Monday Rewrite: The Lost Boy

He sits in the dirt, his head in his hands. The night closes in around him like a darkening storm, he glances up at the lights from the house, can hear the music and laughter, the sounds of eating and drinking. The whole community pitched up, well why wouldn’t they – free food in his father’s house. Not long ago they were all making promises about stoning the prodigal brother if he ever showed his face again. But that plan changed the moment his father made a fool of himself, hurtling down the road and slamming into his younger boy like a runaway train. Wrapping himself around the kid so that if anybody threw any rocks they’d hit the father, not the son. He doesn’t understand it, his brother takes off, wastes everything, acts like a complete loser, then comes home expecting a double portion. It’s not fair. It’s not FAIR! You have to earn these things. You can’t just get forgiveness and freedom as a handout, a free lunch. Though no one seems to have told their old man that.

He shivers, longs to go in and join the feast, he’s suddenly tired of the weight of his own burdens. The need to prove himself, to show he’s the older brother, the top dog, the best, the smartest, the wisest, the funniest. He’s tired of all this. He just wants to be home, inside. Accepted, welcomed. A door opens, it’s the familiar figure again. His father. He’s already had one argument with him, deeply insulted the old man with his snide comments and refusal to join in. Now he’s here again, walking, no running, looking again like a fool, racing into the darkness to the child he loves, wanting to wrap himself around the boy, not the younger idiot this time, but the older idiot, this one crouching in the muck and the sludge of his own making. He catches his breath, feels the emotion rise in the volcano of his chest. The father’s getting nearer. The son looks round, into the darkness behind him, he could turn and escape, there’s still time. He looks back, wonders, hesitates, slips between two options, stay or go, go or stay. He feels the weight of his pain lifting from him as he imagines himself getting up, enveloped in the powerful embrace of his dad, it’s an incredible feeling, but it’s still in his mind, reality waits for him. Waits for him to get up, let go of his preconceived ideas and start again…

Luke 15

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