Public Radio has a contest going on now for people like myself who would like to consider themselves writers. It is called 3 minute fiction. It's a regular contest where a subject is given. This time it was: You see something that isn't yours. You take it and you are not going to give it back. Here is my unsubmitted entry.
“Take it,” said the voice.
Take what? I wondered.
“Take it,” said the voice again. “On your lap.”
What was it? A book?
A sense of calm flooded my soul. “It’s been a long time,” I thought to myself. “Where did this come from? Had something changed? Something changed. But it wasn’t my job. I tried to focus on what I could do to resolve this latest problem. Always, forever, problems…but my mind was so peaceful.
“I need to just sit and enjoy this moment,” I said this aloud. And I continued speaking, “It doesn’t happen very often, you know. This calm, it comes and goes. Mostly it goes.”
“So take it,” said the voice.
“I don’t think it’s mine,” I heard myself say. “What is it anyway?”
“Of course it’s yours. It’s yours for the taking.” Said the voice.
I was annoyed. Just a little bit. Just a very little bit. I felt so calm. I felt perfect. “What is it?” I said. “You must tell me what it is.”
The voice laughed. “It’s peace of mind. It’s what you’ve been looking for. And now it’s yours. So take it.”
“Why do I need to take it?” I asked. “If it’s mine, as you say.”
“It’s yours if you take it. That’s the condition.”
Just the tiniest shot of terror went through me. What if it was a drug? What if it was… I couldn’t think. Like a wave, like a tidal wave, a sense of peace overwhelmed me. I brought my hand to where it sat on my lap. Whatever it was, it was smoother than satin.
“The condition?” I asked. “I knew there had to be conditions. Nothing is for nothing.”
“Is that what you believe?” asked the voice.
“I don’t know,“ I answered.
“Just take it,” said the voice. “Take it. Take it. TAKE IT!” taunted the voice.
I picked it up. It wasn’t mine. I knew with all my heart that it wasn’t mine.
“You take it.” I said as I handed it to…but there was no one there. And it was gone.
“What have I done?” I cried aloud. “What have I done?”
“It wasn’t yours, so you gave it back.” A new voice.
I recognized it from somewhere. From a long, long time ago.
I looked down at my lap. There was still something there. Was this mine? I picked it up. It was rough, rough as a piece of unplaned lumber. I tentatively handed it to my Friend.
“That’s not yours either,” said the new voice. “You already gave it to me.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“It’s your trust.”
The feeling of peace was gone. I wondered, had I made a mistake?
“Do you trust me?” asked the new voice.
“I do trust you. But my peace. Where is it? Shouldn’t I have peace?”
“My peace I do give to you, but not as the world gives. My peace is more than how you feel, at this given moment. So let not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid.”
I steadied myself. That peace. It hadn’t been mine. How did I know that? But I had to give it back.
Nothing’s for free. But grace. God’s grace. “For by grace are you saved through faith, it’s from God, and it’s a gift. Not something that must be taken, like an act of thievery.