A man tormented by a broken relationship gets special divine intervention.
| 2,601 words; prompt 1
Charles’ head reeled to the side as the swift, stinging backhand clasped his cheek. The pain surged through his feelings like lighting. The young woman left his heart emaciated and singed as the back her beautiful head of glossy, dark hair spun around. Charles watched Sandra, his first and only love, stride away. Her shoes clicked on the grey sidewalk that ran through Olive Park. He looked at the sidewalk that reflected his empty feelings of destitution; gray, cold and hard. What was it that drove them apart? The cause seemed to proceed gradually with canceled dates due to work, unreturned phone calls, and weakened conversation. It was simple; they had just drifted apart. As hurt as he was, he still felt a minute, dwindling flame. What should he do with this fleeting sentiment? Was there a chance that Sandra would have him back?
Charles sought to distract himself from the sour situation if only for a few hours. He drove to a theater and paid to see the latest sci-fi thriller, X-Man Apocalypse. He gorged himself on candy, popcorn and bought a thirty-two ounce of coke. The movie was filled with huge robots, ray guns, exploding buildings, and a captivating premise. Charles was enjoying the action until a love scene with two of the heroes. The moment seemed to mock his emotions with the character’s happiness expressed through a long passionate kiss and deep stares in both their eyes. He turned way until the vile sight passed. Even when it did, the pain lingered. Hope and despair clashed within him. Would this confusion ever pass?
Charles sought to be comforted. So, he went to his mother Catherine who always shined light on challenging situations. It was approaching evening when drove his blue BMW through heavy traffic. On his right was a grey pine tree on a grassy spot that dotted a sidewalk. Fluffy tiny brown birds chirped as they hopped from branch to branch. Charles saw a small white-grey egg next to the roots reaching into the ground. Vulnerable and forgotten in the setting sun, it laid there. Charles looked away. It was like nature was ridiculing his pain.
After twenty minutes, he finally made it to his mother’s house. The supple, pungent aroma of sunflowers mixed with a gentle, calming smell of roses came from a garden beside the door. He knocked and a charming woman with a bright smile and fair skin emerged.
“Charles, how are you?” she said as she embraced her son. He could feel the smooth, cool feel of her silk dress and was comforted by the touch of her arms. “Come on in.”
Charles knew his mom to be strong yet sensitive to others feelings. She was not easily offended and could take any emotion that was entrusted to her. Charles would be blunt. They sat on a white, overstuffed couch that made a swooshing sound as Charles sunk into. It was like sitting on fresh fallen leaves.
“Mom, Sandra left me.”
She tilted her head and was silent for a moment. “Son, do you love Sandra?”
“I…believe I do.”
“And do you think she loves you?“
“Yes, but when I reflect on it, all I sense are painful feelings and emotions. I see her bitter face and it hurts me.”
“Why do you think that is?”
Charles looked down and could not give a simple answer.
Catherine got up and went to the kitchen. ”I’ll be right back.”
She returned with a piece of cherry pie and a fork. The sweet, cheerful smell teased his pallet as the steam curled upwards like tiny spirits. He looked at the deep red cherries through the patchwork of bread that was covered in thick natural syrup. She placed it on a table before him.
Charles took a bite and was calmed. He took a deep breath then returned to the question. “I believe she does, there is just so much doubt.”
“Where do you think that doubt comes from?”
Charles took another bite. He was about to speak then he stopped and put his fist to his chin. For a few moments there was only the pleasant melodious singing of birds and the soothing sounds of the wind ruffling the tree leaves. His mind drifted as he looked to the open window at a young oak tree. He was carried into nostalgia as he thought of him and his dad planting it when he was seven. Then a tinge of sadness came as he remembered the car crash. It was the first time he had had felt true sorrow.
“I miss dad.”
“So do I, but remember the intense sorrow was a passing thing. You know he’s in a better place. Don’t let temporary pain rule your life.”
“I feel the pain so strong in my heart. But I still have feelings for her.”
Charles put his palm on his forehead and sobbed. “I…just don’t know how…she left me.” He sniffled. “Does she still love me? I sense like she might.”
“Do you see how you are verging on the answer of yes? There is nothing like half love.”
He looked up and veered his eyes in thought. “I think she does love me. It’s deeper than feeling. I know she does. But if that is the truth why is there so much negative emotion in my heart?”
“Sometimes the heart plays tricks. You can’t always rely on it. The Bible says The heart is above all a deceiver and desperately wicked. Feelings come and go but true love conquers all.”
“Just like the saying goes.”
Catherine shook her head and took his hand, squeezed it then she scooted closer. The warmth of her touch and the tone of her tender voice made a space for whatever she was about to say “No. The world’s idea of love is feeling and thought. True love strives through anything much like your pain but your faith that your love is real, that is true.”
Charles chuckled and took a relaxing breath. He wiped his tears. “I still feel strong doubt that she will take me back. But I have to look past it and hold on to faith.”
“Exactly!” Catherine said as she clapped her hands and hugged he son. It was like embracing her when he was still a child as he felt a sense of peace and closure.
“I’m doing it. I will come to Sandra with my heart wide open for her to see. I still feel a little scared, but I will bear it.”
“Don’t forget to ask God for help. It is the best you can get. I’ll keep you in prayer.”
Charles rose and took a deep breath then smiled. Catharine stood and went to the kitchen. She returned with the rest of the whole pie holding it with two thick stove mittens that had shiny, yellow cherub designs on them. “You’ll find a plastic grocery bag in the closet.”
“I know mom. I remember how you reused bags to save money. You’ve always been a penny pincher.”
“But not so much as to withhold good things for my one and only son,” she said slugging him in the arm. Both laughed and Charles left with slightly skeptical resolve but a powerful positivity as well a hot pie that he carried with him. When he got to his car, he felt the warm sun as it moved out from behind a towering anvil shaped cloud. It was followed by a cool breeze that lifted the pollen of the playful sunflowers into the air. It tickled his nose as he glanced at the small sunflower patch. He got into his car and drove off.
He got to a crosswalk and stopped to let a small bunch of pedestrians go ahead of him as they stood on a sidewalk. A driver began to honk his horn ceaselessly behind Charles. “Come on, just forget them and go already you idiot!” the driver cried.
“How impatient,” Charles mused calmly. “There are too many angry people out in the world.”
The man behind Charles continued to antagonize him. Charles simply shook his head. “Hmm…so sad indeed.”
When the people had crossed and Charles had moved on, the driver passed him up. “Jerk!” said the driver.
Charles ignored the man and continued driving home. Thoughts were spinning in his head and it tired him. He decided that once he got home he would sleep on all that had gone on at his mom’s house. When he had arrived, Charles threw a pizza in the oven and when he had eaten, he went to bed. When he was asleep, he suddenly found himself in a bright place confronted by a being in a white robed with golden stork’s wings on his back. Charles was startled and he fell to his knees then covered his eyes. Next, a gentle hand took his own and helped him up. It was the being who drew Charles to his feet. He looked at the magnificent eyes of the creature that glowed emerald green.
“Are you an angel?”
“Indeed. This is the angelic city of Nethaal. My name is Cromios.”
The angel’s voice was like a whisper in the wind and child-like.
“Why am I here?”
“I’m here to show you the forces that are at work in your struggle to be joined with Sandra. Come with me.”
Cromios led Charles to an arched bridge with a ball of light at the middle. On one end was Charles and on the other was Sandra.
“That is me! And Sandra! What is happening?”
“This is the spiritual reflection of the physical world. The sphere of light is the true love you have.”
The scene unfolded as both of the humans on the bridge came closer to touch the sphere. Then two horrifying, ominous figures that burned with black flames stood to in front of the two soulmates seeking to be together.
“What are those dark figures?”
“Earth Spirits, our ancient foes. The beings seek only to cause destruction and suffering. They know that your love is true and desire to separate you two.”
“How am I supposed to get past these…spirits?”
“Only faith in your true love can vanquish them. When you wake from this night vision and return to your world, they will put obstacles in your path. No matter what happens, you must hold on to faith. Remember what I have told you.”
Immediately Charles opened his eyes and he was looking at his bedroom ceiling. He recalled everything, but wondered if it was a dream. Did he really have a vision? Did he actually see an angel? Was what he saw true? He ran his hand through his hair and stretched. He sat up on his bed and put his hand fist on his chin wondering. The doorbell rang. He put slippers on and shuffled to the door and opened it. A slim young man stood in a blue shirt and khakis with a cordial smile. The name Alex was on his shirt.
“Just sign this for me.”
The mailman gave Charles a small box with no return address.
“Have a good day sir.” The young man waved and walked away to his van.
Charles ripped off the brown wrapping paper and opened a white box to reveal a simple card with From Sandra on it! His heart soared with vibrancy and he smiled as tears of joy ran down his face. He fell backwards on his white leather couch holding the card to his chest. He opened the card to read what was inside. Then it was as though his soul had thrown itself onto a bed of spikes. He cried again but from anguish. Charles looked at the writing again. I think it is best if we officially ended our relationship. I’m sorry Charles. Too many things have changed. I hope you find another.
So this was the final culmination of whole ordeal; flat out rejection. “So thanks for nothing angel! You told me to have faith and this happens! Eh, it was only a dream anyway.”
Then something inside him seemed to worm its way to his forefront. It was a strange, poignant pervasiveness. “Faith. He said to have faith.” Charles stood up, wiped his face, and went to his car out in front of his house. He felt the need to drive and could not explain it. Charles did not know where he was going. Several minutes later he spotted Sandra having Starbucks with a man. Why did Charles persist in pursuing her? A rejection note and Sandra having coffee with another man! All the signs were there. But he had to continue for some reason. Faith, have faith he thought. Charles decided to talk with her when she and the man were done. For thirty minutes he waited until the two were done. As she walked to her car, Charles approached her.
Her lips trembled and she teared up. “Why are you here?”
“Save it! Don’t try to spare my feelings!”
“Can’t we just talk this over?” asked Charles.
“It will not change anything,” Sandra said.
“Just hear me out.”
She folded her arms and lifted her eyebrows in sadness. “Spit it out!”
“Despite all the pain, I have searched my soul and I see you there,” asked Charles.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Look into your heart and tell am what you truly feel.”
“Why are you doing this? You’ve made it clear how you feel,” said Sandra.
“Do you love me?”
She looked down and the spoke softly. “I believe I do.”
“That is all that matters. Forget the past and its feelings.”
“I’ll take you back if you will take me back,” Sandra’s eyes flickered and she blinked.
“I’d like nothing more.”
Sandra clung to him. ”If this is how you felt, why did you sent that rejection note,” Sandra said to Charles.
He frowned and contorted his face. “I never sent any note. You’re the one who did.”
“No I didn’t,“ answered Sandra. “I still have your note at home.”
“But only my mother knows about us.”
“Obstacles…Earth Spirits,” mused Charles. “Cromios said they would put up obstacles. Could we take a trip to the Post Office?”
“I want to see who gave me the note that I thought was from you.”
“They took Charles car and arrived at the Post Office. He got out and made his way inside and asked for the postmaster.
“He’s over there,” said a pudgy bald man pointing to person in a corner.
Charles went to the man, “Excuse me, but do you have an employee named Alex? He came to my house around three-thirty. My address is 5231 Norman drive.
The postmaster went to a computer and punched in a few keys. “Nope there were no deliveries made to that location or that time. And no one named Alex works here.”
“Sir I got a delivery too that I would like to be verified. “ I live on 6193 Hillcrest road. I got a box at about the same time. The carrier’s name was Susan.”
The man hit a few keys and looked up shaking his head. “Nope, same situation.”
“A prank?” Sandra put forth.
“I think somebody else knew about us, someone who lives in the shadows, someone evil.”
“You’re scaring me.”
“Never mind, we’re together now and that is all that matters.”
The two held hands and walked off. Charles looked up into the sky. “Thanks God and you too Cromios.”