Like a puppy in a cut-rate pet store, she’d experienced nothing beyond the most basic feeding and cleaning. The resulting inability to receive tenderness caused her to stiffen upon any human closeness. Though she’d loved him nearly forever, a clinging parasitic fear prevented her from offering love’s reciprocation.
Thomas had poured kindness, laughter and gentleness over her-but she had been an infant regarding the acts of love. It’s lack in her world prior to Thomas’ entrance had authored this crippling disease of mistrust. Still, whenever he was near, she secretly and deeply inhaled his Old Spice and gloried in his carefree jokes and deep belly laughs. She could sense that her rejection of his affection caused him genuine sadness. To this, she could relate and was ashamed at her inability to return what he so freely gave. She feared that eventually, he would tire of trying, offer no more chances. She was afraid of losing his love, of losing him and being forever alone. But a stronger fear prevented the revelation of her heart.
Thomas sang. He sang loudly and often. Sometimes, he would sing specifically to her. She gleamed inwardly while smiling painfully at her shoes, secretly memorizing his lyrics. His simple music unlocked a dazzling universe. Entertainment to others, it was breath to Crystal. She so wanted to be like him.
Daring to experiment, she found a private stage in the upstairs bathroom. Locking the door and starting the tub water, she nightly voyaged into a land of near enchantment. With time, as long as the door remained locked, courage found its way into her heart and her voice began to undulate with strength in bold swells. First reaching the depths of dark oceans where once she swam, it swirled into heights of unforeseen freedom. Using resources of spirit, mind, body and emotions to sing, it was as if a great bird lifted her through peaks and valleys, navigating effortlessly. Yet, still uncertain of her ability, she imitated feathery voices of popular vocalists. And always, she left her bathroom stage in silence, hoping if any had overheard, they’d pretend otherwise.
But Thomas never had been much of a pretender and today, in the tiny span of time between table-setting and dinner, he’d invited her to join him on the swing.
“Look at that sunset, Crysti…isn’t it beyond gorgeous? “
Tongue-tied, she managed a brief, “Um-Hm.” She knew he had her here to talk about more than sunsets. It was pretty much set in stone that at this time of day, she was in the kitchen helping Momma.
“It’s the vivid colors that make it fantastic,” he continued. “It wouldn’t be half as good without that boldness. Music is a lot like a sunset. -You Follow?”
“I don’t think so.” she answered. She felt her stomach tightening.
He sighed softly. “You know, I like singers who give it all they’ve got…gutsy, like this sky. Whispery singers don’t take your breath away like a sunset. People anticipate those striking colors, the unexpected hues…That’s what makes sunsets worth waiting for. People like the breezes, it’s true, but they want the strength of a storm, the vibrancy of a sunset. They want something that’s going to stir their souls, not their hair.”
Crystal remembered her breathy imitations and blushed.
“Crystal, sing with all the colors mixed in your heart…the sadness, gladness, confusion, clarity. Use your colors…even the ones you want to hide because they scare you or you think someone else won’t like what your reveal. Be a sunset, Crysti. You will stir souls- I promise.”
Crystal’s voice, suddenly a treasured possession, welded itself to the base of her throat while tears spoke her healing. Evening’s mist began to rise as the sun’s colors began to give way to the shadows of night. Momma called them in for dinner. The world changed color and with it, Crystal’s heart. His words, wise with love’s fullness, had brought Crystal to realize she had a gift to offer. A gift that was hers alone.
Her heart quaked with fear, gratefulness, and love as she offered her greatest gift to her adopted father.
“I love you. I really do. I love you with every color in my heart.”
“I know you do, Crysti…I always have known.”
Crystal believed at that moment, that the loving and caring Jesus that Thomas had told her of time and again, was truly real. And if he were anything at all like her daddy, she was ready to get to know Him.
She leaned in closely to her daddy’s side as they walked slowly beneath the old oaks toward the kitchen. The smell of roast chicken slid across the air, beckoning them with Momma’s home-cooked greeting. Four brothers rushed in from barn, garden and yard, the screen door squeaking and slamming with each rowdy entry.
“Hmmm, guess I need to get some grease on that door.”
Crystal smiled and hugged him tight, “Yeah, guess so.”
Cindy Hailey is a freelance writer and Christian vocalist. Military life has provided her over twenty-five years of opportunities for travel and flexibility in careers. She writes about adoption from first-hand experience and this piece of creative non-fiction is based on an episode from her own life. Cindy believes her writing and vocal gifts carry the responsibility to impart encouragement into the everyday lives of everyday people