Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Exhale (08/15/13)
TITLE: Sarah's Prison
By Nancy Bucca
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It started with a snake, who told Eve he could get her high - as in, "You'll be like the Most High." He got her snorting doubt, mixed with delusions of grandeur, which she initially mistook for ecstasy. Adam fell prey, they say, to a different drug: self-reliance. They both inhaled forbidden knowledge, and snorted out strange sights. Sadly, it was no hallucination.
Their son Cain puffed the cocaine of jealousy, and years later, Pharaoh snorted rock-hard pride. The folks who scoffed at Noah's boat snorted folly mixed with vice. Jonah the prophet snorted stubbornness, and landed in a fishy grave. He eventually got free.
But what about me? This rusty black box I face keeps saying, "No, you'll always be this way." Squeezed tightly in a corner of the room, it has a jagged crack on one side, a hookah on the other, and a barbed wire vent in the middle which loves to spew bad news - in the form of a hissing, mushroom smoke that shouts "You're doomed!"
"You blew it, Loser. You always blow it. And you always will."
Frantic for pure air, I gasp and cough and puff away what smoke I can, but it has its hooks in my nose. "Let me go!"
"Not until you wheeze into this sleaze machine," taunts the box, which looks just like a coffin. Heart thumping, I blow into hookah, which doubles as a breathalyzer. Its sucks the life right out of me.
A long, gray paper flies through crack. It gives a detailed BAL (blood attitude level) breakdown.
"Self-pity levels through the roof! Rage: 22 percent..."
I let out a heavy sigh. Why must I inhale every black market "steal" I see, then cut it with Gossip, the most lethal drug around?
"It far exceeds God's legal limits. You may as well give up."
So much for self rehabilitation. Totally deflated, I read on.
"Her outward show has everybody fooled, but selfish infuses all she does. The toxic atmosphere she exudes stinks of personal paybacks, pride, and guilt. Give it up, girl. There's no escape."
No, I can't accept that. There has to be a way.
From the vent a light shoots out. The TV screens drip with gold. I see a rowdy crowd of wild partiers dance around a calf idol they all helped create. Their stomping feet stir up clouds of hypnotic dust, which promises a false high, while their leader Moses descends the heights of Mount Sinai. In his hands he holds two brilliant stone tablets engraved with God's commands, which tell them not to worship other gods.
But they broke those commands, and now Moses breaks the tablets. They crumble as he smashes them, filling the air with a thick cloud of condemnation.
Like the kind I'm breathing now. No matter how hard I try to keep those commands, my own efforts fall flatter than an unplugged vacuum cleaner. I inhale blame and exhale condemnation. My pride is exhausted and there's only thing to do.
"Help!" I cry. "Somebody help me! Please!"
Immediately a light brighter than those ten commands fills the room. He's calling my name.
"Sarah! I love you. Sarah, come to me. I'll set you free."
"Who - who are you?"
"Someone who can get you free. I've been calling to you a long time, waiting for you to call on me."
I see the nail marks in the hands and feet of one who died to cleanse my sin and blow away all my addiction. I see a stone roll from an empty tomb. It crushes the serpent's head. I see the air whoosh from its lungs like from a balloon when you blow it up to bursting, then in one swift motion let it go.
the only person who never broke a single one of God's commands has risen from the dead. And now He wants to breathe new life in me.
I gladly inhale all He has for me, and this time when I exhale, I find myself lying on a bed of bright, green grass. A fresh rose scent fills the air and I know I've been set free.
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