By, Susan Sage
He listened for the high-toned ping indicating a silver treasure but hoped for the low-pitched thud signifying a gold find. He grit his teeth and closed his eyes concentrating though noise a few feet away built.
“Come on, Momma,” a small boy called skidding and kicking up rocks and pebbles as he stopped fast.
He jumped over the grid line and ran in front of Henry.
“Hey mister. Wha’cha doin’?”
“What do you want?” Henry said drawing himself up. He raised his chin, removed the earphones. and lifted the coil higher off the ground.
“What’s that thing you’re holding? Can I try it?” The child reached for the shaft Henry balanced in his hand.
“No, you can’t try it. You’ll break it. Go play somewhere else. I can’t hear if you’re talking and I can’t think if you’re interrupting me.” He moved to replace the headset.
“What’s your name? My name’s Kristopher. I was named after my father. His name was Kristoff.” Kristopher said jumping over the quad ropes.
“What did you say?” Henry drew his eyes to watch the child. The metal detector rocked in his trembling hand. “What’s your father’s name?”
“Kristoff. But he died when I was little.”
Removing his cap, Henry wiped the sweat off his brow and stared at the boy.
“And you’re not little now? How old are you?”
“I’m five. That’s my mom and little sister, Nattie. Her name’s really Natalia but we call her Nattie.” Kristopher swiveled and pointed at a ridge a few feet away.
Henry looked where the boy indicated. He settled the jostling metal detector on the ground and watched the young woman step down the pebbled incline. She balanced a child on her hip and a backpack across her shoulder. He took in a slow, deep breath trying to calm himself.
Henry turned his back on the approaching woman, pulled a bandana out of his pocket, and wiped his eyes. He returned the cloth to his jacket.
“Is my son bothering you?” She lowered the child to the sand. The young woman lifted her hand to her brow, gazed toward Henry, and squinted. She drew in a fast breath.
“Henry?” The backpack dropped to the beach and her face paled.
“Hello, Mallory. He looks just like Kristoff and she has his eyes,” Henry said.
“Well, there is a bit of me in them, but, yes, they both take after their father.”
“He’s dead? When?”
“Three years … just before Nattie was born. Clair and I tried to find you—
“And you couldn’t.”
“How is Clair?”
“Granny died,” Kristopher said glancing between the two adults.
“She died a year ago. Where have you been?” Mallory said glancing at the instrument. “Still looking for that big treasure?”
“I was never good at being married or, … anything else. I’ve always been a wanderer, you all knew that. But—"
“But what? Why now?”
“I knew it was time. Time to come home. Time to try and make things right. I came out here today to clear my thoughts before I went to the house. But now, I’m too late,” he said. Henry put his hands over his face, his body rocking and shaking as he wept.
Sensing a slight pressure on his leg, he dried his face on his coat sleeve and looked down into the large brown eyes of the young boy. Mallory stepped forward and wrapped her arms around Henry. Together they wept for several seconds.
She stepped back and looked at him. “Before Kristoff died, he told me if you ever returned I was to give you a message.”
Henry shook his head. “Please don’t—I failed him—I don’t think I can stand …”
“Henry,” Mallory said softly, “he told me to tell you he forgave you.”
Once again Henry’s body shook uncontrollably. He dropped to the ground burying his face in his hands.
“How? I don’t deserve …”
“That’s the thing, Henry, none of us do but God forgave us anyway. That’s what Kristoff and I learned just before he died. Kristoff wanted you to know he forgave you. And so, did Clair.”
Just then, small hands rested on his shoulders. Henry looked up to find his grandchildren standing on either side of him.
“Hey mister?” Kristopher said, “Will you be our grandpa? We don’t have one.” Nattie stood next to Henry nodding, her auburn curls bouncing like springs.
Mallory picked up the metal detector as Henry rose. Each child slid a hand into Henry’s. “Come on Henry. We have plenty of room for you. I’d like to tell you more about what we learned about God’s love before Kristoff died.”
Meet the Author
New to north Idaho, Susan Sage and her husband are enjoying getting to know the new area. She continues to work on her craft writing about God’s purpose and sovereignty in all aspects of life. She enjoys writing devotionals and flash fiction. She enjoys mentoring other writers who are new to the craft.
She is currently working on revising her website, which should be up in the next few months.
You can find her on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.
You can read Susan's flash fiction the 2nd Thursday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette. Feel free to chat with Susan by posting a comment below.