Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: River (08/31/06)
TITLE: Where Are You?
By Constance Gilbert
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“Mommy, I had it first!”
So much for escaping. She wondered what possessed her to take her sister’s children for a week. Now there were five, under eight, demanding her attention. The little ones needed a nap, but didn’t want to miss anything. The older ones just nit-picked at each other or teased the little ones.
This bedlam had to stop. She asked them all to take a moment to calm down. No one heard her. She yelled for them to be quiet. They just got louder. Finally, loosing control, she screamed, “Shut up!”
The two little ones shook and crocodile tears inched down their cheeks. The oldest said, “Get a gripe, Mom.” Her favorite nephew hugged her saying he had bad days sometimes, too.
Sighing with regret, she asked her son to take the older ones to the playground for about an hour. She sent the two little ones to pick a story for rest time.
“Lord, it’s not fair leaving me to cope alone. I never get a break. Everyone thinks I’m so strong and can handle anything. I can’t! I love these children, but today I feel anger and despair. Great example I am. Definitely not the perfect mother nor aunt. Give me a little bit of tolerance and patience to get through the day, please ... are you there. Lord?”
At least they picked some of her favorite stories. She had escaped into her books since she learned to read. Maybe she could escape for a few minutes after all.
It was not to be. Her son brought his cousins back for first aid and they argued over the bandaides.
“TV time!” she announced; at least they had cable for the good children’s channels.
Managing to time dinner with the end of a movie, she sent everyone to wash up. Quickly assigning places to avoid another debate, she lead them in thanking Jesus for each other and the food. As she began serving the meat, her nephew announced, “I’m not eating here. You’re taking us out like you usually do!”
She dropped the frying pan on the stove and ran.
Hiding behind the dumpster, she wept bitterly. Always responsible, always in control, able to fix everything, never needing anyone else- wrong, she was none of those. She knew it was wrong to leave, but she couldn’t stay. She ran back in for her keys and drove off.
As soon as she reached the city limits, she pushed the pedal harder and harder as if she could outrun her heartaches. Still sobbing, she didn’t know where she was. When she saw a State Park sign, she turned in, stopping at the gate.
“Day or season pass?” the old man asked.
Tears burst forth as she realized she didn’t have her purse. “I’ll go."she mumbled.
“No, ma’am; it’s late. Looks like rain anyway. Go on in.”
Parking quickly, she ran down the dirt road away from the crowd. Thunder cracked and kids screamed. Parents called to get out of the water. Moms wrapped towels around the children while fathers gathered up things. They all looked so happy as they ran to their cars and vans.
She sat on the river bank crying; her tears mixing with the rain. Soon she was soaked and getting cold.
“Lord, I don’t have a kleenex... I don’t even know how to run away... I am so scared raising a child alone. I was suppose to have two- a boy and a girl, love my husband forever, and live happily ever after. And where are you... where are you?”
The storm was over the river now. Thunder shook the ground and lightning arced off the water. She hugged her knees and continued to weep.
“Ma’am, it’s not safe out here in the storm.” The old man, from the booth, looked down with eyes of concern, yet they were gentle and understanding as he helped her up. He walked with her towards her car. As she stood there dripping, he whispered, “There’s always sunshine after the rain. Maybe even a rainbow- a promise from God, you know.” With a tip of his soggy hat he walked away.
As she drove out, she noticed that there was no car or truck. As she passed the booth, she read the sign. Unmanned booth-place money in coin box.
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