Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)
TITLE: In a Fog
By Laurie Walker
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“May I help you?”
“I’m John,” he said, “and I think I can help you. I’ve been working across the street and noticed your swamp cooler a little under the weather.”
His gentle smile softened edges that demanded severity, instantly drawing her in. She blushed in spite of herself.
“It is. Swamp coolers normally aren’t so loud.”
“I didn’t know,” she said. “Everything’s still strange to me. My parents, well they died.”
She’d heard the words often enough. People flung them out when they didn’t know what else to say. Strange, but Catherine felt he truly meant it.
“May I go on your roof and take a look?”
Readily letting in this massive stranger should have been her last reaction, but for reasons Catherine couldn’t fathom she felt an instinctive need to trust John. She led him to the second floor balcony where a stepladder allowed him access to the roof.
“I’ll just be a minute.”
“Be careful,” she said, and he offered another smile.
She couldn’t believe someone so tall dared thrust himself to greater heights, and watched in fascination as he nimbly ascended the roof. After a few moments she turned to the cityscape lining the entire valley. As a child Catherine had loved to sit here and watch the sun set behind distant mountains, as though it were a special gift God granted her every night, something special just between the two of them.
How quickly things change, she lamented. Figuring all kids were supposed to rebel at some point, Catherine turned her back on God and family the moment her birthday made it legal.
It didn’t take her long to realize she’d gone too far. Like a child wandering through an intense fog she’d allowed the distorted voices of the world guide her away from that which kept her life calm, peaceful: home.
Catherine couldn’t even remember the last time she’d seen her parents. Years, maybe, had passed since the day she’d stormed off, never once thinking it might be the last time…Where had her chance to make things right disappeared to?
A sob so deep, so intense gripped her, demanding a release she had not yet allowed. She placed a hand over her face, willing her body to pull itself back together.
Oh, dear God, how did I get here? What happened to me?
A voice, deep and warm, called from above. “You need to fix your bearings.”
Catherine whipped around to find the silhouette of a gigantic man framed from head to toe by light blazing from behind. An angel, she thought, shielding her eyes with a hand.
The angel crouched and morphed into the gentle giant named John, his beautiful smile embracing her.
“Sorry about that. The sun’s at just the right angle.”
He quickly climbed down the ladder. “You’re bearings need to be replaced. If you’d like I have the parts in my van. I can fix it quick.”
She nodded, unable to speak, his words having struck a chord she’d thought too damaged beyond repair. My bearings need fixing. Her heart pulsed with the insight suddenly infusing her mind.
Catherine wandered into her parent’s room, a place she had not dared enter from the moment she came back, and headed directly for a familiar bookcase nestled in the corner. From its depths she retrieved the family Bible, caressing its worn, leather cover. How many times had her parents read this, hoping for answers to jump off the pages on how to deal with their wayward daughter?
She sat down on a rocking chair, clutching the precious book to her chest, barely aware of John tinkering above her. Never before had Catherine appreciated just how soothing her parent’s influence could be, like balm to a troubled soul, and regretted having avoided this room for so long. Pictures of mother, father, and daughter filled every extra space. She had never realized…
Perhaps their prayers had been answered after all. Perhaps the lost little girl found her way out of the fog; could find peace and calm once again, starting right here.
“All fixed,” said John, suddenly appearing in the doorway.
She gazed at him, offering her own tender smile. Not yet, she thought, but I’ll get there.
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