Monday, June 08, 2009

Pearl's Miracle: a short story

by Dee. D. Stewart

We pant, pray and run toward another restless sleep. But tonight the air smells different to me. Not its usual burnt trash and trees stench. Tonight...tonight it smells of guava. A perfect fruit balanced in taste and scent, both sweet and sour, both firm and soft. Until you bite one you will not know how it will taste. Until nightfall we will not know what we'll face. Uganda is not balanced. We tread through the dark in an unbalanced manner, but we are quite rational. We know this road. And tonight our footsteps sound less like stomps, but gallops. Tonight...tonight is different.

My bigger brother, Apolo, grips my hand and glides me through the bush like a plum angel with black wings. "Let's go."

Apolo is fifteen and knows the quiet way to Noah's Ark . Some say he is the oldest child commuter. The same say he is the most protected.

But our dying mother prays that I am the one who is the most blessed. For no one else knows my name except the geckos in the brush. They see me clearly, but do not speak. Nor can I speak back to them, since no words have fallen from my lips since I shouted at God three years ago. I was seven years old then.

But Apolo talks to me as if one day I will just speak again and tell jokes about how the gecko's bright eyes mirror Wilson, our family ghost. Now wouldn't that miracle be more than a blessing?

He stops and jerks my hand to make me stop. He looks around us; then whispers. "I hear something."

My heart runs, but won't leave my chest. It bubbles up my throat, then paces from jaw to jaw. If I only I could speak then this nausea wouldn't taunt me like this. What have I done? What will be done? My nostrils reek of guava.

Apolo says to others who walk with us. "Hide."

My knees turn to mush like matoke. I can't move.

"Pearl?" Apolo calls me. "Get down."

We squat near a series of compost piles. Yet the night still smells like guava to me. We hear brush folding and crumpling. I smell dirt, red sand, salt and fear. The Lord's Resistance Army stands footsteps away from our future.

The Lord is my shepherd...

I close my eyes so I can camouflage into the night. God made me this dark for my protection from the sun and from his army. Apolo lays prostrate against the swishy ground. His hands clutch my ankles. He holds me up. Now we are statues.

He made me lie down in green pastures...

I can feel my nostrils widen as they walk closer, smell the banana tree bark that comprises the barrel of their guns. My stomach growls loud like a rumbling thunder along the Earth.

Feet stop. A soldier yells, "Who's there?"

I can't breathe.

A large slab of invisible wood pushes my chest and connects with the fear pacing at the tip of my throat. My head begins to quake, my jaws quiver and my heart begins to pray:

Yea thou I walk through the valley of death...

"I will fear no evil."

Apolo's hands fall away from my ankles; then slaps across my mouth. My eyes pop open. We hold each other. Tears drizzle down our eyes, our hands, and our legs. We both wish that I never spoke again. We both rejoice that I speak. Guava.

The soldier comes closer, searches through the brush until his gun's barrel tip touches my elbow. He leans down. Eyes whiter and colder than coconut milk. They grow large like gecko.

Wilson.

My heart leaps and falls.

Another soldier shouts at him. "What do you see?"

Wilson looks at me, then at Apolo. He looks at me again. This time his eyes twinkle like they did three years ago before he hid Apolo and I under compost and was carried off by his new family.

He sighs. "I see a miracle."

"What?" the soldier's voice comes closer.

He tilts his chin slightly toward a safer direction in the brush; then he cuts the air with his free hand. "I said. I see colobus. That's all."

Apolo and I hold our breath and each other until the woods are quiet again.

We are minutes from Noah's Ark, but further from whom we once were. We will not go back to our village or to Mama. We will go to Dure in the morning, instead. And we will pray for another miracle: Wilson's freedom.

Copyright 2006 Dee D. Stewart.

Note: Every night more than 25,000 children leave their villages or camps throughout the district and walk to Gulu town to escape being killed or abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army, which is waging war against the Ugandan government. These 'night commuters' head for shelters such as Noah's Ark, as well as the grounds of the town's hospital and schools.

Dee Stewart is a mother,writer and editor. She's written for Spirit Led Woman, Gospel Today, and Precious Times magazines. Her short story, "Straddling the Fence," is featured in Infuze Magazine's Best of 2005 Christian Shorts Anthology. She can be found at her blog, Christian Fiction Blog

Photo: IDP Girl in Riyadh Camp Smiles by Doug Mercado

7 comments:

Brandon Satrom said...

Dee,

This is an absolutely amazing story! Even more touching as I've learned more about the conflict in Uganda and the LRA over the past year. Thank you for writing this touching story, and for sharing it on your blog!

Hi, I'm Dee said...

The lord's resistance army, the name is ironic isn't it?

Brandon Satrom said...

Absolutely! I remember thinking exactly that when I first heard about the LRA.

Fresh! said...

I loved this story, Dee. The visuals in my mind were all too real.

JC Martin said...

That was awesome. Wow! You had me sitting on the edge of my seat hoping and praying for Apolo and Pearl.

Dee S. said...

Thanks, JC!

Lora said...

Great story and YOU are a VERY TALENTED writer!

Labels

"hold out" (1) 1question (4) 1questionMay (2) 1questionspring (3) 1questionsummer (2) 1questionwinter (7) 2011 (2) 30 Days to Build a Better Blog (5) 30 Days to Build a Better Book Blog (17) 9/11 (2) a good man blog watch (2) aaliyah (2) about me (1) Academy award (2) acfw-vip (2) Africa (1) african america (3) african american christian fiction (19) african american history (8) altartainment (1) amazon (9) american heart (1) american idol (1) amish (4) amy grant (1) Amy wallace (1) andrew carroll (1) angela bassett (1) Arts (2) atlanta (3) atlanta journal (1) atlanta tornado (1) audition (1) authentic creation (1) author (1) author interview (12) author read-in (3) authors (6) authors read in (2) authors read-in (1) awards (11) barbie (1) Basketball (1) bath luxe (2) bational wear red day (1) bbaw (1) bea (2) best of (8) bestsellers (2) bethany house (4) bible (3) bible study (3) bill gates (1) billie jean (1) birthday (3) black authors (2) black authors network (1) black christian novel (1) black christmas plays (4) black hawk down (1) black history (1) black in america (2) black men in america (1) black spiritualism (4) blacklitchat (2) blog alliances (1) blog talk radio (22) blog tour (14) blogalicious (2) blogcatalog (1) bloggers unite (9) blogging (7) bloglight (1) blogtalkradio (6) blythe (1) book (3) book arts (1) book awards (12) book blogging (5) book chat (3) book club (6) book cover (4) book deals (1) book events (9) book fun (2) book marketing (51) book pick (1) book pr (1) book preview (9) book promotion (7) book proposal (2) book release party (2) book review (52) book review submission form (5) book signing (4) book tour (4) book trailer (21) bookbyte (3) bookclub (2) books (3) brook promotion (1) bubble bath (1) bynum (1) c.s. lewis (1) camy tang (2) career (1) carl weber (1) carleen brice (1) casting call (9) cba (2) cfba (4) children books (7) chip macgregor (2) choir (1) chris well (2) christian (2) christian comedy (1) christian detective novel (1) christian ethics (7) christian fiction (13) christian fiction blog alliance (2) christian fiction news (28) christian fiction online magazine (26) christian living (2) christian movie (1) christian novel (4) christian publisher (2) christian retailing (2) christian romance (4) christian summer book (9) christian writer's carnival (1) christian writer's guide (1) Christianity (4) christmas (14) christmas story (14) Christy Award (4) christy awards (3) chronicles of narnia (2) chuck holton (1) chuck palahniuk (1) church news (1) cindy (1) cindy woodsmall (9) civil rights (1) claudia burney (10) clown girl (1) cnn (2) coco brother (2) contest (20) contests (6) controversy (1) convention (3) copyright (1) craft (1) creston mapes (1) cupcakes (2) cyndy salzmann (1) darfur (2) dargur (1) david c. cook (4) David Talbert (1) deanne gist (2) deborah raney (1) decaturbookfestival (1) dee and marina (4) dee stewart (19) dee stewart hezekiah walker (1) dee stewart linda beed (1) deegospelpr (11) dekker (5) denzel washington (1) denzel washington. (1) Derek Fisher (1) designer shoes (1) devotions (1) DiAnn Mills (1) digital publishing (2) disney (2) domestic violence (1) don hoesel (1) doodle (1) dwan abrams (2) e-reader (4) e. lynn harris (1) Earth day (2) eartha kitt (1) easter (4) ecpa (1) editing (2) ella curry (2) England (1) eric wilson (1) essence magazine (3) ethics (3) excerpts (9) facebook (3) faith and fiction retreat (11) Faith anf fiction retreat (1) faith*in*fiction (3) fashion show (1) father's day (1) fictin in rather short takes (1) Fiction (1) fiction in rather short takes (33) flag of our fathers (1) followthereader (1) fox faith (1) frank peretti (1) friday afternoon club myster (1) friday afternoon club mystery (1) friday fest (8) fuge recipes (1) genesis awards (1) George Jackson (1) giveaway (8) Golden State Warriors (1) good reads (4) gospel dream (1) gospel fiction (3) gospel music (19) gospel play (13) Grace (1) guestblog (9) haiti (1) haley kilpatrick (1) hank stewart (1) harper collins (1) Harriet Beecher Stowe (1) harry potter (2) Hawaiian Islands (1) heart disease (2) help wanted (1) historical (9) hope for women (1) horror (3) house of faith (1) human trafficking (1) I Dream of Jeannie (1) ibook (2) imprints (1) inciting incident (1) infuze magazine (1) inspirational monday (2) inspys (1) interviews (12) iThink (1) itw (3) jeanee damoff (2) jeff gerke (1) jena 6 (3) jill elizabeth nelson (1) job announcement (1) juanita bynum (3) juanita bynumemkm (1) juneteenth (4) karen kingsbury (3) kathy herman (1) kim brooks (1) kim cash tate (1) kimani press (1) kimberla lawson roby (2) Kindle (1) kristy dykes (2) laura bush (1) lent (11) leny (1) librarything book reviews (2) lifetime tv (1) lifeway (2) linda hargrove (2) links (1) lisa samson (3) literacy (1) literary agent (3) Literature (2) love (1) M M (1) madea girl talk (1) marcher lord press (1) marilynne robinson (1) marilynnn griffith (5) marina woods (2) marines (2) marketing (5) marketing christian fiction blog (1) marriage (1) mary demuth (1) mary hart (1) media candy (10) medical fiction (2) melody carlson (2) meme (1) Memorial day (3) michael jackson (1) mike duran (1) ministry (3) miranda parker (26) mochareaders (1) mombloggers (2) mommyfest (5) monday mention (3) monika drake (1) morgan freeman (1) mothers (3) motivationmonday (6) movie (14) mtv awards (1) myspace (1) nanowrimo (7) Nat Turner (1) National Basketball Association (1) national book month (1) NBA (1) networking (1) New York Times (1) Newsletters (1) nicole seitz (5) non-fiction (2) novel (2) novel writing (10) ny times bestseller (1) obama (14) off-topic Thursday (3) offf-topic Thursday (2) olympia vernon (1) online bookstore (5) oprah (2) ott (2) Pacific War (1) pam perry (1) parenting (2) party (1) pat simmons (1) pay it forward (2) Pearl Harbor (1) people magazine (1) Philippines (1) play (2) plug and play (1) po bronson (1) politics of the mass media (1) poll (1) prayer cell (4) prayer request (3) preorder pick (2) prince caspian (1) princess dominique (1) publishing (14) race and religion (3) radio (1) radio talk show (4) rawsistaz (4) reading series (4) rebeca seitz (1) reflections (1) relief journal (1) Relief Journal christian writing (3) Religion and Spirituality (3) renovating becky miller (1) reshonda tate billingsley (5) retreat (1) rhonda bowen (5) rhonda mcknight (9) richmond (1) romance (6) romantic times (2) romantic times magazine (8) rt convention (2) saint patrick's day (1) sally e.stuart (1) saturday christian carnival (3) Science fiction (3) secret life of bees (2) selah (3) self-publish (2) shana burton (8) sharon ewell foster (6) sharon hink (3) shawneda marks (1) shelfari (1) sher (1) sherri lewis (12) shine in 09 (5) shoes (1) Shopping (1) short story (2) Sidney Sheldon (1) single women (1) sistahfaith (1) skype (2) Slave ship (1) social media (7) social network (2) social network problogger (7) social networking (2) social networkingh (1) sormag (1) South Carolina (1) specfiction (3) speedlink (8) spiritual autobiography (3) Sports (1) spotlight (2) stacy hawkins adams (6) star wars (1) steeple hill (1) storytellers (3) stranger than fiction (1) sudan (1) summer (8) sunrise (1) survey (2) sxsw (1) t.l. hines angela hunt (1) tavis smiley (2) tavis smley (2) teen (4) the first lady (3) the master's artis (2) the master's artist (56) the masters artist (6) the shack (2) the spirit of your story (1) the stones cry out (1) the trouble with publishing (2) theology (2) thomas nelson (7) thriller thursday (7) tia mccollors (1) tiffany warren (7) titletrakk (1) to (1) tolkien (1) top ten (25) tosca lee (1) tours (1) trailer park tuesday (61) trailer park tuesdaycngdkvb (1) travis Hunter (1) tribute (12) tricia goyer (4) tuesday (2) tv (1) twitter (22) ty moody (3) tyler perry (55) tyler pery (1) tyler play (1) United States (3) urban christian book (5) Utah Jazz (1) utterz (10) valentine (2) vanessa davis griggs (1) vanessa miller (2) veteran's day (2) video (2) wachooreading (2) walmart (1) wanza leftwich (1) warren buffet (1) WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group (1) weakend read (2) wedding (1) wednesday wrap (11) weekend chat (29) weekend chatter (17) weekend read (11) westbow (1) what i'm reading (3) what's done in the dark (1) why fiction matters (9) widcard (1) wiki (1) wild card (12) wildcard (32) Wings of Glory (1) womanist thought (1) women (1) women of faith (2) women's ministry (1) workshops (4) world aids day (1) World War II (1) write-or-die chick (3) writer's call (3) writer's conference (8) writer's prompt (2) writing (4) writing conference (8) writing contest (8) writing journey (2) writing life (38) writing opportunities (2) writing project (5) writing tip (3) writing workshop (2) x-files (1) yolanda king (1) young adult (5) youtube (4) zondervan (5)