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At Arm's Length
by Lyn Churchyard
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Page’s Cafe, a delightful play on words for my favourite coffee shop in the only Christian bookstore in town. They make the most wonderful Tandoori Chicken Wraps and their Satay Chicken Pizza is unbelievable; real chicken – none of your processed stuff – thin slivers of onion, capsicum, sliced mushrooms, grated cheese, all grilled to perfection and topped with sour cream. One of these for lunch, and you don’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

Today I decided to be different, and asked if I could have Satay sauce on the wrap instead Tandoori sauce.

“No problem at all.” Tim replied with his infectious smile. He is such a sweetie; nothing is too much trouble for him, whether it was varying a menu item, or finding a book you couldn’t see, even though it was about to leap out and bit you.

I’d just bought a new Max Lucado book–one that I actually didn’t have–and sat reading it as I munched on my chicken wrap and sipped my coffee. Max is one of my favourite authors and his books never ceased to bring a smile to my lips, and more often than not, a tear to my eye. I’d long since given up trying to read his books on public transport; people tend to give you the strangest looks when you sit bawling like a baby, while you’re reading. So Max and I only kept each other company at home, or here in Page’s Cafe.

I sighed with contentment as I finished the last bite of my lunch and wondered if I had room for a piece of their almond cake with lemon syrup and cream, but decided there wasn’t an inch of space left and so I just sat and enjoyed the rest of my coffee and read my book.

Ahhh Max, I thought, pulling a tissue from my pocket. You’ve done it to me again!

It happens every time, and this book, The Applause of Heaven, was no exception. Max is a craftsman who has found his sweet spot in life and uses it to God’s glory. He writes about the Father’s love with such intensity, that you can’t help being moved and moved deeply.

So engrossed was I in the book, that I failed to notice I was being scrutinized. An elderly couple had sat down at the table next to me and were eating their lunch while casting sidelong glances in my direction.

You know how you can sense someone is watching you? Well, the prickly feeling finally registered and I glanced up and looked around. When I looked in their direction, they hastily looked down at their food. I shrugged and went on reading.

My eyesight is pretty lousy, but my hearing is excellent and I heard the woman say in what could only be described as a stage whisper: “I think it’s disgraceful. That poor woman, what a dreadful life she must lead.”

Her husband nodded. “I don’t know why women put up with violent husbands Marjory, these men should all be locked up.”

It never dawned on me that they were discussing me, until the woman reached across and patted my hand. “My dear, if there is anything we can do to help...”

I looked at her in confusion. “I’m sorry?”

“You don’t have to put up with it. You can go to the Police.” Her husband added.

I was still none the wiser as to what they were on about and I looked at them blankly.

“Your husband obviously beats you,” the woman said, pointing to the bruises down the length of my arm.

I groaned inwardly, Oh Lord, they think I’m a victim of domestic violence.
“It’s not what you think...”

Marjory patted my hand again. “Now dear, you don’t need to be embarrassed. But I wish you’d let us help you.”

“Honestly; I am not a victim of a violent husband.”

They looked at me and smiled as though indulging a child telling a tall story.

“Look, I have to take Coumadin tablets. They are an anti-coagulant to keep my blood thin – I tend to develop spontaneous blood clots. I bruise very easily because of the medication.”

It was obvious they still didn’t believe me so there was only one way to prove it.

I picked up my knife and whacked the edge of the handle against my forearm; within seconds a lovely purple bruise raised its ugly little head and took up residence on my arm next to its companions.

I picked up my book and put my bag over my shoulder. “You’re both very sweet,” I said smiling at them, “and I’m grateful for your concern, but as you can see, it’s not what you think.”

The husband smiled ruefully “Well, I guess it’s true what they say; ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’.”

I sighed as I walked out the door. Now why couldn’t that have been one of the topics in last quarter’s FaithWriters challenge?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marlene Austin 17 May 2008
How precious! What a great story and wonderful use of humor - if you can call the side-effects of Coumadin HUMOR! :) Another great job of writing, Lynne.


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