Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
- TITLE: Angels Unawares
By Marilee Alvey
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This morning routine had become an oasis of order in Shirley’s personal world of chaos. It was her new normal. Bill’s room was just as he’d left it. Drumsticks he played with in the Praise Band thrown in the corner of the room. The signed basketball from his junior high teammates casually tossed on the closet floor. She looked over at his photo on the dresser. Those big brown eyes sparkled with life…and those dimples! A beautiful son, inside and out. That’s the comment she’d heard repeated at his funeral three years ago and it had become her mantra. On the dresser lay the funeral card. She read the now familiar words: “Where is the little boy who looks after the sheep? He’s under the haystack, fast asleep.” Shirley sagged onto his bed, her hand stroking the surface of his pillow. How she wanted to run her fingers through his tousled locks just one more time.
Why are some days worse than others? Why does pain return in the most unexpected places and times? On the highway to Hell are there no exit signs?
Shirley stood and began to yell at the ceiling. “God, you made the trees and you made my son. Why weren’t you watching? I trusted him with You. Fourteen is far too young, God. Everyone loved him, and he was my ONLY SON. And don’t go telling me You gave up your only son, too, because your Son was more than twice Bill’s age! At least he died for a cause. Yours died on a tree, mine died under a tree. Just how do you think I felt when I rushed to the hospital, seeing Bill, his head swelled twice its size?” Shirley caught a glimpse of herself in Bill’s mirror. It seemed as if her tears were bitter acid, for they seemed to be making grooves in her face. Her cheeks seemed to have turned into cowhide, the ridges were so deep. She remembered the morning of the day he went on that fateful walk. They’d just entered the mall. Bill had placed his arm around her shoulder.
“Bill, aren’t you afraid your friends will see you like this?”
“No, mom,” he answered. “If not for you I wouldn’t be here. Besides, I’d just ask them, ‘You got a problem with my mother?’”
If they’d only lingered at the mall a little longer…had lunch or something….then that tree would have fallen down before he got there.
“A freak windstorm?” she now yelled. “Well, you are Lord of the storm, are you not? I have been an obedient child. I have raised my children to love you, Lord. How could you do this to me? Do you even care how I felt when we had to make the decision to turn off the life support? Do you? Do you? Because I want to know! I want to know, do you hear me?”
Shirley railed against God, against Fate, Satan, and doctors until her voice was gone to a croak. There seemed to be no tears left, but Shirley wasn’t fooled. For a year now, every morning she’d get up and cry in the shower, trying to get her day rid of them, without success. Wrung out, she now sank, once again, onto the bed.
Just then, the doorbell rang. Shirley hastily dried her eyes with the back of her hand, and answered it.
“Mom, are you okay?” Daughter, Teddi, stood on the threshold, concerned. “I was going to ask you if I could leave Lia with you while I went to the store, but that’s okay. I’ll just take her with me.”
“Oh, no. Please let Lia stay with me.” Lia peeked out behind Teddi’s legs. Two sweet piggy tails sprung like tiny fireworks bursts, erupting from high on her head. There were two big brown eyes, much like Bill’s, and the dimples, too. “How are you today, Lia?”
“I’m two……January 38.”
Shirley laughed, even with the hard lump in her throat.
“Baba, you need a kiss and a hug from Lia,” she said as she opened up her tiny arms. Shirley knelt down to receive the precious embrace. “Baba, Lia wants to play at your house today.”
“Oh, Lia, Baba would love that!”
“Don’t cry, Baba. Lia is here.” Shirley smiled at the idea that Lia was confident she could fix anything. Grasping her tiny fist, Shirley let those words sink in. Lia is here….and, for today, that was enough.
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