Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)
By Elizabeth Burton
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This shopping trip was serious and he needed to behave, Mama had said as she tied the laces on his shoes. Not his everyday shoes, but the uncomfortable ones he had to wear on Sundays. Only it wasn’t Sunday.
The room felt stuffy and closed. The grown-ups were talking in library voices. “A popular choice,” “aluminum,” and “preserves the body” from the man; an occasional “yes” or “I don’t know” from Mama. And numbers. Ones he’d never heard before, but the way the man said them, they sounded big. One, two, three, four...Daddy’d told him when he could count up to 100, he’d get a special toy...eighteen, nineteen...he couldn’t remember what came next.
He was still puzzling over it when Mama shook his hand slightly. He looked up. “Which one do you think Daddy would like?” she asked. Timmy thought about the shop Daddy had at home and how he’d promised to teach him to make things with wood. He pointed at the shiny box. Daddy liked wood. Mama started to cry and hugged him so tight he grunted. He wished he’d said the blue box instead – it was Mama’s favorite color.
She’d had on a blue dress last night when all the people came to their house. Daddy always told her she was the prettiest girl in town, especially when she wore blue. Made her eyes into saucers, he’d say, and Timmy would add “You just want to drink out of ‘em, right Daddy?” to make them both laugh. Daddy would tousle his hair and say, “Yes, sir, that you do,” with a wink at Mama.
But Daddy wasn’t there last night. Everyone had told Mama how pretty she looked (though they put it strangely: “You’re holding up well,” and the like). Timmy just thought she looked sad, but he didn’t want to hurt her feelings and tell her that, so he stayed quiet.
Maybe he should have stayed quiet about the box, too, he thought, biting his lip. With Daddy in Heaven, Mama was his responsiblity, and here he’d gone and made her cry. “The blue box is good, too, Mama; Daddy would like whatever you picked,” he said. He hoped the deep breath he took at the end hid the quiver in his voice.
Mama’s body shook and for a second, Timmy was scared he’d made her cry harder. He peeked at her face and saw the a smile on her face for the first time since the police had come to the door and told her Daddy’s car had been hit. “You know what?” she said, cupping his face in her hands, “you’re absolutely right. Daddy would be happy with anything that makes us happy.” Timmy felt her lips in the middle of his forehead: “We’ll take the wood one,” she told the man.
Days later, Mama lifted Timmy up so he could see Daddy sleeping. Like always, Daddy’s mouth was turned up in a little sideways smile, and Timmy knew he was pleased to be in all that beautiful wood. But one thing still bothered him...”Mama,” he said, “do you think Daddy would mind if I call God ‘Daddy’ for awhile?”
Mama gave him one of those smiles that Daddy used to say would light up the night sky: “I think he’d like that very much.”
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Gal. 4:6-7, NIV
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