Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: I Don't Understand
By Marlene Austin
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I can’t wait to see Sapphira and tell her how I, her husband, am once again complete! I have been made new. No more living as an outcast, no longer imprisoned in the colony, no further separation from my family.
Sapphira was brushing the dust from the stones in front of the doorway, when she heard the rushing approach of a man she thought familiar but couldn’t quite place.
She recognized that voice, but this could not be Josiah. He was banished to the unclean cots of the Leper Colony. Her husband would not dare take the chance of infecting his family with this devastatingly incurable disease!
“Sapphira, I am come home.”
“At what cost, husband?”
“I am made whole. The Lord has cleansed me. Look at me, Sapphira!”
“Yes, I look, and I know not what sorcery or concealing salve you have used to cover yourself, but I beg you, do not come closer to the place where your children abide. Think of the children, Josiah! I know not what delirium or madness this abomination has driven you to, but you must stop, and go back immediately, before everlasting harm comes to this place.” With those parting words, she crossed the entryway, closed, and bolted the door.
Tears streaked down the unusually smooth face of this man who for years had borne the oozing, running sores on even the most delicate tissues of his body.
He stood alone at the closed door, his head bowed not only in prayer, but also, in dejection. “But, Lord, you have healed me. You have cleansed me. I don’t understand…”
“Thanks, Chaplain. I mean, your sermons and talks have really helped me. There’s no way I would ever have gone to a church and found out how much God loves me. But, dang, I just don’t know how to thank you enough for coming to my Parole Board Hearing. I mean it’s only ‘cause of what you said that they’re lettin’ me outta this place. Just think, within the next twenty-four hours I’ll be huggin’ my wife and holdin’ my kids again.” In his excitement of seeing the steel-barred door opening wide for his escape, he rushed past the Chaplain, not hearing the farewell wishes.
All the way, on the long, much too slow, bus-ride home he had thought of all the things he wanted to say to Sharish. Now that he was only about a block away, he couldn’t think of any of those predetermined things. As he got to the driveway he saw her, his wife, getting out of the car. Sherry was getting some plastic bags from the back seat, when she saw him. He wasn’t sure which dropped first, the bag or her jaw.
“No. No! Joshua, what are you doin’ here? You ain’t supposed to be out for another eighteen months yet!”
“Hi, baby. Yeah, ain’t it sumthin’? They let me out early ‘cause of bein’ too crowded and stuff. And, I had this chaplain who said a few nice things about me. I ‘spose they figured I’d be less dangerous with just drunk drivin’ and attempted robbery than some of those mass murderers in there. But, hey, look at you. It’s been too long, baby.”
“Now, hold on, Josh. It has been too long! You cain’t just come walkin’ back in here like nothin’s happened. Joshua, think about the kids. I just got them started in a bran’ new school ‘cause lil’ Josh was havin’ so much trouble from those neighborhood kids. They knew where Josh’s daddy was and never let him forget it. And, now, you wanna, come back in here and ruin everything I’ve been tryin’ to fix. I don’t think so!”
“No, wait a minute, Sherry. I’m gonna be fine. That chaplain helped me a lot….”
“Oh, the ‘I found religion’ scam, huh? Save it for your next employment interview, Josh. If you’re gonna be fine, then my advice is to find a new home, in a new city someplace, to be fine in. Just leave us alone! I cain’t deal with anything else right now!”
As she walked away, he could only think, I don’t understand…
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