ran down the dusty, country road, her bare feet bruised and bloody
from the rocks. She had
to get away. The verbal battles cut deep into her soul and the
physical beatings ripped her heart. Her heart
pounded. She could hardly breathe, but she pushed her legs faster.
A tall oak tree at the side of the road provided a place for Callie
to rest as her hands moved up and down on her swollen belly. She
moved to the far side, away from the road and tried to take long
breaths. As her gulps slowed down, she felt her heartbeats return
to almost normal. Through low hanging branches, her eyes captured
the tall slender steeple of a small white church sitting in a
meadow. Using her last spurt of energy, she hurried through the
meadow toward the steeple.
The church door was unlocked and Callie entered into a small sanctuary.
Three old wooden pews sat on one side, three on the other side,
and a small aisle that led up to a dilapidated pulpit. Sunlight
entered through a window making the painting of a saint, whose
name she didnt know, seem alive. A calm entered her body
as she crept to the first pew.
She couldnt remember the last time shed been in a
church, yet she sensed a peace take over her heart. Callie looked
around; no one was there. She was alone, but not alone. She sat
down on the hard wooden pew.
thought of her mother, before the cancer. Now, she had no one
to hold her hand. She glanced down at her bloodstained feet, wrapped
her thin arms around her body and over her unborn child. Unruly
chestnut hair fell forward as she bowed her head. Slowly she brought
her arms in front and clasped her cracked hands together in prayer.
How do I pray? What do I say? Callie raised her head. Colors of
light from the stained window touched the walls, the floors, then
her hands, and warmth spread through her body. Her heart made
words flow and her lips began to move.
I miss you. I need to see your face, smell the fresh-baked bread
from your kitchen. I want to feel you tuck me into bed and know
you cant. I did it for you last year, but nothing says I
cant want it. Sam doesnt understand how lonely I am
without you. He has these rages and everythings out of control.
Its a rotten marriage that cuts me into small pieces. I
wish I were with you now. No, not really cause Im
gonna have a grandchild youll never hold. But, Marmy, things
are gonna change soon. Callie looked up and watched the
sunrays fade. How? I dont know, but when they do,
Ill tell you everything.
She backed out the door, afraid shed lose the warmth and
the serenity her body felt, and fell into a pair of strong arms.
there, miss. I didnt want you to fall, a low, soothing
Callie turned to stare at this voice that came from a tall, thin
man dressed in faded blue jeans with a white collared shirt of
can get to you, he said. Ive been here close
to twenty years. Still feel the peace wash over me every time
I go inside.
the preacher? stammered Callie.
that right. Anything I can help you with, miss? he asked
as he observed the thin body, swollen stomach, bare feet and the
small, worn gold ring on her left hand.
Ive been helped this time, but Ill be back.
Ill look forward to your next visit. What shall I call you?
asked the priest as Callie ran down the steps and into the meadow.
can call me Father John, he hollered after her.
Callie slowed down once she reached the middle of the meadow.
She watched the soft breezes touch the grass and sway the small
yellow wildflowers. She looked up at the blue sky. Marmy, can
you see me? Callie reached the road and had no way to go but
Sam stood in the middle of the dirty, rocky road. His muscled
arms flexed tight and his large stubby fingers knotted in fists.
She saw his narrow eyes and smug smile.
the hell you been? You think you can play in the pasture like
some little girl? Well let me tell you, woman, you got a husband
with needs of his own. Now git. He grabbed her by the arm.
turn loose. Callie yelled. I know how to get home.
think so . . . you running away like that. When you gonna git
over that your sweet Marmys gone. Like way gone, way under,
he bellowed. Maybe you should have gone with her. Its
like you aint here anyway.
mean over? Only when I say so, Sam said in a fierce voice.
He stomped down the road, pushing her small body ahead of him.
Callie turned her head. She saw the white steeple glisten in the
last rays of sunlight and a different world. Callie kissed one
of her fingers, drew a small cross over her pregnant belly, and
whispered, I promise you, well see that other world.
E. Patterson's poetry has been published in Wildacres 2002
and Lessons Learned Anthology I and II. Story House
published a flash fiction piece in 2004. Shes a member of
Georgia Writers Association. Shes attended numerous creative
writing and poetry classes, and has completed her first novel.
She resides in Atlanta, GA.
Patricia E. Patterson