Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hot and Cold (04/09/09)
TITLE: From the Inside Out
By Deborah Cooke
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Pushing her hands further up in her sleeves, Rebecca edged as deeply into the corner of the bus shelter as she could. Her coat collar stood to its full extent, covering her head and enclosing her ears. She dropped her chin a little more to relieve the stinging in her eyes from the cold. Her body shrank back into the jacket, which offered no more warmth. She pulled at the lapels, hoping they would reach to her eyes and then dropped her head again and returning her hand.
She felt as cold on the inside as she did on the outside.
It had all started so simply, without any real intent, just drifting really. As she sat huddled in the corner, she remembered the first time – the very first time she had taken the money. It was such a small amount and no one had followed it up; that made other attempts easier. She had run short and needed some food – it would only be for a couple of days and she would replace it. But no one noticed; so they mustn’t miss it that much and anyway, it was only a small amount.
It was her job to oversee the registers each night and as time went on she divided the losses over other registers to make it less obvious. There seemed to be a few more weeks where she needed something extra; sometimes a little luxury for herself; she was well respected and held a responsible position and she deserved better than the paltry wage she was on anyway.
She thought the promotion into administration would alleviate her finances. But it didn’t take all that long to recognize she had a bigger pool to draw from and she could cover things far more easily with the stroke of a pen, than at the registers.
How could it all collapse so quickly? The terror of the questions caused her to flee. But to where? She had spent every penny; it ran through her fingers like water. She had spent so much, but could take nothing with her when she left.
No references, no family; she was on her own and out in the cold.
“Some soup, Miss?” She heard the voice and was surprised that she must have fallen asleep.
“I don’t like soup.” She said hoping this would send him on his way, while her stomach ached for something warm inside.
“It’s your favourite.” He replied quickly and brightly.
“How do you know what’s my favourite?” She replied tersely.
“Your Father told me to bring it.”
“That’s stupid, I don’t have a father.” She was angry and curious at this old man, holding out a panican in front of her. “And I don’t like soup.”
“It’s Pea and Ham with a touch of curry.” He continued to hold out towards her.
She withdrew her head fully from the cocoon of her jacket; now very curious. This really was the only soup she liked at all and the touch of curry was her special addition, to warm her from the inside out.
“Something to warm you from the inside out.” The old man said as he pushed it into her extended hands. It felt hot in her hands; a good hot.
“Who made it?” She asked.
“Your Father sent it.’ He replied. “He knew what you needed.”
She was going to correct him again about her father, but he continued.
“Your real Father in heaven has sent this for you. He knows what you need, every day. He has been watching you and waiting for you to understand how much you need Him.”
She was going to tell him that she didn’t need anyone, but sipped at the soup instead. It was wonderful; perfectly hot; she felt it slide into her, warming her from the inside out.
The old man went on explaining how God had never taken his eyes from her and that she had needed to learn how to make good choices.
As the warmth of the soup penetrated her cold body, she began to softly weep. “I have made so many bad choices.” She said.
“I have got myself into a lot of trouble.”
“I know. He’s waiting to forgive you.”
“Would He forgive me?” She asked.
She asked. She sipped the soup again and the warmth filled and soaked the cold on the inside.
“I’ll go back and make it right. I’ll repay every penny.”
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