Suffused with Light ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp
Earl Badger awoke at the usual time, washed and dressed himself. He went into the kitchen, expecting to see his mother sitting at the table drinking coffee, but she wasn’t there; neither was she on the couch in the living room or in her bedroom. She didn’t tell him she was going to be gone. He wondered where she was but didn’t worry.
He was twelve years old and in the seventh grade. He was a good student, better in English and reading than in math and science. He didn’t like school very much but he tried to make the best of it. In a few years when he graduated, he wanted to go into the navy and live a different kind of life than the one he was living now.
He never knew his father. His mother had been married once but not to his father. She smoked cigarettes all the time and drank beer and wine, any kind of alcohol she could get her hands on. She had even used drugs on occasion. He knew she wasn’t a particularly good mother, but he loved her and believed that life would get better someday for both of them.
The day at school was uneventful. In his usual way, he didn’t speak to anybody and nobody spoke to him. He had a spelling test, on which he scored a hundred percent, and a math quiz. He spent the hour in study hall reading out-of-town newspapers on sticks. Two eighth grade boys got into a fistfight in the gym. All in all, a very routine day. Nothing to write home about.
When he got home, his mother still wasn’t there. He looked for a note that she might have written, but there wasn’t any. He dug up something to eat for supper, did his homework and watched TV until bedtime. He expected her to come home all evening but she didn’t.
The next morning when he got up, she was sitting on the couch in her bathrobe. She was crying, smoking and drinking shots of whiskey. When he walked into the room, she didn’t look at him.
“I couldn’t take care of a kid,” she said, sobbing. “I hated to do it but I couldn’t go on any longer.”
He stood right in front of her and he knew then that she didn’t see him.
Somebody came quietly up behind him and touched him on the shoulder. When he turned to look, he saw a man whose face was suffused with light. He could only see the outline of the head, ears and a neat brown haircut.
“Who are you?” he asked. “Are you my grandpa?”
“Are you Jesus?”
“Who are you, then?”
“Just somebody to help you get to where you’re going.”
As the man led him away with a gentle pressure on the shoulder, he turned to look again at his mother.
“Don’t worry about her,” the man said. “She doesn’t matter now.”
Copyright © 2016 by Allen Kopp