Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)
By Sherrie Jackson
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How long had it been like this? Years; she was afraid to count.
That morning Grace had read an interview in the newspaper, of a writer who had a book signing later that day. It turned out he was nine days younger than her. Nine days. And yet he had been considered a prodigy since his late teens, churning out eloquent books year after year; groundbreaking contemporary fiction, delightful essays, searing ventures into third-world madness. A National Book Award winner. An Oprah's Book Club pick.
Nine days. He and Grace were now thirty.
She fought hard against the tears but they threatened mightily. His world had once been hers for the taking. God had given her the gift of the written word, and she knew what she wanted to write and share with the world. In her mind Grace held the finished book close to her, pages and pages of narrative and philosophy and mourning and joy. It was all inside her, all the characters with their stories and choices and fates; she knew they ached to live and breathe through her words.
But the devil was winning. His tools were not the loss of physical health nor the deaths of loved ones, but a pervasive sadness that rendered her nearly immobile more days than not. Happiness had no choice but to cast shadows much darker than it; the two could not exist without the other. When she wasn’t looking, perhaps when God withdrew His hand, her life force began to dim.
Thinking again of the man who effortlessly wielded his gift, Grace felt the bridled tears grow hot. It was painful to think of how little she had accomplished while he accumulated his many successes. She wanted to do as he had, to draw upon great reserves of energy and creativity and write something. And yet day after day she succumbed to the lethargy and never gained ground, her dreams suspended.
Grace knew this wasn’t the path the Lord intended for her. It couldn’t be, not the way the world flowed around her in intricate braids of prose, her mind constantly building a tapestry of story even when she did not try. This was her destiny. She remembered long ago days when ideas cluttered her mind like stars, each one harnessing an entire world that took root and grew until her pen could no longer keep up with the veritable universe inside her. Grace had thought this gift an infinite well from which she would forever draw. It was real. It was beautiful. It was hers.
Why, then, could she not fight this terrible enemy, and hand him over to her Master?
Bleak images marched slowly through her mind, of all that she could have been and all, by miserable contrast, she was not. But her arms stayed limp and her fingers unmoving. The thought of trying to create something today, it was just too much. She’d given up her power long ago.
Grace stared at the blank computer screen, and began to weep bitterly.
Jesus, she thought, her inner voice rife with desperation, why won’t you fix me?
Prayer tumbled from her then; she rested her head tiredly on the desk as words spilled from her lips. It had been weeks since Grace had talked to God. Now, she handed everything over, all the thoughts that had weighed her down; about her fear, her loneliness, her guilt, her confusion; feeling lost every day, paralyzed each morning and inconsolable as night fell on ruined chances. She sobbed about the chains she felt on her soul and pleaded for Him to pound them to dust; her throat was raw as she gave her shame about so many precious, wasted years.
“Oh, God,” she gasped, “please, I want to be free…”
Grace prayed and cried until her lids grew heavy and her exhausted body claimed its rest.
And above her sleeping form, a blank screen, a white canvas that begged for her tapestry.
"When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;...I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted." ~Psalm 77:2
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