The gift made him to do it.
This thing attacked Bobby’s 16 year old mind from the day he unwrapped it and it kept after him and wouldn’t let go. He was just a blind kid wanting to sleep late and listen to football on Sunday. Why was it punishing him?
At first he was excited to open the gift. The smooth paper on top gave way easily as he ripped and tore his way down to the cardboard box. The filler paper inside had a fragile feel and crunched like crushed autumn leaves. Then the thing itself was in his hands. Cold it was, and rough.
He took an end in each hand and lifted it. It wasn’t heavy but it had a funny balance to it. It was cubed, no, it was a horizontal wooden plank, polished a little and maybe painted, but still rough to the touch. He was careful of splinters and laid it on his lap to for more study.
His right hand found the top of the thing, another plank, this one vertical. His right hand, traveling the back side of the thing, found the intersection of the two boards. So it was a cross. Not such an unusual a gift from a pastor. His mother would probably put it over the head of his bed. Someone would appreciate it there. Probably not Bobby. “Out of sight, out of mind,” he said to himself.
He was ready to put the thing back in the box when his left hand felt something metallic. He ran a finger further along the plank to find out what he was seeing. Small, with five points. A hand? Then something sharp pricked his finger. It was in the middle of the hand. A pain ran up his finger to his wrist. He quickly put his finger in his mouth. No blood, but it sure hurt.
His right hand found another small hand on the other side of the plank. He avoided the sharp point and traveled from the fingers to an arm, and then to a shoulder. Up the neck and then the head. Sharp points again. They ran across this person’s brow. He ran his finger down to the face. An eye, closed. A nose, a beard, and a mouth. This was a sad person. For a moment Bobby shared the sadness. The pain ran up his finger to his mind and then his heart.
“No! I don’t need this!” Bobby swore, throwing the cross across the room. It could stay where it landed. He wasn’t going to touch it again. “Thanks for the HAPPY birthday gift, pastor!”
That night Bobby woke up frozen to his bed. His arms were stretched out and seemed to be attached to the corners of his mattress. His feet were also immobilized. There was piercing pain in his wrists and ankles. Mocking laughter came at him from everywhere. Above him a circling wind descended and danced flames upon his pajamas and bedding. More laughter.
“You deserve this,” said a cruel voice.”
Shameful thoughts flooded his mind, with reenactments of unseemly behaviors he thought no one knew. His illegitimate birth was the biggest weight brought up from the depths of Hell and laid upon his chest, however.
“Blindness is a just punishment for you.”
“Yes I do deserve this!” he cried out in the dark. The flames grew hotter.
Another voice spoke and the wind and the laughter stopped.
“But I love you, more than justice.”
The bed cooled.
John’s left hand came free first, then his right, and then his feet, but his mind was still captive. More memories rose to overwhelm him. This time they were words, stories, and prayers from Sunday school lessons, sermons, and talks with Pastor Roberts and his own family. It was the Gospel, again and again. The message was as simple, profound, and powerful as the little song that escaped from his lips in the next moment.
“Yesssss, Jesus love me. Yesssss, Jesus love me. Yesssss, Jesus love me, the Bible tells me so.”
So he slept while the song kept watch all about him.
Bobby was up early the next morning, Sunday morning, and first be ready for church, much to the surprise and delight of his family. When they asked him why the change he could only answer.
“The gift made me do it.”
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