PIECE OF PAPER
“ Wow, did you see that, Allie? Grab hold of the bottom, will you, I’m going higher! “ exuded Bobby.
“ Sue, have you seen my watch, I can never find . . . look out there, Bobby! Get off that stool, son. You could hurt yourself AND sister really bad, “ warned Larry.
“ Dad, how else can I perform my magic? “
“ Your magic? Well, does it have to be done so high up? “
“ I’m the great Mr. Bobby Magician! “
“ And I’m his assistant! “ chimed Allie.
“ Really, Sue, I don’t know why every year we have to go to the circus, “ complained Larry. “ You know how I feel about circuses that use animals. “
“ Yes, of course I do, Larry, but it’s our family tradition, and you know you always end up enjoying it, just as much as the kids. “
“ What do you mean Dad, about the animals? “ wondered Allie.
“ Speaking of animals, Allie, please be sure to give Mooka fresh water, before we go. “
“ Already did, Mom. “
“ Thank you, sweetheart. Larry, after we come back, may we have some time to talk. “
“ Sure thing, what about? “
“ Mom, who is John 316? “
“ Just a moment, Bobby, I’m speaking with your dad. “
“ Actually, can it wait, dear? “ her husband pleaded, “ I really should find that watch of mine. “
“ She’s been sitting like this, for hours, doctor. Stares blindly. No facial expression. Empty thoughts. We‘ve tried undoing her clenched fists, but she becomes irritated, “ described the nurse.
Dr. Laurence Saunders, psychologist, looked at the patient’s medical chart: Susan Beth Tanner (aged 35). Car accident victim, sole survivor. All known immediate family members expired, on site. Husband (driver): Larry Keith Tanner (aged 37); Son: Robert Tanner (aged 10); Daughter: Allie Tanner (aged 8). Patient Diagnosis: Henson Post-Traumatic Stress. Patient Prognosis: Indeterminate.
Dr. Saunders looked to Susan’s eyes and saw a clear lack of meaning and motion, then to her tight fists and saw something odd being squeezed.
“ Hello, Mrs. Tanner . . . my name is Dr. Saunders, but, . . . please call me, Larry. Mrs. Tanner . . . Susan . . . do you know where you are now? Do you know how you got here? “
“ May I ask what you are holding . . . there . . . in your hand? Would you allow me . . . to see . . . please. “
He softly embraced her small fist in the warm palm of his left hand and, with his right, unfolded delicately, one by one, like flower petals, her remarkably resistance-free fingers.
Crushed, in the center of Susan’s hand, was a piece of white paper, lying there, as if in waiting.
Dr. Saunders looked compassionately upon Susan’s stolid face.
“ May . . . I? “
With assumed assurance, he fluidly picked up the piece of paper.
He looked again at Susan, searched for reaction, and found none.
With the power of purpose, he unfolded it completely.
He flipped to the other side.
Nothing . . . except . . . a few words.
He looked back at Susan, and then, whispered those words to her.
As he continued, Susan’s countenance slowly shifted softer, as with a new dawn.
“ Ok, Bobby, what is it you’re asking? “
“ John 316, what kind of funny name is that? “
“ John 316? What are you talking about? “
“ It’s on this paper, here. “
“ Oh . . . ok . . . let me see, please. Where did you get this? “
“ Allie found it. It’s got funny words on it. “
Susan stared at the words of the tract:
God Loves You.
EVERY LIFE - THOUGH FILLED - DESTINES TO EMPTY;
HIS LIFE - THOUGH EMPTIED - DESTINES TO FILL.
Someday, Maybe Today, You’ll Pray, His Way, Without Delay, see John 3:16.
“ Do you know John 316, Mom? “
“ Bobby, this piece of paper is just saying God helps people who’ve lost everything, . . . it’s not talking about us. “
Crumpled and put to pocket, “ Come on everybody, there’s a circus to see, and it’s getting late. Let’s get in the car, before we find ourselves missing out! “
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