If?!?!?

The words came out before he could stop them. As a father, he’d always taught his children that honesty was the best policy, but here? Now? Was it really a smart move?

But he guessed it was just one more disaster in a day of disasters. Or a lifetime of disasters for that matter. As he fruitlessly wished he could grab the words and stuff them back into his mouth, he had a split second where years of memories flashed inside his mind. Everything used to be normal; they used to be happy. He was married to the girl of his dreams, and not long after, they had a son. He remembered those first days when the only way to describe his life was, well, perfect. He was a simple man, with simple tastes, and he had all he ever wanted. Then the attacks started.

They tried not to worry at first, but when their little boy was three strange things started happening. He would be fine one minute, they thrashing around on the floor the next. And then it got worse. More than once he had to dive into the river to save his son from drowning. More than once he’d had to smother him in blankets because he rolled into the fire. And so it went.

The worst part wasn’t the disruption to life. He could understand why few people in town wanted to do business with him. After all, he was the father with the son who was cursed by God. Who would want to be around that? It wasn’t the whispered conversations when he walked down the street. It wasn’t their family’s tarnished reputation. No, the worst part was the moments when he cradled his son’s head to his chest and felt the hot tears after the other boys had thrown rocks at the freak and chased him home. That was the worst.

And then there were the ropes. He remembered them, too, a staple part of their family’s nightly routine. Every night he would kiss his son on the forehead, pull his blankets close up under his chin, and tell him how much he loved him. Then he would take the ropes that laid under the bed and tie the boy down. It was a precautionary measure, but more than once he had almost lost his son because he had been sleeping so soundly he hadn’t noticed his son was up and moving toward the fire, out of his right mind.

That’s what brought him to the base of the mountain, a flood of experiences and tears and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of hope. Not much; just a little. He had, after all, been to “faith-healers” before. And he had been disappointed. And each one of those experiences had chipped away at his hope and his resolve. But maybe, just maybe, this time would be different.

He had heard, after all, that this one was different. But when he got to the base of the mountain that day, he wasn’t there. But His followers were, and they said they could help. But then it went wrong, just like everything else. 

See, they weren’t alone. There were some others, some of the religious leaders, standing at a distance. And pretty soon, an argument erupted. The followers and the leaders started arguing. And they were in the middle of it all – him and his son. His boy looked up at him, confused, and he didn’t have any answers for him. They pushed their way through the crowd and started to walk away, back to their lives or what they called their lives.

Then a voice silenced the crowd…

(to be continued…)

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