Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Light at the End of the Tunnel (01/23/14)
TITLE: The Companion
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom
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Smiling, Riley patted Phin’s shoulder. “It’s okay; buddy, no need to get so upset. I’m just fine. Of course once we get home, I'll be a lot better.”
Feeling appeased, Phin didn't mention it again. Once in the train, Phin closed his eyes. He loved working with Riley, but his job was stressful. He constantly worried about making a mistake. He tried not to let his responsibilities bother him, but sometimes the stress got to him and he snapped.
Shame washed over him. That wasn't an appropriate reaction for someone in his position. He opened one eye and gazed at Riley. She was something special. He had no doubts about that. She would tell Phin things that she said she would never tell anyone else.
Just last night they had been talking; well, she had been talking, Phin mainly listened and stared at her face. Her words raced through his mind. “I’m just so afraid at times. I believe Jesus is the real Saviour and I don’t have doubts most of the time. . .but every once in a while, the thought of dying overwhelms me. I hate having those panic attacks. Thank God for you, Phin; I don't think I could handle the anxiety if not for your support. Before you came into my life, I couldn't even leave the house. I know you won't tell anyone, but I’ve even prayed and asked God to let me have a life after death experience so I wouldn't be so afraid. Pretty silly, huh?”
Phin felt so helpless when she had her attacks. He wished he could show her how much God loved her. He shook his head. Funny, how I know God is here, but she, who is so much smarter than I–she has doubts.
As the train screeched to a stop, the people around began gathering their belongings. Phin jumped up and looked Riley in the eyes. She smiled at him, and it made him feel all wiggly inside.
“Yep, it’s our stop; time to go home.”
They were the last ones to exit the car. As the train gathered speed and rumbled away, a man came running down the platform. He stumbled right into Riley. Her body was tossed into the air and smashed on the rails. The man didn't even stop to see if she was hurt.
Phin felt panic wash over him. He started barking and whining. He ran in circles, yelping, until finally some people noticed him. A couple came over. The man patted Phin’s head. “What’s the matter boy? Did your master dump you here?”
Phin raced to the edge of the track and barked more. The lady laughed. “What’s the matter, Lassie? Is Timmy in the well?”
The man hushed her with a wave of his hand. “No, I think there is something wrong. He’s a working dog. See it says so on his vest.”
“Oohh, does that mean a blind person is wondering around?”
The man shook his head. “No, he’s a companion dog. He helps calm people who have severe agoraphobia or anxiety attacks. His owner has to be here somewhere.”
Phin decided it was time to take action. He jumped into the tracks and landed on Riley. He started licking her face and trying to budge her with his nose.
Finally Riley came to. She opened her eyes and immediately began screaming and pointing. Phin turned to look. He saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Oh no, a train is coming. I have to get her out of here. Phin started jumping and barking, but Riley was frozen in fear. The light kept getting bigger and bigger. Just when Phin began to wonder how they would survive, the man jumped down and scooped up Riley and placed her in the arms of another bystander. Then he picked up Phin, jumped, and rolled them both to safety.
Phin bounded to Riley and licked her face. She hugged him close, bowed her head, and prayed. “Dear Jesus, thank you for always being there with me. Thank you for sending Phin into my life. Thank you for saving my life. The next time, I won’t be afraid of the light.”
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