Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
TITLE: Vulture Feast
By Gerald Shuler
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So, dear reader, are you on the edge of your seat, anxiously awaiting gory details about my unhappy childhood? I’ll not disappoint you, my vultureous friends. Since your appetite craves to feed on my heartache I will give you your feast. Even though your own memories should offer more than enough pain, I give you, for your reading pleasure, mine as well.
My father was, by outward appearance, a very good man. He didn’t drink, do drugs or cheat on my mother. His only fault was his temper.
My father’s temper was an enigma to me. How could he have such control in public and then vent his anger on the family he loved as soon as we were alone with him? I remember a time when he had been secretly angry for several days about a co-worker that wanted his job. For days our family had suffered in that co-worker’s place. This day was no different.
I had gone for a ride on my bicycle to a nearby fishing hole. There were no fish to catch and I knew it. I just needed to see the pole in the water. I needed to be alone. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realized how long I had been alone. It was already past time for me to be home when I heard my father’s voice calling my name. Without thinking, I ducked under the small country road bridge that was beside me. I held my breath, hoping not to be seen. If only I could hear him leave then I would be able to get on my bike and beat him back to the house. I could tell him I had been there all the time. I could tell him…
“Did you think you could hide from me?” My father’s shadow fell across the shallow waters of the creek. He was right above me. I had been found. “Get up here… NOW.”
Nothing would stop him from venting his anger now. All I could do was face what I knew was coming and get it over. I climbed the hill to the top of the bridge. As soon as I was within reach he grabbed my wrist. I braced myself for the “over the knee” whipping I knew was about to happen.
But it didn’t happen, at least not over the knee.
Instead, he held me high in the air and, somehow, grabbed my ankle while letting go of my wrist. I found myself upside down, looking at the creek water below me. Fear gripped me and I screamed.
“Shut up.” My father yelled as he shook me. “I haven’t even started.” Instantly, I felt the palm of his hand strike. Then another and another. How was he able to hold me up that long? What would happen if he dropped me? Dizziness was setting in as I looked at the water below and caught a glimpse of a crawfish making its way under me. Poor crawfish. If I get dropped he’s a goner. One more hand on my rump and the crayfish disappeared in an engulfing cloud of blackness.
That, dear reader, is all I remember. Sorry. More happened, of that I am sure. But I choose not to remember. Vultures will need to feed elsewhere because this story is one of love, not bitterness. The true test of a Christian’s walk is his ability to forgive. Following God’s example, if it isn’t forgotten then it isn’t forgiven. I choose to forget.
Dad, the forgiveness is genuine.
(The remaining 100 words of this challenge is left wordless. I know I could have written all sorts of heart-wrenching details because I had enough room. Instead, why not use those 100 words yourself to write a statement of forgiveness to that person who hurt you. Forgive them, and then forget it.)
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