Icy fingers of wind stab through my blanket. “It’s enough.” I whisper. “I don’t want to live anymore.” A few feet away, the blackened waters of the river toss and grumble as they sweep past bridge mountings. Maybe I should hasten death. If I wade into the water, hypothermia will cast its numbing shroud across my frame.
I shift position and a movement catches my eye. Two figures are approaching, bearing lamps that cast pale cones of light against drifts of snow.
“Good evening.” A cheery voice fills my darkness as though this were a normal occurrence. “It’s cold out tonight. Can we sit with you for a while?”
The shapes morph into silvery outlines; a man and a woman. Without waiting for a reply, they arrange themselves, one on each side of me. “Would you like some soup?” the woman questions. “I have a flask of hot minestrone in my basket. “
I’m intrigued and for a moment, the pull of death subsides. I haven’t eaten for two days and the aroma of spicy meat, awakens my appetite.
“Just a little, please.”
The woman hands me a mug and as I sip, she drapes a blanket across my shoulders. It’s lightweight and fleecy and I can see in the lamplight that it’s crimson.
“Thank you.” I say, as warmth spreads through my body.
The man speaks for the first time. “I have a message from God for you.”
I stop sipping. God? “You must have the wrong person. God wouldn’t have any business with me.” Words like addiction, prostitution, abortion and theft scroll across my mind.
The man smiles and a halo of translucent gold softens his features. “God loves you, Shelly. He sent us to share this story with you.”
Shelly? How does he know my name is Shelly?
He takes a sheet of creamy paper from his pocket and starts to read. “All of us are involved in The Game of Life. The starting point is birth. You were born in a tiny cottage not far from here, Shelly. In fact you came back here to try and end your life where it began. “
He really has my attention now. How does he know all this stuff about me?
“The board God uses is the world we live in. The countries and cities, suburbs and houses are where the game is played out.”
I finish my soup and the woman takes the mug from me, her hands gentle and soft.
“I’m listening. Tell me what happens next.”
“There are no opponents in The Game of Life, only fellow players. The object of the game is to assist those around you; to see how many lives you can touch.” He drops his voice a notch as he looks into my eyes. “You already know how each interaction sets off ripples of consequence.”
I feel shame washing over me as I think of the people I’ve used and abused and the chain effect of negatives I’ve triggered in their lives. “I’ve failed.” I murmur. “I’m useless at this game.”
The woman grasps my hand and I feel comfort radiating from her.
“Each person is given the rule book.” the man continues. “This book is called the Bible and contains everything we need to live Godly lives.”
“It’s too late for me.” I say. “God must hate me for what I’ve done.”
The woman shakes her head. “He loves you, Shelly. He adores you. The Bible says you’re the apple of His eye. He just wants you to turn your life over to Him so He can help you.”
I run the words through my mind. Love, adore, apple of His eye? Those words have never appeared in the same sentence as Shelly.
“Can we pray with you?” The man asks. Their words are soft and caring and I can’t help myself. Eyes drooping, my stomach satisfied, I fall asleep in the woman’s arms.
It’s morning when I awake and thoughts filter into consciousness. Was it a dream? I focus on the snow glinting in the golden dawn and fancy I see an outline; a translucent sketch of two angels.
Could it be?
I touch the crimson folds that warm my body and feel the corresponding warmth in my heart. Yes. I do believe it could. Hope vibrates as I lift my eyes to heaven. “I’m here, Lord.” I whisper. “I’m ready to play things Your way.”
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