Sunday, January 5, 2014

'Believe' by Shelly Hickman


Believe. A message that still taunts her years after the passing of her daughter. In the days of her daughter's illness, she considered herself a seeker, open to the possibilities of prayer and faith. Now cynical and guarded, she is forced to reexamine her beliefs and relive her past when an old love resurfaces, with a sick child of his own. Believe is a story that examines fractures to our foundations in the face of tragedy. It is a story that asks if prayers are always answered, but often in ways we do not see.

NOTE: Despite the spiritual tone of this work, please be aware it contains strong language.

Read an excerpt:
Silent you left
With no goodbye
Don’t understand
Won’t even try
I cannot move
I cannot breathe
I cannot find
The will to grieve
A void of light
Is what you leave
I now know not
What I believe

Six years later, the words to that song still made her think of the morning she woke to find Sarah lying next to her, her spirit gone. She turned down the radio and remembered how determined she was to save the world at that time. It was simply unacceptable that children die, that parents sit by and helplessly watch their child suffer, and she was going to travel the world until she learned the secret to healing.

What a joke. Now her big contribution was taking her miniature Yorkie to the cancer clinic as pet therapy. Woo, hoo! You're really making a difference, Rachel.

It now seemed strange that she ever felt that connected to whatever it is out there, so watched over. It made her question if we're only allowed to feel that way during crisis, simply as a blind impulse. Or maybe it was all in her mind. Now all that remained was a somewhat detached confusion with occasional spurts of understanding—that is, until they fell away again. She sometimes felt guilty that she no longer made the effort to cultivate that relationship, that understanding.

She recalled the day in the coffee house with Cooper. How ridiculous the need for closure, even under the most ill-timed circumstances. What an idiot. The memory prompted her to reflect upon some of her other bizarre behavior in the days immediately following Sarah’s death. After the people came to collect Sarah the morning it happened, Rachel went apartment hunting. Not seeking comfort in friends and family, but apartment hunting. A pleasant elderly lady drove her around on one of those little golf carts, showing her the grounds of one of the complexes she visited. “You’ll find that we have a very nice workout facility, clubhouse, and over here is one of our two swimming pools.”

Rachel nodded politely as she surveyed the women in their bikinis lounging by the pool. How can they just lie there like that, worrying about their stupid ass tans? I hate them! She continued to pretend like everything was perfectly normal as she journeyed on this little cart, when what she really wanted to do was scream to everyone within a five-mile radius, “I died this morning!”

A few days later, she found herself eating lunch alone at Sweet Tomatoes. It hadn’t even occurred to her, until she sat down with her food, that it was Mother’s Day. The place was busting at the seams with husbands, wives, children, grandparents. Everyone so happy, enjoying a family meal, again, as if nothing existed in this world that was evil or tragic. They never noticed the unaffected android mechanically spooning food into her mouth, failing to taste a thing.

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Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as an illustrator for a contractor for the Nevada Test Site. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer applications and multimedia at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Frankie.


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