Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: fathers (06/06/05)
TITLE: From Shadows and Dust
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Stepping from the curb to the crosswalk a middle-aged man struggles to steady an elderly man, his father, I imagine. Bracing an umbrella above their heads, clutched arm in arm, each step they take pains the back of my calves. Screeching wipers mock the movement of his tired joints. For a moment, I see only the Scarecrow and the Tin Man in a cruel dance where brittle bones and taunt thin muscles conspire against sure and steady motion.
I can almost feel my Grandmother’s hand once again locking around my arm, the other clenching the back of my neck as she wrestles me toward the coffin, toward the stranger lying in wait. An alien scent barely masked by sympathy wreaths violates my brain as she forces me closer. I try holding my breath. Her iron grip tightens, slowing blood born oxygen. The room swirls of faces known and unknown, but none offer help.
“This is your last chance,” she pleads, “Kiss your Daddy Goodbye!”
Desperation driven by terror fuels a strength few nine year olds have ever known.
“That’s not my Daddy!” I hear myself screaming. . . .
Kicking her shin so hard she buckles and drops to the floor and I run. I run from the funeral parlor, gasping for air.
The wipers screech again streaking across my windshield and I watch as the man gently lowers his father into the passenger seat. Kneeling upon the rain-soaked sidewalk, he lifts his father’s withered feet into the car, fastens his seat belt, smiles firmly and closes the door. Standing with the umbrella collapsed and dangling at his side, he looks up viewing the low churning clouds; closing his eyes, the rain begins to covers his face. He appears to pray and so I pray with him.
We pray for peace and rest from the pain and anguish that torment. We pray that the memories of Superman whom we once believed our fathers to be—shine forth and cast the shadows from this day. We pray for courage from the loving presence of God’s own heart. We pray that our heavenly Father charges to our rescue. Set us free. Set us all free.
The wind and rain fall silent. The air smells clean once more. From deep within and all around the words, “Be still, my son” surround me. Opening my eyes, I watch the man close his door and as they drive away together, I see the light above has changed.
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