The Lord is Close (Part 7)
As soon as the front door slammed behind them, Richard slapped the little girl down with the back of his hand on the side of her head. She didn’t even have time to scream before she hit the floor in a crumpled pile. He pulled his hand back again and then dropped it in disgust.
“I don’t have time for this right now,” he said as he kicked at her with the toe of his boot and stomped into the kitchen.
“Momma,” she whimpered and sobbed.
“Get in there Bonnie and take care of your little girl,” he slurred the words out.
As Bonnie passed by him he haphazardly punched at the side of her face. She started to cover herself in reflex but then stopped herself realizing that it would be much worse the second time. It was always best not to defy him. It only grazed her so she kept moving quickly.
She grabbed the girl roughly by the shoulders and shook her as she said, “Get up, get up right now. Mind me, ya hear!”
The little girl crawled up and clung onto her mother’s skirt but she brushed her off.
“Stop whining and go to your room right now.”
She ran to the back of the house, to the room that used to be a little storage room but was now her bedroom. Her mother latched the door behind her as soon as she entered. She waited quietly until she couldn’t hear anyone nearby before she started breathing again.
A million thoughts ran through her head. Will he kill me when he comes back? Will he kill Momma? Should I try to find Ricky? She worried about her brother a lot even though he was five years older than her. She didn’t think he really worried much about her though. He listened to his music and just didn’t say much. It didn’t seem to bother him as much as it did her. She said prayers for him every day. She finally decided that she should go for help and come back for him when she found it. Having made that decision, she must have been more exhausted than she realized because she dozed off.
When she next awoke, the house was deathly silent and the sun had set long ago. The full moon hung low in the heavens and illuminated the night sky.
Her thoughts returned to leaving but she was afraid. What if the big cat was waiting for her in the trees? Where would she go? The only thing she knew for sure was that if she stayed, she would surely die. She knew that her dad would kill her.
She got down on her knees beside her worn mattress and bowed her head to pray.
“Lord, I need your help. I can’t stay here any longer. I think he’s going to kill me or kill my momma or both of us. I just need out. Please help me find a safe place to be. Please help my family. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.”
She had learned how to pray in Vacation Bible School. Every summer she walked two miles to the little church in town to attend. It was like a fairy tale week where people smiled all the time. It was so hard to go home at night; especially the last night of VBS when the magic ended and she had to go back to her never ending summer or at least that is what it felt like. It seemed like it took forever for the summer to end so she could go back to school. School was this wonderful break all day long for five days a week where there was food and books and much, much less fighting.
She knew in her heart that God was real. She had been talking to Him all of her life or for as long as she could remember. She just didn’t know that His name was also Jesus until her Sunday School teacher told her. She just called Him God most of the time. She prayed to Him while she was sitting outside in a tree hiding from the fighting and she prayed to Him while she had her head under the covers, hiding from the fighting. It was a war zone but she always knew that God was in charge. She could feel His protection. She was a very good reader and she read the Bible that she got from VBS all the time. Her favorite part was the printed red directions that skipped all over her Bible taking her down the “Roman Road to Salvation.” She would read that over and over. It was the best happy ending ever.
She quickly gathered up her possessions. She had one pair of worn tennis shoes which she put on her feet knowing that she would get in lots of trouble if she got caught wearing them during the week. She pulled on her gray sweatpants over her shorts and pulled a faded blue sweatshirt over her head. She was breaking out into a sweat but she was afraid she might need it later. She rolled up her tattered blanket and put it under her arm. She purposefully grabbed her precious VBS Bible and pushed it safely into her blanket. Slowly she turned her bedroom door knob but found it wouldn’t budge. It was still locked from the outside.
She walked over to her window and carefully pulled the screen out and let it drop to the ground. It made a slight thud but nothing else. One of her dad’s hunting dogs, came up to the window to see what was going on. It was as if he knew that a prison break was happening. He backed up and stood guard while she climbed out feet first. He didn’t even move but just watched her.
“Fine, Buddy,” she said to him, “you can come if you want. I don’t blame you.”
The old hound dog plodded behind her as she crossed the backyard in the moonlight. She paused for just a moment before entering the dark forest. Having the dog with her, really seemed to help make her feel less afraid. She was glad he came.
The forest was quiet at first but then it seemed to awaken and she could hear the sounds of frogs and crickets chirping. She and the dog just kept walking. They crossed the small creek and went under the barbed wire. She held it up for the dog and he scooted under. They stopped at the tree and she gathered several apples and put them in her blanket roll. They kept walking and walking. They crossed through fields that she had never walked through before. They went down into a valley and up over a hill.
When they finally stopped, dawn was coming and its pink fingers crept across the sky. She yawned and so did the dog. They were in a nice group of shady pine trees and a soft green moss covered the ground beneath them. She rolled out her blanket and carefully placed the apples under the corner of the blanket for safe keeping. Then she and the dog lay down together and fell asleep listening to the forest awaken with the soothing sounds of the Mourning Doves.
To be continued…