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Contemporary Drama Fiction

“John, we have to get you up to the front, as near the front as we can,” I could feel my older sister Macy pulling my hand. My club foot was aching, and I didn’t want to be in this enormous tent that was already teaming with so many bodies. I wiped the sweat from my brow. “If God means for me to be healed, He’ll part this sea of people.” 

I looked down on Macy’s head of thick almost black hair that was only a little less unrully than when when she was younger. When she was ten and I was six, one day, I’d smeared her hair with green fingerpaint. She’d retaliated, slapping green paint all over my face and hair. We were green and carefree, even though I had a clubfoot and couldn’t walk as well as Macy and others. I grimaced when I recalled how I’d believed then that some day a perfectly good foot would come to me, like when my baby teeth fell out and new teeth grew in. 


That was also the day when the world of miraculous unfoldings stopped. Macy and I were giggling at our green selves, when we’d heard an awful cry from Annie our babysitter, who’d answered her phone in the kitchen. We’d found her at the kitchen table with her face planted on the table, her long red braid moving up and down, as her body heaved with crying.


“I didn’t let Garry the Gerbil out of his cage,” I’d stammered in response to Macy’s scathing look.

“No, No that’s not it, I don’t know how to tell you,” Annie sobbed.

“Mommy and Daddy will be home soon,” Macy had said, giving John a look of ‘what do we do now?’

“No-oh, they’re not coming back. They’ve been kill-ed,” the words came out of Annie

as though she were underwater, gorgling tears with each utterance. 


I didn’t remember much after that. Macy said that she contacted our Grandma Tally who lived near and we always went to her place every weekend. There was a funeral, which was mysterious and I didn’t understand at the time, and then there was a gathering for Mommy and Daddy, except they weren’t there and I kept expecting they’d show up.


We went to live with our Aunt Beth and Uncle John, and I’d tried to remember Mommy and Daddy but it got harder and eventually it had felt like they were relatives who’d gone on a long trip and hadn’t returned. They were still alive, but living in another place. Uncle John wanted to call me ‘Johnny’, but I’d had my name before they came along, so I wasn’t giving up my name. Aunt Beth giggled, her large cheeks reddened and she wiped away tears whenever I said that. Uncle John, waggling his pointer finger at her, would say, “See you’re spoiling him.” Then she’d respond, “You can’t blame him, it’s all he has left of his parents, his name.” Macy didn’t pray aloud during grace for God to give me a new foot anymore, but I suspect she kept up her prayers for me. I never let her know that I prayed everyday for our parents to come back to us. I didn’t want new parents, just Mommy and Daddy. I prayed even though I didn’t believe.


I was in my first year of college when Macy was finishing her Bachelor’s degree. She’d moved out and was living fifty miles away, so I was surprised when she contacted me and insisted that I attend a big Christian Tent Revival Meeting that would happen on a farmer’s field in an old rural community on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. A certain Reverend Whitney Thomas, had healed all kinds of people, many with much worse conditions than a club foot. “You can’t be serious, Macy, you know it’s a bunch of gimmicks, that they select certain people from the crowd.”


My sister, the one with the Bachelor’s of Science drove back to convince me. Her brown eyes willed me to reconsider, and her chin quivered with emotion, as if she herself had also been lugging around a club foot.  “Just give it a chance, John. Miracles happen.” Seeing her eyes brim with tears, I felt that if anyone could importune on my behalf with Jesus Christ, she’d be the one. She bristled when I started laughing, having for a moment imagined reaching out with green finger paint and smearing her face. Then I started to sob, missing Mommy and Daddy, and wishing time would reverse so Annie would never ever tell us they’d been killed in a car accident. Macy patted me on the back.


To be healed of my club foot, seemed to be such an insignificant thing, and yet standing there in the wide aisle in a sea of the maimed and diseased, it was everything. All around me the seats were filled with worshippers and those who’d been dragged along, and also those who were skeptical and bracing themselves to not be duped. I counted myself among the latter. 


“I can make it from here. Go find a seat before they’re all taken.” Macy looked up at me, her soft brown eyes hesitant. I grabbed her hand. “Don’t be disappointed.” She squeezed my hand back. “Have faith.”


I’m doing this for her. I’m doing this for Macy, I repeated to myself as I made my way to the front and took my place among those seeking healing. My club foot was aching and I was wishing that I also had a wheel chair like many others up front with me. I hoped I wouldn’t have to stand long, and that I wouldn’t collapse. How many were in my situation, bearing the humiliation to appease a loved one for their support through the years. I looked at the faces among the seated. Many wore a look of entrancement, and I sensed that many yearned to be in my shoes, maybe even with my clubfoot, so they could experience the lifting of their affliction, so they could experience a miracle. 


An organ started playing, and the congregation started singing the hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee,” and at the end the Reverend Whitney Thomas took the stage above us, and thundered out. “Who wants to be nearer God?” and there was a loud applause in response, and even I felt a yearning and mouthed, “I do.” I could hear his shoes above me and his strong cologne was almost toxifying. “There are some of you, who say you want to be nearer God, but in your hearts you know you’d rather go your own way in sin, rather than receiving His Healing Grace.” I heard a shifting and some clearing of throats among my peers at the front with me. If God

didn’t heal me, it’d be because I didn’t have faith. 


I looked for Macy in the crowd, but didn’t see her. The pressure of my 'healing' may have gotten to her, and she'd left. Uncle John and Aunt Beth were sitting a third of the way up, with the expressions of being in the ‘Nearer to God’ camp, and why shouldn’t they be, they’d taken in Macy and I, almost like orphans. Aunt Beth saw me, and waved, her face flushed with heavenly expectations. Uncle John nodded slightly, and I think he was still aggrieved to have to share his Christian name with another in the family. He put his hand on Aunt Beth’s arm, probably telling her not to get so excited, but he needn’t have, almost everyone else was in a fervour, and even I was being swept up in the waves of openness to the healing powers of Jesus Christ. 


Then the good Reverend Whitney Thomas was down in front of us and he had a large body that moved like a line backer in a tailored dark blue suit, his iron grey hair swept back from his strong patriarchal face, and his dark grey eyes flashed holy thunder. He had the type of presence that women such as Aunt Beth would swoon for, and men such as Uncle John would revere, and even I was held spell bound by the Reverend, and I heard myself say in unison that I believed Jesus would heal me. I said it fervently, pushing away all my doubts. 


The Reverend Whitney Thomas raised his right fist and clenched it. “Satan, be gone!” he shouted, his square jaw firm and defiant in the face of evil. Wiping a tear of emotion from the corner of his eye, he raised his eyes to heaven and put his hands together in a prayer position. “Oh Lord, make me your humble servant a conduit for your healing grace, Amen.” And we all echoed his 'amen'. 


“In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk,” the Reverend spoke to a middle aged man with black hair near me. There was a hush, as the man stood up and took a few steps forward, and then there was loud rejoicing and a series of “Praise the Lord’s” and “Amens”. The healed man disappeared into the bosom of the faithful. Next the spot light was on a young girl, who mimed to the Reverend’s query that she couldn’t talk. “Daughter of God, today, this moment you’re going to sing, and we’re all going to hear you sing.” A woman rushed down from the audience. “Oh, Jesus, heal my sweet Adelie.” I saw the girl with her pale face and light green eyes look around the large tent at all the people, and then she looked up and started to sing “Jesus loves me.” Everyone burst out in song with her, including myself. More miracles were happening, and I was so taken with what was happening, that I was hardly aware of my own club foot. 


The Reverend appeared in front of me, and I felt the strength of his convictions in the strength of his gaze. “Son, you’ve been suffering a long time, haven’t you.” I gasped, no one had called me ‘son’ since Mommy and Daddy.” He was waiting for me to answer. “I have,” I said as loud and clearly as I could. “In the name of Jesus Christ, let this fine young man dance on two healthy feet for the Lord.” And I danced.





June 28, 2022 19:26

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3 comments

Dhwani Jain
08:57 Jul 06, 2022

That was a fun story, full of hope and spirit

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Hope Linter
20:48 Jul 08, 2022

Thank you for your comment:)

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Dhwani Jain
05:32 Jul 09, 2022

=D

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