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A Wretch Like Me
By Emma Bowen Meyer
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Rated "PG" by the Author.
This is a suspense story published by the national magazine Christian Woman in the March/April 2005 issue.
This was a first. She had never felt a knife at her throat before now. In fact, this was the first time she had ever trembled in fear for her physical safety or wondered if she would live through the night. She had been so careless! How many times had Tom told her to pay attention? To use reasonable caution? To keep a special eye out when going places after dark? But it just wasn’t in her nature. She trusted everyone and was sure nothing bad would happen to her here in their quiet, small town.
But it had happened. Amy was coming home late from a fun-filled Christmas party with some of her girlfriends from high school. The decorations had been festive, but nothing shouts Christmas like a gag gift exchange. In Amy’s purse was a brand new video demonstrating how to dance the Macarana correctly. Only a couple of hours earlier she had opened it and thought she’d never stop laughing.
Despite the fact that they only had these get-togethers once in a blue moon, Amy was always conscious of the time and was inevitably the first to leave. But this time Tom was out of town on business and she found herself reluctant to go home to an empty house. She wasn’t scared, of course. Being afraid had never entered her mind -- or else she might not be in the danger that she now was. She just hadn’t wanted to be alone.
Upon finally returning, she parked her car on the street, straightened the big red ribbon on her mailbox, and walked up to the front door. She was still humming the song that had been playing on the car radio (“Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!”), digging through her purse to make sure she hadn’t left her cell phone in the car, and generally not being aware of her surroundings. She never noticed the man hiding in the bushes near the front porch.
As she turned the key in the lock, the man grabbed her from behind, clasped one hand over her mouth, and quickly shoved her inside. Inside the empty house. He shut the door behind them and she knew quite well that it all happened so fast no one could have suspected anything. No one was going to rescue her.
The knife was sharp and she began to wonder if he had already pierced her skin. She felt something trickling down her neck, but it could have been perspiration -- or her mind playing tricks on her. There had been times, usually after watching an action/adventure movie with Tom, that she had wondered what she might do in a situation like this. She thought she might be strong. But she wasn’t. She thought she might be brave. But she wasn’t. She thought she might at least be resourceful. But she wasn’t. She was simply terrified.
She said a silent prayer that this would be a simple burglary -- that he would take her things and leave her alone. But in the midst of her prayer it dawned on Amy that it was a selfish prayer. Jesus had told her to pray for her enemies and here she stood praying for herself. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He did not pray that the soldiers would leave Him alone. He prayed for their forgiveness.
“Where do you keep your good jewelry?” the man demanded in a voice that was not as gruff as she would have suspected. He sounded young and nervous. His hand moved from her mouth so she could speak.
“Dear God, please forgive this man --”
“I said ‘Where is your jewelry!’” he demanded in a voice that was obviously intended to be intimidating, but only sounded panicky instead.
“Please grant him your mercy and grace --”
“Look, lady,” he said as he spun her around and shoved her into the wall. He looked into her face and froze. His anger was replaced with shock and confusion.
“Miss Amy?” he asked tentatively.
The only people who called her Miss Amy were the children from the Bible classes she had taught for the last thirty years. She looked at him intently, saw familiarity, tried to peel the years away from his face, and frantically searched her memory. Give me the name, Dear Lord, give me the name.
And then, from somewhere, came a whisper.
“Charlie?” Amy asked.
One lone tear trickled down his left cheek.
“You remember my name?”
“Of course I do,” she answered, reaching out to cradle his face in her hand, a flood of memories washing over her. Back in the days of the bus ministry Charlie had ridden the bus she and her husband operated. Tom did the driving and Amy sang and prayed with the children. Charlie had come consistently for several years and always had a special place in Amy’s heart. He seemed like such a lost little boy. That much had not changed.
“Poor, sweet child, I’ve always wondered what became of you.”
At that Charlie lowered his head and sobbed. The knife fell to the floor and Amy wrapped her arms around him as she had so many years ago when he had cried on the bus ride for one reason or another. Many of the children were apprehensive about leaving home to go with strangers to church because their parents rarely attended with them. Charlie was different because he was always upset about having to return home.
“I don’t know what has become of me. I just keep making one mistake after another. I don’t know where to turn.”
“Well, you’ve finally come to the right place.”
He looked at her with a flicker of hope in his eyes, but then drooped his head again.
“It’s too late.”
“It’s never too late. God’s been waiting on you to come back.”
“God doesn’t want me. You have no idea what I’ve done. How many times I’ve been in and out of jail.”
“Let me tell you a story about a man named Saul and what happened to him on the road to Damascus. . .” She said as she put an arm around him and led him to the couch, pausing just long enough to flip the light switch and turn on the Christmas tree bulbs. The colored lights twinkled in the dark room while the star on top shone brightly.
Amy and Charlie sat up most of the night talking about Saul, the Prodigal Son, and David and Bathsheeba. And praying. They spent a lot of time praying.
By the time Amy went to bed that night, with Charlie tucked in the guestroom because he had nowhere to go, she felt fairly confident that Charlie no longer believed God’s arm was so short that it could not save him or His love so shallow that He did not want to.
She only hoped God’s arm could save her from Tom’s wrath when he found out she had invited a man to spend the night even after he had put a knife to her throat! With Christmas in the air, she hoped he would be forgiving.
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|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|This is a good story, Emma. It has a fine message of compassion. Thank you for sharing this gift. Love and peace to you,
|Reviewed by Elizabeth Price
|What a wonderful twist to this story. The power of prayer is strong here. excellent. Liz|
|Reviewed by Cynth'ya firstname.lastname@example.org
|Sis Emma: I'm waiting for part two! When "Tom Comes Home."
My guess is somebody's going to have to repent, and I don't think it will be Miss Amy or Charlie! (As it the "stay-at-home-son" who was jealous of the attention that the father gave the "son-on-the-run" in the Prodigal Son example.
This was as good as I expected, and I always expect some amazing paragraphs from your creative mind.
|Reviewed by P Lewis
I enjoyed your story. It surely reminds us that we reap what we sow. So many people only think of the bad when this scripture comes to mind, but I know that God also gives us an increase of the good deeds and acts of love we direct toward others, even though we may have forgotten them ourselves. I never cease to be amazed at the detail of God's interest and participation in our lives. You have written an inspiring piece.
Patsy Lewis, author The Morning of the White Stone, The Sins of Boggy Creek
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|wonderful story, very well done, emma! :)
|Reviewed by White Dove left
|Wonderful talents you have..