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The Child Prophet
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The Child Prophet
[990 words]
[May 2007]
A Rainly Day In New York City (Short Stories) - [585 words]
A Tale Of Exile (Short Stories) - [432 words]
Abigail's Blessing (Short Stories) - [592 words]
Beautiful Is The Night (Short Stories) - [247 words]
The Airport (Short Stories) - [346 words]
The Child Prophet

The Child Prophet

My first impression of Phillip was that he was blessed with ignorance. Eight years of sporadic attendance in elementary school had little observable effect. He learned to read a bit and to spell and write his own name, but not much more. Like many children, he was afraid to cross Mueller’s bridge, but unlike the others, he never outgrew it. He would stand on the wooden slats looking at the water as the river roared in anguish beneath him. There were gaps between those wooden slats where a foot could easily get caught and something small could fall right through, so Phillip only went so far. We called it Mueller's bridge after old man Mueller. Legend had it that old man Mueller drowned in that river after sniffing some powder drawn in lines across a wide square mirror. But that legend was started by Carnelia, and she was always using scare tactics like that to keep us kids in line. She had an almond-shaped face and olive skin that looked too unwrinkled for her old gout-hardened joints and she repeated everything she said ten times and with conviction always starting a sentence with "Isn't it awful...." Her house smelled like charcoal and sandlewood chips but Phillip and I didn't mind visiting at all when Sara Jean was there. You see, Carnelia was Sara Jean's grandmother on her father's side and she took to raising her after Sara Jean's momma just up and left. The first time we ever saw Sara Jean she was standing in her garden surrounded by the sweet smell of hyacinths, and magnolia. A gentle breeze was blowing through her red hair and she looked at us with these clear blue, crazy, bewildered eyes that made Phillip and I feel like the grass was heaving under our feet. It was the first time either one of us had ever felt the power of attraction.

The summer we all turned sixteen Sara Jean announced she was in love with Tommy Anderson. She had blossomed into a lovely, shapely girl with an obstinate self-assertiveness that was a small impediment for those of us who loved her. It was hard to say if she really was in love with Tommy Anderson or if she was just trying to excite Phillip who often lapsed into silence at the mere mention of his name. I realized early on that loving her in that way would only lead to sorrow somewhere down the road but she and Phillip had a special connection. They communicated almost unconsciously with their eyes and were able to talk about anything and everything except Tommy Anderson and her family. Sara Jean never spoke to anyone about her family. Phillip wanted to know so much about them but she always evaded his questions. Carnelia said Sara Jean was struggling with abandonment issues and that some day she would come around and open up. Maybe that's why she was so drawn to Phillip. He had hazel eyes that were filled with sadness and sensitivity and when it came to Sara Jean, he had a serious, even melancholy nature to him. She loved the sound of his voice which was deep, sweet, and with soft expression and he loved her uncontrolled and fastidious manner.

By the time we turned eighteen all of us had pretty decent jobs. Phillip had learned to craft elaborate furniture and knick-knacks made of cedar wood. Sara Jean had taught herself to paint with water colors which she often sold in the town square. And I got a job as a writer for the local newspaper. The same local newspaper owned by Jed Anderson, Tommy's father. We'd all grown up but that didn't stop us from playing mad tricks on one another. Phillip especially loved boyhood tortures that made Sara Jean overwhelmed with goofy laughter and happiness. When Valentine's Day came around, Phillip made Sara Jean a miniature log cabin and told her he was in love with her. That lead to a lovemaking session that left nothing to be desired. When I saw him the next day he said, "Mitch, I'm so happy!" And I was happy for him and for Sara Jean, but that happiness would soon come to an end for all of us. That night Sara Jean knocked timidly on my door and then collapsed in my arms. She was half naked and covered in blood. I held her thin wrists while she frowned with the effort of trying to express what happened. Tommy Anderson had raped her. When Phillip found out he loaded his gun with six bullets and went searching for Tommy. He was going to kill the bastard but was driving way too fast in the heavy rain when he pulled into another car's lane. His car fishtailed and careened off the side of the road. Sara Jean and I were called to the scene. She crawled around into the car like a little girl, kneeling on the seat next to him. I saw her embrace Phillip running her hands along his face as he sprawled, head back on the seat cushion.

Jed Anderson did a good job of covering up for his son with alibis and expensive lawyers, finally sending him to study and live abroad. When Sara Jean became pregnant, I married her. She had a boy we named Phillip who at the age of seven crossed the wooden slats of Mueller's Bridge back and forth taking great wonderment in the raging water beneath him. While alone with us one day he told the story of a man only he could see standing at the edge of the bridge patiently, motionless, holding a bouquet of bright pink roses. A voice we recognized called up from within ourselves as little Phillip started to make out the words.

"Daddy says he loves all three of us, and is watching over us."

And with that revelation, the child prophet was born.

To be continued...


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May 2007

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