Timothy brushed aside the bushes that hid the narrow opening which formed an entranceway into the dark recesses beneath the porch. Crouching down, he squeezed through the black hole and found himself wrapped in the sticky silk of a spider’s web. “Ugh, gross,” he muttered, resisting the urge to sneeze by wrapping both hands around his mouth. I picked a spooky place to hide, he thought. But if I ran to the neighbor’s, he might catch me trying to climb the fence to their yard. I should be safe in here.
A door slammed above him. Heavy footsteps crossed the porch. “TIMMY,” called a deep voice. Tim held his breath, waiting.
A dog barked somewhere, then another took up the howling. Minutes ticked by until the voice came again. “TIMMY, I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE!” The voice was angry, threatening. Tim’s heart began to pound so hard he thought it might jump through his chest.
“Please, God,” he prayed. “Make him go away. Don’t let my mother die. I need you now, Lord. Please help me.” Tim was no stranger to God. He’d prayed desperately through all of his father’s drunken rages, always hoping that somehow God would miraculously change the man responsible for the family’s misery.
A stream of cursing fouled the air as Tim’s father left the porch, reeling drunkenly down the stairs. Breathing heavily, big feet crunching gravel, he made for the front of the house. Now is the time to leave this nasty place, Tim thought. I need to call 911. I’ll use the phone in the kitchen. But he couldn’t move an inch. Quaking with fear, he crouched in the dark hole, reliving the scene that had caused him to run outdoors.
Again and again his dad had hit his mother, drawing blood and never stopping until she lay on the floor in a pool of blood, unconscious. Then Tim had fled the scene, fear driving him with force to the hiding place beneath the stairs. Shame enveloped him now in a cloak of helplessness as he struggled with a conscience that told him to go back inside, get help for his mother. Fear shook him to the core while he wondered if she were still alive. “Coward. Coward,” whispered a tiny voice within his brain.
Finally he moved, squeezing once more through the door of his hiding place. With shaky steps, he reentered the house. An eerie quiet reigned in the kitchen where the light was on. Grabbing the phone on the wall, he dialed 911.
“This is Tim Mason at 1262 Maple Street. My mom’s hurt bad. Send an ambulance right away.” His breath came in short gasps as he spoke. The phone seemed glued to his sweaty hand. “What’s that? Oh, my dad hit her, killed her maybe. He’s drunk and looking for me.”
He hung up the phone and fled to his room. Throwing himself on the bed, he sobbed in desperation. Then, through the midst of his tears, he heard the back door reopen.
“Timmy, are you in here?” The anger was gone!
Tim held his breath, waiting for his father to come down the hall looking for him. He waited several minutes. Then, hearing nothing, he approached the room where his mother lay on the floor, bleeding. His eyes widened when he saw his dad kneeling on the floor beside her, sobbing as Tim himself had sobbed. A cell phone lay beside him. Eleven-year-old Tim felt confused and embarrassed as he hesitated in the hall.
But now there were sirens, several of them, and they stopped outside the house. Tim hung back while his father opened the door to the police and paramedics. “We received two calls for help,” said an officer, “your kid and you.” Tim saw his father handcuffed while the officer read him his rights.
Paramedics dropped to the floor, examining his mother. “She’s breathing OK,” said one of them. “The wounds are superficial, I think. Let’s patch her up and get her to the hospital.”
Greatly relieved, Tim came forward now and spoke to the paramedics. “I want to go with her. I need to know that she’s o.k.”
“Sure, kid,” said the paramedic, putting a comforting arm about him.
“The act of cowardice is all that matters; the emotion of fear is, in itself, no sin.” -- C. S. Lewis
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