I think I’ll just stop promising when to have these done. Here’s Part 2, probably at least one more part left to this story. I had one comment that wondered if this was based on the Rascal Flatts song “What Hurts the Most.”
Not quite people. Try again 🙂
He ran a finger along the contour of his eyebrow, pushing stray black hairs into place. The room was open and airy, and smelled like fresh cut grass. The vrrrrrrrrmwrrrrrrrr of the tractor churned somewhere below him, and from the second story window he could catch a glimpse of the ancient John Deere as it chugged through the ditch.
There were sticky notes all over his computer. Yellow ones that marked schedule changes, appointments, and board meetings. Purple for missed phone calls. Light blue for reminders.
He pulled one off and held it up, the glue sticking to his fingers. Emails.
His eyebrow twitched. Crap.
The first one was from a magazine, asking for an article on the process of book-writing and preaching simultaneously. Another was an ad for prescription drugs to reduce migraines. The third one was from some fangirl wanna-be who had snatched his email from off a bulletin sometime in the past three weeks.
I just wanted to let you know, sir, that your programs have changed my life. An I even think that my patient, who’s down with cancer and mental probs, is listening too. Keep doing what you’re doing, and may God bless you.
At least it was short. And no questions asked. He smiled coyly and sent it into the trashbin. They were all so sheltered.
He picked up a pen, blue ink, and started doodling on the corner of the Email note. A swirl, then an oval, then a circle, shading, dark here, light there, another gentler curve, shadow at the edges, flecks inside the circle, long marks above it.
The receptionist. “They’ll be here to go over the accounts soon. Are you alright?”
“Nice eye.” She jerked a thumb toward his drawing, winked, and then sashayed out of the office. He watched her figure sway through the double glass doors. Sexy.
After waiting a couple more minutes, he moved to the auditorium. Row after row of empty chairs stretched out from the stage, growing more and more shadowy as the overhead lights failed to touch them. The balcony was a darkened mass looming above, only spotted here and there by the twinkling of red and green switchboard lights.
He listened to his steps across the stage. Hollow. Soft. Barely there.
Hands on the pulpit, he looked across the emptiness. The air was stale. He leaned against the wood, bowing his head, fingers gripping the edge. Several chest-heaving coughs. Sweat. A burning sensation in his chest.
He looked down, and saw the papers, scattered among his sermon notes. Blue. Red. Green. “Happy Father’s Day” written in crayon kindergarten writing across the front. He touched it, and his finger left a wet, sweaty imprint on the paper. On the inside, there were three stick figures in one corner. And A brown dog. And then a long, crooked line that stretched from that corner to the next. At the end of the line was another stick figure. Portly. Dark eyebrows and very large eyes. A word that looked like “daddy.”
He shoved the cards into the pulpit compartment.
They would never leave.
The auditorium lights were so bright, but they would never reach the last outline of chairs. Somewhere in the room, amid the singing and offerings, there would always be darkness.
His hand moved to the compartment beside the sermon notes. Some of them, titled “The Kingdom Today” had been accidentally moved from one drawer to the other. He pushed them aside, feeling the raw edges of the papers, until his hand touched metal. Felt the curve of the grip, the hammer, the barrel, the trigger. Cold.
He blinked. Tears or sweat. Both.