Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RASH (04/12/18)
TITLE: Stay With Me
By Hannah Gaudette
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She pulled into the parking lot with baggage on her mind that weighed more than all the luggage in her suitcases combined. The church steeple rose with pride above the stately building - ruckus singing emanated from within. She was not welcome here. Even she knew that.
She’d grown up here.
But her childhood felt so long ago.
A fresh yearning made her question why she had dared come here this morning. Why put herself through the pain?
A text beeped on her phone. Mom?
Where r u?
The five texts from this sender stood out painfully, all with the same message. She’d run in the middle of the night. But they weren’t worried about her. Not really.
She dialed the number. “Mom, it’s me.”
A panicky voice gushed from the other end. “Oh, Susan, are you all right? Where are you?”
“I’m . . .” Broken. Lonely. Ashamed. “I’m okay.”
“Susan, we want you to come home. Your dad’s coming around, I know he is.”
“Honey, we love you. And . . . we’ll love . . . we’ll love your baby, too.”
Shards of glass pierced her heart. She’d pleaded, needed to hear those words. Now it was too late. “I’m leaving, Mom. You don’t want me.”
“I want you, Susan,” she stressed. “Please.”
“You wanted me to . . . get rid of the baby. Don’t try to lie, I know that’s what you wanted!” Not that those very same thoughts hadn’t plagued her mind, in the darkest part of the night when all the embittered voices from her parents, her sister, broke through her arrogant defenses and convicted her of the worst crime the daughter of a pastor could commit. She had slipped up. Made a spur-of-the-moment decision with repercussions that would last lifetimes. Oh, she had considered the possibility. But abortion was just so logical. No one would ever have to know.
But it didn’t work like that.
“Mom . . . I can’t go home. Dad hates me.”
She didn’t answer right away. “Your dad loves you. It’s just very difficult for him.”
Tears pressed into her eyes as the sound of the singing inside the church abated. “I want to come home, Mom.”
“Oh, Susan, I want you back.”
“He doesn’t know we’re talking. Susan, if you come home, we’ll work this out together, I promise.”
Her gaze turned back to the church.
“I want to go home.” She held in a sob. “Please.”
“Come home. Don’t run away like this.”
She nodded, if only to assure herself. She turned the car from the parking lot. “I’m sorry, Mom, I’m sorry . . .”
“I don’t blame you, Susan, just come.”
“Keep talking to me. Please, keep talking.”
“Shh.” Her voice was soothing, like a warm towel pressed against the cheek. “Lord Jesus, be with Susan. Get her home safe. Please help us through this, grant us Your wisdom. Help us to see the good in this. You work all things for the good of those who love You, I believe that, Father. Help us to see it.”
The same warmth of peace blanketed her heart as the words penetrated. Dear Jesus, forgive me. Have mercy on me, on this child. It isn’t his fault. I messed up. Please . . . stay with me. Stay with me . . .
Her mother’s prayers continued as well, an undying flame. She was quite sure they would talk the whole way home. Her mom, if no one else, would not leave her side.
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