Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: PHOTOS and/or SOUVENIR(S) (vacation) (07/16/15)
TITLE: Amazing Grace
By Hannah Gaudette
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God, help me! A scream of anguish pounded Callie's chest, begging to be let out. She woke up clutching the pillow, blanket, and sheets in a death-grip. Sweat poured down her face and her heart hammered.
Just a dream . . . just a nightmare . . . yet, somehow it wasn't. It was real. Three years ago was real.
Callie tried to calm her breathing as she examined the dark bedroom. Everything was in place, which at least meant she hadn't gotten up in her sleep and destroyed the wall painting like last week. Those nightmares were getting much worse.
She shuddered and tears stung her eyes. Had she really been screaming, or had that just been in the dream?
The bedroom door cracked open and Callie's husband, Luke, came in. She glanced at the alarm clock. It was just past five. He must have gotten up earlier, unable to sleep with her moaning and fidgeting.
She sat up at the edge of the bed and Luke sat beside her, his face grave with understanding and concern.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
Callie shook her head, suddenly feeling sick. “Am I ever?”
Luke wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “What was it this time?”
“Same as always. Fire, smoke, screaming, panic . . . death.” Her voice wavered. “My sister running, then falling. Me, trapped under burning rubble.” A sob caught in her throat. “I thought I'd finally run far enough to escape.”
“Cal, you can't run from the past. You've got to let it go.”
“She died, Luke. My sister died. How can I let go of that?”
“It's been three years,” Luke whispered gently. “September 11 shocked the entire nation.”
Callie's heart stumbled as those all too familiar images flashed in her mind. She and her sister had been vacationing for a week in New York City. Even now, she could clearly see Alice grabbing her cell phone and taking a picture of the two of them only an hour before the terrorist attack, and with the World Trade Center behind them.
“I can't let it go,” said Callie.
Luke sighed. “There's a time for weeping and a time for dancing in our lives. Don't you think you've grieved long enough?”
“Why did she have to die while I got to live? Where's the logic in that?”
“Cal, God allows things to happen, and He called Alice home. But He must have an important, special plan for you, because He gave you a miracle that day. You didn't just survive, you were mostly unharmed. Despite being trapped for hours.”
Callie didn't answer. Luke continued, “Ever since that day, you've lived in a . . . a fog. Look what it's doing to our family, to our son. You've got to let go, to trust God. There is a reason for every struggle we face. Callie Simmons, you need to do more than survive now. God wants you to thrive.”
“Thrive?” Callie scoffed. “How? How can I possibly thrive when I feel like everything I've ever loved has been or will be taken away?”
“Because you can't go through life worrying about the possibility of losing someone.” Luke stopped abruptly and pulled something from his jeans pocket. “Your brother-in-law brought this by last week. This is what you need to remember.”
Callie turned on the lamp and studied the object. It was a picture of her and Alice in New York. Not the one with the World Trade Center behind them, but one taken the day before when they were site-seeing in Manhattan. Alice's big, beautiful smile glowed right alongside her twin sister's.
“She wouldn't have wanted you to live like this,” Luke said firmly. “When you go through life worrying about death, you can never truly live.”
Deep sobs ripped through Callie's chest and she fell into her husband's comforting embrace. An unknown, unfamiliar release flooded through her. Unfathomable peace nestled in her heart, and amazing grace took up residence in her spirit.
She clasped the picture against her heart. It was time to walk out of that rubble.
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