Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday Fiction for June 11, 2010

Friday Fiction is hosted this week over at Fiction Fusion, by the ever-imaginative Sara. Look for her epic “Dark Phoenix” story, and the links to more fiction, over on her blog. Good stuff, Maynard.

“Maelstrom’s Eye” draws to a close this week, tickling the word-count widget at 10K exactly. It’s not often I end on such a nice round number. I hope you find the ending as satisfying as I do. If you’ve waited until the story was finished to get started, you can begin with Part 1, and read through to the end.

Maelstrom’s Eye

Part 9

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, oh God, Thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy righteousness. Oh Lord, open Thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth Thy praise. For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else I would give it: Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, oh God, Thou wilt not despise. ~ Psalm 51:14 – 17

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin, and nature’s night. Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray, I woke the dungeon flamed with light! My chains fell off, my heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. ~ from “And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley

***

Celia watched out the window as her father guided the car into their neighborhood. It had been a good service – the worship time, the teaching, and the fellowship afterwards, and it had given her much to think about for the coming week. Still, she was a little disappointed that Carl hadn’t changed his mind and shown up for church.

They turned down their street, and Papa slowed the car for a group of kids playing ball in the middle of the road. The boys barely moved out of the way to allow the vehicle to pass, turning annoyed looks towards them in response to their play being interrupted. One even acted as though he was going to hit the car, until he caught the glare that Papa gave him.

When they drew close enough, she watched Carl’s house for any sign that he was outside working, hopefully in a brighter mood than he’d been the evening before. Instead, she noticed the rivulet of water running under the gate from the backyard, down the driveway, and into the gutter along the street. “Papa, let me out here, please,” she said.

“Here? We’re almost home, mi’ja. Why do you want out here?”

“Something’s wrong, Papa. Mr. Anders never lets the water run long enough to run out of the garden and into the street.”

He pulled the car to the curb and let her out. “Do you want me to come in with you?”

“Go ahead and take Jimmy home, Papa. I’ll call if I need any help.” She turned and hurried as fast as she could in her dress shoes, fishing the keys from her purse on the way to the door. She knocked once and called, “Mr. Anders?” Waiting only a moment for a response, she then unlocked the door and let herself in. “Mr. Anders?” she called again, into the entryway.

There was still no response, and she didn’t take the time to close the door before heading deeper into the house. The lights were off in the living room, and she glanced down the hall towards the bedroom and bathroom. Both doors were open, and she walked down far enough to peek in both, announcing her presence before she did.

Returning to the living room, she noticed the flicker of light in the dining room, and crossed over to that door. “Mr. Anders?” she called as she reached the door. “Carl?”

He was sitting at the network terminal with a pair of headphones on, and still had not noticed her arrival.

“MR. ANDERS?” she said, hoping she was loud enough to be heard over the headphones.

He cocked his head slightly for a moment, and then turned to look at her. Removing the headphones, he spun around in the chair. “Oh, Celia. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Are you all right? I saw the water running down your driveway, and was worried that you might have hurt yourself or something.”

He looked towards the backyard. “I completely forgot I’d left the water running. I guess I should turn it off, or at least move it.”

“You stay put – I’ll turn the water off.” She went out the back door, and twisted the handle on the water faucet fully clockwise. Now that she knew he was all right, her concern was turning to anger. She returned to the house, and regarded him with a crossed-arm stare. “Now, what were you looking at that was so important that you forgot the water, and didn’t pay any attention when I knocked and called to you?”

“Your church service,” he said quietly. “I watched your church service this morning, and then started listening to last week’s service.”

“Our church service?” she repeated back to him, and let her arms drop limp to her sides.

Mi’ja? Is everything okay?” Papa came through the living room and stepped up behind her.

Carl didn’t even seem to notice the arrival of her father. She lifted one hand to stave off any further interruption. “You were watching our church services on the network?” she asked.

“Can a heart really be made clean again, Celia? Is it truly possible that my spirit could ever feel right?” There was a hopeful pleading in Carl’s voice.

She started to answer, but found her own voice choked back by emotion.

“It is possible, if that is the desire of your heart,” Papa answered for her, sounding so much different than his usual manner of speaking. He took a step forward. He wasn’t wearing the face of the disciplinarian father. Instead, he was the compassionate Papa she remembered from those times when she had needed such understanding the most as a child. Tears ran down the worn cheeks – something she rarely witnessed before. “Is that what you want, Carl?” he asked.

“Why would you care? You made your feelings pretty clear the other night.”

“God showed me this morning that I needed a right spirit renewed in myself as well. How I treated you was wrong, and I must ask your forgiveness.” He extended his hand towards Carl. “I care, and even if I didn’t, God cares. Do you want a clean heart and a right spirit?”

“More than anything,” he said, and tentatively took the extended hand.

Papa pulled him to his feet and into an embrace. “Then take His hand just like you took mine.”

Celia wrapped her arms around both men, offering silent prayers for the moment. Carl felt tense and resistant, while Papa kept the embrace gentle but firm. The struggle was obvious, and so also the moment when the younger man yielded. The tension faded from his muscles, and he buried his face in her father’s shirt, weeping.

“Welcome home, mi’jo,” Papa whispered.

***

Maelstrom’s eye looked down, scanning the surface below for any threat to the safety and security of the Western Coalition. Despite numerous attempts to neutralize her abilities, she remained a powerful weapon against anything below. Her defenses protected her offensive capabilities from any weapon on Earth. In her twelfth year of operations, though, a marble-sized meteorite punched through her hull, destroying vital power control circuits. The damage created a cascade effect of system failures, leaving the platform severely crippled. Maelstrom’s eye never looked up, though analysts debated whether she would have detected or reacted to such a small object in space.

Far below the wrecked platform, a five year old child walked with her grandfather. The old man smiled and took her hand, teaching her words in Spanish as he showed her how to select ripe tomatoes from her Daddy’s garden. She had her mother’s eyes.

6 comments:

Carole L Robishaw said...

Ahhh! Very good. Loved this.

Rita's Random Ramblings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rita's Random Ramblings said...

Fantastic, Fridays should be closer together!

Sorry-I goofed on the first post.

BethL said...

This story warms the heart. You took us from anxiety (with the water running into the street) to joyful contentment (with your ending). I was singing the words to "And Can It Be?" as I was reading them at your beginning! Excellent!

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Ahh, what a good ending! I'm loved that last scene--so tender and heartfelt, it fit just right! (and congrats on 10k! nice even numbers are so wonderful) ^_^

Bear said...

Loved the double repentance here of both Carl and the Grandfather, and the way you brought everything all together at the end in such a short time is just incredible... A beautiful ending.