Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TOWER (01/16/20)
By Marilyn Borga
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He stumbled into a clearing and there, as though it had sprung from the ground, was a tall structure. Its wooden door, gray with age, stood swinging slightly as if beckoning him in. Strength waning, brain barely functioning, he lunged through and slammed the door. In the darkness, he sank to the ground.
It could have been hours that he lay there or merely minutes. Thirst forced him to stir. He waited for his dirt-encrusted eyes to adjust in the dimness. The only light was filtering in from far above, illuminating the small windowless room where he lay and the spiral staircase that stood in the center. He rose on wobbly legs and staggered to the stairs. Grabbing the rail, he tested the first step. It held. Then, summoning strength he thought was spent, he began to climb.
His heart pounded, yet he continued on, driven to know if his enemies waited. He lost count of the steps but finally reached the top, to a room bare but for a small table and two chairs. A man at the table acknowledged his presence with a nod but kept silent. He sensed no malice in the man, so he rushed to look out the opening.
The clearing below was empty yet he felt strangely unsettled. Had he run from nothing? He waited, scrutinizing the jungle-like area that surrounded this unexpected fortress. Then slowly they began to emerge: his pursuers, his enemies, his accusers.
Tattered and worn, they stared upward. He desperately wanted to sink out of sight, yet he remained helplessly rooted to the spot. It took all of his courage to keep from shutting his eyes.
One youthful face glared up in angry rebellion. He was sickened to recognize that the face he saw was his own. With dread and resignation, he finally acknowledged the truth. The demons from his past had caught up with him.
Another person stepped forward: the young woman whose virginity he had stolen so many years ago. Shame overwhelmed him as he realized he couldn't remember her name.
Then there was a former co-worker, the one he'd falsely implicated in a theft in order to gain the man's customers.
Scenes acted out below him as though he were watching a fast-paced film. His parents appeared, looking as they had decades ago. He felt their weariness as they had worked hours of overtime to send him to the university. He hadn't bothered to thank them. In fact, he had treated them with contempt because their ideas now clashed with his. Yet he saw the love in their eyes even as he recognized the pain and suffering he had caused them.
He heard himself recite every lie he had told his wife over the years and the excuses he had made to his children. Tears made muddy trails down his dusty face.
One by one they stood before him, each soul that he had cheated, disrespected, ignored, or neglected. Sorrow crushed him as he felt the full weight of the pain his selfish actions had caused.
He sank to his knees and cried out in anguish, "How can I ever pay for the harm I've done?"
He startled as he heard the scrape of the chair. He had forgotten he wasn't alone.
The stranger stood before him with sad but gentle eyes. "I have paid the debt," he said softly. Then he lifted him and led him to the table where there was a basin of water and a cloth. The stranger dipped the cloth into the water and touched it to the dirt-stained face.
"Now let's get you clean," he whispered.
For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. Psalm 61:3 (NKJV)
"Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool." Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)
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