Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Where Angels Fear to Tread (not about the book) (09/08/11)
TITLE: Gabriel's Gone (part I)
By Sharon Brooks
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“Yah right, see ya later…maybe.” Gabriel replied, slamming the door behind him.
Becky quickly untied her apron and threw it across the kitchen table; she grabbed two tufts of her short-cropped hair and clenched her teeth. Glaring out the kitchen window at the idyllic pastures, she observed the contrasts of her life. The horses quietly grazed as Gabriel launched a deafening start to his used 1992 Harley motorcycle. Revving it three times, gravel and dust blew everywhere as he sped away.
So what do I do now? She thought. Who do I call?
Her mom, who was her best friend and her spiritual mentor, had died the previous Christmas. Her husband as it turned out, wasn’t just married to his job, he was now married to a flight attendant. Her youngest daughter was killed in a freak boating accident. Her father had recently moved into a nursing home. Given the advanced state of his Alzheimer’s, she was lucky if he smiled at her once during her daily visits.
School had ended, and her thirteen-year-old daughter Melody’s school bus would be arriving soon.
Becky wondered, What do I tell Melody when she comes home? Gabriel’s gone again. Maybe for a week or two, like last time. Maybe he’s gone for good.
Melody is the reason Becky’s heart kept beating. That, and her lifelong relationship with God. The two relationships that kept her strong during the death of her youngest, and through her divorce; the darkest moments of her 43-year-old life.
“What happened?” She asks God. “You’ve answered prayers in every other area of my life, so why can’t angels of protection surround Gabriel?”
Becky reflects on the previous year. It was a year of faking smiles and pretense. She had successfully managed to fool everyone in her neighborhood and at Melody’s school. Most impressively, she had fooled everyone at her job, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for teenage girls.
Gabriel had come home drunk or high, on many occasions. He started painting his fingernails black. He pierced his ears and then stretched them to fit quarter size black earrings that made his earlobes droop. He was proud of his many tattoo’s, but the one he liked best was the upside down cross on his neck with the word “fallen” underneath. There was also the heartbreaking night of his arrest.
He was such a good boy, Becky recalls, always dramatic, but so intelligent, such a big heart. When he was eleven, he was baptized in the river, not even caring when some of his friends laughed. He said he was going to be a pastor.
Becky remembers answering, “That’s wonderful Gabe, and I bet you would be good at it too, but you have to wait until God asks you.”
Now she wonders if she discouraged him, if she is to blame for his fall. She wonders if it was the divorce, or maybe bad genes, or maybe…All Becky feels now is exhausted and worried, and the unspeakable dread of another funeral.
The phone rings and she pounces on it. It’s not Gabriel, and more importantly, it’s not about Gabriel. It’s Melody and she’s asking if she can go to a Young Peoples meeting with Beth and sleep over night at her house.
Melody begs, “I finished all my homework at school…please mom, can I go?”
“Of course you can.” Becky replies. “Remember your manners, say thank you to Beth’s mom for me. I’ll see you tomorrow. Love you too… so much.”
Becky starts turning the horses in for the evening as a September rain and cold front moves in. The resident stallion, Rory, suddenly rears for no apparent reason outside the gate and knocks Becky to the ground. Lying in the mud, Becky watches him gallop off and curses herself for forgetting the lead rope with the chain.
“Lazy, stupid woman!” she scolds herself.
Realizing that her wrist is hanging in a contorted unnatural way, she begins to sob uncontrollably. Looking upward, she screams,
“What is it You want from me? You have my full attention!”
A hymn, one that Becky hadn’t heard for over twenty years consumes her. Lying in the pouring rain, wounded and crying, she hears the words plainly,
“And Jesus said, ‘Come to the water, stand by my side. I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied. I felt ev’ry teardrop, when in darkness you cried, and I strove to remind you, that for those tears I died.’”
(“For Those Tear I died” words and music by Russ &Marsha Stevens, 1969.
Reprint Permission by EMI Christian Music Publishing, license #521070)
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