Warren Shaw fitted the key in the lock and gave it a sharp turn to the right. He repeated the action with the doorknob. Each twist mirrored the knife shredding his heart.
The call had come a week ago at 7 am. "Mr. Shaw? This is Annabeth Deane....NYPD. It's about your daughter, Savannah...." He had been eating a cold breakfast of oatmeal, no sugar. At the time, he figured it was probably somebody over in India trying to sell him new windows. It never occurred to him that it'd be the call he'd been dreading for two years. Two years since he'd walked into his daughter's room and found her gone, only a purple Post-It on the bed. A note that said everything and nothing.
You DON'T understand....
The policewoman had been very nice on the phone, and Warren thought he detected a tremor in her voice. Young and not hardboiled in the least. He had sat in a daze as she told him how Savannah had been found on the steps of a church, passed out. How she had woken up in the ambulance, sobbing, terrified, wrapped in the pastor's car blanket. How the doctors had drawn blood, run tests. And how 4 hours later, little Joshua Andrew Shaw slept in the neonatal unit while his mother slept deeper still.
Ensconced safely in an infant carseat, Josh stared up at Warren with wide, bright eyes. The little blue bonnet the hospital had given him perfectly fit his tiny round head. Stepping up into the house, Warren was careful not to hit the carrier against the doorframe. He walked into the kitchen and deposited it gently on the wooden table. Not gently enough.
Goodness, how long had it been since he'd heard that sound here? 15 years, at least....and then it was Savannah's tears that had flowed. He has her wide mouth....her wispy brown hair....her hazel eyes.... Warren let the green backpack fall off his shoulders, then unbuckled Josh from the seat and lifted him ever so easy into his arms. He cradled the boy with his left and reached into the half-open bag with his right hand. Pulling out a bottle full of formula, he popped off the cap and offered the nipple to the infant. Josh's lips parted and he began to feed.
"Didn't think I could do this, huh, little guy? Didn't think Grandpa knew how? There we go, that's a boy..." Warren eased into the ladderback kitchen chair, his grandson in his arms. "You miss your mama? She was my little girl, once upon a time. My....little girl..." His voice cracked. A tear slipped down his cheek. "Yeah, she loved you. I know she loved you to pieces...."
After 10 minutes of feeding, Josh was asleep. He looked so adorable, Warren managed a smile. Reaching around the child, he put the bottle on the table.
Warren startled as the backpack fell to the floor. Strangely, Josh didn't seem to notice. He stood to his feet and pulled the bag over to the chair. A small black book was sitting on the top. "God Loves You!" was written in gold on the outside.
"What's this?" He lifted it out and opened it.
A New Testament....
The inside cover was stamped with the name of a church he didn't recognize. Warren flipped the pages, and as he did, he saw numerous places where the text had been underlined. He recognized Savannah's bold handwriting in the margins. Fast food and convenience store receipts served as bookmarks.
"Ow!" Warren cut his finger. He flipped to the back. A spot of bright red blood dotted the page. Directly above it, Savannah had signed her name. Beside that, the date was written, 3 weeks ago this day.
Signed her name....
He read the top of the page.
"Prayer for Salvation".
Warren's hand shook. "She - she.....oh, thank You Lord. Thank You-"
The dam broke.
It was the one question he had asked God every day; asked more than, "Where is she?", "What is she doing?", "Why did she leave?", "When will she come home?" He had poured out his heart before the throne of God every day. And now this....and now....
Evening shadows filled the kitchen. Warren lifted his head, praises still falling with his tears. A small fist waved in the air. Perhaps it was fitting that she had named him Joshua, he decided. The God she'd run from all her life had finally caught up to her. Just before it was time to go.
Warren lifted his finger and Joshua grabbed it. "So, little boy....would you like to hear a story?" He opened up the New Testament and began to read.
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