“Be careful," cried out a tiny voice.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there. Oh deary me! You are a bit young to be outside in the dark. What’s your name, Child?”
“I’m Cindy, Ma’am. I used to play with Tammy a long time ago, but she hasn't talked to me in a long time. I think she's forgotten all about me. Are you her Grammy?”
The old woman sighed and gathered the little girl in her warm arms. “So Tammy pushed you out, too? Tsk, Tsk. One of these days, she’ll wish we were back inside, close to her heart.”
“There’s lots of stuff out here on the back porch, Grammy. Be careful. I found her tricycle and storybooks and a few stuffed teddy bears. I suppose they were just in her way.”
“I see there are a few other people out here, too.”
“Yes, most of them are really nice like you, but some were angry when they got pushed out of her life. I was glad when they left. They said some bad words and said that if Tammy didn’t want them, then they didn’t want her either and weren’t going to hang around waiting for her to let them back in.”
The loud beeping of a delivery truck interrupted their conversation as it backed up to the front door. They could see Tammy ushering the men with the enormous wide-screen TV indoors. An exuberant cheer rose from inside, and the music and partying continued. Some punks with tattoos and pierced faces rang the doorbell and also crowded in the front way.
Soon the back door, with its peeling paint and squeaky hinges, swung open. A man with a black suit and a Bible tumbled out. He stood up, brushed the dust from his sleeve, and shook his head toward the closed door in pity.
As Grammy’s eyes adjusted to the darkness, she saw another man near the door. His face was sad, so sad. Every few minutes he lifted his scarred hands and knocked at the closed door. It was hard to imagine that anyone inside would be able to hear the steady knocking, but he didn’t give up. The Sad Man looked into Grammy’s face with a sympathetic knowing gaze. He seemed to know her thoughts. He turned again to the door and continued knocking.
The night grew colder and darker. Grammy found a discarded knitted blanket to wrap around Cindy and herself. She hummed “The Old Rugged Cross.” Others gathered close and joined in. The night seemed to last forever. The Sad Man continued knocking.
The next day, a shiny red Corvette pulled into the driveway. A tall, blond, tanned young man bounded up to the front door. Tammy greeted him with a flirtatious flutter of her eyelids and kissed him with her painted lips. A man’s voice thundered from within.
“What? NO! I will not allow it!”
“Dad, I’m not a child anymore!”
The group on the back porch raised their heads to listen. It didn’t sound good. The minister bowed his head in prayer. Cindy began to cry. The Sad Man continued knocking. The weathered squeaky door swung open. A man, whose face was red and sweaty stumbled backwards, a thin woman with graying hair beside him.
“I’m still your father—no matter how old you get!” he hollered at the slammed door.
The ones on the back porch stared at the couple in stunned sorrow. The woman wandered to the pile of books and toys. She clutched a rag doll to her breast and sobbed. To think that Tammy would push her own parents out of her life was not good!
Life passed day by day and the back porch became more crowded. There were teachers and aunts and neighborhood friends. They talked of times when things had been happier. Cindy sang her Sunday school songs. The minister read the Bible while Grammy prayed and prayed. The Sad Man stayed by the door and continued knocking.
Then one day, the music in the house stopped. The red Corvette left. The house was quiet—too quiet—something was wrong. The ones on the back porch waited. Time seemed to stop.
“Jesus loves me, this I know…” Cindy’s clear voice floated in the air.
“Please, Lord, bring her back to Yourself,” prayed Grammy.
The Sad Man raised his hand to knock again, but the door moved. Slowly the gap widened. Tammy looked at them with tears on her face.
“I’m so sorry.”
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