Turns out writing class is great for coming up with short stories. This time it is based off of the painting “Saying Grace”
I gently set the plate down, then stopped to catch my breath. I’m so weary and worn.
“Mommy?” a little voice breaks through my thoughts and reminds me why I have to keep going.
“What is it honey?”
“Is this all there is to eat?”
“Yes, Claire. But we still must be grateful that we have anything at all.” I look at her in her tattered dress. My kids shouldn’t have to know poverty. Her dirty, bare feet kick in the air. She can’t reach the floor. I stare past her and notice an old portrait of my husband and I at our wedding. It was painted for us by some dear friends. Tears spring to my eyes. Of course, the kids are quick to notice it.
“Why are you crying?” Claire asks. Little Lucy bounces in her seat.
“Mommy’s crying?” She starts to cry as well. I hurry over to where she’s sitting and quickly gather her up in my arms.
“Hush. I’m fine.” I gently rock her back and forth, singing softly. Lucy starts to settle down.
“When will Daddy be home?” Claire asks.
I wasn’t prepared for this question and the tears come back. How do you tell a seven year old and a three year old that their father won’t be coming back?
“There, there was an accident -“ I choke up and force myself to talk clearly. “At the mine, and -, and your father was trapped.” I can’t speak anymore. I force myself to breath deep. “They couldn’t get him out.” Silence descends on the room. Claire starts crying and I join her, though quieter. Lucy doesn’t understand, but her older sister’s tears cause her to cry as well.
“Can’t we pray about it?” Claire wails. “I want to ask God to bring Daddy back.”
“Oh honey.” I reply. “I don’t know if God will answer that.”
“But you and Daddy said that God always hears our prayers. I want to ask God!” At least she was listening. I think. I hope this doesn’t ruin her faith.
“Fine. You may ask God. Why don’t you pray for the food as well.” I say irritated. Claire brightens instantly.
“Dear God. Please bring my Daddy back. Oh yeah. Thank you for the food as well.” She peaks out from behind her folded hands. “Um. help it to make us full and be a blessing to our bodies. Amen.” She smiles shyly. “Did I do it right mommy?” I had started silently crying again.
“Yes you did, Claire,” I say, not feeling it in me to do a lesson on prayer at the moment.
The kids eat and I put them to bed in my bed. Claire goes to sleep happy, confident that God will answer her prayer and Daddy will be back in the morning. Normally I would stay up and sew or something, but I’m too worn out, so I turn the lamps down and get in bed. I fall asleep, holding Claire and Lucy and staring at the cracks on the ceiling.
We’re woken in the morning by a knock on the door. I wake up confused, then remember I got in bed dressed last night. I shake my head at myself and, leaving Lucy and Claire asleep, head to the door to answer the knock.
“Yes – Dimitri!” My hand flew to my mouth. My scream woke up Claire who clambered down from the bed and ran over to the door.
“Daddy!” She dashed around me and hugged his legs. He bent down and picked her up.
“What happened? I mean, how did you… I was told you were dead!” He stepped inside, put Claire down and wrapped me in a hug. Claire attached herself to his leg again.
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t want you to worry. There was no way for me to let them know.” Hs stepped back. I closed the door and hurried him to a seat. I made him sit down and gave him a glass of water. Then I sat across from him. Claire climbed into his lap. “When the rocks started falling, Everyone dashed to the exit. I couldn’t make it, so I started running down the corridor in the opposite direction where I knew there was another mineshaft leading out. I didn’t make it before a rock hit me in the head and I blacked out. When I woke up it was pitch black and I could tell I was trapped in on both sides. I had just given myself up for lost when a voice called to me, telling me to follow it.” A cry sounded and I ran and got Lucy then sat back down. She fell back asleep as I rocked her, and Dimitri finished his story. “I followed it and it led me to an exit. I promise you it wasn’t there beforehand. I came straight here, Marie – I didn’t want you to be worried. I see I was late.” Claire climbed off his lap and stood in front of me.
“I told you, mamma. I told you God answers prayers.” I looked at my husband and he stared back at me.
“The faith of a child….”