A Gynormous Nose and Giggling Yellow Fuzz
(2nd place EC placing - 5/8/08)
Warmed to exactly 90 degrees, the little chicks baked and toasted their backsides. Jason thought he heard something. He pressed his ear up close and heard tiny chirping but also something else.
Jason lifted his head. “I hear singing, Mrs. Hawkins.”
“You hear them chirping inside their eggs.”
When the front sides cooled, the little chicks twisted and turned their tiny bodies toward the heat. Jason once again pressed his ear to the small incubator.
“Stay on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,” squeally little voices sang from inside the eggs.
“Are you sure chicks don’t sing?” Jason asked.
“I am very sure, Jason,” Mrs. Hawkins said with a smile.
Eggbert peeked out a teeny tiny hole that he had managed to peck out with his sharp beak. “Hellloooo,” he chirped to anyone listening.
“Eggman, is that you?”
A muffled voice came from the fragile shell. “Mmmmm.”
“Eggsmeralda, watcha ya doin’?”
“Argh! Tuk, beak iz tuk.”
Eggbert, being the self-proclaimed big brother, was quick to offer suggestions. He said slowly, one word at a time, “Eggsmeralda, can you hear me?”
“Vat? Am bizzy now. Vedy bizzy. Iz tuk, beak iz tuk.”
“I know that silly. Use your legs to push onto the shell and pull your head back,” this was said with the utmost patience.
Eggsmeralda drew up her legs and pushed against the wall with all her might. “Mmmwwwaaa,” little sister blew a kiss to her dear brother! “You’re the best, Eggbert!”
Giggles erupted from an egg sitting alone in the corner. A little girl chick was cracking up inside.
Jason looked over at his teacher, shrugged his shoulders, and then pressed his nose back to the window.
Eggman yelled out a warning. “Everyone hold on. Here she goes again!” Eggylou erupted into giggles and her egg started to roll back and forth. She held her tummy with her newly formed wings and laughed.
She got to laughing so hard that her egg rolled into Eggbert. Eggbert, from the force of Eggylou’s bump, slammed into Eggsmeralda. Eggsmeralda slid into Eggman and then Eggman completed the journey by crashing back into the trouble-maker, Eggylou.
“What, Eggsmeralda?” she gulped between tiny chuckles.
“I feel all scrambled inside. You are silly.”
“Am not silly. Don’t you see that gynormous nose poked against our window? Every time I see that nose, it makes me want to giggle. I can’t help myself.”
“But Eggylou, you hurt me. Will you please be a good egg? Really, you should be hard boiled, that would keep you still.”
Eggbert squealed, “Ewwww, who did it?”
“Did what?” they asked together.
“Wasn’t me. It’s Eggman.”
“Sisters are the stinky ones,” said Eggman.
The girls piped up, in their high-pitched, girlie chirps. ”Girls are best ‘cause boys are pests!”
Eggbert whined, “Are not pests! Where’s Mom?”
“I don’t know where Mom is. I sure do miss her but towards the end, it was like we were walking on egg shells around her,” Eggman smiled.
“You are a funny guy. When Mom gets back I’m telling. I’m telling on all of you!”
“You’re a tattletale, Eggsmeralda. Go suck an egg.”
Eggsmeralda gasped. “You said a bad word,” she chirped loudly.
Jason called out to Mrs. Hawkins. “Are you sure these chicks can’t sing and talk?”
Mrs. Hawkins peeked into the window with Jason. She drew in her breath. “Why, the yolk’s on me. I do hear singing and talking.”
At that same time, Eggman used all his boy-strength to poke through his egg. The bright light made him blink. The big nose and eyes looking through the glass made him shudder. He pulled himself up and wiggled his little bottom to knock off the piece of shell.
“Hey guys,” Eggman peeped. “Hurry and come out! I sure do want to meet my brothers and sisters!”
Soon, all three made their way out of hiding and greeted Eggman with hugs and kisses.
Jason’s eyes grew big and he shouted for all to come see the hugging, kissing chickens!
Then Eggman pecked at Eggsmeralda and thumped her on the head. Eggbert’s clumsy feet tripped up Eggylou. Eggylou bumped into Eggman who thumped the wall and shook the incubator bumping Jason’s squished up nose.
All four chickies looked up and saw a big grinning face with that gigantic nose and fell into a giggling pile of yellow fuzz.
(FW EC - 9/9/09)I may be only ten, but I’m not stupid. Something was going on. Usually when I walk into church with mom and dad, I get real excited; like God’s waiting for me. That gives me goose chills. Today I have a different kind of chill.
I felt it on the way there, too. My brother did his five-year-old best to torment me but I was focused on the front seat. When it got quiet in back, Mom gave Dad one of ‘those’ looks and he clammed up. It was all so very mysterious. That’s my new spelling word. M-i-s, no, M-y-s, oh, never mind. Anyway, it is. Very. Mysterious.
Grandpa Joe met us at the door. He scares me. He pulls my hair when he thinks I’m too loud and he takes away my dessert; says I’m too fat. Mom gets mad but nobody can stand up to Grandpa. I’ve seen him do the same thing to adults. He had a stroke. Dad says he hasn’t been the same since. Don’t know if I should feel sorry for him or for the rest of the world.
More people came and huddled together like football teams do on T.V. Mom shooed us off to class. Noah went. I didn’t. No one noticed. I’m short and they were busy. When Pastor walked by – well, you should have seen their faces. Wow. I knew for sure something was up. Noah has the same look when he’s in trouble. Green gills from guilt. That’s Grandma’s saying.
They all scattered after that but by then I was so sick I had to run to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet. and held my stomach. It hurt awful. Not the normal kind of hurt either, like from when I eat too much. It was more a hurt like something bad’s gonna happen. I shouldn’t have been scared I’d miss something. Clues followed me through the door. I heard someone come in.
“What are you going to do?”
“I have to believe Joe. He’s been here forever. How well do we even know Pastor?”
It was Miss Katy and Miss Becky. I knew them since I was little. Liked them, too. They whispered. I kept real quiet so I could hear. I shouldn’t have worried. They were loud whisperers. No secrets kept around those two.
Katie said, “But Joe’s been known to lie, Beck.”
My stomach finally let loose. Ugh. I heard them gasp and then the door slammed shut. At least I knew I was right. Something was happening. I must’ve made it stink good in there. The door opened and then closed real fast a couple of times. It was a good thing. God started to talk to me in that bathroom.
Wow. I was excited. I never had God talk to me before. After He said all He had to say, I figured I had a job to do. I didn’t know how or when but I knew what to say. I looked at myself in the mirror and then I got scared. “Why me, God? No one will listen to a kid.”
The longer I stood the more brave I got. I left that stinking old bathroom humming, “Be bold, be strong.”
I stood in back. I saw heads together. People whispered. I could tell where the trouble-makers sat. Dad and Mom were right there in the middle of it all. Grandpa Joe sat at the edge of his seat, like he was ready to jump up and do something crazy.
I walked down the aisle while Pastor prayed. A long prayer. I think he was scared to stop. Don’t blame him. Just as soon as he said, “Amen,” Grandpa leapt to his feet. I beat him to the stage, though, and whispered in Pastor’s ear.
He handed me the microphone, “Jesus loves the little children and Jesus loves all of you. He doesn’t want you to fight. He wants you to praise and worship Him. That’s what God wanted me to say to you.”
Grandpa froze then I saw tears fall down his face. I held Pastor’s hand and walked him down the steps with me. I slipped my hand through Grandpa’s. People huddled again; this time for a good reason. I heard them pray as I squeezed myself between the bodies. I did my job, now it was up to them. I was out of there. After all, I had junior church and we were having jelly-filled donuts.
Just One More Sunday
(FW EC - 10/30/07)“Kristin, you’re crying.”
“I can’t do it anymore, Pat. Maybe this should be my last week to teach.”
“I know it’s hard. You have one of the toughest classes, what with Jordan and his Autism. That alone would make me pull out my hair. Pray about it, okay?”
“Yeah, I will. Listen, the kids will be coming soon. I’ll talk to you later.”
Kristin sat at the table in a second-grade size chair with her head in her hands.
“Lord, I’m frustrated. I don’t know what to do. Help me get through to these kids. Give me strength for just one more Sunday.” Children’s voices drifted in from the hallway and interrupted Kristin’s desperate prayer. She quickly finished up, “Lord, help me! Amen.”
“G’morning, Miss Kristin.”
Kristin gave Billy a high-five like she did each Sunday with the boys.
“Hi, Miss Kristin.”
“Mith Krithtin?” A little girl with horn-rimmed glasses and a lisp tugged at Kristin’s dress. Kristin gave her a hug, like she did each Sunday with the girls.
“Jordan hit me in Childrenth Church.”
Jordan’s mother walked him to the door. Hearing the conversation, she quickly turned away. Kristin knew she was embarrassed by her son’s behavior but at a loss as to what to do.
“Good morning, Jordan.” The young boy shrugged away, not liking to be touched.
“Jordan, did you hit Rylie this morning?”
“Tell her you’re sorry.”
“Sorry,” Jordan said in a booming, monotone bass voice as he looked down at his double-knotted tennis shoes.
“Sit down, please.” There was a mad scramble for their favorite seats. “Jordan, you sit beside me. Billy, please leave Faith alone. Faith, you can’t poke Billy just because he’s looking at you funny. Let’s pray together. Bow your heads and close your eyes.”
Kristin kept her eyes open as she prayed, “Jesus, thank You for all the kids that came to Sunday School. Thank You for Jordan, Billy, Tyler, Rylie and Faith. Please help us listen to the lesson and learn something about You.” Unable to sit quietly for one more second, the classroom erupted with noise at Kristin’s, “Amen.”
“Today we’re going to learn how much Jesus loves us. Let’s look up John 3:16 together. First find John. It’s in the New Testament. Remember the first four books? Let’s say them together. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.”
The class echoed back the books as they searched for the right page.
“I found it, Miss Kristin.”
“Good job, Tyler.”
Now we have to find the right chapter, look for the big number 3.” Kristin walked around helping each child. “Find the little number 16.” After a good five minutes, everyone had the right place marked in their Bibles except Jordan, who sat with crayons and paper.
“Billy, will you please read this verse?”
“For God so loved the w-w-orld that He gave His One and only Son, that w’ever b’lieves in Him shall not perash…” Kristin helped him sound out the rest of the verse.
“You did a great job reading, Billy! Thank you.”
“Mith Krithin, Jordan wrote on my Bible!”
Kristin took away Jordan’s crayons and tried to engage him in the lesson. “Jordan, God loved us so very much that He sent Jesus to die for us.”
Tyler raised his hand.
“Tyler, do you have something to share?”
“Yep, my uncle died in Iraq.”
“I know, Buddy. I miss him, too.”
Faith began to cry. Billy stepped on Jordan’s toes. Jordan pulled Billy’s hair. The little bit of atmosphere conducive to learning disappeared and all that was left was a frazzled, beat-up teacher. At the buzzer, Kristin passed out papers as she said goodbye to each child.
While cleaning up the room, Kristin heard sniffling. Jordan’s mom stood in the doorway in tears. She reached out for Kristin and hugged her close.
“Thank you for having Jordan in your class. Do you know how many others refuse to teach him? When I picked him up today he looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Jesus loves you.’ That’s the first sentence he’s spoken in months.”
After she left, Pat peeked around the corner. “Well?”
Kristin smiled at her and picked up her lesson book for next week. “I guess I can teach just one more Sunday.”
The two walked out together as Kristin shared her experiences of the morning with laughter and a few tears. She was excited to be used by God as part of the Sunday School ministry team.
(FW EC 1/10/08)
“Jessie, whatcha got there?”
“Sumpin’s in your hand.”
“Mama said it’s a quarter.”
“One quarter? Lookie what I got!”
With mischievously gleaming eyes, my big brother Luke held out two closed fists. My eyes widened in disbelief as he opened them with a flourish. There they were: two, not one but TWO bright shiny copper pennies. The sun came in just then and hit those pennies just right, making them glow, which caused my heart to beat in a strange double-time fashion. I felt an odd sort of longing fill me from the outside in. I had to have those pennies.
“Lukie, you want my quarter?”
“Nah, Pops gave me these and told me to NEVER give them away.”
“Yep, that’s what he said – never.”
“Okay,” I mumbled with tears filling my eyes. I started to walk away in defeat, head low to the ground, despising my one, lonely quarter held in my hot, sticky hand.
“Don’t cry Jessie.” Luke put his arm around me and brushed away my tears with his sleeve. “Ya know what? I’ll trade you my two shiny pennies for your one old sticky quarter.”
“Really? What ‘bout Pops? Won’t he be mad?”
“Nah, I guess not. As long as you take care of ‘em. He wouldn’t want me to make you cry or nuffin’.”
The deal was sealed. I handed over my quarter and he, in turn, surrendered his pennies to me. Luke ran off giggling. That alone should have made me get a sick feeling in my gut but no, the sick feeling came when Mama gave me a sucker and I had no hands to hold it.
Later that night, as I was getting ready to take off my play dress, I remembered my pennies and the wonderful trade I had made. When Mama gave me the sucker I put my two shiny pennies in my pocket. My heart once again skipped and scampered in my chest as I remembered how my big brother Luke had traded me just because I shed a few tears. I was thinking that was a good trick to remember.
I eagerly scooped my hand into my pocket to retrieve my treasure. Once again big tears formed in my eyes and soon flowed down my cheeks. After the tears started flowing the wailing began, which brought Mama and Pops and Luke running into my room.
Pops scooped me up off my feet and held me close. “Jess, honey, what’s wrong?” Pops always called me Jess, honey.
Luke watched in amazement as a big snot bubble formed from my runny nose. Mama watched this in horror. Pops did what Pops does best – he popped it of course, trying to make me laugh.
Mama took her handkerchief and dried my eyes and wiped the popped snot bubble from my nose and face. “Jessie, girl,” (Mama always called me Jessie, girl,) “why are you crying, honey?”
I sniffed up extra snot in my nose and swallowed which gave me a sick feeling as it slithered down my throat and into my stomach. There, safe in the arms of Pops, I shared my woes. “I losted my pennies!” That’s as much as I got out before the tears began to flow once again.
Mama wiped my eyes and nose and asked me the question to end all questions. “Jessie, girl, you didn’t have any pennies, remember; I gave you a quarter.”
“But,” I started in between the sniffs and cries, “Lukie traded me my quarter for his two pretty pennies.”
Pops and Mama gave Luke “The Look” to end all looks. Luke hunkered down, eyes on the floor, guilt plastered on his face.
“Jess, honey, where were the pennies?”
“In,” sniff, “my,” snot bubble, “pocket.” Pops stuck his hand into my pocket and found a big hole where the pennies should have rested.
Mama and Pops once again looked at Luke and Luke, if possible, was even lower to the ground, looking even more guilty. He put his hand into his pocket and pulled out my two shiny pennies.
“I found them. I was gonna give ‘em back. Really I was”
That day, not only did I find out that tears solves a multitude of problems when it comes to boys, I also found out that one quarter is worth more than two pennies.
You know what Luke found out? Teasing his little sister causes a sore behind and makes you lose the two cents you started with.
Unfurled(FW EC - 10/16/08)
Patty stood at the kitchen sink. She looked out the window as she’d done a dozen days before this and a dozen years before that. She saw a backyard full of children, ranging in sizes and ages. A couple worked on a snowman. A few more threw snowballs at one another. Children ran around and around, stopping once in a while to giggle and make faces. One little boy sat alone, curled up into a tight little ball. This is the one that she sought out. This is the one that captured her attention.
“Caleb, Honey, come here please,” Patty called out the door. She watched as he reluctantly unfurled himself and trudged through the yard. The others paid no attention as he walked right into the middle of their games. It was as though he were invisible. A nothing. A nobody.
The boy met the older woman at the door. “Caleb, you are going to help me cook.” Patty took off his stocking cap. She licked her finger and wiped a smudge off his pudgy cheek. “Take off your coat and wash your hands.”
Patty watched the boy do as she bid. She remembered when he was brought to their door, only a little bitty thing. It was three years to the day. Patty wondered if that fact lay dormant in his young mind or if he were aware of it. Ever since he was dropped off by the social worker, no one could get him to utter a sound.
Sealed court documents and a little boy that refused to talk kept everyone in the dark as to what was going on in his mind. Try as she might, Caleb held her off, although, out of all the workers, Patty was the one that he seemed to favor the most.
“Hands washed? Let me see?” Patty gave him a once over. She checked both the front and the back of his hands. She even checked his ears and tickled the back of his neck. He squirmed and smiled. Caleb craved that close personal contact that Patty lavished on him, yet he held it off at the same time.
“Every Christmas Eve we have something really special. You know what that is, right?” Caleb’s eyes twinkled but his mouth refused to make a noise.
Patty lifted up a big ball of dough and separated it into two pieces and laid it on the counter. “Homemade noodles. I’m famous for them, you know. And every year for the past three years you’ve sat in that very spot and watched me. Today, young man, I am going to let you make them with me. Think you are up to that task?”
Patty began to roll out her ball of dough adding a bit of flour once in a while. “It’s a secret. Only you and I know, right?”
Caleb nodded his head as he watched Patty’s hands move back and forth with the pin across the dough. He then picked up a smaller rolling pin and his own dough ball. He grabbed hold of the handles and put his whole body into the task.
When the dough was thin enough, Patty began to roll it up length-wise. Caleb did the same. When finished, they took a knife and cut the rolls into thin pieces. Patty smiled as she watched Caleb work. His tongue stuck out just a bit and to the side as he concentrated on this task.
The pair picked up a sliced piece of dough and held it high in the air. “Okay, 1… 2.” At three they both let go of one end of the roll and the noodle fell to the counter into one long thin strip. Caleb giggled. The sound surprised them both but Patty pretended that nothing was amiss.
Both absorbed in their own thoughts, the boy and woman finished the rest of the strips and then laid them out to dry. Patty would place them into bubbling broth much later. They surveyed their work and were pleased at what they had accomplished.
The silence was shattered by Caleb, “Mmmiss Patty?”
Patty took a wet rag and wiped Caleb’s hands clean of the sticky dough. “Yes, dear?”
Caleb’s deep blue eyes dripped salty tears. He opened his mouth. Nothing came out. His head fell to his chest.
Patty’s heart jumped and she felt such deep pangs. She gathered him into her arms and held him close.
Caleb tried again. “I… I love you,” he whispered.
(FW EC - 10/29/08)
“Nat, don’t wake us up until seven, okay? That’s the earliest,” her mom warned as she tucked her into bed.
Natalie looked at her funny.
Her mom repeated, “I mean it. Not 5:30. Not 6:00. Seven o’clock. Got it?”
“Okay, Mommy,” she said after a big sigh. “Love you.”
“Love you, too. Christmas will be here before you know it. It’s just a dream away.”
A dream away. That’s what Natalie thought about as she drifted off to sleep. She dreamt of presents piled high under the tree. She dreamt of Barbie dolls and Easy Bake Ovens. She dreamt of singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus as she shared a big piece of cake with Him. Before she knew it, a little sun had peeked in through her window. It was morning. She shot straight up and checked the clock.
Too early. It was too early. Natalie lay back down. She fiddled with her blankie until it was in several knots. She sat up and flopped back down. She thought about what it would be like to have a brother or sister to wait with. Surely that would be much more fun.
Natalie sat at the edge of her bed. Her bare feet hung down, almost touching her fuzzy pink bunny slippers. She eyed the alarm clock with disdain as she thought about the conversation with her mom just the night before.
She knew she would be in trouble if she went even a minute before seven o’clock but waiting was so very hard for a five-year-old.
She got up from her bed and peeked out the window. Her footed PJ’s kept her warm as she watched soft white snow flakes fall from the sky. The first snow of the season is a perfect Christmas present straight from God to her and every other child in the city. She pressed her nose to the cool window. This made her shiver.
She scooted back into bed and got under the covers. She eyed the clock again. It was not much later than all the other times she looked. She sighed. She twirled her hair. She unknotted her blanket.
Natalie began the Christmas countdown the beginning of December. It seemed to go so slow she could hardly stand it. But this – this was so much worse. This countdown to seven was a killer.
She sat up and took a good long look at the clock again. Surely it must be time… but no, only another minute had passed. Wrapped up in her blanket, she closed her eyes and started talking to Jesus.
“Happy birthday, Jesus. I’m excited it’s finally here. Mommy won’t let me wake her up yet. Jesus? I need to ask You something. Is it the same if I get up but don’t wake my parents?” Natalie sat quietly. She listened to see if Jesus happened to answer her.
She lay back down. She sat up. She looked again. Frowned…lay back down…got back up. This time she went to the door and opened it just a bit. She listened. All she could hear were snores coming from her Daddy. She turned around and looked at the clock again and gave it a cross-eyed stare. She looked up, as if giving Jesus a last chance to chime in with His answer. Hearing none, she opened the door wider and slipped out.
The hallway was darker than she expected. She wasn’t used to being up this early by herself. She tip-toed past her parent’s room; listened, and then crept on by. She set her mind on her goal… the Christmas tree. She stood in wide-eyed wonder as she looked at the decorated room. A pink bike sat in the corner. She ran over to it and felt the smooth seat. She itched to ring the bell but didn’t.
The old cuckoo clock started to chirp and scared her spit less. She stopped in her tracks and counted. One… two… three… four… five… six… seven… Seven. It was seven o’clock! She ran back down the hallway and rushed into her parent’s room without even bothering to knock.
“Mommy! Daddy! It’s seven o’clock. She jumped onto the bed and made a big splash, and almost spilled her Daddy out of the water bed.
“Merry Christmas, Nat,” her daddy croaked with his deep morning voice.
“Oh Daddy. I’ve been up forever. I didn’t think it would ever get to be seven. I’ve been up since 6-5-0.”
“6-5-0 huh? That is a long time. Merry Christmas, NatNat.”
Bound and Determined
(FW EC - 3/4/09)
Little girl screams woke Cong from a deep sleep. “Zhen!” He jumped up and ran into the dimly-lit room. Cong found his sister tied to a chair passed out from pain, her toes on one foot broken and now being bound. “Aunt, leave her be. Mother and Father did not want this for her.”
“You will go back to your room, Cong. You are too young to understand such things,” his uncle ordered.
Cong flung back the words, “I am old enough to know foot-binding is outlawed in our land. You will let her go.”
Aunt mocked him, “Funny little boy, go dream your boyish dreams.”
Cong ran from the room and leaned against the rocky ledge of his uncle's house. Tears made muddy tracks down his cheeks. His heart beat fast but his mind was thinking even faster. “Jesus, help me,” he cried out.
Cong heard a voice and turned around to see who spoke.
The voice spoke again, “Ai-weh-deh.”
Cong repeated back the name and then knew what he was to do. The missionary woman who told him and his family about the man named Jesus, Ai-weh-deh, she would know what to do.
Determined to get help, Cong ran barefoot across the cobbled road. When he whispered her name, a flood of memories washed over him. Ai-weh-deh baptized him and his whole family. Shivers went up and down his spine and he wiped away tears again.
An illness swept through the village and Cong and Zhen’s parents went to be with Jesus in Heaven. And now Cong was all his little sister had left, all who truly cared about her anyway. He knew the power of God in him would make him strong enough to always take care of Zhen, but a little fear still niggled at his heart. As he ran, memories flew at him much like wind in his face.
He remembered walking hand-in-hand with Zhen while their uncle’s servant poked and prodded them along. Cong bent his head in prayer. They were being moved far from the home they knew to an uncle who did not believe in Jesus.
Cong stopped to catch his breath. He fingered the homemade cross his father had made for him. He knew the missionary woman was right about Jesus. Cong could feel His Spirit in him that very minute and was encouraged. All this time Cong had to keep his new faith hidden in his heart just like he kept the miniature cross hidden in the deep recesses of his pocket. His uncle would beat him if he found out, but now, with Zhen’s screams still being replayed in his mind – he threw caution to the wind and continued to run to the only person who could help, the woman whose name Jesus whispered in his ear.
He balled up his fist as he thought of Wei. Their older cousin looked at Zhen with lusty teenage eyes. Wei whined to Aunt each time Cong attempted to keep him away from the girl. It was his aunt’s wish that Zhen be betrothed to him, for Zhen lived up to her name, Treasure. She had both inner and outer beauty that all appreciated, especially Wei.
Cong, also lived up to the meaning of his name, intelligent and clever. He made good time to Ai-weh-deh’s inn. This woman who ministered to his family was now the official foot inspector of the land. Her name was Gladys Alyward, a small woman who cared for these people of China. This Cong knew and felt no fear as he beat on the door.
Ai-weh-deh listened to Cong retell his story. She too grew angry and they set off quickly to save little Zhen.
Guards beat on the uncle’s door. “You must let us in on orders from the Mandarin.”
Ai-weh-deh followed Cong into the house. She sat on the floor and while the Uncle and Aunt watched, unwound the wraps that bound the tiny feet. She explained to Zhen that her feet would now have the opportunity to grow as big as God had intended.
Weeks later, Cong stood in the meadow and watched Zhen. She stopped to look at him. Cong smiled and waved. Satisfied all was well, she went back to her game of Eagles and Chicks she played with the other children that Ai-weh-deh had adopted as her own. They were free to learn more about Jesus without fear of beatings and Cong wore his beloved cross proudly around his neck.
This is a fictional story based on the missionary woman, Gladys Alyward.
Tears Go Away
(FW EC - 10/29/09)
If I put my head down, maybe she won’t see me.
I feel her come near me anyway. Mrs. Roberts leans down and puts her head close to mine. I breathe in deep. She smells good.
Tears go away. Tears go away.
Teacher whispers in my ear, “Cassidy, it’s time to color.”
Let the other kids color on their big white papers.
She moves the hair away from my face.
Oh, that feels good.
Her hands are soft but I shrug away.
“Is there something wrong?” Mrs. Reynolds asks me.
I can’t talk to you. I want to but I can’t.
I lift up my head and wipe the snot from my nose. Teacher takes a tissue from her pocket and wipes away my tears.
While the rest of the class leaves for lunch and recess, Mrs. Roberts sits beside me on one of our first grade chairs. I almost giggle cuz her bottom poofs out from both sides. She puts a sheet of drawing paper on the table in front of me.
She asks me, “Why are you sad?”
I ignore her question and search for a crayon in my plastic box. I pull out a black one and scribble on the page.
Black is for bad girls and I’m bad.
“Why don’t you use another color?”
I pick out another crayon just to make her happy. Blue is my favorite. I draw a picture of me, the way I was a long time ago. Pretty.
“Is that you?”
I nod and then pick up the black crayon again.
I’m scared. Please don’t let him hurt me again.
I color on it so heavy the paper rips.
He hurt me. I hate him.
Mrs. Roberts scoops me into a grandma hug. I feel safe. I know nothing bad will happen to me with her here. She carries me to a chair in the story corner. I feel like a baby but I don’t care. I like her touches.
“You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.”
I want to but I can’t.
She rocks me softly, back and forth, back and forth.
“I’m bad.” I didn’t mean to think out loud.
“Why do you say that?”
I can’t tell you. He’ll hurt me.
“You’re a sweet girl, not bad.”
He told me to pull down my panties.
I wish I could tell Mrs. Roberts but I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone. I bury my face in her big, squishy chest.
Teacher rocks me some more.
He pulled his down, too. It was gross.
“You don’t have to tell me. We’ll just sit here quietly.”
She starts to hum and I burrow into her plump lap and I feel myself falling asleep.
I jump cuz it’s not Teacher’s voice. I open my eyes and see a man instead. I know him from a picture that hangs in my Sunday school class. I’m pretty sure it’s Jesus.
“Yes, it’s me.”
He answers me and I didn’t even talk.
“I love you. You aren’t bad. I made you perfect. Little girls are pure white.”
“He told me I’m a sinner. My heart’s black.”
“No, Child. He sinned. He has the black heart.” Jesus takes my hand and puts it on my chest and says, “Your heart is snow white.” He looks me in the eyes and I know He’s telling me the truth.
“I want you to do something for me. You have to tell Mrs. Roberts what happened. That man won’t hurt you. I won’t let him. Okay?”
I shiver and He put his arms around me. “He said he would tell Mommy that it was my fault.”
“She won’t believe that for one second. Trust me?”
I feel all warm inside, and safe. “Okay, Jesus.”
He kisses me on the cheek. “I’m always with you, Cassi.”
“Cassidy, did you fall asleep?”
I open my eyes and my teacher’s holding me again. “Mrs. Reynolds?”
She hugs me close and says, “Yes?
“I need to tell you something.”
I feel shy so I cover my face. It was easy to talk to Jesus but Mrs. Reynolds is different. What if she thinks I really am bad? But Jesus told me to trust him… so I do.
“He did something bad to me,” I whisper. I don’t know what else to say.
“Is this person a friend?”
I’m not afraid anymore. I sit up straight and look into her eyes. “No, he’s my grandpa.”