gone with the wind, children left the nest and hubby decided he wanted to test the waters to see the bright city lights

There's Joe the drifter, scarred from boxing for his nightly fix

Eyesight fading, needing more and more poison to execute his knockout mix

There's Marge who works daily for her boss man, the pimp

This alley, her bedroom, an old mattress tossed, served it's purpose, earning a few bucks on her back, but still she must scrimp

You see Marge needs crack to function through the repetitious long days and nights

Her beauty fading fast. What will happen when the Johns look for someone younger who can pretend exciting joy, when in reality they curse the acts they perform, esp. the rough, playful slaps that invariably leads to hurtful fights

There's Granny Flo who diligently works the streets, begging for pocket change

Once she talked about her home, her family, her church, you know, the good life as a farmer's wife on a ranch with acres of free cattle range

One day she lost it all in the wink of the Devil's eye, home destroyed by fire, all perished before she returned from an old camp meeting that had lasted six long days

She cursed God repeatedly whilst in her daily drunken haze

There's Pete with his trusted, faithful friend Sparks. They've been together since his discharge from the military. He's afraid of noise, an auto backfire sends him screaming, looking for a safe place to hide

He's on medication for PTSD issued by the government, but he's antisocial preferring to sleep on the street with old Sparks laying by his side

This dirty alley is a lonely place, but a home to the misfits, the lonely, the drunks, the druggers, and the low class whore

There's nothing they wouldn't do to help each other ' cos that's what friends are for.




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    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Peg. Thank you for an awesome comment. I'm so glad you came to read...

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This is deeply meaningful and introspective, Ruby, as to the causes and conditions of these people and where they find themselves now. You've captured the pain and struggle they face day by day in order to survive. What an awesome response to the challenge.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello again Linda. That's another thing that needs to be changed. If we lived in most all countries we would have insurance run by the government and the people love it, they are taxed, but they are willing because they're well cared for. Thank's for coming back. I'm so glad you're well again...Thank you so much..

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      Linda Rogers 2 years ago from Minnesota

      So right Ruby-I was so blessed to get on M.A. after my insurance ran out from all the testing to find out if I had cancer. There are so many ways we can go from having a home to homeless. Again, a beautiful job on Bill's prompt. I love your writing my friend.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Linda. So good to see you again and happy you are well. I believe you are absolutely right about this event happening to anyone who works for a living, a good example, you, with your diagnosis, and if you'd not had insurance, it could wipe anyone out. I hope your sister is feeling better. Thank you so much..

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Your story really hit me hard. I absolutely believe that any of us is a paycheck or two away from homelessness. Anyone that doesn't believe it is being naïve. My sister is on medical leave right now and we are mighty worried. Thank goodness we have faith in God. You did a beautiful job on this writing challenge. Hit many buttons and voted up.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Oh Kevin, don't think anything about it. You should see some of my writing. lol..Remember I would still be writing ( i ) instead of I if it were not for you. I didn't think you were drunk. Have a great Sunday. Cheers..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Cam. So many writers have written hubs on this challenge. I hope you will too. So many took it in different directions. With your flash fiction you could take us on a surprise journey. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece, sad but true. I think all anyone can do is give of our money or volunteer our time at food shelters. I know I can't pass a homeless person on the street without lending a hand. I wrote a piece on homelessness way back when I first started writing and was criticized for giving money to anyone on the street who would just go buy booze. I said maybe he needed that more than food at the time and I still feel the same way. We really need more rehab facilities that will take these people in and provide detoxification. Thank you for coming by..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Genna, I read your poem on this challenge last night and it brought tears. It was truly beautiful, although sad. I can't explain the reasons why some look away and say hateful comments about the homeless. I often wonder how they became so callous. Many say they are just lazy bums. I don't believe that. Who would want to live that way? Thank you for coming to read. You always say something to make me feel good about my writing. Hugs my friend.

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      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      I must have been asleep when I wrote that comment Ruby, that was sloppy. If I drank I would admit being drunk but I have never touched any - except to maybe taste beer in HS.

      Kevin

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Jamie. So nice to see you. I guess we've all seen this. I just used my imagination to come up with the characters. I've seen a person like Granny Flo and always wondered what happened to her that made her homeless. Thank you for the well done comment...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Kevin. I think ' hairy ' is a good word for this piece. It is a sad story, but true in many places. Thank you for coming and sharing...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Shyron. I can remember when I was a kid, my mother always fed the ' bums ' who rode the trains. I guess there has always been people out of work or whatever, but it made a lasting impression on me. She never allowed them in the house and they knew that. She fed them on the porch. We were as poor as anyone, but she was a sharer. I guess it could happen to anyone today. The economy is so fragile. Thank you so much..Hugs my friend.

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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      Ruby, This is a beautifully painted word picture of the least of these in societies around the world. Thank you for reminding of of their plight, although I remain at a loss about what to do for them. Wonderful job on billybuc's challenge.

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      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Your words hit home with an insight that is genuine and pulls us into that back alley with inescapable frankness. We are but steps away from this fate…and many don’t even realize it. The booze and the dope numb the reality for many of the homeless…but what is it that numbs the reality from those who do not care? This response to Bill’s challenge is arresting, Ruby. It should be read by everyone. Voted way up and shared.

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      Jamie Lee Hamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

      I could picture all the skid rows in different cities that I breifly encountered through your my life. What a great variety of characters, well done. Jamie

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Reading about those people in the alley was ubelievable even though it is true. The way that you put iall together it just eemed hairy Ruby. Ivoted it up, shared and pinned it.

      Kevin

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      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Ruby, this is so very sad. I absolutely agreed with billybuc, and there but for the grace of God. But, we have been there. How many people realize how easy it would be to lose it all. Then your last line says it all “cause that’s what friends are for”.

      Voted up, UABI and shared.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Mary. I attempted to make it real by putting myself in each character's place. It was a sad and frightful feeling. It's a shame that people are homeless. I guess it happens all over the world. I especially feel for the veterans, whether they choose it or not, it shouldn't be. Thank you so much..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Shanmarie. I'm so very glad that you found this piece moving, I wanted it to be. Homelessness has always been difficult to understand, yet, as you say, it could happen to any of us. I'm sorry to hear of your home burning. Take care and God bless. Thank you...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Marilin, so nice to see you. In my little town, we have a helping hand place where we all take clothing, food etc. It's good that you lend a hand to the needy. I admire you for that. I wish I lived close to a shelter where I could volunteer. Thank you so much..

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      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      This doesn't just raise awareness Ruby but makes us stop and think....but for the grace of God, wait that is awareness. How sad it is that people actually live this way, regardless of how or why. You've made it so real.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

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      shanmarie 2 years ago

      This is incredibly moving, Ruby. The line that grabs my attention the most is "gone in the wink of the devil's eye." My heart goes out to the homeless, particularly because I've been all too close to it myself. Fire, too, when my home burned to the ground a couple of years ago. But, those are just things. What matters most is people treating people like people at all times and in all situations.

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      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good afternoon, Ruby; excellent. Thank you for a moving article about this social issue.

      In one of your previous responses, you mention the big cities. Unfortunately, in our relatively small Georgia county (191K), the number of homeless is increasing at an alarming rate.

      A good friend of mine is the assistant director at the mission. They feed approximately 250 daily. Over the holidays, 200 backpacks were donated, filled with many of the things you list in your piece - clean underwear, a toothbrush, comb, dry shampoo, heavy socks, scarves and gloves. Tents have now replaced many of the cardboard box houses under the bridges by the railroad tracks.

      Not looking for praise, but I volunteer there in the pantry. As a recovering addict, I understand that without an intervention and changing, I could be any of the people you described. ~Marilyn

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Nell. Is it that bad in England? I think you are correct, it only takes one bad thing to happen, ( Granny's fire. ) to start the downhill slide. Thank you for the awesome comment..

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Manatita. I agree. The pits are dug pretty low. I hate to think that there are people living in this kind of poverty, but I know it happens in the big cities all over the world. Thank you for coming by...

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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi Ruby, that was awesome! and so sadly true of many people. one step away from living on the streets, thats all of us really! wonderful!

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      manatita44 2 years ago from london

      Excellent Ruby.

      Full of rhythm, that one. Interesting poem and requiring more effort with those longer lines but done really well. You dug the pits for those images girl. Real life stuff. Hehe:)

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Jo. I'm thankful that you thought this piece was powerful. Such a sad life indeed. Thank you so much...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello DDE. I'm glad you liked my story. Thank you so much..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Frank. I guess the people living in the alley knew firsthand about a door that went nowhere. I felt deeply about the people my muse brought to light. Thank you so much..

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Lady Guinevere. Yes it's a fact, it could happen to any one of us, that's why it's important to lend a hand in some way. Thank you so much..

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Ruby, this is poignant and powerful because of the sad truth you've brought to life with you very potent words. Beautifully done.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello theresa. I guess every city has this kind of alley and it's a shame on humanity. I'm glad I painted a picture with my words, mission accomplished. Thank you..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      DJ. I am lol here. Can yo imagine? How can I get that fixed? Marge is ' gonna ask me to join her in the alley. lol Hee

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Thank you Clive, yep two words. Ha

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Mar. You know me, I love challenges, esp writing about the homeless around the world. Thank you for kindness toward my writing. Hugs Dear one..

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Audrey. Your comment is the key that will change the way we treat the street people. We all are brothers and sisters on our planet earth. More rehabs, more places to house these people, more love toward our fellow man and more giving of our money/time to help the needy. Thank you so much..

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Paula. I agree wholeheartedly. The homelessness can be fixed if we the people and the government will look more closely and do something. Thank you so much..

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      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      So heartfelt and rightly mentioned. Some people don't have much and have sad lives. I like the way you took on this challenge.

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      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      always this was indeed very gripping.. i love the dark visuals too you gave me a look throough the door to nowhere

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      Yes, without friends wehre would we be. This is a geat ribute to the homelss and how easily it is to get there.

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      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Ruby, your words certainly paint a vivid picture of reality for far too many dear lost souls, who should not have to face such hardships in this life being homeless and downtrodden.

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      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Ruby Jean, do you know when your HP name comes up, it reads;

      alwaySEXploring. There is no space between always and exploring. No, it does not have it in caps. but every time I see it, I burst out laughing!! Are you sending out subliminal messages?? He, he, he!!

      DJ.

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      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      one word,,,,thats beautiful.....wait thats two words!

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      Maria Jordan 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      You raise our awareness as you paint pictures of despair with your words. Your compassion is as big as your heart.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Oh Mike, your comment is like beautiful poetry to my ears. " Souls tumble about in the whirling wet winter wind " is so very true for these poor homeless people. Thank you my friend...

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Shauna. Thank you for thinking I did a beautiful write, that means much to me coming from you, a beautiful writer.

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      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Ruby this is such a moving write--we all belong to each other I think--sometimes we lose sight of that, but I think if we kept sight of that more clearly, we would care for one another more

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      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Ruby.....Amazing. You have done a wonderful job at describing the lives of the homeless with such prolific finesse... I too believe this is a social ill that should simply NOT exist. I cannot and will not believe that a country as powerful and great as ours can't find the solutions to eradicating homelessness for good. You met this challenge so well. UP+++

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello DJ. I knew there had to be a special reason why I connected with you. I'm sorry you had to go through that, but the way you described your personal plight, you have a firsthand knowledge and you give your time/money to help. I think more people would share if they understood. I was never homeless but just a welfare check away when I was a child growing up in poverty. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Hugs my friend

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello John. I'm so glad you liked this piece. I loved your version, your poetry is very beautiful. Thank you much.

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Ann. This could happen to so many in every part of the world. I can never pass by a homeless person without lending a helping hand. Thank you for a beautiful comment. I'm waiting for yours.

    • always exploring profile image
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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Francis. Thank you. I just read your version and I loved it. Funny how we all went in totally different directions. That's why I love challenges..

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Hello Bill. I'm thrilled! Thank you. Homeless people have always held a place in my heart. This should never be happening anywhere in the world..

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      mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I sure wish the weather would warm up around the country. The writing world gets to reach so far down into the coldness we all try to avoid. Ruby, you did an excellent job of portraying those lost through the safety net of life and live amongst the ruble of life. An icy chill emits from your words as those souls tumble about in the whirling wet winter wind.

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Ruby, yet another writer has chosen to take Bill's challenge as an opportunity to raise awareness of social issues too many people choose to ignore.

      You did a beautiful job of taking on his challenge and speaking out for those who are less fortunate.

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      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Ruby, your write is quite sad. All the characters are homeless, hurting

      and have given up.

      My husband and I were without a home for a year and a half. We had each other and never gave up. We lived with different relatives and finally managed to make it through those very dark days.

      I remember the feeling of angst, the fear of the unknown, and the severe disappointment with life. I felt great shame at that time in my life.

      You touched on those empty, lost feelings.

      The tide changed and we joined the ranks and file of productive citizens with time and money to share. And, we have done just that. It has been

      an ongoing challenge to help those who cannot help themselves.

      You did a fine job with this challenge, Ruby.

      DJ.

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      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I love this Ruby, what a beautifully written and poignant piece about the homeless ans street dwellers. Wonderful response to the challenge.

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      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Wonderful poetic prose, Ruby. You've highlighted the many plights that people suffer when adversity hits anyone at any time.

      This challenge is truly inspiring the imagination.

      Brilliant!

      Ann

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      Simon 2 years ago from Ireland

      Great work! It's very interesting to see all the different takes people have as part of this writing challenge. A lot of very talented and creative folk around, glad to be all your company!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And there but for the grace of God. I wonder how many people understand how close they are to homelessness? How easily it could happen to them? Maybe they wouldn't be so complacent if they realized that their lives could be turned upside down in the blink of an eye.

      Anyway, I'm babbling. Powerful message, Ruby, and I thank you for taking the challenge and doing so well with it.