Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ASKEW (06/07/18)
TITLE: You Matter
By Joe Moreland
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She rolled over towards the middle of the bed. Big mistake. The emptiness on the other side confronted her like a punch to the gut. The lump in her throat was suddenly so big she wasn’t sure she’d breathe again. She wasn’t even sure if she wanted to.
Tears started welling up again for what seemed like the millionth time since Friday when she got home to an empty house. The kids hadn’t noticed. They just ran off to their rooms, as normal, but Teresa knew something was wrong. John should have been home.
The note was on her dresser. She quickly opened up his drawers. They were empty. His favorite clothes were gone from the closet. His laptop, phone charger, bathroom items—all gone. The note said only one word.
For now, the kids had just assumed that John was gone on another weekend trip for work. Today, however, was Sunday. Today, after church, she’d have to explain that Daddy wasn’t coming back. Might never be back.
Teresa took a deep breath and got herself out of bed. She got the kids up and gave them their marching orders on getting dressed and eating breakfast. Then she started getting herself ready for church. In an hour they were loaded in the car and on their way.
As usual the kids argued, poked and annoyed one another all the way there. None of them seemed to notice the sadness that hung over their mom. It was just another Sunday to them.
Teresa dropped the kids off at Kidz Station and watched as they were herded off into the children’s ministry program. Then she turned to head into the sanctuary where she could already hear worship music beginning to play. Avoiding eye contact with everyone else, she made her way to her usual spot, the aisle seat on the second–to-last row on the far left side.
Today there was a couple sitting in the seats next to her regular spot. She almost didn’t sit there, but habits like where you sit are hard to break and, besides, they were wrapped up in worship and wouldn’t notice her anyway. Just like everyone else. She felt invisible. Like she didn’t matter.
She tried to participate in worship, but she kept drifting off into thought. Sorry, the note said. She wasn’t even worth an explanation to him. Not even an excuse. Just “sorry”. At church she was the woman whose husband never came. She dropped her kids off at the Kidz Station, went to church and picked them back up again. She doubted anyone even knew her name.
I don’t matter to John. I don’t matter to anyone.
Again, the tears started. She tried to hold them back, but it was no use. As the music ended, and the pastor said a prayer and rolled smoothly into the beginning of his sermon, Teresa sat in quiet despair, tears still rolling down her cheeks.
She lost track of how long she’d been sitting this way, but all was quiet now in the church as the pastor had called for a time of silent prayer. Teresa felt a hand on her shoulder. The new woman sitting next to her reached over with her other arm to place something in Teresa’s hand. Teresa was stunned at first, not sure what was happening. She looked at the object in her hand. It was something shiny and pretty.
“This is going to sound weird,” the other woman whispered to Teresa. “But God just told me to give that to you.”
“What is it?”
“It’s an ankle bracelet.”
“I don’t understand. Why?”
The strange woman still had one hand on Teresa’s shoulder. She used it to pat Teresa a few times.
“I don’t know. But I’m supposed to tell you that you matter. Sorry, that’s all I know.”
The woman went back to prayer while Teresa just continued to stare at the bracelet in her hand. It didn’t make any sense. She didn’t even wear jewelry, much less an ankle bracelet.
The giant lump was back in her throat, but, for the first time since Friday, she could breathe again.
Author's Note: Loosely based on an actual event told to me by friends who were the givers of the bracelet.
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