I witnessed what happened to painfully shy, eight-year old Peggy, my neighbor.
Writers are told to write what we know. I felt compelled to tell Peggyfs story.
Perhaps I felt a writerfs life-long desire to be the flame that quietly lights the candle or the spark that sets off fireworks that communicate, understand, and ultimately, love.
Summertime glowed warm and lovely in the suburban backyards which were filled with multi-colored daisies and thick, green lawns where the neighborhood children loved to scamper and laugh. From behind a curtained window at the back of her house, Peggy watched her giggly friends and longed to join them. They were playing gtag-youere-itg, one of her favorite games. But her father was out in the yard, acting just like a friendly neighbor, talking with the other father, the one who belonged to the happy children. Her mother lurked somewhere in the house, silently staying in the shadows. Why wonft she go out with me into the sunshine, the little girl silently lamented.
Her friends called, gCome on out, Peggy!h It was too much to resist. Tentatively, Peggy inched the black, screen door open, paused, then cautiously descended the four, dark-brown , splintered porch steps. With eyes cast down, she approached her father.
gCan I play?h she almost whispered.
gYah, go ahead,h he muttered impatiently and turned back to the neighbor.
With joy, Peggy joined the circle of her waiting, smiling friends who promptly began a new gtag-youfre ith. For a few minutes, Peggy played happily as the breeze blew through her long hair and her eyes even sparkled.
Suddenly, Peggy heard her fatherfs voice booming over her friendsf laughter. How she wished she could hide behind the big oak tree guarding the back of the yard.
gGet over here!h he yelled. Instantly, Peggy became frightened; and her friends abruptly froze in their tracks and stared wide-eyed.
Bewildered, the other children were called inside by their parents. They would go back outside later.
gWhy are you out here?h the father angrily demanded of Peggy.
gYou said I could,h she whispered in fear.
gYou didnft have permission! You disobeyed!h the father thundered. gGo to the house!h
Peggy knew her friends could see and hear what was happening and she was humiliated.
Walking sadly to the back porch, Peggy saw the spider web in the corner. Woven of white filmy strands, it stretched from the porch floor to the overhang of the roof above and filled the corner. Perched on that web were several, thick black spiders the size of Peggyfs finger nail. Terrified of spiders, Peggy trembled at the sight of them.
Though he saw the spiders, her father ordered her to stand, facing the spider web, in that corner. She knew she must not cry or risk more of her fatherfs wrath; and she knew she must not move until he gave his permission.
What did I do wrong? All she had wanted was to play with her friends.
Peggy tried to arch her back just alittle and kept her arms tightly against her sides hoping to keep those spiders from crawling onto her. Peggyfs thoughts raced. Would her father yell because she moved? Where were her friends? Now they wouldnft like her anymore. Why doesnft mom help me? Please donft let those spiders crawl on me! Though the sun still shined, summer had turned cold and dark in that lonely spider corner.
Finally, an hour later, the father released an exhausted Peggy from the corner, warned her to always obey him, and disappeared into the house.
The punishment had been so painfully unjust. Yet, miraculously, it appeared that those spiders had been given some sort of silent signal to freeze in place. None of them ever touched Peggy.
Many years later, Peggy sat with her kind, Christian counselor in his peaceful office and painfully relived the awful spider corner. It was then that she experienced a life-changing moment. Sobbing, she happened to glance toward a facing corner of the room. Silently, there emerged the image of a large, dim, foggy white spider web. Just behind it glowed a soft, yellow Light, the size of a small, round pillow. In silent awe, amazed by the Light, Peggyfs heart embraced the message God had sent. Though life could be terribly harsh and sad, He would protect her.
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