Ready or Not- A back-story/flash fiction by Crystal Senter-Brown
When my phone rang at 2:00 a.m., I knew it wouldn't be good news.
My mama only said five words:
"You gotta come home, Junior."
I didn’t think seeing my father in a hospital bed would bother me, but it did. It’s not like he had never been in the hospital before, but this time felt different. The larger-than-life presence he usually had was reduced by tubes and machines.
My father had been a diabetic since his early twenties, and my mother had tried to get him to follow his doctor's orders for as long as I can remember. She'd bake his chicken, but he'd always talk one of the church mothers into sneaking a few pieces of fried chicken to his office after fellowship was over. Mama would even take the time to make sugar free cakes and pies, but he’d just wait until everyone had gone to bed before devouring what was left of her peach cobbler.
I noticed his swollen feet when I came home for Christmas. Mama was fed up by this point, raising her voice for the first time in my life. "You're almost 70, Jacob!" she yelled. “Do you want me to be a widow before my time?"
Dad just shook his head. "You ain't got to chase after me. I can take care of myself. And what I can’t handle, God can," he said in his booming preacher voice.
When Dad opened his eyes and saw me sitting at his bedside, he frowned. "Junior? Boy ain't you supposed to be at school?"
"I took a break, Pops."
"Ohhh, no. You ain't missin' no school on a’count of me. No sir-ree-Bob!" My father said as he tried to prop himself up higher on his hospital bed. "You get back to that school, boy! I mean it!" he said as he poked his finger into my chest.
I shook my head. "Pops, it's fine. I'll go back in a few days. I'm worried about you! Mama said you took a really bad fall!"
My father was silent for a moment. "Yeah I guess I did, huh?" he said as he laughed. "Well it's a good thing your mama changed her mind about going to see her sister down this weekend. Who knows what would have happened if she hadn't..." his voice trailed off.
"All that matters now is that you're fine," I said.
"Yeah. Well, since you’re here, you gonna bring a word for me at Elm Street on Sunday? Doc says it’ll be a few weeks before I’ll be able to stand and walk again."
My heart raced. "Me? But I'm not even done with my coursework! I'm not ready to preach yet, Dad."
"Nonsense. You know the Bible. You can do it, Junior. It's in your blood!"
I couldn't turn him down, but I was afraid. I knew I would eventually be standing in the pulpit of our family church, but I didn't think that time would come so soon.
"What were you planning on preaching about on Sunday?" I said, pulling the notebook out of my backpack to take notes.
"Boy, put that notebook away! This ain't school! And I ain't gonna tell you what to preach about either," My father said. "I want you to find a quiet place tonight when you get back to our house. And then talk to God. Ask him for help. Before you know it, that little notebook you love so much will be brimming with sermon ideas."
This was not the process for preparing for a sermon that I learned in class, but it was worth a try.
"Okay Pops, I trust you."
"Don't trust me! Trust Him!" My father said as he pointed to the ceiling. As I hugged him goodbye and walked away, I could hear him calling my name.
"Yes, sir?" I said as I stepped back into his room.
"Bring me some of your mama's peach cobbler when you come to visit tomorrow."
Meet Jacob Anderson in The Rhythm in Blue and But Now I See by Crystal Senter-Brown- available on Nook, Kindle and in print!