She sat on her enclosed front porch on a Spring afternoon with her companion, who pinched her arm. Though the experience was unwanted and undesirable, she had learned to endure these petty torments from him. Over the many decades of their lives together, she would go somewhere else in her mind’s eye. The sun showed brightly through the windowpane, passing through the glass bobbles that lined every aperture that she was allowed to collect over the years as a type of “reward.” Then, the light split into brilliant colors that painted the inside of her glass prison. She transcended her captivity by traveling to an almost forgotten church in the recesses of her mind. In an instant, she was sitting on the front pew, looking up at the cross while the colors from the stained glass danced throughout the sanctuary, like angels circling the throne of God. She remembered the soft words from a kindly man that spoke gibberish from the pulpit, but the God-speak was still comforting, even if she didn’t understand it. For a moment, she was at peace until her arm started to bleed.
“Samantha darling, you need to pay attention to the sidewalk.” her companion said. “Mr. Williams will be by to walk his dog, and we want to look pretty for him, don’t we? We want to invite him in for tea and dessert. He’ll be by any minute, so let’s get you ready, dear.”
“Please, no, I don’t want to do this.” she pleaded.
“Oh, but we must. This is the thing we’ve been doing for over 60 years, honey.”
The companion moved his hands across her shoulders and over her breasts. She could feel the sickening arousal of his touch, and she begged him to stop. But, instead, he moved all over her body. The violation corrupted the very thing that God had given her as a gift into a curse.
“Come now, sugar, you needn’t cry. You know how I hate that.”
His grip ceased from being pleasurable and turned into familiar pain.
“After all, you invited me in long ago, and I have been a guest, SO TREAT ME AS SUCH!“
It was true; she did invite him into her life. It happened so long ago, and she could barely remember the person she was, but Samantha remembered the woman she became. Before that night, her companion was always at a distance, watching her with his eyes. His ruby lipstick covered a mouth that didn’t say a word. His warped and twisted features seemed to mimic a man. Still, they were purposefully misshapen as if to rebel against a creator that seemed so far away. Lips that never spoke a word but always seemed to entice. Eyes that followed her every move guided Samantha to that fateful night where she met Seth, a carpenter out of Oklahoma. In an instant, she sought a back-alley encounter with a man that she would never see again – a man that had his own companion. As they engaged in the dance, her distant stranger spoke for the first time. But not to her, but to the man.
“SPANK THAT THING AND CALL HER A WHORE!“
The night couldn’t end fast enough, and the distant, silent stranger she had seen since she was a child was now at her side and never stopped speaking. He spoke vile and contemptible things in her ear in the guise of sexual innuendo. Every day, she was nudged a degree off course, directing her journey further and further away from the sun to dark skies and turbulent waters. Her life reflected his influences as she floated from one-night stands to marriages that ended in divorce. Her many children wouldn’t have anything to do with her, and her friends – the few she had – abandoned her long ago. She was old, alone, and devoid of human contact.
The theme of her life was sex, and it repeated like a broken record, with her companion always whispering in her ear, “I need more.”
“Ah, there he is, my peach.”
The companion motioned to Mr. Williams coming up the sidewalk with his dog. Then, with a grandiose gesture of his arm and a buoyancy in his voice bordering on the profane, he uttered, “Ooh, here he comes.”
“Now, honey, I know you got a little mileage, but let’s get you ready for your big date.”
Mr. Williams seemed to irritate the companion for some reason. Of all the people they met and drove away, Mr. Williams was the one that stuck around and talked to Samantha – and he hated him for that. The companion wanted her isolated and alone, miserable and disgraced, but the kindly gentlemen wouldn’t adhere to their wishes. Mr. Williams would always say “hello” and a kind word, which irritated the tormenter, but it became violent when he told her about Jesus and scripture. When these events happened with Mr. Williams, the tormenter seemed to be in pain, and through the pain, he would yell and scream into her ear obscenities like steel nails on a chalkboard. Her body would be riddled with pain as the jailer beat her frail frame while scripture filled the air. It ended the same way – she would curse the kindly dog walker until he left, spitting at him while he walked away. Truthfully, she could never understand why her tormenter wanted to call the attention of a man that he hated so much. Still, it was of little importance as the theme of this familiar song would once again play out.
“Well, hello there, Mr. Williams. Want to come in? I’ll keep you nice and warm.” she said with a hint of seduction.
“No, thank you, Mrs. Sanders.” the kindly gentlemen replied.
“Oh, come on, just for a little while. It’ll be nice, and I know you won’t mind.”
The companion seemed to watch with glee as he sauntered around the porch. He danced in the light of the bobbles, lightly touching each one as he waited for a payoff that would never come.
“Mrs. Sanders, I would really like to finish our talk.” the elderly gentleman spoke, advancing with each syllable.
The jailer halted his dance, his eyes became as wide as silver dollars, and a low, steady growl came from his fowl lips.
“How long will you choose to be in bondage? How long will you give it power over you?”
She froze, and her companion did as well. This was a direct and open volley, and they both knew it. This kindly gentleman seemed to gain in stature as the silence between them grew into a painful experience. She didn’t know what to do or say as Mr. Williams was not more than three feet away from her. Her decisions were guided by her dark and grotesque mentor all of her life. As she looked over at him, the companion was frozen, trying to hide in plain sight but still ready to pounce to protect his territory.
“You know the story. I’ve told you many times. All you have to do is believe it and speak the truth.” Mr. Williams softly spoke. “Speak the truth, and he will be gone, and you can have your rest.”
It was at this moment that the tormentor would have no more. In what seemed like a scene from a horror movie, the dark figure moved from his position on the porch to striking distance in three steps. First, he turned and twisted his entire upper torso into a coil when it got to her. Next, the tormenter clenched his fist and released the energy of its whole being into one swift strike that landed squarely on her face. The power was astounding as she was flung across the front porch, crashing all the bobbles to the ground, breaking them into tiny shards that pierced her flesh.
Mr. Williams leaned over her, a worried look written across his face, a look that she couldn’t remember seeing from anyone.
Samantha could feel the life ebb from her body, and at that moment, she could see the duality of life in the two faces that hovered over her. One face was full of love and concern, a look that she wished she could have seen more. The other, a mug of hatred, malice, and disgust, a face she wished she would have seen less.
“Do you believe?” the kindly face asked; all the while, the companion was screaming profanities at her, beating her body with a fury that rivaled the pagan gods of old.
Memories began to surface of all the people she had met and destroyed with her appetites. She remembered her husbands, her children, former friends, and family members, faces all filled with sadness and shame. Still, the one face that made His way to the forefront of her mind was the face of a man that a preacher long ago in a brightly lit and color-filled church talked about. She remembered the clergy’s words, and they began to make sense. In that instant, before the last drop of life left her, she summed up all the wrong she had done, looked towards the man shining brightly in her mind, and uttered her last words on this mortal coil.
“Forgive me, Jesus.”
In an instant, the sideways view of the porch floor filled with shards of glass and blood was replaced with a light that had life and love woven into its very existence. Standing in front of her was the likeness of a Son of Man.
“Welcome home.” He said.