Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Lock (03/06/06)
TITLE: Dark and Curly
By Pat Guy
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So, on her way to the shed that morning, it was only natural for her to extend a prayer to the child sleeping now on the cot she had prepared for him. She knew he would be frightened but it couldn’t be helped. She hoped to coax him out with some sweets.
The quickened heartbeat of a frightened child is fast indeed, and he had every right to be afraid – the crunching of dried grass had come to a stop and the doorknob had just wobbled. He squeezed his eyes tight to block out the danger he knew was ready to pounce on him. He was scared!
Juanita listened for any movement, laid a hand on the doorknob and gently said, ‘Little boy, may I come in?’ The urge to swoop this child in her arms was almost unbearable! I can’t rush him. He needs to know it’s safe.
His silence emanated fear known only to the little ones no one knows about, or cares about. Please God, help us!
She tried again, ‘Little boy, I brought churros for you this morning. I will leave them by the door. You can sleep here any time you want.’ And with that, she left.
Back at the house, she took her place by the window of her kitchen – a daily routine since she discovered him in the tall peach tree looking for food. He couldn’t be more than 6 years old! Where does he sleep? Surely not on the street! Her Carlos would be the same age. An arrow shot through her heart. My Carlos …does he still have his mama’s eyes – the eyes of his grandmamma? She sighed heavily to relieve the pain under the locket that held those dark curly locks.
The little boy waited … and waited as he considered the amount of food and water in the shed before he got up from the cot. Desperation pushed him back down – I don’t want to leave. What happens if she locks the door? A tired weary heart had finally heard a kind voice. He thought of the churros waiting outside.
Juanita was ready. ‘Okay God, what do I do! He’s opening the door! I’ve got to …’ she went outside. The little boy froze! Juanita froze! Their eyes locked. A mirror of each other’s …
She lowered herself to the concrete slab of the porch. No threat! I cannot look like a threat. I will stay here! But God! What …! Years melded to one moment. Control was most important right now! He was beginning to shut the door! Grasping the locket, she spoke a name she prayed for day and night … ‘Carlos.’
He slammed the door – it popped back open – he slammed it shut again.
She waited … and waited. The door opened a crack. She leaned forward and patted a space on the concrete for him to come sit. He shut the door.
She waited … and waited. The sun was high and she knew it must have been hot in the shed. The door opened and she motioned once again for him to come and sit on the concrete. He stood – uncertain. She sat – assured. He tried to block the glare of a cloudless day. Those eyes!
He shuffled uncertainly toward the house, stopping half way – his face wet from trying to wash with bottled water. The front of the clean shirt she had bought was now damp and spotted with filth. Curly dark hair, once beautiful, was now matted with ‘who knows what?’ Peach scented breezes wafted remnants of the sewer after flowing by his unkempt body.
‘You may sleep there any time you want. I will have food, water, clothes and blankets for you. If it is okay with you I would like to say ‘Hi’ to you sometimes – as long as you feel it’s okay.’ Her heart was twirling as fast as words came to mind, she knew she was starting to ramble but she couldn’t stop! ‘And if you need anything, you can knock on my door anytime, day or night …’
This precious, filthy, undernourished little boy took a few steps to reach some shade – he barely spoke above a whisper, ‘Lady…?’
‘How come you know my name?’
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