Tales of Men – The Sabbatical, Part I

Tales of Men is a blog series showcasing short stories, prompts, and other writings.

The Sabbatical, Part I

“What does God let happen, and what goes on happening without His involvement? I know what I’d like to do here. I know that I will try. I wonder if He will involve Himself? I begin to walk up the drive, in the dark. A shadow creeping through the darkness, traveling unnoticed. An old man working his way through the night, traveling unremembered.”

It’s a perfect night for wandering. I’ll wander tonight, and see where I’m drawn. I see a house at the end of the road, with curtains drawn. I think I’ll go there.

The walk won’t be long. I’ve found it increasingly challenging to complete my regular route anymore. Everything has become more complicated since the incident. They’re all looking at me differently – I look at them differently.

Seventy is not what I envisioned it to be. I fell about a month or so ago; tripped on an upturned rug in the church after the service. It seemed to attract the attention of everyone in the building. I wasn’t very much embarrassed as much I was irritated that every soul in sight had to rush over and tend to me. It’s been a gradual rise of annoyance, I suppose. Within the last year, I began to experience a sense of irritation whenever encountering most people. I don’t like people trying to help me or ask many questions. I used to be quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. I welcomed any close opportunity for attention. By no means did I consider myself to be a deliberate attention seeker. But, I liked people noticing my problems. For a brief moment, I felt rather important. I felt singled out – like being in a crowd of people and yet someone was interested in only me, and it was a good feeling. I don’t feel that way anymore. I want to be unnoticed in the crowd, another unremembered face along the journey.

My sister drove up from South Carolina a few days ago. She left earlier today and left behind a walking stick. She propped it up against the television, knowing I could not ignore it. There was a note attached to it. It read simply, “It’ll help! I love you.”

I condemned the need for a cane when we spoke about it earlier in the week. She mentioned it soon after retrieving my belongings from my now vacated church office.

“You don’t look yourself”, she said.

“I feel exactly the same”, I replied.

She rested her hand on my shoulder and shared an assuring expression, “Trust the Lord, like you’ve always done. Ya know, you’ll realize you’re better than ya think.”

It was too difficult to sympathize with her warm gestures of safekeeping. The desire for confession raced through my veins in anticipation. I could not tell her the truth. How could I? How could I describe to anyone that I’ve grown to dislike them? How could I explain such a thing? I cannot continue advocating for the supreme and merciful love of Christ when I myself have lost all connection on a human level. I needed to escape my own reality to identify the problem within me. Perhaps it was getting old and how much I despised it. Perhaps it was living alone, with no immediate family. Perhaps it was the regret of a life lived too comfortably and oblivious. Perhaps…the truth is that I have lost all capacity to express and feel such merciful love, and I do not know why. I could not begin to explain this to the church; they would disown me without question. As a result, I knew I needed to take Sabbatical leave and adjust to these newly discovered thoughts.

On a brighter note, I’m using the cane. Finding that it does help even though I do not want to admit it. I can walk a little bit longer than before, and I like that. But, I also like to think that if I wanted to throw it out I could easily fend for myself without its assistance.

I’m getting closer to the house. The lights are on, curtains still drawn. I think they just moved in, newlyweds perhaps. I’m not sure what exactly I will do when I get to the house. I suppose it is better to do these things without a plan. A plan may complicate things. I must meet every detail of that plan in order for the events to go as desired. No, I have nothing thought out…I’m wandering. Lately, I cannot think anything through completely. I’m wandering through every day.
Here I am, standing at the end of the drive. The street lamp illuminating the road just blew. I noticed it was flickering in the distance. A sign leading me to the house with the curtains drawn. I’m wandering, yes. But, perhaps my wandering does not go without meaning. Perhaps God has destined for me to wander to this point. Do I believe to be merely wandering, only when everything is playing out accordingly? What does God let happen, and what goes on happening without His involvement? I know what I’d like to do here. I know that I will try. I wonder if He will involve Himself? I begin to walk up the drive, in the dark. A shadow creeping through the darkness, traveling unnoticed. An old man working his way through the night, traveling unremembered.
I look into the window where the curtains are drawn. I stand perfectly still in the darkness, balancing my weight on the cane and watch. A young man and woman, sitting together in front of a television. Oblivious in shared warmth, they couldn’t have foreseen a night as this. I hope it goes well. I want this. I can hear the slightest voice within me telling me otherwise, but it is not influencing my compulsion in any way. With eyes still observing the couple sitting there together, I work my way up the porch steps. There is a small light fixture to the right of the door, near the window. It is very dim, but I stretch my body up to the bulb and begin to slowly unscrew. I proceed to faintly knock on the door, as I watch through the window. They exchange a curious look, not expecting any visitors.

As the young man begins to approach the door, I position myself hunched over my walking stick, breathing deeply…nervous. The door opened slightly.

“Yes? Who’s there?”
I began breathing intentionally more deeply when the man peered out of the crack into the darkness, analyzing my presence.”Please. I don’t remember where I am.” He looked to his wife, and back at me. I was still hunched over, seemingly exerted.

“Are you alright, sir?” The door opened wider. “I saw the light on. I think I walked too far, I can’t find my home.”

He felt obliged to let me in and allow me to rest, to gather my thoughts.
Remember where I was, where I needed to go. I knew exactly where I needed to go from here. “Please, may I have a little water? I must have walked for miles.”
The young woman entered the room, hearing my request and visibly concerned.

“Of course. You can sit down if you’d like.”

She pointed to a wooden chair near the door. “I’d like to stand for now.” I didn’t want to sit.

I was handed a glass of water by the young gentleman. Our hands touched. He would never think these hands would soon hurt him.


One thought on “Tales of Men – The Sabbatical, Part I

  1. Pingback: Author Interview – Reily Garrett – The Carnal Series, Unholy Alliance, Tiago, Tender Echoes, Journey to Dawn: Step One, Breathe & Digital Velocity | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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