Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)
TITLE: The Prodigal Song
By Celeste Ammirata
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A wave of guilt and shame crashed down on him—as it always did—leaving remnants of broken promises and shattered dreams in its wake.
Demons chased him relentlessly. He used his anger to make him a favorite of college recruiters, in both football and baseball. When slamming into padded gorillas—or going after a ball that dared try to sneak by him, either at the plate or in the field—he showed no mercy. Off the field, he searched for other ways to assuage the demons. He drank, a lot, desperate for the alcohol to numb the pain. When alone with a girl, for those few brief moments, he could forget. But the ghosts always came back to haunt him. He had fallen so far deep into the pit of despair—he’d long since given up hope of ever climbing out.
He could see Kit—his first and only love, young and beautiful—sitting on the dock, swirling her feet in the brackish lake water. She’d smile at him as the wind played with her hair. He’d push back a strand that covered her beautiful green eyes and tell her they reminded him of sea glass. She’d laugh.
“Michael, I’d love to see this mysterious sea glass you’re always talking about.”
And now Kit was dead. Because of him.
She called to tell him she was stuck at a gas station in town. After filling up, she had gone to the ladies room. When she came out, her car wouldn’t start. Mike knew that Jeff was working that night, and she’d be safe with him. He looked up to the guy like the older brother he never had.
He waited twenty minutes, to see Houston beat the Mets in the bottom of the ninth, before heading out to pick her up.
When he got to the station, there was no sign of Jeff or Kit. Two days later, hikers found her raped and strangled body in a wooded area outside of town. Police arrested Jeff later that day. And Mike turned his back on God.
He walked Nancy to her car. As her taillights faded into the night, he stood in the deserted parking lot and whispered, “Kit…I’m sorry. I’m not the guy you fell in love with. Everything changed when you left.”
That night, he dreamed he was sitting on the bleachers, watching himself play. Suddenly Kit was there, sitting so close, he could smell her coconut shampoo.
“We made a vow, Michael, remember? To wait until we were married before sharing our bodies?”
“Well… you died.” He reached out and touched the green sea glass, in the shape of a heart, hanging around her neck on a silver chain.
Her laughter wrapped around him like the softest breeze. “I found sea glass in heaven. You like it?”
“Yeah, I do.” He swallowed hard. “I miss you, Kit.”
Her eyes penetrated his. “So, this is your legacy to us? Drinking in excess and sleeping around? How many girls, Michael? Do you even know?”
He had no excuse. “It doesn’t help. It only makes me miss you more.” Tears burned his eyes. “I’m sorry, Kit. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you.”
“You have to snap out it, Michael.” He smiled. She always told him that. “I forgive you. Jesus forgives you. You have to forgive yourself. Turn back to God. Give Him your pain and let it go. It’s time for you to move on. Live this life God’s blessed you with. Cherish the small things. Be happy.” Tenderly, she touched his cheek. “I have to go now. I love you, Michael. Make me proud.”
Mike woke up abruptly. He had seen his Kit again; and she forgave him.
“I’ll make you proud Kit, I promise.”
For the first time in years, he felt a glimmer of hope.
“God—are you there? It’s me…Mike.”
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