Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lamentations of a Rogue Child

A child walks along a sidewalk, her bare feet warmed by the concrete that baked in the hot sun before it's retreat. Her arms swing as she keeps her eyes on the ground, making sure to step over the foreboding and frequent cracks in the sidewalk. She seems unaware of the hair that hasn't been brushed in a couple days is falling over her eyes and threatens to make her look like Cousin It's scrawny sister. Usually a song is playing in her head, and her hands reach out to conduct the air with small, klutzy swings, her fingers loosely guiding the rhythms in her head.

How different her hands look today. They are clenched into angry balls, her dirty fingernails digging into her equally dusty palms. Her arms, tense, are at her sides. She feels like swinging at something, anything, but she doesn't really want the world to know that, so her arms stay down. A well-fed cat sits on the edge of a passing lawn, and the child's gaze flicks in the feline's direction. Her eyes and tense jaw dare the unblinking creature to walk in front of her. The cat stays in his place. Her eyes return to the concrete.

The girl's pace quickens as she becomes closer to her destination. When she reaches it, she stops and stands in front of her hiding place. Hot tears blur her vision as she looks at the carefully placed branches and leaves that makes up the fort. She and her Hashem built it together, painstakingly selecting just the right sticks for it. They had laughed while sitting under the completed project, and had spent many hours passing time talking or just sitting in silence. She had sat cross legged in front of him and listened to Him tell stories with daring fishermen and women who hid spies.

Today, however, she stood in front of the small entrance to their fort, and looked at it with a betrayed anger in her face. Like every other day she's visited, He's in there. But she doesn't want to see him. Not today. Not after what he let happen happened. He's in there, so very tangible now. But where was he earlier? Why didn't he fix it? She knew he was able to. The girl, shaking, softly murmurs the words that have bounced around in her head all day.

"Where were you?"

Silence meets her. She's angered by the lack of explanation. He's in there, so why doesn't he speak? How dare he stand by and-

"Oh child, I was right there with you."

The words anger her. Her simmering anger turns to rage, and she finds herself inside, with her angry face two feet from His. Her mouth opens to demand he explain why he didn't show up when she needed him the most, and why the same Hashem that said he loved her didn't come to the rescue.

The words are about to explode out of her like an overflowing pot on the stove, and in her anger she forgets that she wasn't going to look at him, and his eyes meets hers.

His eyes meet hers.

With tears that run over onto his face and down his chin, he looks at her. Not a word leaves her mouth. She cannot look away. There's no helpless pity in his eyes. No patronizing look of shame. The child's breath catches as she sees how his eyes reflect her own. All of the anger, the hurt, and the betrayal that overwhelms her is captured in his face as he looked down into hers. And yet, with all of those emotions filling his eyes there is something else.

Love. So much love. Something in her heart shifts and she buries her small head in his chest and weeps. He holds her and pulls her up on his lap, the silence broken only by her pauses to breath in between the tears. As they subside she realizes her past anger and pulls away in shame and embarrassment. She will not look him in the eyes, so he with his big hand and gently props up her chin to look down at her.

"I'm so sorry you had to go through this, child. When you hurt my heart aches so badly it seems my ribs will crack. You felt betrayed by Me as well. Know that when your world is crashing down, I remain at your side. Do you believe me?"

The child nodded her head and sank into her Hashem's strong arms.

And she could rest.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

1 comment:

  1. mmmmmm...I love when you write. I love the expression and the feeling that you place in your characters. So good! Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I will say that I was slightly confused in the paragraph with the cat. I was confused with the pronouns. For a second, I questioned which was the girl and which was the boy. I figured it out, though!!! :)

    Also, I really like the feeling of father/daughter connection that you created. Not only was it relatable, but it also really exhibited what you wanted to present to the audience.

    Loved the inclusion of the Bible verse at the end!