Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Appointment (02/09/12)
- TITLE: An Unscheduled Tryst with Danger
By Lillian Rhoades
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We romp through the maze of shimmering shadows as the sun tries its best to peep through the curtain of leaves. Kent holds tight to my hand, otherwise I would surely fall behind. Eventually, he slows to a trot and loosens his grip on my hand.
“Let’s stop for a minute.”
His nostrils flare in concert with the rise and fall of heavy breathing. We welcome the huge rock that serves as our armchair. He sits and I sit on his lap with my head on his shoulder. The sound of breezes rustling through the trees is the only thing that breaks the silence. We sit there with eyes closed, soaking in the stillness and oblivious to time.
The unexpected often harbingers danger. Kent hears it first. There’s barely a minute between sound and sight when the sharp twist of his head speaks louder than words. I quickly open my eyes to see the partial shadow of a figure spread out wherever leaves failed to settle. It’s only a shadow, but Kent’s instinctive turn allows him to see the form. The stranger’s voice is raspy.
“Don’t move, or you’ll be sorry.”
It’s difficult to know which comes first, the sense of flight or fright; both vie for my attention. My body tenses ready for the former, but Kent’s hand, resting on my thigh, squeezes mine in an unspoken rebuke. I want to raise my head, but once again Kent reads my mind and squeezes harder.
“We’re not moving, but what do you want?”
I can feel the muscles in Kent’s chest and thighs tighten. He, too, minces no words.
He gives my hand three quick squeezes, and then let go. Slow and imperceptible, his fingers pat my thigh; once, twice, but harder. Over the years, we had developed a hand language all our own. There was no need for words.
Could I do what he wanted me to do? My eyes quickly dart from tree to tree. The nearest place to find help was at least a half-mile away; but what about Kent?
The man whose face is only a shadow to me speaks again.
“You don’t have a choice, Mister.”
“Yes I do,” Kent responds, and gives my leg one more insistent pat.
With the precision of two who live as one, I jump and run, moving from side to side like a hunted deer bent on escaping its hunter. Kent quickly takes advantage of the element of surprise. He’d had plenty of time to determine what he would do once I was out of the way.
I barely reach the predetermined tree and hide behind it, when I hear the first shot.
Oh, dear God, please don’t let Kent die.
I force myself to peer from behind the tree trunk. Thank God, he missed.
For the first time, there’s a chance to catch a glimpse of the man who wanted “her.”
Without the gun, Kent could have easily taken him down, but he has no choice except to fall back on his years of army training at eluding the enemy. I pray out loud as I search frantically for my cell phone and begin to dial 911. As I dial, another shot rings out.
Oh No, God, not Kent, please not Kent.
I hear a voice saying, “What is your emergency?” The pounding in my head drowns out her voice. Where is Kent!
My heart leaps with joy. There on the ground lay the wounded gunman. Kent stands over him.
I hear myself speaking, and this is what I think I say. “A gunman tried to abduct me, but my husband just shot him. Please send an ambulance and the police.” Only then can I pray for the man who tried to harm us.
Driving home, Kent gives the explanation he knows I’m dying to hear. A loose branch fell from a tree and temporarily distracted the gunman. In that moment he disarmed him, and then shot him in the leg. Together we bow our heads and give God thanks. Our tryst with danger had not been on our schedule, but on His all the time.
Two candles sit in my bedroom window that only light up when darkness falls. Tonight, I look at them as they glow in the darkness, and somehow, I see in them the light of God’s love for His children that defeats darkness, danger, and even death.
Story is fiction, message is true
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