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Quotes From Twilight Breaking Dawn

Amidst Traffic by Michel Sauret

The sun rose during Eli’s drive home. He expected to walk into his house dog-tired, fall into his bed, and succumb to a dreamless sleep. But his bones were restless. His body ached from a full week of digging, but now the shovel called him.

“No more dreams,” he said. So he went on digging. By now the hole was six feet deep and as large as a full-sized swimming pool. The dirt was piled all around, and he had to fling it higher and higher each time just to get it out of the hole. But after a half-dozen shovelfuls he was done. His body was torn. He tried climbing out, but his hands were blistered and he couldn’t grip anything solid. There wasn’t enough strength left to even pull himself out.

He crawled his way to the shaded side of the hole and sat with his back against the dirt wall. He saw what he’d done as if seeing it for the first time. This hole. It consumed him now. It was all around him, and he knew it would only grow. He felt like crying. But even that required more energy than he had left.

Daddy would kill you if he saw what you done here, he thought.

But daddy was already dead. His body buried at the cemetery in Hope, a little town twenty minutes east of this hole. And here Eli was. Digging a hole on his father’s plot. His father might have made a sermon out of this. There was very little his father said outside of the pulpit. And even outside, he spoke as though he had a point to make.

“We can’t save our own selves, son.” He had said this with a bedtime story smile. As if Eli was supposed to find joy in the statement. He listened and watched his father die.

“Sometimes, things go unfinished. Because it’s not up to us to finish them.” His father’s eyes looked up, watching for God. Those words would be his last sermon. An hour later, he died. A man of faith—even through the affair, abandoned by his own wife—always faith.

And yet those words had echoed such faithlessness in his son’s mind. Where was there to go but down if you could neither save yourself nor finish business before dying?

And this is what all those years of faith had produced: a trailer, three acres of land and a divorce. His mother had pushed for the split when Eli was twelve, when he still held dreams of becoming his father, becoming a preacher. She said faith and God had turned Eli’s father too rigid. Eli’s father said her loss of faith had turned her loose, like the chaff in the wind, swept off her feet by some stranger blowing through town.

Eli had pieced together the story of the affair only in bits through the years. His mother had wanted to travel the world. She was brash and unsatisfied. Meanwhile God had kept his father anchored here in Oklahoma. The affair was brief, but it was enough to take away his mother. Father spoke very little of it, and Eli could never understand how a woman might leave her twelve-year-old son behind like that.

The last thing she said to her husband before leaving for good was, “You will leave your boy nothing but demons.” She said this as though she meant to protect Eli from his father’s God-fearing superstitions.

After she left, Father mourned, “Even God’s children must suffer, son.”

In the end, Eli inherited everything his father’s faith had gained. The old man, who had devoted his entire life to Almighty God, received this scrap of land in return. Eli had desires for college, for another life, but how could he abandon everything his father’s faith had produced?

When his father died, less than a year ago, Eli went to the church to gather his belongings and discovered his father’s journals. An entire bookshelf filled with notebooks, dating back years, pages filled with drafted sermons and reflections on biblical passages. He read hours worth of eloquent essays about man’s need for Christ and God’s glory. He read his father in a way he appeared only in front of the pulpit. In a way he rarely appeared in everyday life. Emotional. Charged. Passionate.

Eli went back ten years in the journals.

The pages following his mother leaving were filled with scribbles and hurried drawings. Occasionally a few comprehensible lines made it onto the pages. Phrases like, “The snake came into the garden and took away my fruit. I never had a chance to eat or taste the full serving of life.” The scribbling became worse with each page. Drawings crept into the corners. Deformed human figures devouring their own limbs. Two dogs fighting over a puddle of vomit. There were so many pages of violence. Violence that never came through in his father’s tone of voice or touch.

The worst images were the children peering out of the darkness with knife carvings across their features. Those were the most terrifying. It made Eli wonder if the violence inside his father was getting to be too much. He wondered if his father had ever wanted to enact those carvings on Eli’s twelve-year-old face: the only thing left in the old man’s life. God had taken everything else. Why not destroy the only thing left?

He took the journals home and paged through them for days. That’s when the demon children began chasing Eli through his dreams.

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Genre – Short Stories / Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

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