Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)
TITLE: Welcome Home
By Rick Higginson
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Another push, stronger and more insistent, propelled him farther along. Someone took hold of him, pulling him gently in the same direction, while brightness assaulted his eyes. Suddenly, the squeezing was gone, and the pressure was replaced by the sensation of cold. While he’d had no voice through the whole ordeal, he was finally able to cry out.
Different hands touched him, drawing him close in a gentle embrace. A familiar voice whispered reassurance to him, holding him for a few moments before laying him down on a warm surface.
A pair of arms wrapped around him, and lips pressed against his forehead. A rhythmic sound, much like that he had known before, met his ear. Wherever he was, it was close to that place he’d always been.
Over the next day, he learned the familiar voices were ones he’d heard inside his hiding place, and now he had faces to go with them. They fed him, kept him warm and clean, and offered him comfort when he woke up confused and frightened.
He was taken to another place the following day, and when he was carried through a new doorway, his father smiled and said, “Welcome home, son.”
He didn’t understand what was happening. His body hurt all over, and anywhere he went, someone had to push him in a wheelchair. It made no sense; when he remembered things, his memories were of being a strong young man. The face that stared back from the mirror, however, was that of an old man. Sometimes, he recognized the voices that spoke to him, and other times, it seemed he was surrounded by strangers.
He was lifted out of the chair and onto a bed. A pair of arms wrapped around him, and a kiss was placed on his cheek. For just the briefest moment, he remembered his wife, and smiled thinking of how she had fed him a few minutes before. She bathed him and dressed him for bed, and tucked the warm blankets around him.
Different hands touched him, drawing him close in a gentle embrace. A familiar voice whispered reassurance to him, saying, “It’s okay, Dad; we’re all here.”
Another pain, stronger and more insistent, pulled him farther away. The lights in the room seemed to grow dimmer, and while he wanted to cry out, his voice failed to produce anything more than a slight groan.
He closed his eyes, and someone took hold of him. For just a moment, he felt a strange confusion and disorientation, and then an incredible brightness met his eyes. The pain was gone, replaced by a sensation of peace. His voice returned, and he sang out.
Strong arms carried him through a doorway, and his Father smiled and said, “Welcome home, son.”
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