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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Pastor (11/30/06)

TITLE: Coming Home
By Marilee Alvey


Phil Rhinehart had come to the end of himself. Not only had he painted himself into a corner, but he’d taken a bomb into the tight space with him, as well. He gazed at his world- weary reflection in the motel mirror. “How in the world did I ever get here?” he asked his image. In the last few weeks, he’d talked to himself a lot since no one else would.
“I haven’t lost my self-respect,” he challenged his visage. “You can’t lose what you never had.” He was a man he didn’t know….but then again, he was a man he didn’t care to know.

She wasn’t that young, and certainly no legendary Grecian temptress. He didn’t know what, but something powerful had drawn him to her from the very first day she came in for marital counseling. Perhaps it was her need to feel loved. He’d felt that very same pain. She’d been struggling not only with a distance in her marriage but a newly empty nest as well. Maybe he, too, identified with her feelings of desertion. Though all that played a part, Phil knew in his heart that it was more than that. When he looked in her eyes he was enthralled with the image of himself he saw. The self-respect he lacked was there, in her eyes. He drank eagerly from her well.

Living in the Super Eight Motel for the last three weeks, Phil had examined the situation from every angle. The embarrassment of having his family find out, his wife….his son and daughter, and then, the entire congregation, reverberated in his dreams nightly. The newspaper was ablaze with all of the tawdry details: Local Pastor Resigns Over Charges of Adultery.

“There’s no solution. You bit the big one this time, buddy. Congratulations! You made a covenant with God on your wedding day. Trashing that wasn’t enough for you? You had to trash someone else’s covenant, too? What a mighty man of God you are!”

It had been so easy. Her hair smelled like coconut. She smiled at him and treated him like he was someone special. He should have avoided the temptation when he first felt his mind wander. He should have sent her to the Associate Pastor, but he didn’t….and now it was too late. There was nothing else to do but end it all. “You don’t believe in suicide,” he countered. “Yes, but you don’t believe in adultery either, do you, good Reverend Phil?”

He eyed the prescription bottle sitting on the desk. He’d gotten it filled that same day for his recent depression. There were enough pills to just fade away. Reaching into the desk drawer, he sought the motel stationary and pen to write the obligatory note. His family deserved that much. There, in plain sight, was the Gideon’s Bible, something he’d avoided for the past three weeks. “Might as well say goodbye to an old friend,” he said to no one.

His fingers found Psalms and he proceeded to read David’s words as he poured out his heart to God. “Now, there’s a guy who could understand me. He had an affair and killed Bathsheba’s husband, but, yep, right here it says he was a man after God’s own heart.”

Phil next was led to the story of the Prodigal Son. “Boy, that kid had to have gotten into some pretty serious sins!” With new eyes, he continued, “Just look at my God, right there, running to him, unconditionally loving him! That boy was given a fresh new start!” he said, incredulously. Never had the story seemed so alive.

Phil sat there, quietly, for the next few minutes, then, slowly, the metamorphosis began. His clenched jaw relaxed. His tired eyes began to fill with tears. His throat ached as he found himself about to erupt in sobs of joy. A strange warmth began to fill his heart and flow through his veins. He could not imagine where he’d go or what he’d do, but he knew what he wasn’t going to do.

The metal wastebasket sang out as the pills found their new home. “Score!” Phil cried out…. to Someone.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 12/10/06
I love your title, and you did a great job here. I also really like your last sentence.