Heaven’s Tears

A hammer? No, no that wasn’t an option.

Maybe her scarf? But was she strong enough to make it work? It couldn’t be a job half done. That would be too horrible. She must be sure it would work the first time.

“WAIT,” she shrieked, pulling herself out of her daze and grabbing the back of her husband’s sleeve at the same time. “You have to eat something before you leave.”

He turned, sighing when he saw that panicked look in her eyes. “Alright, but just a little. I have to save room for the feast we’re going to have tonight,” he joked. There was a forced lightness to his voice.

“Why do you keep saying things like that when you know it’s not true?” She hissed, handing him a dry biscuit. “What if one of the kids heard you? We can’t get their hopes up like that.”

“What if they did? What’s wrong with giving them something to hope for? I’ll see you tonight, darling, with a fat turkey and a bucket of fresh water to cook it in,” he smiled as he stuffed the biscuit in his mouth and strolled out the door.

How could he put on a happy face like that every day when every day he came home with nothing more than shriveled mushrooms and dirty water to feed his family? The flour was running low. Soon there wouldn’t even be any bread. It would only be mushrooms. She sighed. Never mind that now. Today she had something to do.

Now that she was really looking, her options seemed so limited. The knife, like the hammer, shovel, and frying pan she had already considered, would leave marks. He would never forgive her if he found out. She could use a tub of water. But if they had enough water to fill a tub, they wouldn’t be in this mess at all.

“Mom!” The little voice echoed down the hallway. “Just a minute, dear.” The baby of the family was up early this morning. She scooped up the last two biscuits and walked down to her daughter’s room.

“Here you go, sweety,”

“Aww, not a biscuit AGAIN,” moaned the small girl, “can’t we have something else?”

She gave her daughter a sad smile. She wished they could have something else too. It had been a full six months now that entire little family had survived on bread and mushrooms. The vegetables had been the first thing to go. The meat lasted a bit longer, but when the creek dried up the animals either moved on or died. It was pure luck that they had stored up so much flour, but even that would only last another three weeks, if that.

“Well I don’t mind biscuits,” came a voice from the door. Her middle son had always tried to sound more grown up than he really was. “After all, we will have more food again someday, right Mom?”

She turned her weak smile to him. “You’ve been talking to your father.”

“Dad says it’s gonna rain again soon,” he declared, plopping down on the bed next to his sister. “He says he can taste it in the air.”

She frowned at them, “Your dad says a lot of things. I don’t want you two getting your hopes up. It hasn’t rained for over two years now. I don’t know what makes him think it’s going to start raining now.”

“Momma, why does it rain?”

“It rains because God is crying” she replied distractedly. At least that’s what her father used to tell her.

“I want to see the rain,” cooed the little girl dreamily, as she flopped back on to her pillow.

A pillow. That would work.

“I’m going to go check on your brother. You two stay here and finish your breakfast,” she blurted as she hurried out the door.

She peaked into the next room. All three of her children were miracles. It had been a miracle they were conceived after that doctor told them they couldn’t have children. It had been a miracle they were born alive and healthy, here, in the middle of no where. And even though each one had been both a surprise and a joy, nothing compared to how she had felt with her first. It was exciting and terrifying when she had discovered that she was pregnant, alone with her husband, hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement with no way to get back. While their isolation had looked like adventure when they first set out, a baby made it look irresponsible. Amazingly though, everything had gone well. Their son had been beautiful.

Now, ten years later as she watched him struggle for breath, curled in his bed, it made her sad to reflect on those first few healthy years. Her reflection also weakened her resolve.

“No, I don’t have a choice,” she whispered to herself. “Think about the others.”

“Mom?”

“I’m sorry honey, I didn’t realize you were awake.” He turned to look at her with those sunken eyes. His illness would not have been all that serious under normal circumstances. If they only had meat and milk and butter…if they only had green vegetables…if they only had enough clean water…she knew then that his body would have been able to fight off the infection. He would have been fine. As it was though, she had given up all hope.

“I’m hungry,” the boy mumbled.

“I know dear. We all are. There is simply nothing left,” she lied sweetly. Maybe she should give him something. This was his last meal after all. On second thought, no, the lack of food was the reason she was doing this right? They would all survive longer with one fewer mouth to feed. And he would die anyway, eventually. He wasn’t strong enough. It was either watch him suffer now for a few short minutes or watch, helpless, as he suffered slowly over the next few weeks. The end would be the same. No, there would be no last meal.

He began to whimper softly, full blown crying impossible in his weakened state. As she watched him, she remembered the first time he had scraped his knee. He had fallen while chasing his brother. She was there to comfort him, to put a bandage on the cut. His first step had been towards her. He had simply pulled himself up on side of a chair and taken a step, arms wide. There was no fear in his little face. He knew that if he fell, she would catch him. His first word… “mama”.

“Mom!” a little voice yelled through the door.

“Just a minute!” she called. Maybe this could wait. Maybe it didn’t have to be today. Her husband had hope. Maybe he would come home with something good to eat tonight. Maybe her son, lying emaciated in bed in front of her, could make it a little longer.

“But Mom!” the voice cried, more urgently this time.

“I said I’ll be there in a minute!” she snapped back. No, the time for hope was gone. She had hoped for two years, and for two years the land had only gotten drier, the animals fewer, and the decisions harder. She had no choice. But would she have the strength to do what needed to be done? With shaking hands she picked up the pillow and through tear clouded eyes, looked at her son.

As she left the room, she had completely forgotten the calls of her other children.

“Mom! Guess what, guess what….m-mom? Why are you crying? Are those happy tears?”

“No, not happy tears sweety.” She felt numb.

“Come look, come look!” A little hand grabbed her finger and led her down the hall, through the kitchen, and out the back door. At first she just stood there in the yard, letting the tears wash down her cheeks. Then she realized, the wetness on her cheeks was caused by more than just tears. It was cold and fresh as it rolled across her lips.

She turned her face toward heaven, and for the first time in over two years, God cried.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by miranda on September 8, 2010 at 2:14 am

    a very powerful story! great job!

    Reply

  2. Thank you! I’m glad you liked it!

    I’m always looking for ways to improve. Any advice?

    Reply

  3. I found the beginning a little confusing, so I didn’t quite understand what was going on with the family until about the fourth paragraph, though I liked how you started the story as if it was the middle of the scene. I like that style.

    And I’m sorry this reply has come so late, I didn’t even realize you responded until now. Have a good weekend!

    Reply

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