Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS (don't write about the song) (05/14/15)
TITLE: The Warrior's Mantle
By Jody Day
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Where were the children? Her wrist watch registered 3:40 p.m. She saw no crossing guard, no school buses, and no line of parents in cars to pick up their own. What day is it?
Laprelle, Myrtle's home health nurse of three years, stepped up on the porch and sat in the rocker next to Myrtle. She took her hand.
"How are you today?"
"It's time to pray for the children. I just realized it's Saturday." Myrtle shook her head and sighed.
"We can pray for them anyway," Laprelle said. Thirty minutes passed as the two women covered 325 children in the love and protection of God. Teachers and administration received prayers for direction, compassion, and peace.
"I love your camo scrubs, my dear. Reminds me that it's nearly time for me to muster out." She sighed and squeezed Laprelle's hand. "But there's no one to fill my post."
Laprelle's eyes brimmed with tears as she took blood pressure cuffs from her bag. "Let's get a few things taken care of and then I'll fix you something to eat. Did you have lunch?"
Myrtle squinted her eyes in thought. Had she? "I don't remember." She winced against the pressure of the cuffs around her frail arms.
"Miss Myrtle, I'm a little concerned about your blood pressure, and your breathing is very shallow. I think we may need to go see the doctor."
"I'm just tired. I could use a nap."
"I don't doubt it. All that prayer maneuvering takes a toll. Let me get you tucked in and then I'm going to call the doctor."
"Did I ever tell you about how all this began?" Myrtle leaned against Laprelle as they walked down the hall.
"I'd love to hear it."
"The last words the General said to me before he died, on my 50th birthday, mind you, was 'Soldier on, my love, soldier on'. I couldn't find anything to fight for at first. It hurt so much." She sat on the side of her bed, and then pulled a picture from the side table drawer.
"One day this little cutie ran up on my porch, as I sat staring into space, and crawled up into my lap. She wanted to know if I'd like one of her little school pictures. She was a bedraggled little thing. I walked her back across the street and delivered her to the crossing guard. Something woke up in me and I just started praying for her, and then it just grew to the whole little neighborhood school over there. Forty years later and I'm still at it." She handed the faded school picture to her nurse. "I've often wondered whatever happened to this little girl."
Laprelle stared at the picture with wide eyes. "Miss Myrtle, that's me! That's my kindergarten picture. We moved away that summer."
Myrtle lay down and closed her eyes. A smile spanned her cheeks. This surprise answered her prayers. Confirmation warmed her heart.
The angels welcomed her with open arms. One very tall one told Myrtle that she had dispatched him to the playground of that school no less than 5, 337 times. Light emanated from his eyes as he lifted the prayer mantle from her shoulders. He carefully placed the golden cloth on Laprelle's shoulders, who sat weeping beside Myrtle's earthly shell.
"Wait until she finds out you left her the house! Your position has been filled, dearest. Let's go. The General is waiting with your Beloved. They are so excited to see you!"
Laprelle slid to her knees beside Mytle's bed, still clutching her hand. Had it been this woman's prayers that got her through her parent's divorce? Got her though growing up with an alcoholic mother, nursing school, the early death of her husband? She'd always wondered what drew her back to this town, this neighborhood.
A sudden sense of responsibility seemed to settle on her shoulders. "I don't know how, but I will do it Miss Myrtle," she whispered.
"Soldier on, my dear, soldier on," Myrtle sang, and then she flew away.
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