This story is by Shonda Kimmel and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Quick Changes – Summer Writing Contest
My name is Shagra. It’s an Aramaic name meaning light. My mother told me I was the light of her heart. This made me happy. I loved and honored my parents. When I was twelve my father gave me the duty of preparing the family’s extra room for guests and told me it was a privilege to help the family in this way. This too, made me happy.
Then I learned how one thinks and feels about the world around him can quickly change.
Kicking the door open to the extra room, since my arms were full, helped to release the rage I was feeling. I was filled with anger! Today of all days, my father had advised me guests were coming this evening. I would need to fulfill my duty by preparing it and staying until the guests left should they need anything.
My day was changed just like that. I had plans to meet my friends to show how our tops compared in performance and appearance. I had spent weeks preparing my top for today.
I was fuming as I unpacked the bundles. The thoughts in my head were spewing out of my mouth as I argued with my father. My father who was not even present to hear what I was so mad about. I would never dare speak to my father with the selfish words and thoughts that were erupting in my mind.
Hot tears streamed down my face while I looked around the vacant room except for the tables and chairs. The floor was plain except for the woven rug under the tables. I felt like that rug with the heavy table weighing upon it. My heart had the light taken from it and felt the weight of a lost day.
I had to stop this feeling of resentment and brooding. I needed to focus on the task at hand. I quickly set the table for 13. I carefully placed the plates, cups, serving platters, and wine bottles around the long table in the middle of the room. By the entrance door was another table which I placed a bowl filled with water and some towels. My mother had baked bread this morning and wrapped it in a clean blue cloth along with baskets of grapes and dates.
All was ready. In the corner was a stool which is where I would sit during the guests’ supper. As I sat there waiting for their arrival, I stared at the brown stucco walls. They were plain except for some green vines that had been painted on them for adornment. I still felt the heavy feeling of disappointment in my heart. I thought it must look like the plain brown wall. I resigned myself to the day and the duty I was given.
The door suddenly opened startling me out of my deep thoughts. Immediately I sprang to my feet and greeted the guests with a bow. The guests nodded in my direction and continued laughing and talking to each other as they all filled the room. Quickly I went to pour the wine into the empty cups and uncovered the bread.
One of the men told the others to sit so that he could wash their feet. This wasn’t an uncommon practice, but the men questioned him as to why he would do this for them. He answered them, but I couldn’t hear his words. He spoke slowly and softly. The men had even become quiet stopping their chatter and laughing. I glanced at them, and saw their bewildered faces staring at him as he talked to them.
After the table was prepared I withdrew to my stool in the corner. I did hear the men address the man washing the other’s feet as my Lord. It was he that seemed to be the leader of the group. I watched the men as they once again started talking, which seemed like all at once, as I couldn’t make out what they were saying.
Then, the leader led the men in prayer. I bowed my head so as to appear respectful. He then spoke to the group and led them in the eating of the bread and drinking of the wine. It all seemed to happen in a very reverent manner. Even though the leader spoke louder so everyone could hear him, he also spoke softly. His tone and expression was one of direction and love. His face exuded a kind of glowing light. When he spoke, everyone wanted to listen. I didn’t understand what kind of celebration these men were having with this supper. My mind was held captive watching the men interact with each other.
One man did lean over to the leader, and I noticed them whisper to each other. The man then quickly left without bidding the others farewell. The men watched him leave again with a concerned interest. The leader just kept talking to the group in his same soft voice while he smiled from time to time. While I watched all of this trying to make sense of it, I forgot about my plans earlier in the day. Even so, my heart was still troubled and heavy as well.
The group’s actions with each other caused me to think about my actions upon entering this room. I reflected on how I had acted and the things I had given thought to. I was not pleased with myself. My parents would not be pleased with me. I wondered if these men had seen me kicking in the door and complaining what would they think of me. What would they have said to me if they had heard me yelling at my father who was not even there. They would think I was a thankless and disobedient son.
Soon after the one man had abruptly left, they all got up and took their leave. I just sat there in my corner. All night I had not spoken a word to any of the men nor did they speak to me. I was not mad anymore. I wanted to tell my father that I was not mad anymore. He, of course, did not know that I was ever mad for having to abandon my plans for the day. I just wanted to be with my father and tell him that I loved him. I wanted to share with him the things I saw, and heard, and did not understand in the room that day. I wanted to tell my mother that I loved her and that I felt the light in my heart now.
But mostly, I just could not take my leave from the room just yet. There was such a sense of peace and joy in the room. This same room which I had entered was so much selfishness and anger was now a room in which I felt nothing but love and thankfulness. Because today I learned how one thinks and feels about the world around him can quickly change.
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