Christian Inspirational Friendship

This story contains themes or mentions of suicide or self harm.

‘I can’t drink it,’

‘Oh, come on Susan, what good is this doing anybody?’

‘None! It’s not doing any good - for anyone!’ Susan slammed the tea cup down, the light brown liquid sloshed over the sides and onto her Eichholtz Umberto Dining Table.

‘Susan!’ George jumped up and rushed to the kitchen, bringing back a napkin to wipe up the tea, ‘what’s come over you?’

Susan didn’t answer but stood and made her way towards the dining room door, eying the ridiculously expensive ornaments on her fireplace as she left.

It was a glorious summer day outside but her heart felt cold and empty as she stood on her front lawn trying to feel some joy in the light breeze dancing across her cheeks.

That India trip had been the highlight of her year and the downfall of her existence. Never in the 57 years of her life had she felt like this. Like…

She couldn’t even find the words to describe what she felt. That women with the holes in her skirt, asking for a little change. Pleading for a little change. The bleeding hands of the workers. The scabby little huts. The piles of human feces dotted around. Susan had wretched at the sight of it all.

Every night following the return to her quiet little suburban neighbourhood, Susan had tossed and turned herself into a sleep full of crying babies, bony mothers, sickness and death, and the smell. The smell was the hardest thing to forget. Her dreams had haunted her well into the morning. Even now, late afternoon, she couldn’t shake the images that plagued her mind.

That tea plantation had ruined her.

There was a soft tap on her shoulder. She didn’t turn, she knew it was her husband. Probably here to offer some well-meaning words of comfort… or worse, the idea that there was nothing she could do.

‘Darling, please come inside, you will catch your death.’

Susan shook her head still refusing to turn around. She felt as though her heart was about to burst and seeing the sympathy in his eyes might just be the straw that broke her.

She heard a small sigh as her husband retreated back into the house and felt a bubble of resentment rise inside her chest. How could he be okay with this? How could that trip not have affected him in any way? How was he happy to continue this mundane existence based entirely on materialism?

Susan laughed bitterly, what the hell was she getting upset about? The fact that she had too much. That life had been too good to her. That her life was too perfect. Oh woe me, she thought angrily.

Susan’s muscles were tightening in her shoulders and back. She felt the tension spreading down her arms like the disease that was spreading wildly through her brain. It was as though she were sinking into quick sand. The more she thought about how unjust the world was, the more she felt sucked into self-pity.

Susan had the sudden urge to go somewhere, anywhere, she needed to get out of her own head.

Marching down the garden path, Susan swung open the white picket gate with more force than was really necessary, and stepped out onto the pavement where she quickened her footfalls. It was no good feeling sorry for herself. That did as much good as abstaining from tea. She needed to make a change.

Susan would sell it all. That’s what she would do. She would throw the whole of her life’s savings into charity and move overseas. She would help build a school. Promote toilets, sanitation and clean water in the plantations. She would give her all to the cause. She didn’t care if it killed her doing it. This life that she lived was no life at all.

‘Excuse me ma’am?’

Startled, Susan jumped back, she realised with horror that she had almost trodden on a man wearing his home on his back, sitting against the corner shop wall.

‘I-I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.’

‘That be okay miss, don’t suppose you got a minute, I’m not after cash, just a sandwich would be welcomed.’

Susan went for her purse only to realise she had left it at her house. A small glitter of a tear began to form at the corner of her eyes. She couldn’t even do this one small thing for someone. ‘I’m so sorry’, she said, tears building at the edge of her eyes. ‘I’ve forgotten my purse at home.’

‘No bother miss. Why so sad? It’s alright, you ain’t the first, you sure as hell won’t be the last. It is what it is.’

The man’s kindness was the final straw, a rise of emotion rushed up through her chest and forced out all her tears in a torrent that dropped her to her knees.

‘Hey now… what’s this about?’ The man shuffled over and placed an arm on her shoulder.

‘It isn’t right.’ Susan bubbled out through her sobs.

‘What’s not miss?’

‘You comforting me like this?’ she shook her head, ‘like you don’t have your own problems.’

Susan felt anger rising up her throat and blinding her vision. The stupidity of her anguish when this man had literally nothing to his name.

‘We all got them miss, me and you, we the same ya know. We both got flesh, bone, minds, thoughts, problems. Ain’t no amount o' money, change these facts.’

‘But my problem is stupid! It’s privilege. It’s having everything -.’ Susan’s anger had dried up her tears but now that she had started, she couldn’t stop.

‘- How stupid and superficial do I sound? I have been given everything! I have it all. Yet here I am complaining to you who has lost so much. I feel like God has given me so much potential to make a change, make a difference, and I am just wasting it. Wasting every moment of every day moaning about how I wish I could do something and yet I do nothing. I don’t even know where I would begin! -’ Susan took out a handkerchief and blew her nose softly.

‘- People say I’m privileged all the time as if it is a good thing. They say I should be thankful and just appreciate what I have but I can't! I feel guilty all of the time and frustrated and desperate to help, desperate to make a change. There is so much that is wrong with the world, so much pain and suffering and here I am sitting in my privileged little house, with my fancy little ornaments and pretending none of it exists!’

Silence fell as Susan took sharp, rapid breaths trying to calm her racing heart. What a mess. What a horrible mess she had become.

The man took his arm off her shoulder and reached inside his pocket pulling out a small photo of a little girl. The photo was torn slightly and dirty around the edges. He held it out for Susan to have a look.

Susan was taken aback, ‘she’s- she’s beautiful. Who is she?’

‘My daughter,’ the man replied without smiling. ‘She died seven months ago.’

Susan gasped. ‘Oh my-’

‘I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it today. How I’m sat here on the side of the road and my baby is up there all alone.’ The man sighed. ‘Truth be told miss. I was just about to go and jump myself off Tallow bridge before you turned up.’

Susan gasped again. ‘What?’

‘Yeah, I’d just had enough of the pain. Couldn’t cope with the injustice in this world. Felt like there ain’t a damn soul who gives a rats ass anymore -.’ The man’s face crumpled.

‘- But let me tell you something miss. You turning up like you did. You offloading on me like yer did. Talking to me like an equal. Well, I say, I’m not sure that bridge is looking too inviting anymore. It’s like God put you ‘ere to prove there are still good people left.’

Susan stared in shock as the man continued.

‘There are plenty of rich folk throwing money at things just to appease their guilt. But you miss. You feel. That there is the quality not everyone has -.’

Susan closed her eyes tightly and silent tears fell down her face.

‘- You were meant to walk down this street miss. You were meant to talk to me. You were meant to provide a distraction to me own misery - .’

Susan opened her mouth to speak but couldn’t make her voice work.

‘ - All I’m saying is, you shouldn’t underestimate what you are already doing. If you keep feeling wit’ that big ol’ heart o' yours you will always help folk you meet along the way -. ’ The man reached out and held Susan's hand.

‘- One more thing... just cause you ain’t seeing the fruits o’ yer labour, don’t mean there are none.’

Susan choked but still she didn’t know what to say.

A slight smile lifted the man’s lips as he closed his eyes and leant back against the wall, he looked as if in prayer.

Susan shuffled next to him against the wall and looked ahead of her. Only she wasn’t really looking at anything in particular. She was thinking on all that the man had said and a wash of peace slowly settled across her heavy heart.

‘What’s your name?’ Susan asked after a while.

‘Tony ma’am.’ He said with eyes still closed.

‘I’m glad I met you, Tony.’

‘Truly miss, you ain’t half as glad as I.’

January 13, 2022 21:32

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Dustin Gillham
00:07 Jan 20, 2022

Excellent work.


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Marty B
21:57 Jan 19, 2022

I really liked the beginning- What if you started from this line" Susan slammed the tea cup down, the light brown liquid sloshed over the sides and onto her Eichholtz Umberto Dining Table" ? Another suggestion, as so much of the story took place outside, even more descriptions of the location would add to the dichotomy of beautiful outside, stormy inside, you referenced earlier.


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