Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)
TITLE: Hail Mary
By Marita Thelander
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I was born to a drug addict who prostituted herself to support her habit. Doesn’t it always come down to who gave birth to you?
Mama was beautiful, even in her drug-stricken form. “Hail Mary, full of grace…” I remember the men teasing from some prayer they learned, but the words they said after that weren’t prayerful at all.
I started stealing at the ripe old age of none. Mama would stuff things inside her maternity clothes and walk right out of the store. She came in looking four months pregnant and went out with a rounded belly of about eight. She laughed every time she told that story.
From there things were wrapped in my baby blanket, swaddled around my innocent body. Then came diaper bags, back-packs, and eventually I took care of getting whatever goods out I could.
Life in a hooker’s home made me a man in every sense of the word before I had hair under my armpits. There was no hope for me. At least that’s what I heard over and over. No hope to be anything but a pathetic criminal in a 5x9 on death row, waiting for it all to come to an end.
God was only a word I spewed followed by a string of other colorful choices. I tried to doubt His existence, but once in awhile I saw things that made me know He was real. I should be dead, but I know I experienced some sort of divine intervention more than once.
Ironic, isn’t it? I should be dead and here I sit waiting to die, but I’m not dead? I wonder if I’ll ever die.
I’ve talked to the chaplain once in awhile. It’s sort of good to talk things out. He told me all about Jesus and his mama, Mary. He told me about how he died on a cross between two thieves and how one thief cursed him and the other asked to be remembered when he came into his kingdom. The chaplain told me I had a choice what type of thief I wanted to be before I hit the chambers: the cursing or confessing kind.
One night I stared at the ceiling and thought about a lot of things. The chaplain talked about my mama and about how her name was the same as Jesus’ mother. I got to thinking about how it all comes down to who your mama is.
Jesus’ Mary was a virgin that God almighty chose to give birth to His son. My mama was anything but a virgin who accidentally gave birth to a son.
Yet both sons were sentenced to death.
I decided right then and there to pull a Hail Mary prayer football style. You know, where a quarterback throws a desperate pass aimed towards the end zone and prays it lands into the right hands? I got on my knees like some pictures I’d seen of little kids and women saying their night time prayers. I told God how His son and I have a thing or two in common, so if He didn’t mind, I’d like to address my prayer to His son.
I said: Jesus, I’m a convicted criminal sentenced to die and I deserve it. I heard about the two guys that died on the cross when you did…the cursing and confessing thieves. Tonight I want to be a confessing thief. I’m sending you my own Hail Mary prayer in honor of our mamas. I’m asking you to remember me in your kingdom when I die like you did the thief on the cross.
After I prayed, I felt clean inside and lay there quietly and pretended to hear Jesus say: I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.
Then it hit me…I’m not dyin’ yet. I could wait to confess until the last minute when they strap me to the chair and stick the needle in my vein. I looked around my cell and thought, why would I wait?
I did the crime, I’m doin’ the time, and as long as I’m on this side of paradise, I choose to live what life I have left as a confessing thief.
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