Troubles…A short story…

Why does it take trouble to bring us home? I ponder this question from my couch. A red blanket covers my legs, and the quiet morning encroaches upon my presence. As a writer, I like to think I can find the words to explain most anything. 

This seems to be a question destined to remain unexplained. 

“A man is of a few days and full of trouble,” Job said. I think Job couldn’t have said it any better. As I type these words, trouble is with us when no one else is. It follows us around like some lost puppy. 

I watch as my niece tears down my driveway. Her red Honda Accord is coated with yellow pollen. “Here comes trouble.” Janice is 16, her sole focus isn’t her future career, nor is it her grades. She has no intention of going to college, she figures her life will develop into a bountiful garden without any labor on her part.

“Hiya, unc!”

“Howdy. You attempting to set the world speed record in my driveway?”

“Nah, just in a hurry.”

“Where ya going in such a rush?”

“Nowhere.” She exits the pollen mobile and we walk into the house. She seems fidgety, but I keep my observation to myself.

Janice looks around my cabin, aimlessly she wanders from room to room. She pauses in my kitchen and looks in the cabinets. Her blue eyes drift over every part of the house, but she doesn’t appear to see anything. Finally, she plops down on the couch and begins to watch NCIS.

“What’s on your mind, Janice?”

“Nothin’, just looking around.”

“How’s your mom and dad? I don’t get out much anymore. My blog keeps me busy. You doing okay in school?”

“Yeah.”

We sit in silence and watch Gibbs and his team solve another crime in under an hour. Janice looks at me, and I meet her eyes.

“Unc, do you believe that when we die, we will face God and give an account of our sins?”

“Yep.”

“Why do you believe that God will judge us? Do you think suicide is a sin?”

“Yes, I believe it’s a sin. I believe God will judge us because Scripture backs up that belief.”

“How is suicide a sin?”

“Mind you, this is my belief, Janice. Life is precious, and God gives it us. It’s a gift from heaven. To take your life, in my opinion, is to spit in the face of God. Besides how does one ask for forgiveness if they are dead?”

Janice’s brow furrows as she mulls over my answers. Gibbs, Tony, Ziva and McGee are on to another case. We watch in silence as Ducky makes his observations known to Gibbs.

“My best friend killed herself today.”

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I didn’t know. Do you know why she took her life?”

“She was pregnant at 15. Her parents attend church and participate in all the church functions. She didn’t think they would understand, plus, the daddy of the baby told her to get an abortion. I think the stress was too much for her to bear.” Tears fill my niece’s eyes and she looks at the floor. 

What can I say? How do I comfort her?

“You want a tomato sandwich? I am getting hungry.”

“No, but I would like something to drink.”

“Okay.”

I turn to walk away but something sticks in my craw, and I have to get it out of my system.

“Janice, God isn’t a mean kid on the playground. He doesn’t stomp around in steel toe boots and carry a stick to beat you with. We humans can forget that sometimes. God is love. I’m sure He is heartbroken over the loss of your friend. In His infinite wisdom, He created us and called His creation good.”

I stand there for a moment and finally, I walk into the kitchen. My weekend was spent in Tennessee, so I have plenty of fresh vegetables and bread. I pull out two tomatoes and slice them. Janice bolts from the couch and rushes into the kitchen. She throws her arms around my neck and sobs.

For a moment, I’m unsure of what to do. I put down the knife and put my arm around her.

“I miss her so much.”

“I know.”

In the background Johnny Lang sings Lie to Me and the irony isn’t lost upon either of us.

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