Words cut deeper than the sharpest razor or sword, piercing a person’s heart, and severing his/her very soul, killing his/her as the life just drains out of him/her like blood gushing from an open wound…
Wanda sat in the middle of her bed, trembling and hyperventilating as she rocked back and forth. Her stuffed animals and school books were strewn all over the floor, where she had thrown them all in a fit of rage when she got home from school. “I can’t take it anymore,” she said to herself, as the tears that she’d held inside all day began to pour down her cheeks in a steady flow, mingling with the snot that freely flowed from her nose, as though the floodgates had been opened. Grabbing a tissue from her nightstand, Wanda blew her nose, though the tears and the snot continued to flow unchecked.
Caddo’s 7-Sentence Story—was something I began at the now-defunct Caddo Veil blog. No reason a’ tall we can’t do it here–once a month, give or take.
If you’re up for a challenge, write a story in 7 sentences and post it on your blog–then leave a link to it here in the comment box, so others can enjoy it. Feel free to use the beautiful “button”, which our very talented friend Cee made for me!
Hallelujah! I’m up for the challenge… Below is my submission to Sis Caddo’s Seven Sentence Story, and if you click this link, you can see Sis Caddo’s most excellent submission, plus anyone else who may have a submission… Perhaps you would like to join in the fun too? Many blessings, my beloved readers! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Continue reading A Lifetime of Waiting→
“Ring around the roses, a pocket full of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!”
“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.”
“See, see, my playmate, Won’t you come play with me?
And bring your dollies, three? Climb up my apple tree?
Slide down my rainbow,
Into my cellar door,
And we’ll be jolly friends,
Forevermore, 1, 2, 3, 4!”
Tears slid down her cheeks as she walked into the yard of her childhood, hearing and seeing the children playing again in her mind’s eye. Was it possible that she had once been so innocent and carefree or was it all only a dream, a wish for what could have — no, for what should have been? Nostalgically, she walked over to the swing that was still tied to the old oak tree, fingering its chains and testing the wooden seat before easing her weight onto it. Someone had obviously taken great pains to care for this swing, to ensure that the ravages of time wouldn’t render it a danger to other children who might use this swing, or in this case, so this now middle-aged woman could sit here, close her eyes, and remember…
She remembered playing with her neighborhood friends and her cousins until well past dark on those steamy summer days and nights, and then rising early the next morning, to do it all again. The year was 1971, and things were different back then. This was an era where you’d better be on your best behavior, because the neighborhood mothers kept watch on all of the children as if they were their own, and if you acted up, Suzy’s mommy would spank you for misbehaving, and then she would call your mommy, and she would spank you too! She smiled, remembering that Suzy’s mommy had indeed spanked her on more than one occasion, for her mischievousness.
She smiled as she gazed at the steps leading to the upper level of the yard, envisioning the little girl with her little purple hotpants under the cute little mini dress, wielding her brush as though it was a microphone, as she put a record on her record player and prepared her one-woman stage show, imagining the audience below, which sometimes included neighborhood children, and other times was completely imaginary. A lone tear slid down her cheek as she remembered that little girl standing right there, with her imaginary audience applauding as she softly sang Donny Osmond’s, “Go Away Little Girl.”
She remembered staying up late on hot summer nights, catching lightening bugs with her cousins and her friends. Life up until then was so carefree, as it should be for a little girl of ten, but that all changed one dreadful night when she was playing a game with her cousins. It was a dark, moonless night, and they were playing one of their favorite games, “Midnight in the Graveyard.” She was “It”, the “Ghost in the Graveyard,” and she had to find a hiding place, where her cousins wouldn’t be able to find her, but if they did find her, she still had a chance of winning, if she could escape without them tagging her and run to the empty swing, which was “home base.”
She remembered finding the perfect hiding place. She shuddered now, as she remembered that night, hearing the voices of her cousins, as they counted the hours until they could go and look for her… “It’s One O’Clock in the graveyard, and I see no ghosts,” they counted. “It’s Two O’Clock in the graveyard, and I see no ghosts,” they continued, as she softly giggled, crawling towards the big bushes on the left side of the house. The other kids were scared of bugs and spiders, so they would never try to find her in the middle of these bushes, she thought, when suddenly, from behind, someone grabbed her foot and clamped a hand over her mouth.
“That’s not fair!” she thought angrily, as she squirmed to get away and tell whichever cousin had cheated, but as hard as she wiggled and tried to escape, he wouldn’t let her go. And then she realized that whoever it was that held her was much too big to be one of her cousins. This person had strong, hairy arms, like a man, and he smelled too — like he needed a bath and some deodorant. She kept trying to wiggle away and get his hand off her face, because she couldn’t breathe. What was wrong with him? Didn’t he know he was too big to play this game? “He doesn’t even know the rules!” she thought angrily. “Just wait till I tell my daddy about this,” she thought. “I bet he’ll straighten him out.”
She wasn’t frightened until he opened the door of a dark van, and threw her down in the back, while ripping a piece of duct tape from a roll, and placing it on her mouth. Her daddy and mommy liked to watch “The F.B.I.”, and her heart started pounding rapidly, as it suddenly dawned on her that she was being kidnapped by a stranger. “Oh God,” she prayed silently, as tears began to fall rapidly, and her struggling ceased as fear paralyzed her. “Please help me. Please don’t let him kill me, Lord.”
The back door of the windowless van slammed shut, as her kidnapper opened the front door and climbed in, starting the van and turning the radio up loudly, as The Doors sang, “Riders in the Storm.” As she lay weeping on the hard, dirty floor in the back of the van, Shelley suddenly realized that her life had just changed drastically, and there was nothing she could do about it, but pray and try to survive. Her mommy and daddy had always said she was headstrong, and that trait would prove to be necessary for her survival.
Her husband quietly walked up to her, as she sat on the swing, reminiscing, softly speaking, “Are you ready to meet them, Shelley?” before he touched her. In their more than thirty years of marriage, he had learned to never walk up behind her and touch her or grab her, without first announcing his presence, lest he trigger a traumatic episode. He looked at his wife of many years with deep love and admiration for her courage. Over the years, she had fought her way past many obstacles that might have stopped anyone else, but she was determined to be whole, for her own sake, as well as for his sake, their children’s sake, and now for their grandchildren as well.
It had taken her many years of prayer and counseling to work past the painful memories that she had locked deep within her mind, as she allowed each one to surface. Sometimes, only one memory would surface periodically, and other times, she would be brutalized by an onslaught of many memories. Sometimes, they came in broken, hazy fragments, while other times, vivid, sharp memories bombarded her soul.
Still, with the help of her loving Savior, she had continued to press through those memories, which had led her here, to this place, her childhood home, that she hadn’t seen since that dreadful night in 1971, when her idyllic life had been ripped away from her. And God, in His infinite mercy and kindness, had kept her parents alive. She hadn’t seen them since that horrible night either, and she nervously stood up from the swing, and lifted her hand to her hair, to smooth it, glancing up at her husband uncertainly. “Do I look okay?” she asked him worriedly, and he smiled warmly, cupping her chin in his hand as he replied, “You look beautiful.”
Hand in hand, as the two of them climbed the steps to the upper yard, she glanced to the left at the bushes that were supposed to have been her hiding place on that dreadful night, so long ago, and shuddered, as the door opened and she saw the aged faces of her mother and father. Though time had left its toll on their faces, in the forty-two years since she had last seen them, she recognized them immediately, as they fell into one another’s arms, weeping for joy. “I thought we’d never see you again,” her mother cried, as she held her tightly, as though afraid to let go, for fear that she’d vanish again.
“My little princess,” her daddy choked out as she was engulfed in his arms. “I’m so sorry I didn’t protect you better,” he groaned helplessly.
“Don’t say that, Daddy,” Shelley gently replied, as they made their way into the living room. “You were wonderful parents, and you had no way of knowing that such horrible predators lurked about.” It was a joyful reunion, as Shelley introduced her parents to her husband of more than thirty years and showed them pictures of their grandchildren as well as their great-grandchildren.
Their conversation soon took a more serious tone when her mother asked, “Can you tell us what happened, Shelley? Why did it take you so long to come back to us? There hasn’t been one day that we haven’t cried out to God to bring you back home to us,” she said, as she sat on the faded green sofa, leaning against her husband, who periodically swiped at his nose and his eyes with a wrinkled white handkerchief.
“It was awful, Mommy,” she said softly, as she shared the story of her abduction while playing with her cousins on that fateful night. She told her parents how he raped her repeatedly, and then forced her to prostitute herself in the city, against her will. She told her parents that she had tried to escape numerous times, and how he would find her and beat her each time, until she finally stopped trying to run away from her captor.
She told them of her arrest at the age of fifteen, and how it had changed her life. When the police had picked her up, she told them of her abduction and her forced prostitution, and how they arrested her kidnapper, charging him as a rapist and a pedophile and locking him away for a very long time. The one thing she didn’t share with the police was her real name.
The truth of her identity was locked somewhere deep within the recesses of her mind, but the years of repeated abuse and rape had wreaked havoc on the child’s fragile mind, and it would take years to unlock some of the secrets within. Because times were different then, there was no computer database for kidnapped children, and no DNA testing, which made it nearly impossible for the police to locate her family. By God’s grace, the courts were very kind to the broken teen, placing her into the home of a Christian couple who lavished her with love. They loved her when she acted out in anger and rebellion, and they loved her when she cried herself to sleep each night.
It was this loving couple who introduced her to Jesus, and demonstrated His unconditional love to her in so many ways. They took her to Christian counseling, several times a week at first, then, as she began to heal, less and less. Throughout the years, she and her foster parents had prayed for Shelley to be reunited with her parents, especially when she married Gabe, and again, when each of their three children were born, but though she saw their faces in her dreams, she couldn’t remember their names. She wasn’t even sure if Shelley was her true name, until two weeks ago, when after more than forty years, there had been a breakthrough, and she suddenly remembered her name, her parents’ names, and even her former address. “I was surprised to discover that you still live here,” she finished amid the tears.
“Shelley,” her father said gently, “we thought of moving many times over the years, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave, in case you escaped and came looking for us. We had to stay here so you could find us, and I’m so glad we did,” he cried, getting up and throwing his arms around her and her husband.
“Shelley,” her mother said softly, “Would you like to see your old bedroom or would it be too traumatic?”
“Mommy, I have longed to see you and Daddy, and my old room for so many years,” she responded, standing up, and grabbing her husband’s hand, as the four of them headed up the wooden staircase with the gold shag carpet. She laughed delightedly, as she saw pictures of herself as a child hanging on the wall to the left, as they ascended the stairs, running her hand along the oak banister. Sadly, the wall seemed incomplete, as the pictures went from infancy until the age of ten, and then they just stopped. There were no prom pictures, no sweet sixteen pictures, no graduation pictures.
It suddenly dawned on Shelley just how ghastly this must have been for her parents, who never got to experience the joys so many other parents enjoyed. Her mother never got to share with her about the changes that happen when a little girl becomes a woman. Certainly, she had been deprived of these joys, but so too, had her parents.
Waves of compassion swept over Shelley as she, her husband and her parents stood in the hallway outside of her bedroom, and impulsively, before they opened the door to her bedroom, Shelley turned to her mother and whispered, “Mommy, I’m so sorry for all of the joy that you and Daddy missed out on. I’m so sorry for the pain this has caused you, and both of you need to know this was not your fault. You did all that you could do, and what that horrible man intended for evil, God has turned into something good. You see, if none of these horrible things had happened to me, I might not be working with teenage prostitutes and rape victims. This has all worked out for good, because I love God, and He has called me for this purpose.”
After comforting her parents, Shelley turned and opened the door to her bedroom, which had remained unchanged for forty-two years. The bright purple bedspread on the white for poster bed, and lavender walls covered with posters of Donny Osmond brought a smile to her face. There were her old record albums and her record player. She smiled as she saw her collection of stuffed animals neatly arranged on her bed, just as she liked them. She picked up Mr. Bean, a fat fluffy golden stuffed cat, cradling him in her arms as she had done as a child, and walked to the window overlooking the trees and her swing.
“I’m home now, Mr. Bean,” she whispered quietly, as she turned around to look at her family, and with tears brimming from her eyes, she fell to her knees, as her husband joined her, and reaching for her parents hands, they all joined hands and prayed, giving thanks to the Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, who in His infinite love and mercy, had reunited this broken family, and restored the years that the enemy had stolen from them.
What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just use it for direction.
This week: PARADISE
Kept alive by wires and tubes, respirators and defibrillators, no longer able to speak or communicate with anyone save Jesus, she poured out her heart to Him, crying, “Lord, I’ve fought the good fight and I’ve finished the race. Surely there is a crown stored up for me in heaven — a crown that I will gladly cast down at Your feet as soon as You take me home.” She grimaced as pain wracked her body, followed immediately by yet another dose of morphine, which relieved the pain, but made communicating with her Savior so much more difficult, for with each dose, her mind could not function as the drug clouded her thoughts and caused wave after wave of nausea to engulf her.
She had been tormented like this for weeks, when suddenly, in the blink of an eye, it all changed, as now, for the first time in her life, everything suddenly came together with perfect clarity, and she saw Her beloved Jesus, engulfed in an indescribable light beckoning her to come. With great joy, she leapt forward, out of the bed, clasping His hand into hers, and as she stepped into Paradise, the I.V. was ripped from her arm, and the heart monitor flatlined…
She quietly paced back and forth in the emergency room, too agitated to sit, as her prayers ascended to heaven like the smokey sweet cloying scent of incense rising to the throne of grace. Although she nervously paced back and forth, crying out to God for the life of the one she loved, who lay lifelessly bound by all of the wires, tubing and medical equipment, she had no fear — indeed, she was strikingly calm and peaceful.
The hospital staff, ambulance attendants and others who were present that night were mesmerized by the tranquility that emanated from the room, where her beloved lay drawing closer to death’s door with each passing moment. Her love for him was evident to all, and yet, it soon became apparent to all that she wasn’t alone in the room with him, as someone else appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and held her in His strong arms, comforting her, while she laid her head on His shoulder. The hospital staff watched in wonder, as they heard Him whisper to her, “Fear not, for I am with you, My beloved, and I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Then, as her husband of more than 60 years drew his final breath, the staff and her family watched in amazement as the Prince of Peace gathered both of them effortlessly into His arms as a brilliant light encompassed the room, and the three of them ascended in a cloud of smoke, leaving nothing but two empty and lifeless bodies… Immediately, the room was filled with the cries of a repentant people crying out, “Lord, what must I do to be saved?”
I just finished reading Maria Tatham’s THE QUEEN AND THE HANDYMAN, and I just had to share it with my followers. The opening lines in the prologue quickly captured my attention, and I was drawn into the story. The writing style and the fantasy genre were reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’ classic Chronicles of Narnia. However, Maria had her own tale to tell, and it was captivating.
The dialogue between the characters quickly transported me into the seventeenth century, while the descriptions created vivid visualizations in my mind’s eye. The main characters, the queen and her handyman were both believable and endearing. What made them so appealing to me was their humanity. The main characters were Christians, but though they were both hero and heroine, they weren’t without flaws, which made it easy to relate to them. Another quality that I loved is that the lines between good and evil were clearly definable, while still making room for God’s mercy and grace.
When I finished reading this novel, I found myself looking forward to more. My prayer is that this would be the first in a series of novels. Beloved friends, I encourage you all to check out Maria’s website to find out more about her novel, and to read some of her blog posts. Some of my favorites are the fairy tales that she has revisited and given them a whole new tale to tell.
Many blessings to all of you and thanks for checking this out. You won’t be disappointed.
This week, we’re challenging you to explore how different narrative modes affect your writing.
Dear Dr. Phil,
Please allow me to express my sincere apologies to you one more time. I can assure you that when I was backing out of my parking place, I had no idea that there was anyone behind me, and I certainly had no idea that someone was you! I would never intentionally hurt or back over anyone, so you can imagine my dismay, when I heard the horrible thud, immediately followed by your painful shrieks.
Again, I humbly ask for your forgiveness. I know that I hurt you, but what you may not realize, is that I too, was traumatized. I haven’t been able to get a good night’s rest since that tragic accident. I keep having the same recurring nightmare of you flailing around on the pavement, wailing in the same horrible, high-pitched way you did when I backed over you with my car. It’s just horrible!
I’m so ashamed, and I feel really foolish for asking this, especially after the pain that I’ve caused you, but Dr. Phil, is there any way that you would consider helping me recover from this trauma? I really would appreciate it.
“Ladies and gentlemen, can you believe this? Can any of you wrap your mind around the horror I suffered at this woman’s hands? Or should I say her car?
“Picture this, if you will… I was walking across the parking lot after stopping off at the grocery store for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, feeling rather pleased with myself, because for once, I had gotten everything on the list that Robin had requested.”
“Excuse me, Phil! Hon, excuse me,” Robin interrupted, raising her hand and wriggling in her seat as she sought her husband’s attention.
Dr. Phil looked over at his wife with raised eyebrows, irritation in his voice at this interruption, as he responded to Robin, “Yes, hon?”
“I can’t believe she would interrupt me in the middle of a live show after all I’ve been through,” he thought to himself.
Robin smiled sweetly, thinking, “He’s such a sweetheart, but bless his heart, he can’t remember squat.”
“I just wanted to make sure we tell everything accurately,” she said. “Because you actually didn’t get everything on my list. I also asked you to get me some Excedrin for my headache, but you forgot that.”
“Are you kidding me?” Phil expostulated loudly. “You interrupted my dialogue to tell me that? After all the agony I’ve been through?”
Robin’s sweet countenance fell, as she glared at her irate husband, “After all the agony you’ve been through? What about me? Do you know what this has been like for me? There I was, in the midst of a terrible migraine headache, and the police show up at the door to tell me that you’ve been run over! So I had to get myself together and rush to the hospital, while still in the midst of a painful migraine. And did you show any sympathy or consideration for my pain? No, you just laid there on the gurney, screaming and hollering and moaning and groaning, like you were going to die, you big baby!”
Looking straight at the cameras, Dr. Phil responded, “And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Men, consider this a learning experience, when your wife interrupts you in the midst of your work, remember to smile at her and agree, because if you snap at her, you could suffer for weeks, like I’ve got a feeling I’m about to do.”
“I’m sorry, Robin, you’re right. I did forget to get your Excedrin.”
“What a sanctimonious jerk,” Robin thought, as she smiled sweetly at Dr. Phil and said, “That’s okay, honey. I love you.”
“Now, ladies and gentlemen, as I was saying before, my wife reminded me of my forgetfulness, can you place yourself in my shoes? I was minding my own business, when this woman negligently throws her car into reverse and backs over me, knocking me off my feet, and leaving me in excruciating pain. And I have to tell you my friends, that’s not even the worst of it.
“I’m sure you’ve all seen the terrible pictures on the news broadcasts and all over the internet. Stupid paparazzi! Someone even recorded my screams of pain, and now there’s this embarrassing YouTube video that’s gone viral. How many of you have seen it? That’s what I was afraid of.
“And now, this woman has written a letter, asking for my help. What would you do?
“When I first read her letter, I was taken aback. I couldn’t imagine anyone having the nerve to back over someone and then ask that person for help. But there was something in the letter that just kept drawing me back to it, and the more I read it, the more interested I was in discovering what kind of person could be so stupid as to back up over someone and then expect him to help her get over the strain of it.
“Are you as curious as I was? Good, well then, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to ‘Jane Doe.’ By the way, just so everyone is clear about this, ‘Jane Doe’ is just a pseudonym we’ve chosen for the woman who almost killed me. Come on out, ‘Jane.'”
After the introduction I just heard, I questioned my sanity in asking for help from Dr. Phil. It seemed very likely that he was about to throw me under the bus (no pun intended) for accidentally backing over him. As I walked on the stage and saw the devilish gleam in his eyes, and that nasty smirk on his face, I quickly looked away. My heart was nearly pounding out of my chest. I looked at the curious faces in the audience, and then my glance caught the sympathetic look on Robin’s face. In her eyes I saw pity and compassion for me. It was obvious that she already knew something that I was just beginning to understand, as I looked into Dr. Phil’s eyes, which looked back at me with undisguised hatred in them.
It was that look that settled the matter in my mind. Dr. Phil wasn’t interested in helping me. He wanted to heap his vengeance on me, and it was very likely that I would be defamed and ridiculed at best, and painted as a wicked villain at the worst. As I quickly sorted the pros and cons in my mind, I made my decision and turned tail and ran.
I ran as fast as I could run off the stage, grabbed my purse from the green room, and ran into the parking lot, where already, a man with a camera followed me in close pursuit, along with Dr. Phil. There was no way I was going to let them catch me. “I’ll just have to live with the nightmares,” I thought as I hurriedly jumped into my car, throwing it into reverse. And then suddenly, I heard a horrible “thud” followed by the loud, high-pitched wailing of Dr. Phil. “Oh man! Can anyone say ‘Groundhog Day’?”
He was up early that morning, well before the sunrise. Like a child, he ran to the window, beaming with delight as he saw the snow. Yes, he was an old man of eighty-seven years, but there was still a twinkle in his eye, still a childlike wonder as he gazed outside and saw the freshly fallen smooth, white blanket of snow that covered his lawn.
As quickly as his old body would allow, he scurried to put on his long johns, insulated socks, trousers and a blue flannel shirt, given to him last Christmas by his lovely granddaughter Adelaide. He smiled as his gnarled old fingers snapped the buttons, thinking of Adelaide’s clear blue eyes as she peered into his eyes, explaining that she had gotten the flannel shirt with snaps because she knew how hard it was for him to button his shirts, with his arthritis. He sighed. Adelaide was so much like her namesake, his beautiful wife of fifty-seven years. His heart still ached for his beloved Adelaide. Though she had been gone for ten years, her absence still pained him. Shaking his head, briskly, he finished dressing and walked into the kitchen to make some hot cocoa before he went outside.
Then, cocoa in hand, he opened his bible as he did every morning, and prayed. He read just a few verses, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3 KJV)
Removing his glasses, he wiped the tears that suddenly filled his eyes, and whispered, “How much longer, Lord? I miss my Adelaide so much, and I yearn to finally see Your face.” His body shook as great sobs overwhelmed him, and he gave in to the pain and loneliness that had wracked his spirit for so long.
Finally, after several minutes, he pushed his chair away from the table, and regaining his composure, he blew his nose with the sound of a trumpet blast into his handkerchief, replaced his glasses and placed his empty mug in the sink, to be washed later. He grabbed his winter coat from the hook beside the door, after wrapping a warm woolen scarf around his neck and a toboggan over his head, both knit for him long ago by his beloved Adelaide. Finally, after his coat was zipped all the way up to his neck, and the hood tied onto his head, he placed insulated gloves on his hands, laughing at himself as he caught his reflection in the window of the door.
“I look like an Eskimo,” he chuckled, as he walked outside into the bright, pristine whiteness. “Lord, You make all things beautiful,” he whispered, in awe of the beauty all around him. He loved gazing at the beauty of the snow, before any animals or humans had walked in it. There was just something so pure and holy about it.
As he continued to gaze at the beauty around him, his heart suddenly skipped a beat. “What’s this?” he exclaimed, as he spotted footprints in the snow, leading away from his house. Now the sight of footprints walking away from his house might not have been disturbing, but for the fact that it was obvious that whoever had been walking away from his home was barefooted.
Curious and fearful lest someone was injured, the old man began following the footprints, until they stopped, at the little grave under the oak tree, where his beloved Adelaide had been laid to rest. Confused, and somewhat fearfully, the old man looked around, and his heart began to palpitate irregularly when he saw Him, and he fell to his knees in the snow, unmindful of the cold dampness as he stared into His eyes, which looked like flames of fire.
Tears filled his eyes, as he looked at the beauty around him, and at the One who now stood before him, asking, “You did all of this for me?” As his Savior nodded, he whispered in awestruck wonder and joy, “Is it time, Lord?” He nodded and lifted him up.
“It’s time, Beloved,” He replied, smiling gently, “Let’s go home to our Father.”