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A Time of Dying: Chapter 5-Lost in Lies

Colton got lost in Loews.

You might be wondering what Loews is. It’s the coolest movie theater in the world! It has these neat chairs that lean way back, and really big screens. There are video games, and the candy and treats are so good! But it costs a lot to go there, so we don’t go often.

This story wasn’t funny at first, but it got funnier later. It helps explain why Mama was worried we might have left Colton at Dairy Queen on the night we found him sharing his Blizzard with Lacey.

It happened when all eight of us went to see a movie, when Colton was four.

By Kevin Bailey

Previous Chapters:
Chapter 1-“The Dead One
Chapter 2-“If It Ain’t Broke
Chapter 3-“Swearing at the Trees
Chapter 4-“What Came Before

Colton got lost in Loews.

You might be wondering what Loews is. It’s the coolest movie theater in the world! It has these neat chairs that lean way back, and really big screens. There are video games, and the candy and treats are so good! But it costs a lot to go there, so we don’t go often.

This story wasn’t funny at first, but it got funnier later. It helps explain why Mama was worried we might have left Colton at Dairy Queen on the night we found him sharing his Blizzard with Lacey.

It happened when all eight of us went to see a movie, when Colton was four. He loved the movie we saw, and was talking fast.

“Didja see… how about when… what about the…”

But as we all piled into the van, he had gotten quiet, which was unusual. Kayleigh doesn’t talk much, unless she really has something to say, but Colton always seemed to have something he wanted to talk about.

Anyways, that night when we realized he wasn’t talking, we quickly discovered he wasn’t even in the van! I don’t have to tell you, Mama was scared! See, there were lots of people there that night, and Colton was very small.

Mama and Daddy left Isobel and Emily in charge and ran back to the theater. We sat looking at each other for a second, when I remembered:

I know where he is! I was out the door before Isobel and Emily could stop me.

I ran back to the theater. Inside, I saw Mama looking around the lobby. Daddy was talking to a security guard. There were so many people they didn’t see me. I didn’t have time to stop and tell them where Colton was.

I ran past the ticket area. The lady there chased me, but she was kind of… well… chubby, so she couldn’t catch me. I was fast, especially for being seven. She was talking on her walkie-talkie though, so I knew I didn’t have much time to find Colton.

I was right.

A really big guy (at least he seemed really big to me) stepped out one of the doors beside the theater entrances, and I ran–smack!–right into him. I didn’t fall over, so I kept going, heading straight for the girls’ restroom.

Sure enough, there he was. The trash can was tipped over, Colton was jabbering, and an older lady and three little girls were looking at him as if he was crazy.

“Wheah ah the monsters? I wanna’ see the monsters!”

So why was Colton in the girls’ restroom, and how did I know he would be there? It’s really pretty simple. I sat next to him during the movie, and when it was over, I was holding his hand as we walked out. He asked me where all the monsters went when the movie was over. I told him a silly story about how all of them lived in the girls’ restroom at the end of the hall, and that I’d seen them there and got their autographs before the movie.

He believed me, of course.

Colton believed lots of things.

Santa… the Easter Chicken… the Tooth Fairy. Colton also believed in God.

I don’t know about that.

I mean, I know about God. I know the answers when Aunt Jo (Daddy’s little sister) asks questions in Sunday School. I just wonder, with all the bad thoughts I think, am I even a Christian anymore?

If God is real, does he care that I’m really mad at him? Does he know that I don’t understand how all this works? I don’t understand things like how a good boy like Colton, who believed lots of things, dies, and a bad girl like me, who doesn’t, lives. Garrett said the other day that if he were God, he’d make a rule that no one ever died when they were little kids. That would be a good rule, but it made me think another bad thought:

My big brother is nicer than God.

Anyways, after I put the trash can back, I apologized to the lady with the three girls, and to all the feet I could see underneath the stall doors. I took Colton’s hand and ran toward the door. But just then, the chubby lady (Boy was she slow!) banged the door open.

“Well, I never!” she said when she saw us standing there. She had started to really yell at us when Mama appeared behind her.

“I’ll take care of this.”

Boy did she!

My bottom was pretty sore later that night! I explained I was just make-believing with Colton, but I still got a spanking. She said that I knew Colton would believe what I said, and that made what I had told him a lie.

I lie a lot—or at least I used to. I made up stories for the twins all the time. Colton always believed me, but Kayleigh not so much. She liked my stories though, and I still make up some for her. I think she tries to believe them more, since Colton is gone, but it’s hard.

Believing in things, that is.

I think Kayleigh believes in God, so that’s good, but I’m not sure I do.

The minister at our church used a word in services the other night, and I think it describes me best:

Lost.

He says it means you don’t know God. I know that’s true about me. I’m lost inside my always-aching head when I think about God. I don’t know if I believe. And that’s scary, because I don’t want to be lost.

Colton got “lost” in Loews.

I got “lost” when he died.

##

Daddy lied—and not a small one either.

You know how some lies are little-bitty ones that nobody cares about really? Like once I told my friend Nikki I hugged a singer at a concert, but I only touched his jacket as he went by?

Well, this wasn’t one of those.

Today I heard Daddy talking to Uncle Michael on the phone. (That’s his big brother.) When I heard what he said, I thought I was going to throw up.

Daddy lied about Colton.

Not to Uncle Mike, but to me.

Daddy’s voice that day was rough-sounding, not sad like when I heard him talking to Mama. I knew I shouldn’t listen (Daddy thought I was at Nikki’s playing) but I did anyway. I couldn’t hear what Uncle Mike said, but I felt Daddy disagreeing with him.

You see, when Daddy’s upset it spreads through the house, like a ghost or something. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but it feels that way.

“Come on Mike, you know better than that! You’ve read about God supposedly healing people, just like I have. It didn’t have to be this way!”

What’s he talking about?

But for some reason, I knew it was Colton.

I went upstairs to get the other phone in Mama and Daddy’s room. When I picked up, Daddy was talking really loud, so they didn’t hear me.

“You’d think you’d never questioned God before!”

“It’s not that, Jase. It’s how bitter you’re becoming. If you don’t be careful, the kids are going to start notic—”

“Oh, that’s great! So now you’re going to tell me how to raise my kids?”

“You know that’s not what I’m saying.”

“Well then what are you saying?” Daddy sounded even angrier.

Uncle Mike’s voice got real soft.

“Garrett watches you. It’s not obvious like when he was three and followed you around, but he watches what you do, hears what you say. I know you try to hide this anger from them, but you can’t keep it inside. It’s eating away at you—”

“Now hold on a minute!”

“No. The girls see it too. I don’t know about Mick and Kayleigh, but I’ve seen Belle react to your anger. Emily too. You don’t think you’re letting them see it, but you are. You take it out on Linda, and you get mad at the littlest things now. I mean, you yelled at Garrett just because he forgot to tell you I called to say I was coming over yesterday!”

Uncle Mike was right about that. I’d wondered why Daddy got so mad at him. Garrett went to his bedroom and cried after Daddy yelled at him.

“But—” Daddy tried to cut in.

“No, it’s true and you know it. Now what’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” Daddy asked.

“I mean tell me what’s wrong.”

“What’s wrong? You want to know what’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s—”

“What happened that day, Jason?” Uncle Michael interrupted.

“You know damn well what happened that day!” It sounded like Daddy was ready to explode. He swore again, but I wasn’t surprised this time.

“No I don’t,” Uncle Mike’s voice was soft and low. “You’ve never told me about it.”

“My son died!”

“Talk to me, Jase.”

And finally he did.

He told Uncle Mike the things I already knew: stopping for ice cream, and the “I-See-Something” game. He did leave out the part about how I made them late. He told about the crash, and I had heard all of it. But then he told Uncle Mike something that I had not heard before—something that changed everything.

Colton didn’t die right away.

Daddy always said that when the truck hit them Colton went to Heaven right when it happened and didn’t feel anything. As I listened to him talk to Uncle Michael, I realized he had lied.

“Mike, it was awful. The guy in the car behind pulled me out the window. Kayleigh was next to the truck, and I went to Colton. It was terrible Mike. His eyes were open, and he said ‘Daddy’, and…”

His voice broke, then he continued, “And I prayed like I’ve never prayed before. I got him onto the hood with me. I held him in my lap and prayed. I promised God everything Michael, everything!”

The sadness in Daddy’s voice switched to anger in a second.

“And I watched my boy die!”

“Jason—”

I must have gasped then, because Uncle Mike and Daddy stopped talking.

“Who’s there?”

Daddy sounded scared.

“I’ll talk to you… I-I’ve gotta go!”

I hung up before I could hear what Uncle Mike said. I wanted to run away before Daddy could find me, but I couldn’t move.

Daddy lied to us. Daddy lied to me. He said Colton was in Heaven before he knew what happened. Daddy lied.

Thoughts ran through my head so quickly I didn’t realize I was crying. And I didn’t see Daddy standing in the doorway until he said my name.

“Michal,” he said, real soft-like. I barely heard him. My head pounded with pain and anger. “Michal, please look at me.”

He tipped my chin up towards him, as he knelt down in front of me on the floor.

“You weren’t supposed to hear that.”

I looked at him, not wanting to say what I was thinking.

“I shouldn’t have even told your uncle.”

I couldn’t take it anymore.

“Why, Daddy?”

“Why what, Angel?”

“Why’d you lie?”

“Lie? About what?” He sounded hurt, but I didn’t care so much right then.

“About Colton dying. You said he was in Heaven before he knew anything. You lied.”

He sat down, putting his arm around me. I shrugged to move his arm; he kept it there.

“There are some times, when you just can’t—”

“Can’t what?” I was getting angry.

“When you just can’t tell the whole truth, because it would hurt people too much.”

We sat there for awhile, Daddy’s hand resting on my shoulder. I was thinking bad thoughts again.

“You’re not the only one, Daddy.”

“The only one what?”

“The only one who’s mad at God.”

I walked out of Mama and Daddy’s bedroom. At the top of the stairs, I turned and looked back where Daddy was sitting on the floor.

He looked stunned and scared, but one thing I remember for sure:

He was not crying.

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