Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: At Wit’s End (02/13/14)
TITLE: Ships That Pass In The Night
By Pauline Carruthers
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The soles of his shoes flapped like chattering tongues beneath the ragged edges of his worn threadbare jeans. He lifted an unshaven face to see a sky already darkening, storm clouds gathering ominously. He didn’t care. Twelve months ago he would have been on his way home at this time. Now his days were spent walking aimlessly, killing time until the Night Shelter doors opened again. Approaching a bench he lowered his weary body, sitting for a while before rummaging in a tattered old bag that held his life. His cold fingers closed around the photograph, a reminder of what had once been. He left it there, choosing instead the battered thermos that contained the last dregs of coffee from the night Shelter. Sam Barker, one time success story, with a loving wife, two beautiful children and a lovely home, rose from the bench and began the long walk back to the Night Shelter. He was at the end of his tether. The haunting memory and guilt of the one drink too many that had resulted in the fatal crash and deprived him of his family, was too much to bear. And the voice in his head constantly reminded him of his desire to end it all.
A well dressed man, Saville Row suit elegantly draped around a stocky well fed body, brushed unwittingly against Sam on his way to the Casino. Sam turned, wishing he could change places with the man who looked as if he had everything. Colin Nightingale was in a hurry. The last of his finances burning a hole in his elegant pocket. This would be his lucky night and the loan sharks could feed off his winnings, leaving plenty left over for a new start. He had that winning streak feeling born of desperation. Excitement reached fever pitch, as his rushing leather clad feet barely skimmed the pavement, in his eagerness to feel the intense thrill of a winning spin. Hours later he was sitting on a bench, watery eyes gazing unseeingly at an old thermos flask lying on the ground. A cynical laugh caught in his throat. The last dregs of his life contained in an empty calfskin wallet. With a wrenching sob he flung the empty wallet across the path, where it was discovered later by a young girl who thought her luck had just changed for the better.
Annabelle Carter stooped and with trembling hands picked up the sleek leather wallet. There was a God after all. Sliding eager fingers into each compartment her soul felt the ravages of hurt, anger and disappointment at its emptiness. A shudder of pain sliced through weakened limbs. The drugs that had staked a claim on her life were once again holding her craving body in their power. A tiny flutter in the depths of her being reminded her of the new life growing there and again her thoughts turned to the God who was supposed to exist, but seemingly didn’t. Not for her. Her eyes wandered across the path to an old bench, where she sat for a while. Slender feet clad in shabby trainers kicked against the old thermos flask lying on the ground. The craving intensified, despair rose in her soul. Heavy rain began to mingle with the tears running unhindered down cheeks pink with cold as her footsteps took her in the direction of the river. She cried at the thought of the new life that would never see daylight. But she chose to listen to the voice that promised the deep peace of sinking beneath the cold dark water, as if it would wrap them safely in a warm comfort blanket. Together forever.
The faint strains of an old hymn that her mother used to sing brought Annabelle to an abrupt stop as she headed down the narrow alleyway leading to the river. A tall man dressed in casual jeans and sweatshirt, a smile lighting up his gentle face, was standing outside the once dilapidated old warehouse. A bold new sign hung over the door. WITS END CORNER.
“What is this place” she asked.
“It’s where you can meet Jesus” the man replied.
Annabelle felt herself propelled forward, brushing against a stocky, well built man whose expensive suit was layered with dust. A shabbily dressed man, the soles of his shoes flapping like chattering tongues beneath worn threadbare jeans, smiled tentatively, as together they made their way into the warm welcoming interior of the church.
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