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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sunday School (10/25/07)

TITLE: This Side of Mid-Night
By Jack Taylor


This Side of Mid-night

“God, she’s only eight.”

Marc watched helplessly as the doors to the pediatric surgical center crashed open and then swung shut in his face. A last glimpse of his daughter Disney was obscured by a sea of aqua masks and tunics pushing the gurney and working to intubate the gasping girl. His stomach involuntarily heaved and he staggered back against the wall.

If only Melanie were still here. Or Emery. He couldn’t do life alone. Not this life.

Marc forced his hands into the front pockets of his jeans and strolled dreamlike to the massive window in the visitor’s lounge. No moon tonight. The clouds shuttered the heavens. It was mid-night inside and out.

A rib thin Coyote prowling for stray cats skittered through the dim glow of the street light on the edge of the parking lot. A wheel chair sat abandoned in the handicapped stall. Life was out of control this side of mid-night.

“God, she’s only eight.” The hoarse whisper bounced eerily off the empty concrete walls.

In the chaos of Marc’s mind images began to form of when he was eight. A funeral. His dad’s. Soldiers. A flag over the casket. Trumpets. Guns. A hero gone. Mom. Alone. Broken. Crying. All the time crying.

And then Mrs. Rhoda Belamy in Sunday School. “Marc, God will never leave you nor forsake you.” “Marc, you’re loved. You’re special.”

How often those words flooded back. His first job flipping burgars. He was sure he’d be rejected after stuttering through the interview. Those words held him. “Marc, you’re loved.”

Marc and Melanie were freshman lovebirds. M & M – a sweet combination. Marc was so fixated on proving himself in his job he hardly noticed the distance growing. When the fights became bitter and the fear of rejection paralyzed him Mrs. Belamy’s words humbled him and called him to love better. “Marc, you’re special.”

The birth of Disney erupted a fountain of joy. Bubbling up day after day. Everything was sunshine. The birth of Emery two years later was everything darkness. An emergency Caesarian. The deep post-partum depression that refused to lift. The endless crying through the night. And then the evening Marc arrived home to find his son face down in the fish pond. Even Mrs. Belamy’s words abandoned him.

Mid-night arrived that day as Melanie’s mind snapped under the pressure. Marc was left alone with Disney. It was her fifth birthday. He’d never had to do a party before. He wasn’t even sure where the candles were.

The images now tumbled in on him. So strongly that he staggered toward the couch and collapsed face down. There were no more tears. His eyes were as dry as his soul.

The texture of the couch revived memories of Mrs. Belamy’s jacket as she bear hugged him into submission each week. She loved him fiercely even when he graduated from her class. She prayed for him often. He knew by the questions she asked. He wished he could have said good-bye.

His foster family didn’t believe in God. They belittled Marc's requests. Sports eventually swallowed his time and energy and emotion and allegiance. He didn’t need anyone or anything. Until now.

It was well after mid-night. Marc needed help. He needed hope. Finally, the words of Mrs. Belamy broke through. “Marc, God will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“God, she’s only eight.”

“I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.”

The words punched into his heart like a battering ram. They left him disoriented and mesmerized. “Mrs. Belamy?”

Silence suffocated him into stillness.

“I need you. Disney needs you.”

Still the silence.

“God, she’s only eight.”

“I’ll never leave you nor forsake you. I won’t leave her or forsake her either.”

A hand gently shook Marc’s shoulder. Marc found himself on his knees with his face buried into the cushions. He turned, dazed, and stared into the eyes of the surgeon.

“Marc Jamieson, I presume? I’m Dr. Martin Belamy. You can see your daughter now. She’s going to be just fine.”

Marc felt the tears flooding. “Dr. Belamy?” He shivered involuntarily. “Any relation to Rhoda Belamy?”

The doctor beamed. “Of course, she’s my mother. And it’s funny you should ask. In some strange way I felt like she was talking with me while I was helping your daughter.”

Marc shook the extended hand. “I know what you mean. You wouldn’t happen to know of a good Sunday School where Disney and I could go, do you?”

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This article has been read 812 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/01/07
This is a beautiful story of the impact the love of a Sunday School teacher makes.
Chrissi Dunn11/01/07
I liked the ending! I wasn't expecting the surgeon to be a relative. Well written.
Paula Titus 11/03/07
Very emotional, I could feel the pain. Fantastic title also. Great piece.
LaNaye Perkins11/04/07
Your title grabbed me and your writing held me captive till the very end. Well done!
Lynda Schultz 11/06/07
This gave me goosebumps. Good work.
Sheri Gordon11/08/07
Congratulations on your highly commended. This gave me the chills. Very good take on the topic.
Karen Wilber11/08/07
This one knocks the wind out of you and doesn't let go. Powerful ending. Wow!