Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Soul (07/13/06)
TITLE: Right of the Moon
By April Bailey
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I came silently, lowly, the way she preferred, and fell to my knees for the beating. As if leather itself could despise me, the strap roared through wind and clawed at the flesh of my back. Only when she’d tired and leaned sideways against the bureau did I rise, returning shirt to body, and set about my chores. Mama must have been in a good mood, for I’d taken far worse.
Hours passed with work and sweat, a sweet June day sent blistering beneath her harsh words. “Jerome! You good for nothin’! Get in here!” My name spewed forth from Mama’s mouth a thousand times a day like she was spitting out poison, and a sickening blackness tried taking root in me at the sound of it.
I served her most days as a mute, lest my speaking lead to the strap, and saved my words for God. Despite Mama’s torment, I felt Him. In fact, God was hard to miss on our small piece of the south. Towering trees stretched heavenward in worship, clamoring crickets and secadas offered unending praise, stars twinkled as glints in omnipotent eyes, and even the breeze pressed my skin with a love that was unmistakably His. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” I spoke from Psalm 19:1, honored to be witnessing the truth of it. Sometimes, I’d swear I could hear a gentle “Jerome” carried on the voice of the wind, the Good Lord emphasizing who made me and stomping out any ill-planted seeds from a day’s or week’s worth of Mama’s curses. With His very breath, I was healed.
Evening offered its own glory, adding infinite evidence of the Creator’s handiwork, and lulling me into silent admiration. While stargazing, I always made sure to stand to the left of the moon. As with the throne of God, I figured, the right side was saved for royalty. I respected that.
My mother seemed to have no such awareness of the luxurious peace overseeing our property, and I wondered about an emptiness I didn’t understand. No use praying for her soul, came the whispers, Mama had thrown her lot in with the devil long ago. She regularly entertained spirits, of the liquid variety—she was most partial to whiskey—and allowed them to rule her, mind and body. Despite thoughts of futility, I did pray for her. As long as life remained in the body, I believed redemption was possible and, until the day she gave it up, her soul could be saved.
“Where is that stupid boy?” Mama stepped out onto the porch and caught me staring into the night sky. “Dang it, Jerome! Stop eyeballin’ that infernal moon and clean up this kitchen!”
* * * * * * *
Didn’t many moons pass before Mama drank her liver past the point of health, and with her sickness came a quiet she had never possessed. For perhaps the first time in my seventeen years, I talked with Mama, finally able to share the love I had known, not from her but from my Father … her Father. And as I spoke of Him over the weeks of her illness, she welcomed a new Spirit, one that ensured her soul a place in eternity.
* * * * * * *
On a clear night, I still often look heavenward with awe and appreciation. But since the day God took Mama home, He made clear where I should stand to view His glory … to the right of the moon.
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