Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)
- TITLE: Protected
By Shirley McClay
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“Haley!” The word was a screech. It had been a week since her last seizure but I knew they could come at any time without warning. I ran through the house throwing open doors and calling her name. My fingers trembled against my cheeks when I saw the back door standing open. I flung myself through it and scanned the yard. Haley sat in a huge mud puddle splashing with my gardening trowel. My legs trembled and gave out as I dropped to my knees onto the wooden porch.
Silent sobs wracked me and I covered my face with my hands. “God, help me. I can’t live like this. The seizures come so often and with no warning. I just can’t handle the fear and constant tension. Oh God, what do I do? If there is anything that You can do to help me care for her... please, God.”
I couldn’t stay where I was. Haley needed me to be vigilant. I wiped away the tears with my apron and staggered to my feet. She still played contentedly, not realizing the drama she caused. The sun shone on her blond curls, highlighting glints of red. Her pink shirt was splattered with mud and when she turned to look at me I realized her face was speckled as well.
“Mommy, I making cookies.” The dimple in her cheek flashed as she spoke. She held up a hand with a ball of mud that did look remarkably like cookie dough.
I knelt beside her. “Haley, that cookie looks yummy, can I have a bite?” I pretended to nibble the ball of mud while she giggled at me.
After sternly reminding her not to wander off like that, I went back to sit on the porch and read a book I had left there earlier. My senses stayed alert even as I got lost in a pirate adventure.
I glanced up for the hundredth time to see something unexpected. A huge dog stood beside the swing set. It watched Haley with its head cocked to one side as if studying her. As I looked for a rock to scare it away, Haley stood up and announced. “All done cookies, Mommy.” The dog lunged at her and threw itself down at her feet just as Haley fell forward, stiff and unconscious. She landed on its big furry body and rolled gently off. I mindlessly went through the motions of doing as I had been taught to get her through the seizure and then carried her into the house.
Later that week Dan and I sat on the porch, Dan in the rocker with Haley sleeping in his arms. I spoke softly so I wouldn’t waken her. “I swear it, Dan, it was as if she knew Haley was about to have one… the way she watched her and then was there before Haley even started her seizure. All week she has been Haley’s shadow. No one has called to claim her… no one is missing a dog. It’s as if she was sent from God.”
“Is it possible the dog startled her and caused the seizure?” Her stroked Haley’s hair as he rocked.
The dog lay at his feet. Every now and then she would lift her head and look at Haley for a few seconds before settling back down to snooze. Dan poked her with his foot. She jumped to her feet and cocked her head as if waiting for him to explain.
“So. You here to help take care of our little girl?” I thought I heard a mocking tone in Dan’s voice.
Haley stirred and opened her eyes. “Where doggy, Daddy?”
“Right here, Twinkles.” Dan shifted her so she could see the dog.
“Jesus say her name is Akiva, Daddy.” Her voice wavered as she sank back into sleep and I headed inside to Google the name.
I returned to the porch to tell my husband. “Dan, you’re not going to believe this. Akiva is Hebrew for protected.”
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