Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Reason for the Season of Christmas (12/04/08)
TITLE: Train Wreck and Truth
By Debbie Roome
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When my vision cleared, the carriage was crumpled to half its size and I was lying face down amidst a jumble of metal struts and ripped vinyl. Unbelievably, my iPod earphones continued to belt out Joy to the World. I dragged them off and the sounds of people moaning and crying drifted through my ears instead.
I tried to gather my thoughts. My legs were trapped, buried in wreckage, but I could feel hot needles of agony snapping through them. My back felt like a massive bruise and my nose was throbbing and moist. I watched as blood splattered beneath me, a minor haemorrhage of life.
The train had been nearing the end of its run and there’d only been one passenger in my carriage. She was lying a couple of feet away, her face pale, body limp. “Are you alright?” My voice came out as a harsh whisper. Carefully I changed the position of my upper body and reached out a hand. A faint pulse fluttered in her wrist but blood was spreading, widening beneath a deep gash in her arm.
Apply pressure. My first aid training struggled to the surface and I looked for something to pack round her wound. The only thing in reach was my shopping which lay scattered like confetti around the carriage. I pulled a new, $150 dress towards me and balled it up, positioning it under her arm and wedging it in place with a shoe.
The effort drained what strength I had left and I dropped my head to rest on my hands. An hour earlier, I would never have sacrificed that dress for a stranger. I gazed at the trappings of Christmas, spilled from my shopping bags. Strands of blue tinsel lay draped across crushed seats and golden stars were sprinkled everywhere. Silver and green baubles mixed with shiny candy canes and my bottles of champagne had broken. The contents were running across the debris in a sticky river, fizzing and gleaming as they did so.
It all seemed so inconsequential, so shallow. I’d always been a Christmas addict and Mom would scold me. “Don’t get so caught up in the world, Tori. Remember the real reason for Christmas.” I didn’t take much notice. Christmas was a time for wild parties and drinking; a time for running up credit card bills and indulging myself.
“There’ll be time for God later.” I would say to Mom. “Leave me in peace, for goodness sake.” Tears rolled from my eyes as the pain in my legs intensified. How could I have been so blind? What would happen to me if I didn’t make it out alive?
I realized then, that I was bleeding heavily myself; a red fountain that pumped and pulsed from my left leg. “Oh God, Jesus, forgive me for my foolishness. Forgive me for focusing on the trivial and unimportant. Forgive me for making Christmas about me when it’s really about you.” A wave of dizziness gripped me, even though I was lying down. “I don’t want to die, God. I’m begging you for a second chance.” My eyes followed the stream of blood as it snaked from my leg. It pooled with the river of champagne and together they flowed over buckled flooring and round clumps of glitter and shattered baubles.
I caught my breath when I saw where the trail ended. Above the hole through which the liquid was draining, a cross rose from the mangled debris; a warped, bent cross, fashioned from the frame of a seat, but still a cross. A single rope of golden tinsel was hooked around it. An incredible feeling of mercy and grace washed across my heart. “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for coming to earth as a newborn and dying that I might live. Thank you for being the real reason for celebrating Christmas.”
In the distance, the wail of sirens rose and fell as an army of help converged on us. I closed my eyes and let consciousness drift away, confident that my life was now safe in the hands of Jesus.
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