The Long Night


Tim paced the bleached linoleum of the hall. The drab walls and neutral chairs seemed to darken at each pass. The twenty-year old associate pastor prayed, but he was prepared for the worst, his faith wavering.

The doctor burst through the waiting room doors. Color drained from Tim’s face as the doctor issued his diagnosis.

Words fell on his ears: wife, daughter, both critical, 25% chance to live.

Not allowed to see wife or newborn babe, he collected his belongings and left the hospital for the night. Certainty setting in. In the morning, he would arrive, and she would be gone – his wife of ten months.

Tim couldn’t sleep. He paced, sat down, rocked in his chair, got up and paced again until the hour he would be allowed to return to the hospital.

He arrived to surprising news. She lived. They both lived. Mother and child were going to be fine.

He bounded into the room with a grin from ear-to-ear, “Debbie!”

Her eyes were on the other side of the room, though, where a man stood over their daughter.

“Good morning, pastor,” Tim said as he crossed the room.

The older man turned and patted the young man on the shoulder. “I came to make sure it was your child.”

Blood rushed to Tim’s cheeks. Before either knew it, his fist met the pastor’s jaw, and he stumbled back into a chair.

The pastor took his Bible and rushed out of the room – no word of apology offered.

Tim ignored the rising anger within and picked up his daughter to hold her for the first time. A tiny drop landed on his cheek. He placed a hand on his wife’s hand. How close it had all come.

“Melony, we love you,” he whispered.

In that moment, he could only think how grateful he was that they both survived the night. His two miracles.

But once the moment passed, he was left to his thoughts, and they consumed him.

It was on that day he decided never to return to his church. He never preached again.


3 thoughts on “The Long Night

  1. I love how you wrote this essay almost as a short story – it completely drew me in. It’s got a great arc to it, and you did a great job with characterization. The down side is that, if we didn’t know the author’s name, it might read exactly like that – a short story, versus a personal essay. Outside of your name there’s nothing that really connects the story to you. The last bit – about abandoning the church – was a little abrupt for me; I think it needed a little something more to attach it to the preceding paragraphs.


  2. Wow! What a dramatic beginning to your life. I loved all of it. My one suggestion would be to expand it to give a little more back story.
    On another note, isn’t it interesting to look back on our parents with our hindsight? I find myself more able to understand things now that made no sense to me as a child.


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