TITLE: Fatal Error
By Terry Atchison
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Rob walked through the doors and out to the street. He was oblivious to the bright sunshine, the heat and the noise from the traffic. Not focusing on where he was heading, he advanced along the sidewalk, bumping into strangers and hardly noticing. His head hung as he slowly made his way towards home. Never in his life would he have thought something like this would happen to himself.
The memories flashed through his mind.
He turns his head towards the sound and SPLAFF! A big wet snowball splatters on his face. How cold and wet it felt! SPLAFF! Another snowball hits him in the back of his head and he goes down into the soft snow. Three years old, and sandwiched between his two sisters of five and seven, he had no chance to defend himself as they plummeted his little body with the white stuff. This was his first recollection of life.
Rob's father was a pastor, so his upbringing was in a religious environment. He attended church each Sunday and Wednesday night with his family. Of course, he understood quite young that there was a God and that it was better to obey Him than disobey. His father and mother were very loving to their children. They didn't have much worldly goods, but that didn't stop them from having good times together in family. Grace was always spoken at the table before eating, and woe to the child that didn't eat everything on his plate. Many times Rob was left alone at the table to finish his plate. Sometimes he even fell asleep, sitting there with a fork between his little fingers.
Kindergarten and grade school memories were full of wonderful times. Parties, the basketball team and discovering little girlfriends. Fishing trips to the lake and records of forty-five bluegills caught in one day, played in his head. His dad had been so proud of him. It all seemed almost like yesterday.
'I wonder where all those kids are today?' Rob was thinking as he walked on.
"...can't believe it. The Columbia space shuttle has exploded!" The radio in the Jr. High School library was shouting. Rob didn't realize the importance of this accident and had just mumbled 'too bad'. How proud he was to receive his "letter" for being on the school's tumbling team. Memories. Memories cutting into his heart and soul. That Jr. High School Diploma seemed so important to him at the time.
"God, where are you now? Why are You doing this to me? I'm not a mean person. Why?!" He shouted, as he walked down the sidewalk.
All those churches! Rob's father had pastored many country churches during his lifetime. Many a Sunday, it was nothing to drive thirty or forty miles to church twice a day. Rob started driving around nine years old, on those country roads to church. Funny how all the people seemed to be the same in those churches. They all lived focused, faithful lives based on the scripture. Many were farmers or had low paying factory jobs. Not much wealth, but a bountiful religious upbringing and faith in God. Rob enjoyed the fellowship of these churches because he seemed to be a part of one big family...and he was.
His first two years of high school were very fun-filled times. Rob was an A and B student. He enjoyed the competition with his friends on getting the best grades. The middle of his sophomore year, however, his interest in studies started shifting towards an interest in dating. For Christmas of that year, he received a used car. Rob was raised to believe that abstinence was the rule and not the exception. He was proud to be a virgin and wanted to marry a virgin, as his older sister had done. But, he found himself more and more parking out in the country, with a girl in his car. Things never went beyond kissing and petting. He knew in his heart that God wanted him to be pure for his wife, and that being a virgin on his wedding night would be the most wonderful gift that he could ever give to his bride.
That night in June, when he was at the lake fishing, passed through his mind again and again. School was out and he was enjoying a wonderful night, under a full moon and sky filled with billions of stars. The fish weren't biting, but that didn't matter. Rob was alone with God and was thinking about his future. There he was, just talking to the Lord and living a moment special in his life.
The two cars sped down the road beside the dam and came to a stop just a few yards from where Rob was fishing. Six teens staggered out of the cars, four boys and two girls. Rob knew them all from school, and one boy, Tom, attended his church. They were obviously drunk and shouting and singing. All of them sat on blankets around the fire that Rob had built. Really not a fire now, but just red embers glowing enough to light up their faces. As the night passed on, Rob let himself be enticed into drinking a beer. This was something that he had never done before. Before long, he was high and just kept drinking one after another. Their party wound down as the girls wanted more than just dancing and singing. Rob watched as the boys took turns at something that interested him more than ever. Here it was, happening right before his own eyes. Live! He knew in his own mind that he needed to leave at once, but the sight intrigued him. After each one found his pleasure and dropped off to sleep, Rob moved closer to one of the girls.
The sun, hot on his face, awoke him from a deep slumber. It was nine-thirty and everyone had left. There he was, lying on a blanket, his pants were down around his ankles and his T-shirt was no where to be found. When he sat up, his head was pounding like he had never experienced before!
'What happened?', he asked himself.
Then, it all came back. The beer, the friends and the girls.
"No! I didn't do that! God forgive me, please!" He was shouting and crying at the same time.
He was filled with disgust and fear. How ashamed he felt as he drove home. He knew that he had let himself down, his family down, and most important, he had let God down. That night was a secret that he kept for himself. Only God knew, and that tore him apart inside. He spent much time praying for his forgiveness.
Today, Rob was walking home from the doctor. He was wishing to be hit by a car. Just a couple of months after school had started, he began having bouts of diarrhea, then bloody diarrhea. Rob was having heavy night sweats and had found white spots on his tongue. He became very tired and was losing so much weight that his mother made him take an appointment with their doctor. When the doctor saw the dark spots on his body, he ordered a whole battery of tests.
"AIDS " is what his doctor had pronounced a few moments ago in his office. Rob had felt an icy sensation go through his body from head to toe.
'It's not possible', he thought.
'How could I have gotten AIDS!? It was my first and only time with a girl, out there on the lake. That is all it takes to condemn me?
"God have mercy!", he screamed, as he looked upwards to the sky.
God did not have mercy on Rob. He died several months later with the AIDS he had contracted by having sex, with one girl, for the first time. This was the middle of his senior year in high school. He was seventeen.
By Terry L. Atchison
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