Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STORM (10/05/17)
TITLE: The Windchime And The Swing
By Phillip Cimei
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Staring presumptuously out the window at the puffs of pillows in the sky, Jack foresees their dark brothers bullying their way in from the horizon. He knows the routine. He has been there before. It always comes from the southwest. Gentle feathery wisps of angel hair, then dark menacing plumes billowing upward. A swirling dance ensues. Skirts of clouds looking like square dancers do-si-do’n to the beat of thunderous music mesmerizes unsuspecting onlookers. Then the devastation—the lowering of the clouds, the anvil shaped monster opening its trap door to release chaos, and the aftermath. But Jack’s storm brought no warning, just sudden overwhelming grief.
“Here is your coffee, Babe,” comes a voice that is as soothing as his morning brew. Cindee, Jack’s wife of forty-five years, joins him on the swing. She looks outside. She too is aware of the tell-tail signs. But her heart as well reals beneath a menacing cloud. The swing and the chimes, along with faith and prayer, will get them through. It always has.
Cindee glances over to a sign Jack handcrafted. It conspicuously hangs on the wall adjoining the house. Its bold letters—to some—mock their tormented spirits— OUR HAPPY PLACE. Cindee rests her head on Jack’s shoulder. They rock. Just rock.
Jack somberly sips his coffee. It’s not the same though. Not like his mornings with Cindee—rocking, chimes serenading, anticipation of a new day and life’s unexpected blessings. Like children on Christmas morning, they would anxiously await the revealing of God’s gifts—more memories to be unwrapped. The chimes summoning cherished events of the past.
They would await the clapper gently stroking the first chime, then randomly sweeping from one to another. It was nonsensical melodies to some. But not to Jack and Cindee. The light tones elicited keepsake moments: their first kiss, their plans and dreams of a family, children playing, giggling, donning impish smiles. As the chimes would hasten along at a brisk tempo, thoughts of life’s vaporous duration hit them. How quickly life moves along. Unpredictable. Future plans altered. Life abruptly ending. And the aftermath of the storms.
Hard times were weathered. Jack and Cindee always looked to the Lord for comfort and guidance. Jack opened his Bible as Cindee stroked his arm. He knew where to look, “There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain” Isaiah 4:6 ESV. Cindee took the Bible. She too flipped with confidence to another, “Lord God All-Powerful, there is no one like You. You are strong, Lord, and always faithful. You rule the stormy sea. You can calm its angry waves” Psalms 89:8-9 ERV. There are storms and there are f5 tornadoes. This was an f5 tornado.
As the chimes and their rocking began to crescendo, tears welled up in Jack and Cindee’s eyes. They were reliving the storm that interrupted their lives. In an instant, tragedy struck. A sixteen-year-old, driven by a devilish spirit, had kidnapped a couple in their 80’s forcing them to withdraw money from an ATM. He then brought them to their home where he raped the woman. His appetite for carnage was not yet satisfied. After leaving that couple in ruin, he encountered Jack and Cindee’s daughter-in-law and her two children in front of her home. He forced them into the house only to be met by Shane, Jack and Cindee’s son. A tussle. A shot. Lives changed forever.
Jack and Cindee’s bodies trembled at the thought of Shane’s last moments. A dark cloud encased their heart. It burst open. Sobs drowned out the clattering chimes. Then the chimes came to a sudden stop. A knock at the door brought them back to the present they must face.
“It’s time to go,” Cindee said as she lovingly placed a kiss on Jack’s cheek. The funeral car had arrived. As they stood up, a wisp of a breeze caused a tinkling of the chimes. With hands tightly clasped, they looked at each other and turned toward the chime. They noticed the swing starting to move. Jack looked at Cindee, and just winked. We’ll be back they both thought. They were now ready.
Added comment. Our long-time friend and co-worker for ten years lost their son to this senseless act of insanity last week. Pray for the family. He was a middle school teacher with a wife and two children.
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