A single plume of steam, slowly writhed its way up from the coffee mug, on the large wooden table she sat behind. Her hands were wrapped tightly around the mug, keeping her icy fingers warm. She sat silently, her convoluted thoughts bouncing back and forth in her mind. The kitchen was cold and gloomy. The winter sun remained hidden behind dark clouds yet letting in enough light, to illuminate the barren trees in the garden… and the freshly dug hole. She’d been outside. Four in the morning. Robe and all. She’d held the cold steel handle of the shovel. With each hard thrust into the soft ground, her hair swung forward in disarray, swinging back as she threw dirt back behind her. Her once lime green robe turned a shade of brown, the same shade as her eyes, that stared blankly at the ground. Her mouth moved but no words formed as she ceaselessly worked the shovel into the soft earth. In her mind her past played out like a movie; the characters her family, friends and acquaintances, the protagonist herself and the story…her life. An endless loop of episodes past and present, all intermingled into one, making it difficult for her to distinguish between the time frames. There she was as a little girl, twirling in her yellow sun dress lined with white frills, her bare feet sweeping across the softness of the green grass below, the lace tied around her waist spinning along behind her. The sun shone, making everything glimmer that fine spring afternoon. A shadow fell over her, making her look up to see who it was, squinting against the glare of the sun to see a manly figure. She could not make out the face of the man above her, but she knew it was her father..however, when she could make out features of his face…she became certain, that it was her husband. He proceeded to lift her up by the waist, making her giggle in glee then laughter as he spun her around..and around…and around until her twirling younger self spun fast enough to make the face of her father…husband… blur across her vision. Her laughter turned to screaming, the soft warm gleam of sun became the cold harsh beam of headlights and the crackle of bending, twisting metal swallowed up every other sound.
She raised the cup to her lips and took a sip of the bitter coffee. That seemed to soothe her slightly. Her thoughts began to dwindle into single occurrences, events that made her heart in her chest pang with regret and anguish. Her past was like a dark cave, hiding a malicious creature that thrived off the darkness in her heart. With each hurtful memory came that deep anguish, one that struck a cord so deep her whole body shivered; and that creature wallowed in her displeasure. She knew, wholeheartedly, that there was nothing she could do about those past events, no place to hide them both within her mind or in the world. Even with her mud caked robe and dirt streaked face, even with all her husband’s possessions scattered haphazardly within the shallow grave, she would not be able to erase her past; she felt burdened and heavy-laden. Burdened and heavy-laden. The phrase sounded familiar, somewhat nostalgic yet foreign, like a familiar yet unrecognizable face in a dream. She grasped for it, something of it, yet her mind brought up blanks each time, no closer than she was when she started. She took another sip of her coffee, allowing the thought to filter out and into the dark abyss that was her mind. She was lost, well and truly lost.
Dennis van der Berg stood outside the large wooden door, smoothing his dark grey suit down with one hand. It was a habit he’d developed in the early years of his ministry, one he was yet to break. Nervousness, as usual before these kinds of works, filled his stomach with a queasiness that both excited him and made him sick. He recited his exhortation softly to himself, silently mouthing all the main keywords that would help direct his conversation. When he was satisfied, he raised his hand towards the doorbell and pressed it. Nothing. He waited a while, listening for any sort of sound that would let him know that someone had heard him. A full minute passed before he pressed the doorbell again. When no one opened the door he lightly rapped on the hard wood, knocking louder with each passing minute. Finally he heard the shuffle of feet behind the door and with practiced ease, placed a friendly smile on his face. The rattle of keys came from behind the door, followed by a soft cry of frustration, some more rattling and then the tell-tale click of a door unlocking. Dennis opened his mouth to greet, a smile still across his face, but instead of a greeting his mouth remained agape, his smile faltering then drooping into an “O” of shock at the figured that appeared before him. He quickly tried to cover the shock with a smile but he found it hard to smile at the ghastly, face that peered at him from behind the slightly ajar door. She was half hidden within the darkness of the house, yet he could make out the bedraggled locks of hair that draped wildly over her face, the streaks of dirt that lined her cheeks, broken by a clear trail leading down from what was most assuredly tears. The bags under her brown eyes added ages to what should have been a young face. Dennis’ face softened, the shock wearing off as quickly as it had appeared and in its place, sorrow took hold. He felt his heart drop in his chest, weighed heavily by emotion and without thinking reached towards the door and softly whispered within her hearing,
“You look burdened and heavy laden…come to the Lord for He will give you rest.”