Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FRESH START (01/05/17)
- TITLE: All is Bright
By Francy Judge
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Yesterday was over a year ago. Time stalled from that moment—the moment a child’s wide eyes reflected headlights. Anna’s brakes screeched almost as high and ear-piercing as the screams that followed, the child’s and her own.
“Silent night, holy night…all is calm, all is bright…”
The Christmas music continued to fill her warm suburban as pressure whipped her neck back and forth, slamming her forehead into the steering wheel. Her head throbbed instantly until everything went black.
“Joy to the world, the Savior reigns…let Earth receive her King…” And sirens joined the chorus.
A police officer helped her to stand. “Are you okay? Can you move?”
“I think so. Only my head hurts.”
“Good. Now I’d like to see you walk a straight line.”
“I saw you swerving before you went through the red light and crashed. Were you drinking tonight?”
Anna felt her cheeks warm and flushed as she tried to answer. “I was on my way home from a Christmas party. So I guess I had a few cocktails to celebrate…but I wasn’t drunk.”
“Please walk a straight line.”
"I'm a little dizzy and confused from hitting my head."
The ground was dusted white, showing the foot prints leading to her car and tire tracks swirled around the street. A crushed stroller left wheels and plastic pieces scattered in the street. A stuffed penguin tumbled near her feet. The air smelled of fuel and burnt rubber. As she began to take a few steps toward the red flashing lights, the scene before her wrenched her heart. EMTs were kneeling next to a mother huddled over her child and sobbing. “Lord, please!” The mother cried. “Not my baby!”
Anna’s body felt limp. The police officer supported her arm and kept her from falling. Her body shook as she watched the ambulance rush off with the child and her mother. The sirens faded into the hush of falling snow. Though the heavier snowfall clouded her vision, the scene was now clear…
She didn’t see the red light at the intersection and drove into oncoming cars. Anna tried to stop before hitting a car, tried to steer away, but she was too close. Her car skidded up the sidewalk and hit something before the tree. The little girl.
Anna covered her face and wept in the back of the police car as the officer explained her circumstances. “You will have to remain in custody until your trial is set unless the judge posts bail. This is your second DWI. You were lucky the first time, getting away with a fine and a warning. This time you may be on trial for manslaughter.” His eyes glared at her in the rearview mirror.
The jury didn’t take long deciding a guilty verdict after hearing Carla on the stand. One picture of her daughter fighting to survive in the ICU was all it took. Anna stared at the picture and wanted to die.
After spending a year and a half in prison, Anna was free, but she didn’t care. Her life was over. She would always remember a mother’s painful cry: “How could you?”
Anna’s lawyer arranged the brief meeting at Carla’s request. Anna waited on a bench, shaded by a Sycamore tree overlooking the canal. A light breeze rocked the boats. She tried to match her heartrate to the calm rhythm of the water, but couldn’t.
Carla helped her daughter walk up the boardwalk. The little girl wobbled on crooked legs in braces, looked up at Anna, and smiled. Anna lowered her head. “I’m so sorry I—“
Carla cut her off. “Don’t. I know. I was angry for most of this year. I wanted to hear you suffered in prison and would stay there forever, but God changed my heart. He opened my eyes to see you the way He does—as a sinner who needs forgiveness. I’m thankful Saralyn is alive and still able to walk. I trust that God will use her and that He also has a plan for you.”
Anna’s throat tightened and could only nod.
“I want you to know I forgive you, and God forgives you. He has given you another chance to begin a life of living for Him.”
Carla and Saralyn hugged Anna. Through tears, Anna said, “I will.”
It was a new day.
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