His Bottles of Tears

Psalm 56:8

“Please! Don’t hang up on me! I want you to come home!”

My cry echoed hollowly as the dial tone stung my ear. Dropping the receiver, the burning hit my eyes with a hellish fervor. They stung until the saltwater tears poured out to douse the fire behind my vision.

She wasn’t coming home. My beautiful, lovely, one and only teenage daughter. Lost to me, she refused to leave the sin and return. Repenting and begging for forgiveness wasn’t on her rebellious bucket list.

Was this the fifth time I wept today? The constant falling of life-water onto my face did nothing to assuage my heart. Like a bandage that would not stick, the tears failed me, but still, they would not cease.

Drained with grief, I stumbled back into the room where my husband lay sleeping, and crawled under the heavy quilt. Wrapping myself securely, I crouched near his warm body, trembling with the shivering sobs. Chill seeped in through the sheets. Would I ever be able to set a firm chin of resignation to this issue of my precious baby daughter?

Within seconds of forcing my eyelids to clamp a lid on the sorrowful leaking from behind my eyes, I found myself opening them once again inside a bright white room. Jars and bottles of all shapes and sizes stood shoulder to shoulder like ardent glass soldiers in strict formation. They occupied every inch of hundreds of rows of shelves affixed to the wall, and they held transparent, sparkling liquid up to their brims. The room was radiant, unseen lights reflecting off of the white walls and the crystal clear bottles.

I did not hear Him arrive, but there He stood beside me. He stretched out His hand to me, his robe as pristine as the room, the white soft on my swollen eyes.

“Where are we, Lord?” I worried. Had my heart finally cracked beyond repair and given up the fight? Was this Glory? Then why did I still feel so heavily unhappy? What was this absence of peace, even as I stood in Jesus’ presence?

“These are my treasures,” He said softly, His voice soothing my ears like feathers against the cheek. “Each of these hold the tears of my children.”

With a gasp, I surveyed the room again, staring at the precious life-water of my brothers and sisters. Some jars were larger than milk jugs, holding gallons of sorrow in their bellies. They could only represent numerous days and nights of ripped hearts and tortured souls.

Thinking of my own impossible battle with my daughter, of the messy breakup that had destroyed my college years, and of the miscarriage I once faced as a newlywed, I suspected my own bottle was fairly immense.

Turning doe eyes to my Lord, I enquired, “Where is mine?”

With a strong finger, He pointed to the corner shelf, second from the bottom.

There sat a miniature vase, its thin neck holding no more than a pint of the clear salty tears I had donated over the years. I stared in disbelief. “Are you sure you didn’t miss any, Lord?”

“I miss nothing.” There was a sweet smile on Jesus’ lips.

In an instant, I forgot about my own miniscule bottle, and straightened up, gazing about the room again in horror. Striding purposefully over to a vessel the size of a small aquarium, I tapped its face with my fingernail. “What happened to him?” I demanded, dread filling the gaps between my lungs and ribcage.

Jesus’ eyes melted with a wise sadness that was married to joy and hope, a look of which my own timid faith could not mimic if I tried. The corners of my eyes were far too wrinkled with doubt to attempt it. “His entire village was murdered at the hands of radical militants. They burned down his church, leaving him crippled. His whole family was killed, and his wife died in his arms.”

With a gasp of pain, my hand reached for the great big jug of tears, and brushed back and forth against the glass as if I could wipe them away forever. I felt useless and helpless and my own sorrows fled. “Why?” I whispered, eyes shut.

“He travels to all of the surrounding nations, giving his testimony and leading many to Me. He is writing a book that will bring thousands to Me. His entire church and family rest in my Father’s bosom in heaven awaiting his coming to join them for eternity.”

I stepped a few paces to the right and found another. Large, intimidating, and sloshing with fresh tears. “And her?”

“She was sexually abused by her father for ten years. It began at the age of four and didn’t end until she ran away with her mother as a teenager, living on the streets and eating out of trashcans.”

“And…?” I waited, my heart racing in agony.

Jesus took my hand. “And she has started a nationwide ministry that provides shelter and education for abused women and their children. Every day she frees hundreds of lives.”

Encouraged and emboldened, I found yet another giant bottle, the tears of which were almost overflowing.

“She has multiple sclerosis and hurts every single day. Her husband left her, her family has all abandoned her, and she is completely alone, trapped in her own failing body.”

I knew what to expect this time. Jesus would tell me why. There was a happy ending to this story too.

“She came to know Me. She loves Me better,” He said simply.

“No extravagant ministry or worldwide fame?” I asked, hesitating.

“No one knows her name,” Jesus replied. “But it is enough that it brings her soul daily into my arms.”

I pointed to my own tiny vase once more. “Why have I not suffered like these? Why have I been spared so much mourning? Why have you given me an easy life in comparison?”

“Because, My dear child, it would not have glorified Me or been for your best to give you more. What you have now is good for you. You bring honor to Me in your responses, and I see and hold your fewer tears just as close to my heart. They are precious jewels in my sight, and more valuable to me than gold. You have been a good and faithful servant with what I have allowed you.”

All of me resonated with His words, as they spun through my head and radiated out my fingertips and my toes. My body felt light, and the peace I longed for coated my limbs. All I could control in that moment was my knees, which dropped to a deep kneel at His feet.

He moved away from me, reaching for my own vase. In His other scarred palm, He held a new, slightly larger bottle. With deft hands, He poured my tears into this bigger vessel, discarding the old.

In an instant, the supernatural peace fled from my immature, unstable mind. His words disappeared, my flimsy brain forgetting them. All I could see was the greater bottle, glaring at me with its smooth surface. My tears only occupied two thirds of its inside, ominously prophesying of weeping that was to come.

“What are you doing?” I demanded, rising to my feet, my hands clenched. “Are you implying I will be crying so much more soon? I thought it wasn’t for my good! I thought I was good enough now!” My spirit cried out silently that my words were vain and foolish, and not fit to be spoken in front of my King, but I did not heed this warning. I was consumed with unreasonable fear.

His kind face remained unchanged. With the same look of compassion, He took my hands in His once more. “My daughter, there is no inherent goodness within yourself. And did you forget so quickly what I did in the lives of My other children? Do you still not trust Me?”

Biting my lip, I shushed my mouth and hung my head. “Help me!” I murmured. “Because it is so very hard. It should not be, but yet it is!”

The doorbell roused me from sleep and I was once again huddled against the strong back of my husband, our familiar bedroom walls alerting me that it had been a dream. The incessant chiming cried to be noticed. Who could it be so early? The sun had only just begun to apply blush to the cheeks of the sky. I pulled on the knob and swung open the heavy front door.

There she stood. My lovely, broken, weeping daughter. Her cheeks were pale, her makeup smudged. But her lowered, shamed eyes were clear. She lifted them to me and fell into my outstretched arms. “Mama, I’m home!”

Again, the saltwater cleansed my cheeks. These were the new tears of which He had hinted. Tears I had been afraid to meet. I knew they would flow for hours.

Tears of joy.

The Bloody Rag – RJ’s Flash Fiction – Posted Exclusively Here!

996 words, posted exclusively at BlondeRJ, for your reading pleasure.  Thanks, Heather Fitzgerald, for the idea!

 

 

How long have I been driving?

The freeway seems to yawn forever in front of me. Stop and go. Stop and go. LA traffic is hell on wheels.

I am waiting for exit 6, but I can’t even remember what time I left home. My mind is fuzzy and blurry and I’m exhausted.

The license plate in front of me reads “IMAH8TR.” Not clever or cute. Just stupid.

Fantastic. I’m stuck behind the “Hater” and the eye-piercing sunlight makes my head ache. I recall that this is normal for me. Headaches are part of life here in the smog of LA.

Hater slams on his brakes in front of me. I slam on mine as well, cursing loudly. Who gives losers like this driver’s licenses?

To add to Hater’s incompetence, he has something sticking out of the trunk of his Toyota Camry. I squint, my eyes tired. It looks like part of a blue flannel shirt. So Hater has a trunk full of clothes? What is he – an illegal immigrant? For some reason, this irritates me further. I can feel the road rage escalating inside of me. Pedal, brake, pedal brake. I’m going crazy.

Wait. Wasn’t the shirt blue? Now I can see that part of it is actually red. What kind of flannel combines blue plaid and bright solid red? So Hater has poor taste in clothes as well.

I am sitting so closely behind the Camry that I can see the red more clearly now. It’s not even in any sort of a pattern. It’s like a big bad stain. And it’s spreading. With a gasp, my brain comes into focus in an instant.

The red is spreading.

The bright color boldly creeps into every corner, overwhelming the blue and conquering the fabric for its own. Soon the scrap hanging out of the trunk is completely crimson.

What is this: sunlight-changing fabric? If only the hue didn’t remind me so much of…

Blood.

Drip.

Time freezes as the first drop falls. I watch it, stopped dangerously close to the Hater car in front of me. My stomach clenches as I drive over it a second later. For crying out loud, it’s got to be blood.

I’ve got to call the police.

Ignoring the hands-free driving rule, I fumble for my cell phone, my fingers trembling and shaking. I accidentally drop the phone at my feet and swear, stretching sweaty palms to find it, my eyes glued to the dripping of scarlet that hits the asphalt every other second.

“I’m on the 5, between exits 7 and 8!” I scream after dialing 911. My temples throb. “There’s a car with something hanging out of the trunk. It looked like a shirt, and now it’s covered in blood. It’s dripping.” Admitting this makes it true, and I shudder at the words.

“Can you stay behind the car and keep us on the line, sir?” The woman’s voice responds to me calmly.

“I’ll help! They’re getting off the freeway!” I cry, not knowing what I’m saying. I find a gap and pull into it, heading for the right hand side. They’re leaving at number 6: my exit.

“And he’s pulling into the gas station at the corner of 9th and Steton,” I whisper now, the buzz of the freeway replaced by quieter road sounds. I feel so obvious, trailing the car. I park as inconspicuously as possible in the nearest parking spot, facing the car with the bloody shirt.

A burly man gets out, tattoos marking his shoulder. He begins to pump gas, lighting a cigarette dangerously close. He looks right at me through my windshield.

I’m dead now.

But he simply nods at me. My breath exhales all at once, and I feel like throwing up.

The officers appear out of nowhere from around the corner of the convenience store. Engaging the burly gas-pumper in conversation, three policemen suddenly attack him, throwing the man’s chest against his door. While two officers slips handcuffs onto the man’s brawny wrists, one hefts open the trunk.

He lifts out a much smaller man. His shirt and pants are caked in crimson, and he collapses against the officer who saved him.

I throw up my hands with a shout of glee, dropping my phone against the seat.

A tap at my window startles me. Two of the officers have made their way to my driver’s side door, dragging the criminal with him.

What are you doing? I mouth. Just let me be the good citizen! I don’t want this nasty fiend knowing who I am or that I ratted him out! I’m frozen in fear behind the wheel.

“Please step out of the car, sir,” they say firmly.

What the heck?

I do. And find myself also thrown up against my own door, my hands twisted back uncomfortably behind me. “You have the wrong guy! I’m not with them! I reported this to you!” I shout, wrestling against them in sheer terror.

They lead me, handcuffed, to the back of my own car. The bloody man is pointing, finger shaking, at me. Using my keys, they pop my trunk, and out jumps a woman! With an animal yell, she races, tripping and stumbling, over to the bloody man, throwing her arms around him.

My head stabs.

“Mick!” growls the burly, tattooed man. “Mick, you sold us out, you son of a dog! You called the police, didn’t you?” He curses and spits. “Your head hurts, doesn’t it, man? I knew you were a liability, you piece of puke!”

With a crash in my skull that feels like I have been electrocuted, it all comes back to me. My name is Mick. I beat up and kidnapped a wealthy couple. The tattooed hunk is my right-hand man. I suffered a brain injury in a robbery last year. I black out some times and forget who I am and what I’ve done.

And I just called the cops on myself.

 

Copyright RJ Conte 2015

 

Like what you read?  Then subscribe!  (The button is up top in the right hand column.  😉 )  G2Det exclusive info on everything written by RJ Conte right here!

Also, you have 24 hours left to order a paperback copy of Angel-Lover here for $4.00 (60% discount!) before it goes back up to full price.

Thanks for reading!