Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Endless (01/09/14)
- TITLE: A Friend
By Darleen Coon
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“Whatcha doin’ Mommy?” Natalie questioned around the thumb she was sucking on.
“Sweetie, I was talking with God. Just like I do every morning.” I gently explained.
“Why?” She burrowed into my side and I hugged her close.
“Because I like to talk with Him. I pray for you and ask Him things like what I should do about certain situations.”
“Oh. Do ya ask about Daddy, since he’s livin’ with Him?” She gazed up at me, suddenly very somber.
“Yes, we talk about Daddy a lot. He’s very happy, because he’s in Heaven; but he misses us.” I gave her one last squeeze and set her on the floor.
“Young lady, we need to get dressed, have breakfast and run some errands. Since it’s Saturday, we have a lot to get done.” I stood and patted her behind to get her moving.
After a breakfast of cereal, we headed to the grocery store.
At the stop light was a scruffy-looking, bearded man in tattered clothes holding a sign that said, “Will work for food.”
Immediately a myriad of questions began from the car seat behind me. “Mommy, why does that man look sad? What does his sign say? Why’s his clothes have rips?”
As I turned into the parking lot of the store, I gave a sigh and mouthed to the heavens, “Lord, give me patience.”
I opened the back door of the mini-van and looked my ever-inquisitive daughter in the eye. “First of all, you’re never to talk to a stranger because it could be dangerous. The sign says he’s homeless and hungry. Since we’re going to the store, I’m going to buy him a couple of sandwiches.”
Natalie held my hand and skipped beside me. “That’s a good idea Mommy.”
I tugged a grocery cart free, picked her up and set her in the seat. As I shopped, Natalie kept up a litany of questions about things I bought, events happening at school, and people she saw.
After I handed the bag of sandwiches out the window to the homeless man, I kept thinking about him. He’d smiled at me with warm, appreciative brown eyes. “Thank you so much, ma’am.”
Every day, I passed him with his sign. I’d give him some warm soup, an old coat from by husband’s closet, a blanket, and finally a bible with a tract about salvation.
Then, suddenly, he wasn’t there anymore. I worried that something horrible had happened. Even Natalie noticed he was missing. “Mommy, where’s the sad man?”
“I don’t know Sweetie, but we need to keep praying for him.”
From the back seat I heard. “God, watch over the sad man, keep him safe and make him happy again.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Sweetie, that was real nice.”
Sunday, at church I was shushing my chattering daughter yet again, when I noticed a nicely dressed, good-looking man staring at me. I quickly reverted my attention to the pastor, but caught him glancing my way numerous times.
After the service, I was attempting to maneuver a wiggling little girl into a jacket when he approached. “Excuse me, ma’am. Can I speak with you?”
Warily, I glanced up into the warm brown smiling eyes of the man from across the room.
He held out his hand to shake mine. “I’m Steve Howard. You’re the reason I’m here today.”
My eyes widened incredulously as he explained. “I’ve just finished my doctorate at Stanford University. As part of my thesis, I did a study about homeless people. Up until a few days ago, I was that man on the corner you gave food, clothes and finally, thankfully, the gift of salvation.”
He swallowed hard and closed his eyes. “The gift that never goes away and never ends. The tract you gave me had the address of this church. That’s why I’m here today. Can I take you and your little girl to lunch and tell you about it?”
I stared with my mouth agape. Finally, I nodded. “We’d love to. How about we meet you at Tony’s on the corner?”
I looked down as Natalie pulled on my sleeve. “Who’s that Mommy?”
“A friend.” I sighed as I watched him stride toward the door.
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