Monday, October 20, 2008

Casting Stones


Bobby Miller struggled as he waddled from side to side, his arms wrapped around a large rock, fingers interlocked beneath. The weight of the stone quickly transformed his arms into jelly, but with one final heave he launched it into the pond.

Bobby inhaled so deeply the cool air burned his lungs, but he insisted on being heard.

“Are you deaf? Did you hear that!?”

He was satisfied with the terrific splash it made, sufficient enough to chase a Mallard hen and her ducklings from the cat-tails. After all of these years he supposed the bottom of the pond looked like a rock quarry. The stones were used to get God’s attention, before praying for something they really needed. His father explained, “The larger the rock the more urgent the need.” A five-year old boy’s mind is always grinding and the first question was why God lived underwater. Randy Miller explained to his young son that nature was God’s back yard and he could be found in the willows, the water, and the wildlife, practically anywhere. Back then Bobby’s father had all of the answers, but not so much any longer—not in the last year.

Since the day his father sincerely knelt on this very shore and begged God to spare his wife’s life. It was as though his father’s words and sobbing disappeared into thin air. Maybe God had gone fishing that day too, but either way Bobby’s mother died less than a week later.

Bobby ran his finger along the stainless barrel of the revolver. He didn’t feel the urge to pray, not even once, as he dropped each round into the cylinder. If God was truly there, he knew what he intended to do. He could conceal the torment no longer; the hopelessness he wrestled with each day had finally gotten him in a stranglehold. He was tapping out—giving up. How could an all-knowing being be oblivious to such things?

He rocked the pistol to the right and the cylinder locked firmly in place. Bobby rehearsed the scenario countless times on an empty chamber, but now battled against the quickened pace of his heart. Logic dictated he wouldn’t even hear the blast and at super sonic speed there would be no chance to flinch, as long as he remained steady through the pull of the trigger. The coldness of the barrel against his right temple caused his body to shudder.

“One last chance, God. If you have even a remote plan for my future you better speak up load and clear!”

Even as the words came Bobby felt awkward in his demand. He had extended his last bit hope and waited for something—anything. In the absence of such, he commanded the muscles in his trembling index finger. Halfway through the quarter-inch pull that lay between life and death he heard faint giggling.

He tossed the revolver in his backpack and turned to locate the source. On the path leading toward the pond he could see blonde curls bobbing just above the weeds and a bright red and white fishing bobber leading the way. As the young girl entered the clearing she stopped dead in her tracks and stared at him for a moment.

“Who are you?” she asked inquisitively in a tiny voice.

“I’m Bobby, what’s your name—and do your parents know you’re down here alone?”

“Miranda”

Her curly head tilted downward and she kicked at the dirt for a moment.

“Daddy’s up in heaven now—but I’m very lucky to still have Momma. She’s parking the car.”

Bobby understood the difficulty of such a loss and could see the discomfort in her reaction.

“That’s a mighty pretty dress you’re wearing—just to go fishing.”

Her tiny hand stroked the red velvet cloth and then she twirled the ribbons holding her pigtails.

“It’s a very special day. The first time Momma could leave the hospital in a long, long time. I wanted to show her the place me and Gramps came and prayed for her.”

Bobby fought valiantly to control his frustration, but tiny, young ears should not be subjected to such things.

“So you’ve been here before?”

“Lots and lots of times. Me and Gramps catch fish here, but there’s lots of rocks to get snagged on. Sometimes Gramps cusses when the hook gets caught, ‘Damned if he knows how there came to be so many rocks.’”

She took a deep breath before continuing and her blue eyes grew wide in anticipation of her words.

“While we prayed an angel touched my Momma.”

“An angel…really? It’s my understanding angels are quite rare.”

“Yeah—and they’re hard to find too.”

Miranda’s mother joined her along the shore. She appeared to be early thirties, consistent with what Bobby had expected, but strikingly vivacious, which he had not.

She extended her hand towards him and smiled warmly.

“Sorry if Miranda has been talking you to death. She’s never met a stranger, and the excitement of being here—well, has put her over the edge.”

Bobby barely heard any of the words she spoke and continued to cling to her hand. She was younger than his mother, but reminded him so much of her; the bubbly reception and the quick unnecessary apology.

“Sorry about the handshake, it was very out of place. I really should be going now.”

Bobby gathered his backpack and as he started up the path he heard the pitter-patting of tiny steps behind him. He turned and knelt in order to come to her level.

“It was very good to meet you Miranda and I hope you catch lots of fish.”

The curls above her forehead wagged as she nodded and spoke again.

“Mom says her angel’s name was Katherine Miller. Kinda of a funny name for an angel ain’t it? She couldn’t use her heart no more, but it still had beats left in it, so she gave it to my Mommy as a gift. If you ever see the angel down by the pond, because all angels really like water, please thank her for saving my Mommy.”

9 comments:

punatik said...

Dan, what a wonderfully heart warming story ! This is just what the doctor ordered as the nights get a bit cooler and a little lonelier for me. A very uplifting piece.Thank You.

Dan said...

Puna, glad you found warmth in it, but I'll take cooler in Hawaii. We're dipping down in the high 30's for lows.

Shirley said...

Wow, Dan! This is a real tear jerker. You have a wonderful gift for transforming sadness and loss into something truly beautiful. Keep them coming!

Dan said...

Hey Shirley, although often the realization comes much later, I firmly believe good things can come from bad situations.

hfurness said...

You've made a great circling of a story - the stones, the heart, the names. I like this one a great deal. thanks- a fan

Jo said...

A story to pull the heart strings Dan. Very uplifting too at the end! Our weather here close to yours!

Jo Janoski said...

The other Jo is right! Geez, it's cold here in Pittsburgh...but I digress..I love the story. As I read, I can feel the cold gun barrel and see the little girl's curls and sparkling eyes. Good use of your descriptive powers. It seems like you wrote it with your heart in it.

paisley said...

very well written... goes to show... you just never know do you.....

Angel C. said...

Dan, I'm a little late reading this but I'm glad I scrolled down to it. You had me almost in tears! Awesome piece of work! Goes to show you God has strange ways of talking to us!