Tuesday, March 27, 2007
An Easter Story ~ Part 1: Gethsemane
An Easter Story ~ Part 2: Faith of our Fathers
An Easter Story ~ Part 3: A Man Hath Friends
An Easter Story ~ Part 4: Cock Crows Thrice
An Easter Story ~ Part 5: The Empty Tomb(final)
In summer, the creek runs burbling and laughing past the pink house in the hollow. The profusion of roses climbing every trellis, every possible surface grips the pink house in a desperate embrace. The scent is intoxicating. The azalea bushes bloom and every sort of bulb and tuber capable of bursting forth life whisper to Friend Scott and tell him that they love him, for he has loved them so well in return.
It's how it is in the mountains. Life here bursts forth, screaming in birth agony. It hides the pink house and its humble condition. The pink house is a dilapidated old homeplace that is barely habitable and hidden in the recesses of the dark little hollow. But only in winter do you realize this. In winter, the pink house's dusky shingles look dirty and dull. The rose vines are bare and barbed waiting to ensnare. Waiting to prick. Leaf mold lies rotting in the forest and the bones of the mountains threaten. It's dark. It's cold. It's lonely.
He had stamped off the porch of the pink house that grim winter morning. The light was gray. It was the sort of day when you could imagine the weather would never change. That it would always be dark and muddy.
He took with him a rope and went into the woods behind the house and selected a tree. He hadn't actually given much thought to the selection of this particular tree. He had just sort of picked it at random. No doubt, the big stump that was next to it made it a more appropriate tree to choose. But he hadn't actually taken much time to examine the tree. To touch it or feel a kinship with it. A kinship he felt keenly with all things of a botanical nature. I doubt he even noted that it was a locust tree.
Cold tears fell on his hands making them colder as he sat on the stump and tied the rope into a noose. He made no sound as he did this. He made no sound as he put the noose around his neck. Then he stood on the stump and threw the other end over the branch of the old locust tree. He looped the rope twice over the branch to make sure it would hold and tied the knot.
He said a prayer. He asked God to forgive him, but he couldn't keep living this way. The pressure of being something that he was constantly told was an abomination was just too much. The pressure of hiding for so many years so that those he respected and loved would still love him. Too much in the dead, winter cold of the mountains. Where spring was unthinkable. Where summer was impossible.
Then he flew off the stump, like some giant bird, trusting his six foot nine frame to snap his neck.
But it didn't . The limb broke and he ended up in a heap in the decaying leaf mold. If he had been paying attention to the tree, he would have known immediately that the locust borers had gotten to it. That the tree was on it's last legs and that each branch was a hollow sham of itself. The seemingly solid bough had been eaten up on the inside. Much as he had been.
He lay there for a while in the cold, panting from the exertion. Panting from the release of adrenaline. His hands clenched in fists, gripping the rotted leaves. Crumbling them in his fists.
He thought to himself, senselessly, "This will be about right for mulch come spring."
Then he said, to God...or to no one in particular or perhaps to his father, "I can't even do this right."
That was the day the bough broke. That was the day he realized that things had to change. He had hit bottom and he wasn't going to dig anymore. There was no place left to go.
Like his choice of the tree, he had no idea where this was going to take him. But something inside him had snapped. Like a graft taken too close to the trunk, he had no idea if this would take and bear fruit, or wither...costing him all he held dear.
He shrugged out of his noose and got in his white pickup truck and drove forth into the cold gray dawn.
He didn't know where he was going.