Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TRAVELER (01/28/16)
TITLE: Every Single Minute
By Jody Day
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She scrunched her nose against the sickly, fruity scent of some kind of odor masking spray. She scanned the cavernous waiting room for a seat. She needed a few minutes to think. Even the quiet conversation buzz of the other waiting passengers made her head throb. The only available bench was occupied on the other end by an elderly man. His dark sunglasses perched on the very end of his nose, making his closed eyes visible.
“May I sit next to you?” she whispered. She didn’t wait for an answer, but shoved her backpack under the bench and scooted into the small space.
“Of course, little lady, and welcome. Where you headed?” He tipped his vintage Stetson hat in her direction, but didn’t open his eyes.
That’s just it. She didn’t know. No clue about her destination, or her destiny. She put her ear buds in and turned her back slightly away. Maybe he wouldn’t talk to her anymore.
“Well, they say if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” He slapped his knee and chuckled.
Had he read her thoughts? She shivered and looked around for another seat.
Her destiny evaporated when she lost the baby. Everyone, including Chuck, had gone on with her lives. After he left for work that morning, with his usual “I’m praying for you,” she just couldn’t take it any more. She ran away with her mad money stuffed in her pocket and a few things thrown in a backpack. But to where?
“It’ll follow you everywhere. You have to face it. But you don’t have to face it alone.” The old man whispered. He pulled his tattered gray sweater close.
Belinda whirled around and stared. Had she spoken aloud? He still had his eyes closed. Was he blind? How dare he read her thoughts? Or did the pain ooze out of every pore of her face? Anger rushed her senses.
“But I am alone. There must be somewhere that doesn’t hurt. Everything here reminds me of her.” Little Grace’s tiny face rose front and center in her mind. A stabbing pain took the sudden rush of anger away. She slumped against the back of the bench. The people in the seat facing her frowned and then looked away.
“He will never leave you or forsake you. God promised that.”
“But he took her.” Belinda lost all desire to pray long ago.
“We don’t get to understand. I know and I’m so sorry. But He feels every stabbing pain, every sleepless night, every tender longing. He promised. Tell Him how you feel every minute. Every single minute. Then the hours will get better.”
“Yeah, right. If one more person tells me that stuff, I’m gonna…” she said. Forget it. She’d buy a ticket to the first place that came to her mind. She stormed up to the ticket counter and unfurled her scrunched money, now damp with the moisture of her perspiring hand.
A framed quotation on the wall behind the clerk caught her eye. “I will never leave you or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5” and underneath it, “Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7.”
The bus station faded away as she stared at the framed scriptures. A connection, a promise pulled her out of the pit a few inches. A little shaft of light pierced her understanding and crowded out a bit of pain. Chuck’s prayers?
“Miss? Can I help you? Are you all right?” The clerk invaded her thoughts.
“Sorry, no, I mean yes.” She turned to rush home and call Chuck.
Wait, the old man. Once again she felt the hundred dollar bill in her hand. She’d give it to him. Mind reader? Angel?
“Where is he? That old man that was sitting with me a minute ago?” She asked the frowning couple from earlier.
“What old man? You sat there talking to yourself. Are you all right?”
The room seemed to spin for a second. She ran her hand across the seat where the old man had been sitting. She felt something rough under her fingers.
‘Every single minute’ was etched into the wooden bench.
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