The Open Window

Image: Gallery Hip
Image: Gallery Hip

“Love you too, Steve. Good night.” Michelle hung up the phone and slid under the covers. Her mind still wasn’t at ease. Steve tried his best to convince her that she was just seeing things.  But Michelle was certain of what she saw – little black imps prancing around the wall of her bedroom.

For awhile now, she had been seeing something out of the corner of her eye move about her apartment. The eeriness she felt was worse than any horror movie.

Michelle grabbed the Bible out of her nightstand. It had been given at her baptism when she was a child. She had been an avid reader then, but along the way to adulthood, she drifted.

As she turned the pages, she hoped for solace, but her internal fear was overriding anything that she read. Soon Michelle became frustrated, slamming the book shut, and forcing herself to sleep.

In the midst of what seemed like a dream, Michelle tried to scream. There was something trying to hold her facedown into her pillow. She reached back and felt something rubbery. There was a burnt smell.

She continued to struggle with this something until finally she turned over and was laying on her back. Her eyes grew wide as she saw a dark figure with two pointed horns and red eyes trying to strangle the life from her body. She panicked, frantically trying to break free.  It laughed at her attempts.

The more Michelle squirmed, the tighter the being’s grip became. She tried to scream again, but nothing came out.  She had to defend herself or be killed.  Everything on the nightstand was out of reach. She felt doomed and helpless until she managed to cry out, “Jesus!”.  The being fled.

Michelle jumped up from her “dreamdripping in sweat and disbelief.  She was shaken to the core.  Steve was her first thought to call, but deep inside she knew he was part of the problem. The two had been carrying on an affair for months.

Sure it was wrong to be in a relationship with a married man regardless of the circumstances.  But somehow Michelle felt justified in what they were doing – she was lonely and so was he.  His marriage had been almost non-existent for some time.

Truth was, she really didn’t know if the marriage was really bad or not.  She only had his side of things, and one thing was apparent – Steve was never leaving his wife.  Michelle knew it though he never uttered the words.

An inkling nudged Michelle to pick the Bible up again. When she did, it immediately opened and her eyes fell on 1 Thessalonians 4:3:

“God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.”

Michelle threw the Bible down on the bed in front of her like it was hot. When she was brave enough to pick it up again, her focus went to 1 Thessalonians 4:6:

“Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife.”

Michelle felt convicted. It had to end.

***

Over the next couple of days, Michelle sought to get back on track spiritually.  She delved into reading the Bible and searched for a church home. These were good starts, but there was still something more that had to be done. One night Michelle dropped to the floor, kneeling to pray:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for opening the window to my soul. I see where I am wrong. Please forgive me for committing adultery and allowing myself to fall astray. Help me to get back on the right path, and forsake the temptations that may come. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Before Michelle could completely rise, her phone rang. It was Steve. This was her test.

She silenced the phone. He called again. Michelle sent the call to voicemail.

Finally Steve sent a text. She was tempted to read it, and even listen to the voicemail – just to hear his voice.  But she couldn’t turn back now. He wasn’t worth the turmoil.

Without looking at the text, Michelle responded, “It’s over. I’m choosing God. Please forgive me for whatever damage I’ve caused you and your marriage. Do not contact me again.”

Steve did not follow directions. He tried calling Michelle again. And again she sent him to voicemail. He tried sending several text. All fell on deaf ears…and eyes.

She said a silent prayer asking for strength. Finally, Michelle deleted all remnants of him from her phone and blocked his number.

Michelle sunk in the bed and slept – peacefully.

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Funny thing happened on the way to the wedding…Part 3

Image: The Gifted Way
Image: The Gifted Way

Abby woke up with a terrible taste in her mouth, awful smell in her nose, and a headache that could have been deemed an eight on the Richter scale. She still hadn’t opened her eyes. And with what was going on with her other senses, she wasn’t sure she wanted to. But she had to take a peek – at least find out what that retched smell was.

Abby couldn’t believe her eyes. She was lying on a hard bench in a jail cell with five other women she did not know. She could have sworn she was in her apartment. She tried to reach into her hurting head to determine what was real and what had to be a dream. She was hoping her present situation was the latter, but unfortunately it wasn’t.

“Ahhh. Sleeping Beauty finally woke up.”

Abby looked over to see that the person addressing her was a tall, heavy-set woman who seemed mad at the world. Instead of responding Abby turned away.

“What?! You too good to speak?”

Abby still said nothing. Finally the woman walked over to her, and stood in the line of her vision. Abby tried to stare at the wall beside her out of fear and hope that the woman would go away.

“Abby Marlowe!” Abby jumped up from the bench and hurried to the front of the cell. “Let’s go! You’re being released.”

Abby was so thankful for the timing. She didn’t know what was about to happen, and with her luck thus far, it wouldn’t have been good.

After grabbing her belongings and heading towards the precinct exit, she caught sight of a man in a tuxedo and a woman in a wedding gown sitting in the waiting area. It was Agustin and his bride.

“Oh my goodness! What are you doing here?”

“Someone from the bar left a voicemail that you were being taken to jail. We thought we’d help since you were in trouble.”

“I don’t need your help.”

In the most southern of accents, “Well hun, seemed like you did.” Then with an attempt to soften the exchange, “Excuse Agustin’s manners, I’m his new wife, Madelyn. Why don’t we leave and discuss the matter elsewhere.”

“Good idea! I’ll leave, and you two can go elsewhere.” Abby moved swiftly past them and out the door.

Agustin followed with Madelyn closely behind. “C’mon, Abby! I, uh, we just want to make sure you get home safe.” Madelyn shot Agustin a barbed look, but said nothing. Finally he jogged to catch up with Abby, leaving his new wife behind out of earshot. “Abby, please. I still care about you. I couldn’t let you sit in there.”

“You could have sent someone else. Instead, I’m greeted with a man and woman that look like they belong on the top of a cake. I knew it was over Agustin, but I didn’t need the visuals. Besides, how did you convince her to come?”

“It wasn’t easy. And you’re right. I should have sent someone else. But Abby when I heard that message, old feelings kicked in. I knew you needed me and any other reasoning left my brain. It’s wrong, I know.” Agustin paused, looking up at the sky, then back at Abby. “I love my wife and I know I hurt her on the most important day of her life. Madelyn was willing to support me even when she wasn’t happy about it. Can’t you tell?”

“Actually, she seems like she’s trying out for a pageant. Too poised and polite. If the tables were turned, she would have had to just sit in jail. And if you chose to come anyway, we’d be heading to divorce court. Madelyn hasn’t really done anything.”

“I’m not surprised. She’s a patient woman. But I don’t want to put her in a position like this again.”

“You won’t.” Abby started walking back towards Madelyn with Agustin following suit. “Madelyn, thank you for coming to bail me out. I’m so sorry I ruined your special day. You don’t have to worry about me anymore.” Abby gave a heartfelt smile as she began to walk off.

Madelyn nodded. Agustin took her hand and led her towards the car, “I’m sorry.”

The married couple sat in silence with the only sound coming from the clang of the cans tied to the car bumper hitting against the street. “Just Married” painted on the back glass. Agustin hoped that in the years to come that this moment would be one of those things they could look back and laugh about.

Cold, Hard Kach

Kach Wilfred is the middle child and only son in the Wilfred family.  Growing up he had to battle his sisters for toys, bathroom time, and attention.  Being the only boy, one would think Kach was treated special or even spoiled.  Well, think again.  Life for Kach was quite the opposite – or at least in his eyes.  Whenever his father noticed he was spending a lot of time around his mother and sisters, he’d yell derogatory phrases at Kach like “Get from around there. Do you want to grow up to be a sissy?” and “I guess you’ll be knitting and starting your period too.”  Kach felt self-conscious and only hung around his female relatives when his father was not around, which was often.  Since Pete Wilfred owned his own business, his time with the family was limited.  But he tried to make dinner every night, and have family time after church on Sundays.  He kept his word on most occasions, but there were times when he missed a dinner here or there because of something urgent.  Continue reading “Cold, Hard Kach”

A Thanksgiving Narrative

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The Wilfred family was known for their chain of grocery stores from cities to small towns in southwestern Virginia.  The chain’s claim to fame was favorable deals with farmers for fresh meats and produce at prices that were affordable to customers.  Their initial catchphrase was “food so fresh you’d think you were in the farmer’s garden”.  Years later it would be changed to a shorter version – “fresh from the farmer’s yard to your table”.

The patriarch and head of the business, Peter, passed away 10 years ago – leaving a trail of chaos from the business to the family.  It would be the family end that caused the most trouble, separating siblings, Felicia, Kach, and Monica like oil and water.   The disagreement began with who should run the business after Peter passed away.  Then it was about how to deal with the mounting debt Peter had with the business.  And when the company went belly up, fault was passed around along with hurtful comments and insults about issues so personal, they won’t be included here. Continue reading “A Thanksgiving Narrative”