Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Park( 10/25/12)
By Jody Day
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"Are you sure about this?" Should they go back into the place where they'd seen their son gunned down by the police? The same place where he'd climbed trees, tossed a ball, and played on the merry-go-round? Fourteen-year-old boys should outlive their parents.
"I want to know what was so all fired important that Billy put himself in such danger. Put us in danger as well. I still don't think they believe we had nothing to do with it." Bob got out of the car. "You don't have to come, I know you're afraid."
Afraid? Yes, but to be at Cathedral Park brought the pain back with crushing freshness. Grief and unanswered questions plagued her for a year now.
"I'll come." Sue reached for Bob's hand and slid out of the car. They'd parked three blocks away. Hand in hand they walked toward the park in the 2:00 AM darkness.
They entered the park but stayed to the trees on the perimeter. Sue buttoned her coat against the winter chill.
"I don't know what you think you'll find. The ground is frozen, and besides, the police dug up nearly the whole park." She squinted her eyes shut. The scene stabbed her once again. They seized Billy with a small shovel in his hand. Accused of trying to bury contraband, he was handcuffed, beaten and then shot. She wouldn't have seen it except she'd just arrived to pick Billy up.
For a year she hadn't seen anything else. She'd died that day, and Bob lived on anger. They'd been detained as well. For weeks they'd been questioned about Billy's "treason", and about some old man that hung out at the park. The police called him "Preacher."
"I don't think he buried anything. Look." Bob took a folded piece of paper from his coat pocket. "I found this stuffed in a shoe in the back of Billy's closet. It's a wonder the police didn't find it when they ransacked the house." He opened the paper.
The sight of Billy's drawing brought a sting of tears to her eyes. She'd spent hours in that room, memorizing every remnant of her son. She covered her mouth with one hand, and traced over her son's drawing with the other. Simply penciled, he'd depicted a tree with a hole drawn near the bottom. An arrow pointed to the hollow.
Silently, they felt around the trees throughout the park. A hint of sunrise quickened fear in Sue's heart.
"Here!" Bob whispered. He crawled into a stand of bushes that circled one large tree. "It's got a hole." Sue crawled up behind him. The two scooped out dirt and dead leaves. Bob frantically pulled out a moldy, decaying cardboard box.
He tore the box open. Sue stared in disbelief.
"Books?" Had she ever seen one? Hard copies were outlawed generations ago. The only novels she'd ever read were downloaded from the government to her cell phone. They each took one and turned it over and over, brushing dirt and debris from the covers.
"New Testament," Sue whispered. Hidden in the bushes, they both settled back against the tree and started to read. Maybe there was an answer in the worn pages of these little books.
Mesmerized by the story, Sue didn't notice the sun come up. The park began to fill with children.
She hadn't felt warm in her heart for over a year. No, she realized, not ever in her whole life had she felt a warmth of this kind. Maybe it was the "gave His only Son" part that opened the eyes of her heart. Bob must have gotten there too. He touched Sue's arm. She turned to find tears streaming down his eyes. She clutched the little book to her breast.
"Yes." They both said 'yes' to the calling, the same calling that Billy had found. A deep sigh of healing and vibrant living coursed through Sue's body. It didn't even matter that the police stood above them, pointing their guns directly at their heads. Bob grabbed her hand.
As her spirit left her body, she saw a young policeman stealthily stuff a couple of the little books inside his shirt before he set a lighted match to the box.
Yes. Billy's life had meant something, and he'd left a way for his parents to have life.
"For God so loved the world..."
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