I'm getting ahead of myself, though. First, we have one
more Clash and one more game to present.
Don't forget that this week's other two games are still open.
You can play them here:
Here's how to play today's game:
Today's sponsor is Raquel Byrnes, the author of the Purple Knot. Raquel is generously donating a $10 Amazon gift card to one participant from today's game. Thank you, Raquel!
7:25. Robyn groaned and pushed the gas pedal closer to the floor. She hated being late. Hated it. The speedometer inched upward. Two kids stepped into the crosswalk. With a yelp, she slammed the brake, lurching to a stop as they sauntered in front of her VW bug…
…Don’t start without me, guys. I’m coming.
Back in motion, she relaxed a little. Almost there. However, as she spied the redbrick school, a minivan stopped at the curb. Again she slammed on her brakes, barely avoiding the maroon bumper and sending a shower of slush over two kids walking along the sidewalk. Their glares could have melted the snow still piled on her car’s roof.
“Sorry.” She waved her hand in apology, hoping they didn’t recognize her.
As the minivan pulled away, Robyn caught her first clear view of the school grounds. “What in the world?” Her body strained against the seatbelt as she leaned forward for a better look. News vans blocked the front drive, and a crowd of students cluttered the front lawn. She pulled around to the side parking lot and picked her way through the moving cars and arriving kids. Walking to the edge of the gathering crowd, she saw nothing but a sea of backs. Robyn shoved her way forward, but the crowd shoved back. She jumped up but only managed to wedge snow in her shoes. Ugh. Soggy socks.
The crowd breathed. A shock of flaxen hair crowned with red cable knit danced two kids deeper into the crowd.
“Sarah!” Robyn motioned to Sarah Bradley, a prayer teammate.
Sarah tossed her hair over her shoulder and peered in Robyn’s direction. Catching sight of Robyn’s frantic gestures. Sarah nudged the boy beside her. Justin Cramer turned and waved in return. In two steps, he covered the distance between them, then used his body to shove their way back to Sarah. Beside Sarah, Stewart Thomas stood on his backpack, peering over the shoulder of the boy in front of him.
“What’s up? Why the crowd?” Robyn asked.
“Shh,” Stewart hissed.
Sarah pointed between the heads of two students. Robyn’s gaze followed her finger. Spotlights and cameramen targeted the flagpole, where an ivory-skinned woman spoke in animated tones to their principal, Mr. Hinz. Manicured nails held the microphone that punctuated the movements of her mouth. She looked like a supermodel. Then the woman took a step back, revealing her target.
Robyn’s hand shot to her mouth. Her best friend, Emily Call, held the attention of the crowd, her already pale complexion washing white in the spotlights. As the Gore-Tex–wearing woman swung the microphone towards her, Em’s face contorted, and her head pulled back like a turtle’s into the safety of her coat’s high neckline.
Robyn stared in disbelief. She wanted to hit something. Or someone. Em was painfully shy—classmates-didn’t-know-the-sound-of-her-voice shy. Rising onto her toes, Robyn strained to hear her best friend from the asylum of the crowd, but the only voices she heard came from the blonde woman and her cameraman. Em remained silent.
Tim leaned against the opposite railing from Philip. “You never cried when you were punished. You didn’t cry at Daddy’s funeral. You didn’t even cry at your own wife’s funeral. Have you ever cried for your own feelings?”
Philip put down his glass. “I cried at night after Daddy died.”
“You must have cried awfully quietly. I slept with you, and I didn’t hear you.”
Philip looked at the steps. “When everybody was asleep, sometimes I went to the bathroom and cried. When I couldn’t hold the—the feelings any longer. I asked God to make me braver and not feel so bad.”
“Did God give you that?”
“To not feel.”
“No, I still feel. I just don’t—don’t say much about it.”
“Why did you want that? Why didn’t you cry with us?”
“Couldn’t. Had to take care of you. Daddy told me to. Before he died.”
Tim turned his face toward the lights of the houses on land where farmers used to grow vegetables and flowers when they were little. Philip held his breath and wished he could run away, but he couldn’t move, could only wait.
“In all of your years with Veronica, did you ever tell her that you loved her?”
He closed his eyes for a moment before answering. “But I didn’t. Love her, I mean. So I didn’t tell her. Until she got sick. Then I told her that I loved her.”
“Like you would any suffering creature.”
“It soothed her.”
“She took it for the real thing, I expect.”
Philip stared at his brother. “Tim, you’re hurting me.”
“Well, that’s good. It’s not totally hopeless.”
“What are you trying to do?”
Tim shifted around and looked straight at him. “How come, Philip, you just worship half a Jesus?”
“Half a Jesus?”
“You only worship the Jesus who was flogged and spit upon and crucified. Yes, of course, the one who was resurrected. But mostly the one who endured. You don’t worship the Jesus who wept at Lazarus’ tomb or cried over his fellow Jews like a mother hen. The one who told his disciples how much he loved them. Is it such a hard thing to say you love someone?”
“Big brother, don’t you think it’s time to nourish your own soul? We’re grown up now. You’ve given us everything you were capable of. You’ve done what Daddy told you to do and more. See to yourself and to Kate now. You do love her, don’t you?”
“Yes.” After a minute, “I love Kate.” He tasted the words like Jon learning to talk.