Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: Pursuing Demons and Plagues
By Chely Roach
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Jessie was snoring lightly next to her, and Rachael was just short enough to stretch across the backseat. Sunshine reclined the driver’s seat as far as it would go—which wasn’t nearly enough for comfort—and allowed herself her nightly ritual. She cried and prayed for a miracle; she dreamt of freedom from her demons.
“Mom? Are you okay?” Jessie whispered.
“Yeah, Baby…I’m okay. You?”
“It’s really hot. I can’t sleep.”
Sunshine brushed away her tears and glanced at the dwindling gas gauge, “Buckle up. I’ll drive us around to cool off. We need park somewhere different anyway.”
They buckled in and coaxed the old Honda to turn over. She steered their tiny rusty house out of the parking lot and onto the avenue. Jess was sleeping again before they reached the highway. Tears poured from Sunshine’s sunken eyes; rolling down her graven face. Not even thirty years old—she looked like she could die any day. Her hands began to tremble. The sickness that stalked her was fast approaching. Sunny took herself to the one place she knew she shouldn’t go.
As she quietly shut the car door, her eyes fell upon her beautiful daughters. Guilt swarmed over her like a plague of locusts, devouring her soul.
I hate myself for this.
Her pale, quaking hand knocked on the door. She could almost taste it. She loathed her desire for it; that insatiable need that refused to be ignored.
As he opened the door, he smiled wryly, “Well look at what the cat dragged in. I thought you were gonna give up all your ‘demons’? Not as easy as it sounds, is it, Beautiful?”
The way he said “beautiful” made her skin crawl. She once was magnificent; one of the few voluptuous models in her agency—now she had wasted away. Her previously mesmerizing face was now sallow and sad. For the past two years, she avoided her reflection as much as she used to seek it out.
Sunny cleared her throat, “I…I just need a taste. I’m hurting bad…I just need enough to take the edge off.”
“How much ya got?”
“Could you front me a hit? We’ve been living in my car…I got fired…someone snitched when they spotted my tracks…” her voice trailed off.
He had heard it all before. Eventually they all went from paying customers to mooching fiends. “Sorry, Beautiful…everyone pays,” as he looked her up and down, “But maybe we can work something out.”
A tear slid down Jessie’s face as she watched Satan’s salesman close the door to his lair with her mom inside. Jess pretended to be sleeping twenty minutes later when Sunshine returned; still trembling.
Sunny sped away, but was unable to outrun her shame. She mourned the last minuscule morsel of decency she had just forfeited to the grim reaper.
She discovered what it meant to hit rock bottom. Help me, Jesus…
A gentle whisper blew through her soul. Yes, Lord…
Her stomach churned as she parked on that familiar street, in the eerily silent moments of predawn light. Jessie stirred, “What are we doing here?”
“What I should’ve done months ago, but I was too proud and selfish. Wait here, Baby.” Sunny kissed her daughter’s forehead, and then headed to the front door.
He answered. Before the brutal words could escape his mouth, he saw the tears streaking his ex-wife’s shirt. As she briefly made eye contact, he could recognize the desperation in her dark, sunken eyes. He recognized it because he had been there himself. He was the one that first introduced her to that mirage of utopian death as newlyweds. He has his own demons and guilt to wrestle, too.
“Please, Rick…can you take the girls for awhile? I…I need to get well. I’m not well.” Sunshine broke down in the entry of what was once her home.
Rick wiped his eyes and waved in the girls.
As the sun embraced the horizon, the broken family of four knelt on the floor of their broken home, and prayed, “Our Father, who art in heaven…”
Author’s note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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