He walked or waded through his life never realizing that She followed right behind him or kept one step ahead, depending on the circumstances.
When he was just 3 years old, Zach excitedly ran ahead of his parents, wanting to be the first to reach his aunt’s house. And She was there, placing a shiny silver dime on the sidewalk, catching the brightest ray of the sun, grabbing his eye, grabbing his attention, grabbing his excitement and redirecting it. As he stopped to look, to reach, the car zoomed out of the driveway, the driver never knowing how close it had been. Zach hadn’t known either, and he didn’t understand when his parents started running, shouting, crying.
When he was 6, his best friend Kyle lived just up the street. In one sense, it was a quiet street. There were very few cars on the dead end. “Cul-de-sac,” his mother insisted. But it was also quite noisy with many, many kids.
He was allowed to visit his best friend all on his own. But it wasn’t really ever all on his own. She was always there. She was there the day Kyle found his daddy’s gun while his mommy was ironing his daddy’s uniform kerchiefs. And She made Kyle’s baby sister start crying, crying, crying as if she were being pinched very hard. So Kyle’s mommy came up to get his baby sister and to see the gun that Kyle had found.
When Zach was nearly 10, She was there when he climbed far too high up the tree in Kyle’s backyard. She was there in the place where the branches were too young, too small, too thin to hold his weight. And She was there as he tumbled, ever so slowly, down to the ground, landing on his wrist, shattering it. And She was with him in the ER, just as Kyle’s father was shooting Kyle’s mommy while Kyle and his sister looked on.
She was with him when he was 15 and knew everything his parents knew. Knew more than them, in fact. Knew that going to a concert with friends was harmless. Knew that drinking the vodka-rum-gin-orange juice concoction made the concert that much better. Knew that Joey only had a sip or two and could drive the two hours home in a snap. She was there, many, many hours after the concert had ended when Zach’s mom showed up to drive them all home after Joey’s car wouldn’t start.
Wherever he went, She was there. Through rip tide currents while swimming, through heavy snow storms while skiing, through French classes, through it all. She heard his friends commenting on his good luck in scoring a date with the beautiful girl who was so above him in every aspect. She heard them saying it was just his luck that he’d find the slot machine that seemed to go his way for hours. She heard his cousin marvel at his dumb luck when Zach landed a job just two months after graduating, right in the middle of the worst economic downturn in years.
When his mother got very sick, She was there while he made daily phone calls and weekly visits. He couldn’t understand how his luck could give out, how it could give out in such a painful way. He wasn’t aware of the grandiose occurrences of luck – the missed car crush at 3 or missed car crash at 15, the missed gun shot to his head at 6 or the missed murder witness at 10, the missed drowning at 12 or the missed hypothermia at 20. He was only aware of the minor miracles, really, the easy As, the quarters upon quarters upon quarters, the crazy coincidences of good luck heaped upon him.
He watched as his mother lay dying on her cul-de-sac. He watched as his father stood broken. He watched as his aunts and his grandmother tried to tend to her needs while they contended with their own pain. And She watched him watch. And She heard him curse Her. And She heard him beg Her or God to do something.
His mother heard, too. His mother watched, too. And for just a moment, his mother saw Her and thanked Her. His mother had only ever asked one thing of Her, 23 years before. “Leave me and stay with him.” And so She had. And so She does.
[Fiction written for the Write Stuff Creative Carnival.]