Carlos plopped down on the curb next to the sewer where he would be sleeping tonight. The familiar stench clung to his meager clothing, polluting each breath as he rested his head in his arms on his knobby knees. Cars honked their warning, but sorrow had drained him of any desire to care long ago. The menacing wafts of traffic lifted tufts of hair off an unwashed face revealing the blank desperate eyes of a child forgotten. He no longer knew how old he was. One thing he did know – he was ‘too big to be five anymore.’
Cold and dampness were beginning to settle and soon it would be time for Carlos to climb in – he was smaller, so his place was further back – the bigger kids got to be close to the opening. No one stopped – no one cared…..and he was hungry.
Juanita opened the curtains to the back porch like she did every morning to reveal the vibrant colors of dawn. She took pleasure in the beauty that filtered through the peach tree that stood tall and strong in the back of her yard. She was glad she decided against cutting it down when she had to move to this house. It had been a difficult time, Juanita had hoped one day…..her daughter…..
A quick shadow lunged behind her shed.
Smiling, she knew where the shadow was headed – in fact, she had hoped he would come back. The rustling of limbs in her peach tree exposed the secrecy of this little boy looking for food. He was probably the same age as……but no…. she could no longer handle that pain….. if only he would…..
Whew! She almost caught me! Carlos grimaced as he ducked behind the shed. Peeking around the corner he chose his moment to make a mad dash for the peach tree – then up he scampered, as agile as a little monkey. He found his ‘spot’ and leaned against the thick branch as he dove into the peaches he held in each hand. Slowing down, he closed his eyes and feasted on the clean, fragrant breezes that cleansed his lungs from the putrid offenses of the night.
“I wish I could live up here…forever.” he sighed hopelessly with all his childish heart.
Then suddenly - Hey! The lock’s not on the shed! Maybe there’s something I can sell in there!
He peeked between branches to check the uncovered window. Carlos once again made a mad dash – making sure he closed the door behind him.
Light from the sunroof brightened the small space. A cot was the first thing he noticed – and a blanket. Scratching his crusty scalp as he looked around, he was drawn to the bottles of water and dried beef on the shelf – then to the plastic bag in the corner. Curiosity won out – Carlos plopped on the floor as one by one he took out clean, warm clothes and a pair of play shoes. Innocence didn’t hesitate to shed the rags of the sewer.
On his way now to the cot, he felt the weight of the world lifted from his young shoulders…. he was deep down tired. He couldn’t help but first savor the flavors of such bounty before wrapping himself in the warm blanket and laying down his head. Carlos’ last thought was a prayer he barely remembered….. “Now I lay me down to sleep”……but no…..that hurt too much.…. if only I could……
Juanita was peeking too, through the side curtains, hoping he would notice the lock missing from the shed. She was so thankful she hadn’t cut down that tree! Now she prayed for the impossible, from the God of all things possible. Please show me what to do!
But silence, and the ticking of the clock were her only answers.
She plopped down at the kitchen table, finally releasing the pain and sorrow this child resurrected by his presence. “Please have mercy on my confused, depressed daughter, and my precious grandbaby she took away – it’s been years God .….. my Rosita ….my Carlos. May they find me – please.”
Her opened Bible spoke from Psalms 142* – Words carefully chosen by her Father “….no one is concerned for me, I have no refuge, no one cares for my life….for I am in desperate need….rescue me….”
On her way now to the shed, she felt the weight of the world lifted from her troubled shoulders…. she was deep down ready – there was a desperate child waiting to be rescued.
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