Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)
TITLE: Hi, Bacia
By Joe Flowers
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Her house was just a shell of what it once was. It was damp and musty, smelled of Babcia’s old perfume that she had probably had for a decade or two. She never wore it. She just always smelled of clean, line-dried clothes and baking bread. That’s all she did when she could get around on her own: Cook. She always made the most wonderful food.
Most of the furniture had already been removed, claimed by family to take home and make it their own.
The emptiness of the house overwhelmed me when I stepped inside just days after the funeral. The door creaked behind me and clicked closed just as I remembered it. My mother and sisters and brother were there, along with my wife. Now we had come to get what we wanted (mom was sure that Bacia would rather see us take her stuff rather than someone else) and the rest would go to Goodwill. Some chairs that I had never noticed were so comfortable because I was too young to care when I used to stay with her after school with my sisters. A couple of pictures that I didn’t particularly like, but that reminded me of her came with me, too. They were pictures that reminded me of my childhood spending weekday afternoons in that old, creaky house. Pier and beam it was, and had been standing since the 1950s.
We walked from room to room, and the memories came flooding back to me.
I stepped through the doorway into the back bedroom that I guess would have been considered the guest bedroom. I couldn’t decide whether the lighting was poor or if the light was just swallowed by the dark paneling that decorated the walls in that room. The bed that we slept in as children was still there. So was the dresser in the corner. Other than what was on top of that dresser, there was nothing else in the room. Bacia was Catholic, and had a shrine to the Mother Mary and Jesus on that dresser. Candles, pictures, and a rosary surrounded two twenty-four inch ceramic statues of Mary and Jesus. The shrine had been dismantled and all of the pieces were packed in boxes on top of the dresser.
When I saw it, I knew that I had never seen it before. I thought I knew every item that Bacia had in that house. This was a cross. A crucifix, actually. It was a wooden cross with a gold-painted Jesus nailed to it. Every other crucifix I had ever seen depicted Jesus’ head hanging low in defeat and submission. This one depicted his head held skyward as if knowing the miracle that was about to come from so much pain.
I chuckled as I gently picked it up off the dresser. This depiction was that of Bacia’s character. Never defeated even in submission. She had been liberated from Nazi concentration camps in World War II and was miraculously reunited with her family on the ship to the United States.
I took that crucifix home and stood it on its base next to my computer screen as I opened up my journal that evening. I talked aloud as I typed each word, writing about Bacia and her hardships, the great and loving, Godly woman that she was, and how she spoke of nothing or no one more lovingly than God. I smiled, and tears filled my eyes as I typed because I knew she was watching me, and I knew she was happier than she had ever been. I just wished I could have felt her, wished I could speak to her one more time and tell her the things I had never gotten around to saying.
“I wish she were here, Lord,” I prayed.
A loud clatter startled me out of prayer. I looked down and gasped. The crucifix had fallen. I was confused. I had placed it securely on the desk in a spot where there was no way it would fall. Bacia wouldn’t be pleased with my handling…
I froze in mid-thought, and sat straight up. The hair on the back of my head stood straight up. My eyes filling with tears again, chin quivering, I whispered, “Hi, Bacia.”
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