Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)
TITLE: Why Me?
By Sarah Elisabeth
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Mutters follow the exclamation from the end of our row. My mouth twists to one side. “It’s no big deal,” Trina’s breath tickles my ear. I force myself to relax.
Sirens blare over the surround sound and I concentrate on the intense scene.
This shout is louder and draws “shhh’s” around us. My agitation is growing.
I struggle to not add my own “shhh” to the hisses filling the theater.
Heads turn as focus is drawn to a figure stumbling into the aisle. I hear a choking sound come from the small frame.
Go. The quiet voice nudges me.
The reply is strong. Why not you?
“Be right back,” I mutter to Trina.
I push open the door to the lobby and approach the popcorn vender. “The person who just came out, did you see where they went?” I ask.
“The kid ran in there,” the man nods his head toward the men’s restroom.
Entering the restroom my eyes adjust to the brighter light and the sight of the figure standing with his back to me. One hand is poking the tiled wall, his shoulders hunching up.
I touch his arm. “Hey, son, are you okay?”
He turns to me and his head jerks to one side.
“Leave me alone.” In spite of the curt words, I see his lips quiver and wet streaks mark his face.
“Just thought I would see if you were all right.” My voice lacks sympathy. “Sounded like you were choking when you ran out.”
The boy, about thirteen years old, pokes my chest with his finger.
“Just leave me alone, okay?”
I bite back my sarcasm as I study his face. His eyes refuse to meet mine and understanding begins to dawn on me.
“Ayah!” The outburst reverberates off the walls of the small enclosure and rings in my ears. He turns back to the wall and slams a fist into the hand dryer. His knuckles dent the metal.
I gather courage to speak. “My name is Robert. What’s your name, son?”
“Alan, you have Tourettes Syndrome, don’t you?”
Alan’s smile is almost cynical as he turns back to me. “How’d you guess?”
Why me, Lord? I have nothing profound to say. What do I know about this anyway, other than what I’ve seen on TV? What can I do?
“Well, Alan, I guess that must get frustrating.” Way to knock a home run Robert.
A home run. Hmmm…
“When I was growing up, I wanted to play for the Red Sox. I didn’t care about anything else.”
Alan’s stare is too much. I have to talk fast or bolt.
“I played my heart out until high school. That’s when the coaches said I didn’t have the physical capabilities to play professionally.”
I watch Alan’s concentration as he looks into my eyes. “But you did?”
Our conversation is coming close to home. I meet Alan’s eyes as I reply, “No, son, I never played again. I let everyone convince me to give up. It made me very angry for a long time - until I met the Lord Jesus. He helped me get my life in order. Now I have a career I love and I married the greatest lady on earth. We hope someday to have children. That wouldn’t have been if not for the Lord.”
My fingers wrap around Alan’s. I hold them as I say, “God loves you, Alan. And if you let Him, He will bring joy and peace into your life.”
I see his eyes hold on to the doubt. It’s okay. I’ve stood in that place.
“Our church is having a movie night next Saturday. Maybe you and your parents would like to come.”
Alan pulls his fingers from mine and starts poking again. “My parents don’t like taking me anywhere. They get embarrassed when people tell me to be quiet.”
I still his chin with my gentle grip. My voice is husky as I ask, “Where would you like to go, Alan?”
“Someplace my yelling won’t bother people.”
Two weeks after we met, I sit with Alan and Trina as we yell and scream, watching the Boston Red Sox win their first game of the season.
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