She sat numb in the seat next to the one that said “I love you” every night. Her eyes fixed on the minister, her mind far away. Her gaze was interrupted when the “special singer” walked up on the platform, taking the place of the Pastor. She adjusted the microphone stand and gave the cue to the media department. The music started.
“She couldn’t take one more dayHome was more a prison now
Independence called outShe had to get it
A fight was all she neededto give her reasonShe slammed the doorwith no goodbyeAnd knew that it was time
And now she’s driving’ too fastShe didn’t care to glance behindThrough her tears she laughedIt’s time to kiss the past goodbye
I’m finally on my ownDon’t try to tell me noThere’s so much more for meJust watch what I will be
She walked awayCouldn’t say why she was leavingShe walked awayShe left all she had believed inShe walked away
Not a day goes byfor the ones she has left behindThey’re always asking whyThoughts of her come to their mindGod please let her knowThe love we tried to showWe’d promise anythingIf You’d just bring her home
She walked awayCouldn’t say why she was leavingShe walked awayShe left all she had believed inShe walked away
Tell her we love herTell her she’s wantedOne more thing, GodTell herPlease come homePlease come home.
She walked awayCouldn’t say why she was leavingShe walked awayShe left all she had believed inShe walked awayCouldn’t say why she was leavingShe walked awayShe left all she had believed in
The choice is yours alone nowTell me how this story…. ends.
As the music continued to play, the singer now spoke the following words.
“While the son was still a long way off, the father saw him and felt compassion for him and ran and embraced him. He said, “Let us celebrate for this child of mine was dead and he has come back to life. He was lost and now is found. And they began to celebrate” Luke 15:20:24
Tears warmed her cheeks and blurred her eyes. The singer now sat in the congregation with her and the preacher began his sermon. His words were not heard though. The lyrics of the song continued to tug on her heart. She felt as if she was suffocating. Nobody in the room could see her anguish. Not one had noticed the emptiness in her eyes.
The altar call was given and then the service ended. The usual after-church lunch was eaten and then the house grew still once more as the kids made their way to their perspective friend’s houses and her husband lay sleeping on his recliner. She picked up her Bible.
Revelations… 2 Peter…Romans…Acts…Luke 6…Luke 10…Luke 14…15…15:11. She began to read the familiar story. “…and they began to be merry.” She closed the book.
She sat and her head was filled with voices and thoughts. She tried to calm her noisy mind to focus and get something out of what she had just read. She became perturbed by the familiar voices that kept her company all too often. She walked into her room.
“Shut up!” She said out loud to the ones that only she could hear.
“If you didn’t want us here then we would leave.”
“I don’t want you here. I don’t want to hear you anymore. I want to hear Him.”
”You do hear Me.”
“No, that’s them, not You. I mean, that’s you, not Him. I know you’re trying to make me think that He’s talking to me and then I’ll listen, but it’s not Him, it’s just you. Stop it!”
“Shhh. now listen.”
“I’m not listening anymore. I don’t want to. To any of you! You have no place here in my life. I know better. I know enough to know that you’re not Him.”
”Do you now? Of course, you are very wise. You know the Word, can quote it, can recite so many scriptures.”
“That’s not what I meant! Now you’re trying to make me get into pride. I won’t. If I had anything to be proud of it would be the help that I can bring people.”
”Oh yes. You have been instrumental in the encouragement and betterment of many. You’ve probably saved that girl’s life. I bet if you hadn’t talked to her that…”
”Shut up! It had nothing to do with me. I was just being obedient….”
“And I’m proud of you for that.”
“I was just telling her what I heard.”
“Exactly. She’d be nothing without you. I bet she doesn’t even realize how lucky she is that you came along.”
”I’m not listening to you anymore.”
“Oh yeah. I forgot. I guess you’d rather be alone so you can think about what you’re going to do, right? You’re always alone anyway, right?”
“Then why are you responding to me? The truth is that you know if you stop talking to me then you’ll have to think about other things that you don’t want to, right?”
“You don’t know anything about the Truth. I do, and what you’re saying is not it. I refuse to listen to you or speak back to you anymore. Leave me alone.”
“Okay. I’ll be quiet. Enjoy your memories.”….
She lay across her bed with her eyes closed. Her mind began to bounce off of the many different noises she heard around her. The bird outside the bedroom window built its nest. A car drove by and up the street. The neighborhood children carried on a conversation a short distance away and she tried to make out the words.
“You miss me, don’t you?” The familiar male voice interrupted her thoughts.
She sat up on her bed now and opened her eyes. She brushed the hair off of her cheek that fell when she changed her position. She looked around the room and waited to hear if her husband had woken up yet. He hadn’t and she settled back onto the bed and relaxed.
The house began to settle a little and she heard the tree branches rustle the leaves. The conversation that once took place outside had moved farther away and was close to inaudible. She could hear herself breathe now.
“Why don’t you take a nap like your husband? Are you afraid that I’ll be there?”
A tear escaped from her closed eyes. Her breathing grew harder and her mind began to paint a familiar picture of her on her knees. She shook her head to try and shake the thoughts but he didn’t let up.
“Didn’t he say he loved you? ….. and you believed it? Ha!”
“God, please help me!”
“I’ve been here the whole time.”
“And I created you to be more than this but look what you’ve made yourself. You’re his whore.”
She sat up once more and put her shoes on. She made a decision to go for a walk and get some fresh air.
“You can’t run from me.”
She tied her shoes and went to the bathroom. She grabbed her brush and began sweeping all of her hair into a ponytail. As she looked into the mirror she began to cry once more. She never saw herself in the mirror anymore. He was there; staring back at her. She looked down while she finished putting her hair in the scrunchie.
She walked to the living room where her MP3 player was and put it on the waistband of her shorts. She placed the headphones around her head and onto her ears. She grabbed her pedometer and set it to begin calculating her distance. She was out the door.
Running, but not fast enough
For the first mile of her run her mind was occupied with working out her pace and her breathing. The challenging hills that choreographed her workout wrapped around her neighborhood. As she ran out of the familiar streets and onto the dirt path she began to relax into her second mile.
“Maybe you should run down to the water where the bees play?”
She picked up her pace and increased the rhythm of her breathing. As she approached one of the steep hills she leaned into her run and pushed herself harder. As she was getting to the top her calves began to burn.
“Why are you pushing yourself so hard? You still have miles to go. You’re not going to make it at this pace….Slow down.”
She turned her MP3 player as loud as it would go now and began singing along in her head. As the speed of the songs changed, so did her stride. She kept time with each step and watched as the trees around her began to dance to her music.
As she made it through her third mile her MP3 player abruptly came to a stop, She grabbed it off of her waist and into her view as she continued to focus on her running path. She took short glances at it to find out why it stopped, keeping her attention on the rocky hill she was now declining.
The battery had died. She remembered she had retrieved it from the coffee table and it had not been on the charger. She took a quick look at her Forerunner GPS and it showed her approaching her fourth mile. “I’m not going to quit now,” she resolved.
“What if there’s a guy out here? You’re all alone; do you think that’s wise to be this far away from everything by yourself?”
“I refuse to be scared anymore.”
As she entered her peak and subsequently the “zone” where her body seemed to automatically take over the run, her imagination began to play the song her familiar visitor composed.
She was approaching a turn in the hill coming around some bushes and rocks when out from nowhere a man appeared. He was tall and wearing a black hoody, grey sweat bottoms and had short brown hair. She continued right past him and tried to keep her pace. As she heard him begin running behind her she sped up. As the path was coming to an end she tried to think of where to run. There was a clearing in the trees and she headed onto the unbeaten path. She pushed branches out of her way while trying to maintain the gap between her and the follower. She looked back to see where he was and tripped over a rock. Before she could pick herself up off the ground she felt his body push her back down. She tried to push him off of her but he was stronger than her. She tried to get out from underneath his weight but he was too heavy. She felt his arms on her shoulders as he turned her over. She kicked her legs and found she could touch a nearby rock with them. She tried to maneuver herself closer to the rock; all the while she wrestled with her arms to get free. With her feet now on either side of the rock she relaxed her arms to save her strength. He took advantage of what seemed to him as her surrender and began kissing her. She tolerated it long enough to wrap her feet around the rock and pick it up with the strength in her legs. Just as she was attempting to hit him with the rock he moved himself back onto her legs and she dropped it. He tried to take off her shirt and she began fighting back. As she wrestled in the pine needles he…
The tears and emotions within stopped her in her tracks. She fell to her knees and her arms fell to the earth followed by her head. Her hard breathing gave way to the uncontrollable tears that now wet the ground where she kneeled.
“WHY?! Why, God? Why can’t you take these thoughts from me? Why can’t I have a moment of silence where I don’t think about things like this? Why can’t I be… normal?”
As she cried a gentle wind brushed past her. She shivered as the sweat on her body now touched the coldness of the evening. She cried within herself now and it caused her to run out of air. As she gasped for a new breath he interrupted her once more.
“Huh?” She questioned what he meant.
“Look up and see where you’ve stopped.”
As she pulled her head up off of the bed of leaves where she was crying she looked around her. She saw the peaceful forest that stared at her. Her eyes danced off of each tree and bush, each rock and stump until they came into focus. A swarm of bees nestled into their honeycomb they were occupied with building was only five feet from where she had stopped.
“It wouldn’t take that long, you know?”
She ignored him this time and began wiping the tears from her face.
“You’re going to go back now aren’t you?”
She looked at her pedometer; she was four and a half miles from home now. She checked the time and decided it was time to head home. As she brushed the leaves and pine needles from her clothes she stood to her feet and caught her breath. She stretched her arms and legs and finally her neck. As she rotated it one last time she heard a noise behind her.
She froze. Her mind became a rush hour of voices warning her and instructing her to do this and that. She put her hands over her ears and began her run home. Her heart raced with her the whole way home and began to ache. She held back the tears and pushed away the fear that chased her.
The smell of chili hit her as she entered her house. She pulled the earphones and pedometer off and placed them on the entryway table and walked past her husband who was now questioning where she had been.
“I’ll be right back.” And into the bathroom she went. After locking the door she turned around and slid down the door and onto another spot on the ground to cry. She took a deep breath and cut her cry short. She washed her face and hands and straightened her hair.
“I went running.” She walked into the kitchen where her husband was now making dinner. “Sorry. You were asleep.”
“Where did you go this time?”
“9 miles total. I ran out towards Happy Hollow and back.”
“Oh? That’s not a bad distance you know?”
“I know. I did 12 miles yesterday. I guess I just thought since you were gone so long you would have run farther.”“You were asleep. How do you know how long it took me?” “Your pedometer told me.”
His lack of encouragement accompanied his disapproval of her time. He didn’t have to say a word. She knew she could never impress him no matter how much she pushed herself.
“Go take your shower and I’ll have dinner ready by the time you get out.”
She walked away with no more words and barely any strength left. Her shower comforted her sore body and cleaned off everything she shed during her trek. She let the water beat down on her face as the tears mingled with the hot water.
With her eyes closed her mind tried to replay the events that brought the tears. Once again she refused its haunting and finished her shower. As she dried off she avoided the mirror that hung in front of her because she knew that he’d be in it.
Dinner was filled with chatter from the kids as each told their tales of what adventures they had just come from. Her husband sat quietly listening to all of them oblivious to his wife’s torment. She finished her food and began dishes while the rest of the family enjoyed the stories and their food.
The rest of the night they all followed the nightly routine and took showers, ate dessert, gave kisses and were off to their separate rooms for another night of sleep. For her, it was the part of the day that she hated. She would be coaxed for sex or would be visited in her dreams by the same.
She slipped into bed quickly after brushing her teeth and faced away from his side of the bed. He finished his nightly rituals and set the alarm that sat by his side of the bed. She closed her eyes and hoped that he would think she was asleep. He turned off the bedroom light and returned to the bed of her nightmares.
“Are you awake?”
She was never good at lying. “Yes.”
She could feel him move in the bed towards her. She took a deep breath and put on her wife apron once more. She ignored the pains that plagued her inside. He kissed her once more and whispered “I love you” as he roller over and went to sleep.
She lay there breathing and crying as quiet as she could to not wake him. Her body screamed for comfort and an escape from the stabbing her body felt. She dare not say anything to anyone for her last surgery was to be the final.
“Why don’t you go back to the doctor’s?”
She rolled onto her side as if that would stop his voice from reaching her.
“You’re never going to be without pain. You might as well go back to accepting that.”
She moved her hand over her side and pressed into the pain. She fought the need to scream and won. She was a pro at stifling her cries and pain after so many years of doing it. She noticed her breathing getting more difficult, as it always did when she would cry so much.
Finally, she got out of bed and went to the kitchen.
“Go ahead. Nobody else is living this hell but you.”
She reached for the wine her husband had bought her and opened it. No need for a glass, it wouldn’t be going back in the fridge. As she drank she hushed all of the voices. Her thoughts started to rest themselves as they drowned with her.
“You should write this down.”
“Why?” Her head was dizzy now and she made her way to the living room where her laptop rested on the back of the couch. “What would I write?”
She sat down and turned on the electronic portal that gave her access to some of the only people that understood her. As it started up and eventually signed her online she finished off the bottle.
“How do you feel?”
“Not numb enough.” She began to cry.
She opened her emails and when she saw his name a smile came to her tear-stained face. She began to read his reply to the email she had sent earlier with the song she heard at church in it.
“Tell me how this story…ends” was all he wrote.
“There. He wants you to write, too.”
“I need something to dull this pain.”
“Get some more then…. either that or get a painkiller. You won’t be able to sleep in that kind of pain.”
She placed the laptop to her side and heeded his advice. As he told her all of the things that she should do she stopped resisting and just followed his words like a leash. She would drink the rest of what he made her that night after she wrote what you just read.