Eighteen month old Shelly crawls up onto her daddy’s lap and clings to his chest, but dad is preoccupied like most dad’s and absentmindedly puts one arm around her while he tries to read the paper. He barely notices her body relaxing until the paper crumples under her slight weight. Shelly dies for no apparent reason.
Labored breathing wakes George from his troubled sleep. He never sleeps for long. He can’t …. It comes back. Every moment, every emotion – relived – fresh as a new wound stabbed in the same spot over and over again.
He reaches for peace. He reaches for the solution to obliterate the memory of that night.
But this morning the bottle feels unfamiliar and peaks his curiosity. Squinting, he tries to focus through the haze of last night’s oblivion. He notices the wine label covered with white paper – taped. On it large, bold, black letters are written a message,
Let God take away your pain.
He helped me. Shelly is ok.
1-301-555-1212 (call collect)
“Shelly – ok?” he mumbles in slurred confusion.
Shocked out of his protective fog, George reads the message again and again. How did Terry find me? What does she mean?
Looking away, he remembers the other furtive messages left by his unclean body – “God loves you,” “Repent,” “You must be born again.” No one ever asked him how he felt inside – just as well – he’d rather hide his shame…… he should have known ….. something was wrong…….with his baby princess.
Hugging the large bottle of cheap wine with its message of new hope, George staggers to his feet and checks his pockets for change. It’s been a long time since his day has started with direction and purpose.