Light from candelabrum reflected off polished surfaces; flowers, their fragrance heady in the evening air, graced tables in every room; fairy lights strung through trees lit up the landscaped garden; and hundreds of potted chrysanthemums competed with lilies growing wild along the stream’s banks.
Beth allowed a smile to tug at her mouth. As a student she’d daydreamed about the people living in the big houses with gardens overlooking the stream. That David had been able to afford this house felt like a dream.
Her husband approached and placed an arm around her shoulders.
“Good house-warming party.”
She’d had little time to enjoy the party, flitting from the caterers in the kitchen to her guests in the downstairs rooms then outside to the deck and lawn. Replenishing their glasses, offering trays of food, she’d watched in delight as their son Josh had gone from one person to another enjoying the attention lavished upon him.
Suddenly she realised that she hadn’t seen Josh in her latest round of serving guests.
“He’s probably outside. Amy arrived a short while ago – you know how he adores her.”
She did know. Still …
“I didn’t see him when I was outside.”
David lent and placed a kiss on her forehead.
“If it makes you feel any better, I’ll check.”
Beth nodded and smiled at her husband.
Mummy loves flowers. If I could just reach out –
Flowers everywhere. Flowers that sprung up as he walked on them or bent to pick one.
Mummy would love this. I don’t want to go back – No!
Beth sat in the small waiting room, staring at the limp flowers in the chipped vase sitting amongst torn year-old magazines. She remembered little of the past hour: Amy’s scream; David lifting his son in his arms; someone dialling the ambulance; the guests helpless and horrified; flashing lights and sirens; someone handing her into a car; arriving at the emergency department. It was all a blur.
She glanced up when the door opened then moved along the cracked-leather couch to make room for Josh’s babysitter.
Beth shook her head.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him since he got into the ambulance. I guess he’s in there helping.”
Amy digested this in silence then took Beth’s hands in her own.
“Would you like me to pray?”
“I don’t know. … I’m not much for praying. … I guess it can’t hurt.”
Amy bowed her head and prayed but Beth heard little of what she said. Instead her heart was pleading with a God she had until now ignored.
Please God, save my boy. If You’re real, let him live. And if You do …
Beth opened her eyes and looked into the face of the surgeon who was both friend and colleague to David. Now his face was drawn and grey and he looked older than his years.
Beth stifled a moan.
“Josh – is he …”
“We don’t know how long Joshua was in the water. It will be weeks before we know the extent of the damage.”
Weeks. Beth grasped at the lifeline.
“You mean he’s not – he’s still alive?”
“He’s alive. In a few minutes you can see him.” He looked around. “Where’s David?”
”I thought he was with you.”
The doctor shook his head. “I haven’t seen him since the ambulance brought Joshua in.”
Beth rose to her feet. “I’ll find him.”
Beth pushed open a door, surprised to see someone kneeling, head bowed, hands clenched together. She glanced at the cross at the front, then back at the figure on the floor.
“David?” As far as she knew, her husband had never had time for God.
David looked up at her approach. “He’s gone then?”
“No. They don’t know the extent of the damage, but he’s alive.”
For a few minutes there was silence, then David spoke.
“Tonight I gave my life to God and told Him - regardless of whether Josh lived or died - I would go wherever He sends me. Even to India”
He glanced at Beth.
“It could mean selling the house. Giving up everything you’ve ever wanted. I’ll understand if you hate me.”
There was silence for several moments. Then -
“Are there flowers in India?”
David smiled. “You and your flowers. Yes, there are flowers in India.”
Slowly Beth reached out her hand.
“Then let’s go tell Josh together.”
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