Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Car Trip (07/18/05)
TITLE: Why God Never Closes His Eyes
By Lisa McMillion
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Exactly forty-seven minutes from the time the Bigelows would die, James Barker, log truck driver, left the check out counter of the US 119 Fast Mart to return with a family size bag of Doritos. He tossed it on top of two slim-jims, jostling an extra large coffee poured from the freshest pot. His total was $5.31.
Heading North on 119, Frank Bigelow steadied the wheel with one hand, using the other to open a book-on-cd case.
“Ugghh!” Mrs. Bigelow groaned, “I get car sick!”
And to think her name is Patience, thought Frank. “How can you get car sick? It’s not like you’re actually reading anything,” he reasoned.
“Maybe I see the words in my mind as I’m listening to them,” she began and then, “what if some children actually see words as they hear them? I wonder what this could mean in therapy?”
“Deej?” she turned to consult her five-year-old. “When Mommy says ‘cat’, what do you see?” Deandra Jane made her legs kick-swim the air in front of them to enliven her already numbing backside. “Min-nee-mouse,” she said in time with her legs. “Min-nee-mouse, Min-nee-mouse.”
“Never mind,” said Patience, turning around. She looked at Frank and could see his hands tightening around the wheel in quiet perturbation. What was it that was missing inside of them? The case of discs slipped off the seat and fell like space-flower petals at her feet.
“She wants her coloring book,” Greg observed in teenaged, angst-filled exhalation. It had begun to rain on the turn from their street toward the ski lodge three hours away. Greg wondered what it would feel like to drown in a sweater.
“No I don’t! You’re not supposed to tell her. SHHHH!!!”
Deandra’s shushing sprinkled onto Greg’s hand, fueling his mind to continue its monsoon-washed woolgathering.
Patience handed a coloring book to Deandra without turning around. The last time she would see her daughter in this life had passed. Impact: thirty–one minutes and counting.
Frank turned the wipers another notch to slap away a steady cupful of rain. He opted for radio and, turning it on, winded his way up mountains that no amount of sweat-stained grading could’ve honed. Only one signal came through. Deandra snored softly over her coloring book behind him.
A woman with a slight accent talked to an interviewer about her life in another country and a cage. It had been explained how her exact origins were uncertain, but that she, as young as seven, was kept as a slave for the purposes of daily paid visits by village men. Her first memories were, thankfully, of a pale woman, a missionary, approaching her. Upon seeing her pitiful state, she handed the slave-owner what seemed hardly enough to buy a girl -- $100. He accepted the offer.
“Don’t be ashamed of your state when God sent me to you. We are all trapped until Christ. Some people live out their lives in invisible cages. Yours was visible and so you are blessed!” From the words of the wise missionary, the young lady had wholeheartedly believed. As static caused her broadcast to wane for the Bigelows, Heaven held its breath.
They rounded the side of the mountain facing the clouded sun as her testimony boomed back inside the car. So hushed were they to hear the woman’s words, the vibrations from four tires crunching gravel became a momentary, personal irritation to each of them. “Jesus,” the woman prayed, asking listeners to do the same, “Thank you for never turning your back on me. I believe you died for me and rose again, that I might have full access to God, the Father, who never sleeps, but is always watching for His children to come home to Him. Forgive me of my sins, and show me daily the right way to live, regardless of my circumstances. Amen.”
At exactly 5:31 pm, James Barker leaned with his steering wheel at a steep corner, driving with his wrists as he fought to open a pressurized pillow of Doritos. He would later begin praying himself, asking God about the people he saw the split second before two heavy logs propelled by his braking launched from the top of his rig like missiles. Their faces seemed to be wet from inside the yet uncrushed compartment-- at peace. He swore he had also counted a fifth Bigelow inside, a man, as time stopped and began again there at the cusp of the mountain.
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