Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Endless (01/09/14)
By Meghan Andersch
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The summer air hung heavy and humid. Slate colored clouds portended rain, mirroring her dark mood. Tears burned her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.
<i>Shoulda known; shoulda known.</i> Her feet beat an angry rhythm on the pavement.
<i>He’s just like all the rest.</i>
On her fourth circuit of the park, she upended her water bottle only to realize it had been sucked dry. Sides heaving, she slowed to a walk and made her way toward a water spigot in a picnic area not far off the path.
As she approached, she noticed a shabbily dressed man sitting on a bench near the spigot.
Unease snaked down her spine. She surreptitiously checked her surroundings. Two boys played fetch nearby with their dog. A fellow jogger passed, undaunted by the gloomy weather.
She fixed her eyes straight ahead and walked quickly. As she filled her bottle and took a drink, the man spoke.
“I’m thirsty. May I borrow your bottle?”
<i>Why don’t you just drink straight from the spigot?</i>
She turned to look at the man. His clothing was tattered and dirty, his hair unkempt, his skin dry and weather-worn. But his eyes were warm and kind, like the eyes of a life-long friend.
She shrugged and tossed her bottle to him.
He nodded his thanks and took a long drink.
“I’ve seen you pass by several times,” he said. “You seem upset.”
“I don’t really want to talk about it.”
She turned to walk away. “You can keep the water bottle.”
“Hey, Cammi,” he called.
She turned slowly. “How did you know my name?”
“I know you,” he said, “and I know what you’re looking for. I can give you water that will satisfy your thirst forever.”
She held up a hand. “Hold it. I’m not into drugs or anything like that.”
He grinned. “No worries. I’m not into that either.”
She crossed her arms. “So what are you selling?”
“What I’m offering, you can’t buy.”
“Okay.” She rolled her eyes. “Are you going to keep talking in riddles?”
He crossed one leg and indicated the ring on her finger.
He smiled at her.
“You’ve got that right. You’ve been married before, three times, but not with that ring. You’re not married to the man you’re living with now.”
Cammi chuckled and looked around. “Okay, I get it. Who put you up to this? My mom?”
The man shook his head. “No one.”
“Are you some sort of psychic or something? This is really weird.”
Cammi looked over her shoulder. <i>Should I call for help?</i>
He leaned forward. “I’m not a psychic, just someone who loves you and wants to see you living in joy again.”
“Are you one of those religious freaks?”
The man threw back his head and laughed. Despite herself, Cammi started laughing with him.
He wiped his eyes. “No, I don’t think you’d say I’m the religious type.”
“That’s a relief.”
His dark eyes turned somber. “Cammi, you’ll never find happiness or fulfillment in the arms of a man. You won’t find the meaning of life in your job or your possessions. Earthly success may satisfy for a time, but true and lasting joy is found only through me.
"I can give you water that will quench your spiritual thirst; it will become like a spring of water, overflowing in blessing, welling up to eternal life.”
Cammi stared at the man. “Wait a minute. This is starting to sound familiar. That Jesus guy I used to hear about in Sunday School, he talked about living fully and abundantly. He said anyone who believes in him will have eternal life and will never thirst.”
She shook her head. “No way.”
The man nodded.
“It’s really you?” Cammi sniffed. “I’ve missed you,” she whispered.
The man stood and hugged her tightly. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he said. “Welcome home, Cammi.”
A grin pulled up both corners of Cammi’s mouth. “I’ve got to call my mom!”
As Cammi walked away, the man upended her water bottle and poured the remaining liquid over his head. Brilliant rays of sunlight broke through the cloud cover, making water drops gleam like diamonds in his hair.
He raised his eyes to heaven and beamed.
<i>Based on John 4:4-30 and John 6:35-40</i>
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