Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: White (10/29/09)
By Lisa Fowler
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All of the color was gone from his face; it was completely white sunken in. His speech was choppy. His words were as short as his breath, labored; and his chest heaved. His eyes were glazed and jumped from place to place never landing on anything for more than a half a second like a caged animal. His clothing torn, dirty, and soppy wet as if he’d run thru a deep bog and his shoes were absent. He looked as if he’d just seen a ghost. Maybe he had, or had he? In this panicked state there was no way of knowing. He wasn’t thinking clearly. Was he living a dream? No, he was sure he wasn’t dreaming, he clearly remembered the stranger coming to him in the shadows.
His legs ached from running. He fell against the trunk of the tree and slowly slid down to a squat. He glanced down and did a double take when he saw his feet. Even in the pre dawn darkness he could see they were covered with blood. Fresh blood. No time to rest. Shake it off and keep going. He jumped up and began to run, slowly at first then the hot panic came over him again and he began to run faster.
How had he gotten to this place? Oh, he knew where he was right now, but how had his life taken such a turn? There was a time when he had it all. A safe warm home with a family that loved him. How had it all gone so wrong? Now he found himself alone and frightened.
His mind wandered but only briefly back to what the stranger had told him. He had recognized him and strangely knew his name. He clearly remembered the man telling him that his father had sent him and that he was longing to see his boy again.
He didn’t know much but he was sure he had to get home. Somehow, surely, he could make his family understand. He was tired of the loneliness and tired of running. He was tired of going thru the trash to find a morsel of food. Everything within him ached to see his family again. Could it really be true that his father wanted to see him? Would his father listen to his story? Would he care or would he have become as calloused as the time and distance that was between them? Maybe his father had sent for him only to unleash his rath upon him. He didn’t care. Right now all he was sure of was that he had to try. He had to get home.
Light began to peek thru the tops of the trees and he slowly began to make out where he was. He recognized this place. He was close. He could feel it in his gut, smell it even. He recognized the dirt road as the one where he and his brother played as children. In the clearing ahead they had camped in the cool fall nights. Memories came flooding back. His steps quickened and he began once again to run.
Up ahead he heard someone yelling. Was it real? Were they really calling his name? He heard it clearly now and it was his name. It had been so long since he’d heard it he’d almost forgotten what it sounded like.
“He’s home! My son is home! Make ready the feast! Prepare the fattest calf!” The boy began to weep as he ran, silently at first then the tears came so fast and hard he could barely see where he was running. In his exhaustion he dropped to his knees. No need to worry though, his father was running to meet him with outstretched arms, tears and sobs of his own.
“Oh father, I am so, so sorry” the boy sobbed and buried his head in shame, but his father lifted him to his feet and thrust him close to his breast as his arms completely engulfed the boys frail body. “It doesn’t matter my son” the father cried. “All that matters now is that you’re home and you’re safe! No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done I love you. I have always loved you and you have never stopped being my son. You are home now, rest and be at peace.”
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