Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)
TITLE: The Primal Frontier
By Joseph Civitella
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Max stopped writing, threw down his pen and tore the sheet of paper in half. That’s no way to start a story, stealing from a TV show. What do they call that… plage something?
His mom’s call always interrupted something. He pushed himself away from his desk, then just sat there observing his workspace. What a mess of papers, books, notepads and… stuffed animals! His favorite was the lynx. Such a beautiful creature, but a ruthless hunter. Would Max ever be ruthless?
“Hey, hydrohead, grub’s ready!”
Then there was his brother, Matthew, the jock of the family. Every time he passed by Max’s door, he’d hurl some insult or other.
“Be right there,” replied Max.
“No, man, you’re always wrong. You’ll never be right anywhere.”
He heard his brother’s footsteps stomping down the stairs. Max swiveled in his chair and faced the door. Why couldn’t it be a gateway to another dimension? If all he had to do was walk through it to go somewhere else, become someone else, he would do it in a flash. “Beam me up, Scotty. There’s no life for me on this planet.”
“Max, are you coming?”
His mother’s voice had a tinge of impatience to it. It didn’t matter how you spent the rest of your day, as long as you were on time for dinner.
There was a guest sitting at the head of the dinner table. “Max, this is James, from the church. “ informed his mom.
“Hello, sir,” replied Max as he sat at his usual spot.
“Hello, Max. Your mother told me a lot about you.”
Right. Another psychologist, no doubt. Or maybe a psychiatrist this time.
“How are you feeling today?”
Max looked at James, then at his mom, back at the guest, then at his brother. “Fine,” he lied.
“Tell him the truth now, sweetie,“ insisted his mom. “How are you feeling, really?”
You can’t handle the truth, thought Max.
“What they mean is, they want to know if your brain is drowning in that liquid caboose of yours,” volunteered his brother.
“Matthew! That is totally inappropriate to say to your brother!”
“Oh, mom,” replied Matthew. “I’m just teasing, you know?”
“That may not be the best thing to do, son,” interjected James.
“Yeah, whatever.” Matthew attacked his roast beef instead.
Max looked at the guest. “My head doesn’t hurt as much,” he said.
“Your mother tells me you hear voices now.”
“Sometimes,” said Max.
“What kind of voices?” asked James.
Max looked at his mom before answering. “He said he is Jesus.”
The guest remained silent for while. “And what does Jesus tell you?”
Max’s mom encouraged him to go on. “He tells me that he lives in my heart, and that he loves me no matter what I look like.”
“That’s right, son. I know he loves you as well.” The guest smiled.
“Maybe he should become a priest, eh?” Matthew surely couldn’t miss such a juicy opportunity.
“Better than the demon that’s possessed you!” retorted his mom.
Max shifted in his chair, and gazed at James. “Is it the same Jesus that speaks to you?”
The guest nodded. “I believe so. But why don’t you ask him yourself?”
“Like, in my head?” asked Max.
“Jesus better be a good swimmer!” snickered Matthew.
“Matthew!” His mom’s face flushed red.
“Jesus will find any way to get to you,” explained James. “Just have faith that he’ll be whatever you need him to be.”
“There’s enough space in that head of his for all the apostles as well!”
“That’s it, Matthew” exploded his mom. “Leave the table at once!”
Matthew started getting up, but Max intervened. “No, mom, that’s okay. He can stay. There’s enough room in God’s heart for everyone.”
Everyone remained silent for the longest time. Then James turned to Max. “I believe that Jesus found a sanctuary in your heart. Am I right?”
Max bowed his head. “Yes.”
“And your headaches happen when you feel crowded in your mind?”
“Then I think I know a solution.” James got up from his chair and knelt next to Max. “Can you bless me, please, in the words that you hear Jesus say to you?”
Max didn’t say anything, and began to cry.
More silence ensued, then Matthew whispered “Your head is leaking, bro.”
The boundaries were breached. The primal frontier, that inner space between us all, had been bridged.
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