Unshaven, wearing boxer shorts and pocket T-shirt, Joe stared vacantly at the TV in the living room of his small apartment. He appeared catatonic, sitting there, sedated by the drone of the morning news. Sadie, his rescue dog, nudged him with her nose and wiggled her tail.
“Go lie down.” A touch of annoyance tinted his voice; obvious to anyone but Sadie. She nudged him again.
“Sadie, stop it! I’ll take you out later.”
Sadie hung her head and with an audible sigh, moved to circle beside his feet and lay down. Her brown eyes glancing up at him in a woeful mix of resignation and hope.
“And quit looking at me like that.” He got up, turned off the TV and moved to the bedroom to dress. Sadie was at his heels. He put on jeans and tennis shoes and slipped his phone into the pocket of his T-shirt. He glanced in the mirror above his bureau and ran his hands through his hair. “That’s as good as it’ll get,” he muttered.
His eyes caught an envelope lying on top of the bureau - a letter from Carol, his estranged wife. Her words of redemption through Christ and the church, troubling his thoughts. He bit his lower lip, battling tears.
Sadie gently nudged his hand again. Ignoring her, he walked into the kitchen. On the counter lay Sadie’s leash next to the key to his motorcycle – a sleek apple-red 12HP Italian Ducati. He closed his eyes as if experiencing the sun and wind on his face, the power of freedom while racing through countryside. Inward eyes remembering roads speckled with the flickering shadow of trees beneath his tires, the humus smell of the land just beyond fence-hedged hayfields. Temptatious thoughts tethered to memories.
”We’re drifting apart.” He heard his wife, Carol challenging him a few months back. “ I feel I don’t always understand and support you – and it frightens me. Our wedding vows asked that we each be to the others strength in need, but I don’t feel that coming from you either.”
“I try to support you,” his retort was weak, however, truth unable to sustain his words. “But we’ve only been married a year. These things take time. I love you. Surely you know that.”
There was a moment of silence. Carol spoke: “Maybe if we started going to church again – things made sense then.” She saw him shaking his head. “I thought love to be an unbreakable bond – our marriage vows a tie binding us forever. Maybe I was wrong...”
Sadie licking his hand pulled him from his reverie. Joe glanced hesitantly back-and-forth between the leash and the key.
Moments later they were on the sidewalk walking to Dickinson Park, two blocks away. Sadie a bundle of unbridled joy, Joe trailing haplessly behind, muttering, “I hope you appreciate this sacrifice, Sadie.” Inwardly, however, he sensed an uplifting of his spirit by sharing Sadie’s joy.
The park was an inverted bowl of sunshine. It glowed. The wind was mild and accented with occasional gusts. A boy, around 9 years of age was flying a kite, running helter-skelte, abandoned in delight. With Sadie beside him, Joe sat on a bench to watch.
The kite dipped, swerved and soared playfully in the air. It looked as if it were playing dodge ball with the wind itself. But it was the string attached to the kite that drew Joe’s attention the most. Such a thin, delicate tether, held taught yet forever billowing – left, right and left, right - infinitum. A tenuous thread tying the boy and kite together. Then, suddenly, the string snapped and the kite soared away – the boy ran after it, arms outstretched even as it became lost in the vastness of the sky.
Joe reached down and petted Sadie’s head, the slack leash tethering them together not far from his thoughts. “Needed a stronger string.” He mused. Sadie turned her face up to him. “Ties that bind – break." He continued then stopped, remembering his last conversation with Carol. Stopped, afraid other words, whetted with pain, might escape his lips.
He recalled, too, Carol's letter and a verse she’d quoted from the Bible. The words suddenly stunning him: ’Let us return to the Lord and He will heal us, he who is wounded he will bind up.’
"Surely, it can’t be that simple, he said. But with Sadie patiently watching, he took out his phone from his T-shirt and called: “Carol, it’s me. Can we talk?”
Bible Verse from Hosea 6:1
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