Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: COMMUTE (07/07/16)
- TITLE: A Bumpy Journey
By Karen Dick
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“Ma, I’m here!” I hollered down the narrow hallway of the mobile home. “Ma! Did you hear me?”
Her soft voice answered, “Yes Johnny, I’ll be just a minute. There’s coffee for you.”
I entered the small kitchen with a lingering smell of toast and coffee. I pulled a mug from the cupboard, and sighed deeply as I poured the black liquid.
As I returned to the living room, I checked my watch. Whatever is she doing? We have a long drive ahead of us. A framed picture on the book shelf caught my eye. Strolling over to get a closer look, I stared at the happy young faces. One boy sported a raccoon hat, and the other was dressed like a cowboy. They were aiming toy pistols at one another. I laid the photo face down on the shelf.
“I’m ready. Sorry to keep you waiting.” Ma shuffled into the room, leaning on her cane. She glanced at the upside down frame, then at me as she slowly lowered herself into her worn easy chair. “This is a long commute for you and I’m sorry you have to do it,” she said softly.
“I don’t mind doing this for you,” I looked at her closely as I set my cup down. “But it’s only for you.”
“I understand.” She lowered her head and clutched her hands. “I wish I could change the past.”
“Well you can’t. Let’s get going. We have two hundred miles ahead of us.” My fingers jingled the car keys in my pocket.
“I read about forgiveness this morning.” She stared at me through her thick lenses. “God wants us to forgive, Johnny. Can’t you forgive your only brother?”
The tweed sofa creaked as I sat down on it. “How can I forgive someone who did such a horrible thing? I don’t care if he’s my brother, and I doubt if God forgave him either.”
She shook her head and her voice cracked. “That’s not true Johnny. God forgives everyone when they say they’re sorry.” A tear trickled down her wrinkled cheek.
I rubbed the back of my neck and stared at my scuffed loafers. Once again the open Bible caught my attention. I couldn’t remember the last time I picked one up.
“We really should get going Ma. You’ll only have enough time to say hello, and then head back.”
“He is my son, just as you are, and I have forgiven you both.” She made no effort to move.
I shrugged my shoulders as I stood and pulled the car keys out of my pocket. “Do you have the sandwiches ready?”
“Your brother asked to see you last time you drove me there. Have you thought about coming in this time? It’s been twenty years.”
“Let’s go. I don’t want to talk about it.” I held my hand out to her.
“All right.” She pushed her body up with her cane, ignored my hand, and hobbled toward the door.
Words were not exchanged as we entered the sedan and began our long journey.
I glanced at my mother staring out her window once we were on the interstate. “Would you like some tunes Ma? How about some Frank Sinatra? I know he’s your favorite.”
“Whatever you want Johnny.” She continued to stare as if captivated by the trees and farm houses racing by.
I shoved a CD into the player and a soft melody began.
“How about a sandwich?” I smiled at her.
As she hummed along with Frank, I felt my stomach squeeze and a sandwich didn’t sound good anymore.
“We’ll be there shortly Ma.”
She wiped her eyes with her handkerchief.
As we approached the front gate, a uniformed guard stepped up to the car window.
“She’s here to see my brother,” I explained.
I slipped the car into a parking spot close to the main door.
“I’ll see you in an hour,” Ma said as she pulled herself out of the car.
With her head down, she slowly walked toward the building.
Suddenly, I found myself next to her taking her elbow. She stopped and looked at me. Her mouth quivered and she nodded. Ma turned toward the prison and I followed her through the door.
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