Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)
TITLE: Once Beautiful
By Chely Roach
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She thought of the moment she first saw that matronly magnolia...
<i>Look at that gorgeous tree, Dinah.
How could I not be happy here? I got a feeling, baby girl, this is our new house—this is the one.</i>
“Mind if I sit here, Dinah?”
She touched the window pane, fingering the droplets through the glass.
“Huh?” She looked up to the aged eyes of her great uncle John.
“May I sit with you?”
<i>Please, go away.</i>
“Sure.” She sat up, drawing her legs to her chest to make room.
He sat beside her, patted her knee. “I’m so sorry for your loss, sweetheart.”
<i>Not as much as I am. </i>
“I want you to know something…in the midst of this awful thing, there is hope…”
<i>Hope that you’ll leave me alone soon. </i>
“…two thousand years ago, God gave His only begotten Son…”
“…because He loves you…”
<i>Yeah right, I have never felt so unloved by God. </i>
“…so that you can have everlasting life…”
<i>Why are you telling me this? I’ve heard this spiel a thousand times. </i>
“…and all you have to do is believe…”
<i> I don’t think I believe in anything anymore—especially God. </i>
“…I want to give you this Bible…” He handed her a postcard-size NIV New Testament with a putrid green pleather cover. She thumbed it open to appease him.
<i> ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’
“…I took the liberty of highlighting some passages…”
<i>I highly doubt that will help. </i>
“…in Romans we are told that all things work for the good of those who love Him…”
Dinah focused on a picture perched on the piano: her mother wearing white lace over satin, a towering cross in the background, a dainty white Bible in her hands.
<i>She believed. </i>
“…for those God foreknew He also predestined…”
Next to it were glimpses of sibling’s graduations, weddings and children: more white dresses, white smiles, pink flowers. <i>She’ll never see my graduation, my wedding, my babies. He knew this would happen? And didn’t stop it? </i>
“…nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord…”
<i>Shut up. I beg you, old man. You are not helping. Shut up. </i>
“…and He will carry all of your heavy burdens…”
She flashed to earlier that morning—her father lifting the veil from the casket, kissing her lips, wailing her name, over and over again. Dinah felt nauseous.
<i>Jesus didn’t seem to carry mom’s burdens. </i>
From the numb cavern around her heart—a place she thought was already excavated of all tears rationed for her lifetime—tears formed anew.
“…I am going to head home now, Dinah. I’ll be praying for you, okay?” He patted her knee again.
<i>Go already. One answered prayer out of a million. </i>
“Thanks, Uncle John.”
He winked at her as he put on his suit jacket, shook her father’s hand, and slipped out the door.
Dinah’s father trudged over and sunk into the still indented cushion. “What did he have to say?”
“The Jesus spiel,” she handed him the putrid green Bible, “that all of this was predestined and will work out for good.”
Her father took her hand in his, quietly scanning the pictures on the piano.
“Uncle John didn’t even mention her being in Heaven.”
“Neither did the pastor during the service.”
“Sure he—” his voice faltered. He stared at his shoes. “Maybe he didn’t. Is that what you need to hear?”
The pressure behind her eyes began to build again, “It’s a start.”
“But what about, <i>you know</i>…how she died?”
He sighed, “Don’t listen to all that stuff about mortal sins…it doesn’t matter how she died, only that she believed in Jesus.”
“It doesn’t make sense.”
“God, or what’s happened to us?”
He enveloped her small frame into his arms, and as powerless bystanders, they again watched the rain ruin the once beautiful magnolia blossoms.
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