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The Magnolia Tree
Somewhere in the gentle forests of America, there is a sloping hill and atop that hill a bent magnolia tree stands guard. It is a home for birds and squirrels and a place of shade for the traveler. Grass parted limply in some spots to show the tiny sliver of a trail that lead to the tree, and walking along this trail was a man in his early twenties. Worn tennis shoes bent flower and grass blade wherever they fell and dark sunglasses hid his eyes. His jeans were ripped and his T-shirt had seen better days some ten years earlier. He walked as if he where bearing a weight upon his shoulders, and every step made it just a little more difficult to carry. Forest sounds quieted all around as he sat down with his back against the trunk of the tree, that weight still glaring at him from its perch.
His voice was like a broken instrument, beautiful once but now harsh and disjointed; beaten.
“I did it. I beat the demons, Lillian,”
Silence kept its vigil. The man began to cry, hot tears spilling out into the soil. A single image forced the tears from him, the picture of a wrecked sports car, the frame bent in half around a slim, brown haired figure. It was one of the most gruesome accidents imaginable, one that should have never happened, and one that had not only cost one life, but a soul as well. The man blamed himself, his arrogance, his stupidity; his blindness. He fists beat into the dirt and sobs racked his frame. It should have been him. It should have been him.
“Do you really think so?” a soft voice remarked
He opened his eyes to find a young woman in a sitting next to him, a magnolia peaking out of her bark colored hair.
“Lillian?” the man asked, disbelieving.
She smiled, a hand removing his glasses so that she could look into his eyes “So how did you beat them David? How did you beat the demons?”
He thought for a moment, the story of his endless days working in missionaries dying on his lips, though he would have been lost without them. No, it had not been the service alone that had killed the demons. It had been the question.
“I asked…” he mumbled
She cocked her head, a smile playing on her lips “You asked what?”
He inhaled a shuddering breath and forced the words out “I asked for….forgiveness.”
“And did you get it?” Her voice was like a wind chime, bouncing around in the breeze.
David stumbled around the words “I don’t-………I mean it, it just-………..”
Another breath, and her hand found his “I think so, yeah,”
She smiled, and kissed him softly on the lips. He blinked and she was gone, her touch lingering on his arm and the scent of magnolias strong in the air. David looked up at the tree and smiled, his shoulders breaking free from the weight that had so weighed him down. She had never blamed him for the accident, though he did not know it, but what he had finally found was peace.
Peace with God.
And Peace with himself.