THE PRODIGAL – A Short Story – Pt. 1

Gabriel opened his eyes, seeing the room through the blur that remained from his alcohol-induced slumber.

The grey light of dawn seeped into the room through the drapes at the window, showing the worn layer of dirt and misuse that had filled his life for years now.

He closed his eyes again and threw an arm over his face, as much to block out the memory of those years as the light that grew brighter with each passing second.

He groaned, a low rumble that rose up from his soul and pierced his heart.

As the light grew, he opened his eyes again and ran them around the room; wincing at the litter and dust that filled the small room.

Litter and dirt of a different kind had filled his life, his heart, his soul; much worse than that which covered every flat surface of the worn hotel room that he had called home for too many years now.

He forced himself to sit up and swing his feet off the bed to the floor.  The motion brought forth a wave of nausea that had him swallowing repeatedly.

He cradled his pounding head in his hands and closed his eyes, trying to block out the light that was insisting on getting into the room.

As he sat there, waiting for the world to right itself, he tried to remember the events of the night before.

Oh, yes ….

The man in the three piece suit that had shown up on the doorstep, insisting on a conversation about the money Gabe had borrowed weeks before and was unable to pay back.  The threats against the family that he had walked away from when he was barely into his teens.

He reached up to rub the back of his neck as his childhood years swept through his mind.

All the rules, all the restrictions.  How did they ever think he would put up with that for any longer than necessary?

He had felt smothered by the closeness of his family, angered at the love that kept forgiving all his bad deeds.

Even when he had maliciously and calculatedly stolen his parents’ savings to set out on his own, they had still forgiven him.

He shook his head.  He had thought them the epitome of naive stupidity at that point and told them so.

The pain at that memory was almost too much to bear.  How he had hurt them!

He had been waging a war with himself for weeks now; part of him feeling as if he should do something to make amends before it was too late.


How could he go back when he had made such a mess of his life?  How could he expect them to forgive him when he had all but spit in their faces?

His shoulders slumped.

He couldn’t.

The slamming of the door against the wall made him nearly fall off the bed.

His head shot up just in time to meet the impact of a fisted hand into his nose.  Pain exploded as he reeled back onto the bed before rolling to the floor.  He lay there, gasping, tasting blood on his lips.

Hands gripped his shoulders and dragged him around to where booted feet could connect with his midsection.  There was nothing he could do to protect himself.

Pain was tearing through him too quickly, sapping his body of any strength.

He didn’t know how long the beating went on, he had slipped into unconsciousness, oblivious of the pounding and breaking his body was enduring.

Darkness and peace ….

He could hear voices talking to him, calling to him.

Gabriel opened his eyes and tried to look around the room.

Pain nearly split him in two and took him back under.

His dad would have told him to pray to God for help, but Gabriel had walked away from his parents’ God when he had walked away from them; and asking God for help was the last thing he would have thought of doing.

** Next Friday … part 2 **

© Drusilla Mott and, 2012, 2021

THE PRODIGAL – A Short Story – Pt. 4

Part 1 of this 4 part short story can be found here.

Part 2 can be found here.

Part 3 can be found here.

*  *  *  *  *

Gabriel looked into the congealed liquid that had once been coffee with a little creamer, not seeing the disgusting film that had formed on the top while he sat trapped in his thoughts.

He was barely conscious of the rest of his family whispering in the corner of the room.  What filled his mind, as if in slow motion, was the scene that had played out only hours previously.

He looked at the hands that held the styrofoam cup, expecting to see the blood that had covered them.

At least Nick hadn’t gotten away.  They had decided to shoot it out with the police and had both been killed a mile down the road.

But the damage was done …

He fought down the rising sense of panic, the need that was overpowering his control.

He didn’t understand it, couldn’t grasp the source of so much yearning.

He stood abruptly, unmindful of the coffee that sloshed over the rim to run down his fingers and onto the floor.

He needed to go.

When he finally became aware of his surroundings again, he was shocked to see a stained glass window glimmering in the late afternoon sun.  He looked around at the rows of pews and the small altar.

He grimaced and sank into the front pew.

“I take it that it is You that is pulling at me?”  The question was directed at the cross that hung behind the pulpit.  “Hounding me?  Making me feel things I have fought against all my life?”

He waited, as if expecting an answer; then shook his head.

“I’ve made such a mess of things.  I’ve wasted my life, and now my dad is fighting for his because of what I have done.”

Anguish began to wash over him in waves, pulling sobs from deep inside.

“He’s going to die because of me.  Why did he step in front of that bullet?  Why didn’t he let me take my own punishment for the things I have done?”

“Because he loves you.”  The sound of that dear, sweet voice brought his head up.  “Because you are his son, and he is willing to die for each one of his children.”

She looked up and gestured toward the cross.

“The same as He was willing to die for your sins because He loves you.”

The clarity that opened in Gabriel’s heart and mind was not something to be ignored.  Suddenly he could see what he had purposely blocked out all of his life.

And with the seeing, a small crack began to form in the wall he had built up over the years.  As realization and a simple understanding began to chip away at that wall, a sense of divine love and forgiveness melted the shards of anger from his heart.

He reached out and took the hand that had held his so gently when he was small, wrapping his fingers around her smaller ones.

Closing his eyes, he relinquished control and prayed for the first time in years.  When he opened them, he turned to look at the only woman he had ever truly loved, and smiled.

He watched the tears fill her eyes as she read the peace that now filled his.  When she raised a hand to cradled the stubble-covered cheek, he closed his eyes and sighed deeply.

“I’m so sorry, Mom.  For all that I have put you and Dad through.  For all the pain I’ve caused every one.  Can you ever forgive me?”

“Oh, honey, of course I forgive you.  And so does your dad.”

The way she said it brought Gabe’s eyes open.

“Is he going to be alright?”

Those blue eyes smiled through the tears and she nodded.

“They’ve stopped the bleeding and repaired the damage the bullet did.  He should make a complete recovery.”  She glanced at the cross.  “Praise God, it hit him where it did.  The surgeon said that another inch to the left, and it would have killed him.”

Gabriel closed his eyes.

Praise God, indeed.


© Drusilla Mott and, 2012