“Honestly, Bren… I’ve had it up to here.” Josh’s voice rose with his hand until the noise was deafening and his hand was elevated above his head. “You used me all this time, and I never saw it.”
Brenda closed her eyes, knowing she had no defense. Everything he charged her with was the truth. It did not matter if she was a different woman, if she had found Christ. It was too late.
“Why are you tempting me like this?” he demanded, his voice sounding hoarse. “I laid it all out for you… so how do I know you’re not manipulating me again?”
“I’m not trying to tempt you.” The soft denial escaped Brenda’s lips as she edged her way to the door, her heart breaking. There was nothing here for her. He thought she was trying to wrap him around her finger, but he was wrong…
“Then prove it.” Finally, his voice lowered and she opened her eyes..
“I am.” Her hand was on the door knob. “Goodbye, Josh. I hope God gives you someone you deserve.”
“Why don’t I believe you’re really leaving?” He followed her as she opened the door and stepped out into the hallway.
“Because I didn’t mean it before. But I do now.”
He frowned, and she ignored it as best she could. She was breaking, and he could not pick up the pieces this time. It had to be God, or no one at all.
Not trusting her voice, she turned and walked away.
It was one of those cold, windy days that chilled to the bone and chased almost everyone indoors. The few people out walked with a sense of purpose, ignoring the snow piled so close to the storefronts.
Brenda sat curled up on the bench she had cleared the snow off of, watching each person that walked past her with a chill nothing could thaw. Numbness had rendered her a mechanical creature that navigated through the daily business of existing. She worked, paid the bills, ate enough to keep from falling on her face at work, and spent the rest of her time sitting here. This first winter snow had no effect because her heart had been in a deep freeze for weeks now. Josh was gone.
No, Josh wasn’t dead, but his departure felt that final. He had changed his cell number and email address, and moved across town. He had told her that he was leaving because he could not deal with having her in his life anymore. He was tired of being used to get out of rough spots, of having his love manipulated, and he wasn’t going to leave himself in a position where she could hurt him anymore.
Brenda shivered and curled up tighter, but her shiver had nothing to do with the cold. This was the scene of the crime. This was the place she had called Josh to that last time.
She could see the group beating Josh when she closed her eyes, could feel the hands that held her back, made her nothing but a helpless eyewitness. Their voices taunted her, letting her know there was nothing she could do. When it was over, they shoved her towards him with threats of what they would do if she held out again.
You’re a mess, Brenda Cartwright, she told herself, shivering again. Don’t know what you’ve got until it’s walking out the door on you – doesn’t matter that you really needed him this time…
The sound of someone clearing snow off of the other side of the bench had Brenda opening her eyes. She turned her head and found herself looking into the face of the man who had created this mess. He had to know by now that she had talked to the police, that making her drag Josh into this mess had her coming clean. She knew before Josh had hurled the words at her what she was. She also knew as she stared down the knife blade pointed at her chest that she was never going to see Joshua Carter again.
“Go ahead,” she whispered to her attacker. “It doesn’t matter anymore…”
“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (Matt. 12:27 NASB).
All Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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