An alarm sounded in the distance. I paid it no mind. Instead, I focused on the peculiar man sitting on the park bench. He looked like quiet—the epitome of it. When he breathed, the slight rise and fall of his shoulders did not compromise his placid composure. His hair, although sprawled across the top of his head, lay inert; not one strand agitated by the breeze just then passing through. His hands lay dormant across his lap and his legs rested, tucked and quiescent beneath the bench. Needless to say, he captivated me. No, Barnaby, don’t stop. Just walk on by. I ignored my thoughts and surrendered to my inquisitive mind.
Immediately, I sensed the alarm meant nothing to him either. His eyes told me. They stared directly ahead at nothing important, at least by my standards; only a brick wall in desperate need of a wash. But, the staring did not fascinate me, it was those hooded eyes. They did not blink, they only gazed forward and they did something else. They drew me.
I found myself sliding my feet intermittently towards that bench, only hesitating when I feared the man might look up and glance in my direction. Normally, I would be enthralled with the crisp scent of pine and the rustling of the leaves when I walked through this particular park, but not today. I slid closer.
When I was but a few paces away, I stopped. As I stood gawking at this intriguing person, a queer stirring toiled inside my stomach and it compelled me to sit next to him. My heart beat frantically as I pondered on what to say to this stranger staring straight ahead. I couldn’t compliment his clothing as they were of no high fashionable standard, only a grey overcoat, buttoned to the neck, and a worn pair of trousers. Of course, the mentioning of
How preposterous! I scolded myself for allowing my thoughts to get the better of me. This person absolutely beguiled me; there was no denying it. I had to sit, no matter how unshackled my imagination.
Before I knew it, I found myself plopping next to this man who looked like quiet. I sat unusually close; not close enough to invade his space, only close enough to maybe cause him to glance my way and perhaps question my motives. Whatever he would do, it would be enough to quench my overwhelming desire to garner an acknowledgment from this man who stared straight ahead.
I drew in a quick breath as I felt the blood simmering inside my veins. The gradual warming wasn’t enough to cause an all-out flash, but enough to leave me flushed and nearly faint, as a woman who has just received the first kiss from the gentleman caller she’s been secretly infatuated with for quite some time. I waited.
He did not move.
His actions, or rather, lack of action, unsettled me to no end. My heartbeats increased, exciting my pressure to infuriating levels. How could he not respond? How could he spurn me, right there in broad daylight? I was not even an acquaintance yet. Surely, no stranger deserved that sort of treatment. It was common knowledge that a stranger
The desire to sock him, right then and there, and then turn my fist on myself for even giving an ounce of consideration over this crude man nearly overcame me. I had to check myself. Was he worth a sock? I did not know. Was I worth one? Certainly not! I did nothing wrong—well, if being curious was wrong, then so be it, but the record will show that he was definitely wrong. I turned to confront him, and just as I opened my mouth, he spoke.
“Was it all for naught?”
My breath left me.
My body trembled.
My thoughts froze.
I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t answer or acknowledge his question with a nod or hint of a smile. I wanted to, with everything I possessed; I wanted to open my mouth and allow the words to fall over themselves, expressing my response and feelings.
However, it was his voice, or rather, not his voice, but the underlying emotion lacing the sound of it. It weighed me down.
I grabbed a handful of my jacket at my chest and gathered it into a tight ball. That alarm still sounded in the distance, but now it troubled me and I needed for it to be silenced. The scent of pine needles invaded this tense moment and the rustling leaves contaminated the entire scene with their happy-go-lucky flitting across the lawn. They needed to disappear. The whole world needed to vanish. I needed nothing to compete with the weight of this man’s words.
The man turned to look at me.
I, likewise, turned to look at him, but my eyes only glimpsed his before I shut them tightly. I couldn’t take it. I averted my gaze to his lap and briefly regarded his hands. The back of each of them flaunted a sunken scar—no, I must be truthful—a crevice, gap, a hole …
A cry gathered
There was much more to render me shameless before this man who looked like quiet. My filthiness was evident the moment he spoke. I knew my words staggered with malicious intentions and my motives flaunted selfishness. Sometimes my thoughts were unsavory and reeked
My body slowly slid to the ground and I found myself sobbing at the stranger’s feet. My tears fell with no reserve and littered the top of his loafers. If I remove your shoes, dear sir, will there be scars? I sniffled.
The man stood and placed his hand on my head. “Behold, the hour is here. Ye are scattered, every man
“No,” I cried because that was all I could do. This man deserved no excuses from me. I knew I was not worthy.
“But my blood makes you worthy.” The stranger withdrew his hand. “If only you believe.”
Another alarm sounded in the distance just then, but my ears did not hear it, rather, my heart perceived it. It told me that I should not allow my self-examination to wear me down; that a precious gift frees me, cleanses me and presents me faultless. It told me that although the world offered trials every day, I should still be of good cheer because my Savior has overcome the world. Suddenly that heaviness shrouding me with its dark tonnage lifted and I could breathe again.
I stood and wiped away my tears as my mind busied itself with organizing and arranging the proper words to thank this man who lifted my spirit and placed me in a seat of glorious sonship in which only those who have believed can boast. I reached to shake my Savior’s hand.
He was nowhere to be seen.
I gasped, and then slowly released my breath as I flung my hands towards the heavens. “Yes!” I cried, but the tears were now joyous and filled with overwhelming gratitude. “Thank you, Lord, I do believe!”
Kathryn lives in Snellville, GA where she spends her free time (and anytime she can steal) reading, penning stories, crocheting, and drawing. She is partial to the horror/paranormal/supernatural genres, and her three most favorite authors are Edgar Allen Poe, Harper Lee, and Erin Morgenstern whose writing, she feels, is lovely.