Softly, As I Leave You - MythMachine
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Chapter 1

The Cantor knocked with heavy hand on the beveled glass door of the remodeled Craftsman-style house. It was mid-May 2010, and the heady fragrance of spring filled the humid Atlanta air.

He turned his head to listen.

He knocked again.

Nothing.

He tried the handle, knowing it was probably locked. It was.

No movement was visible through the window on the wide wooden porch. With a sinking heart, he dialed Shayne’s number for the tenth time. Or was it the eleventh? She hadn’t shown up for work at the synagogue that morning—highly unusual for his ever-faithful Christian employee. When he put his ear to the cool window pane, his heart fell as he heard the faint familiar ringtone over and over. Then voice mail.

Saying a prayer, he sprinted down the front steps and rounded the side of the old house to see if Barb, the downstairs neighbor, was home and had akey.

She was and she did.

Together they entered the silent house. Without hesitation, Barb strode to the front bedroom, boldly opening the door as she called out Shayne’s name. When she saw her, she let out a sob and fell to her knees. The cantor turned his head away, swallowed his bile and called 9-1-1.

Thirty-three-year-old Shayne sat peacefully on the floor, leaning up against her bed, eyes closed, hands holding a small embroidered pillow that read,“I love you to the moon and back.” Her imprint was on the neatly spread-out heirloom quilt, surrounded by photos of her family. The handwritten note was propped on the bedside table near her head. Empty prescription bottles littered the floor.

Shayne had died sometime in the darkness of the night.

Ten days later, after two overflowing memorial services, one in Atlanta, one in Texas, Ann sat alone in her back bedroom and reached with trembling hand for one of the journals her daughter had left behind. She opened to a random page, steeled herself and read:

“I get so very discouraged, Lord. Like I’m trapped in a sticky web of life-draining emotions, and I can see You, and sometimes I can hear You, but I can’t ever seem to untangle myself, to find myself out. And I don’t want to be trapped any longer.”

Ann slammed the pages shut and clutched the journal to her breast. “I can’t. I just can’t.” With a violencethat wouldn’t be denied, she threw the book back toward the pile, weeping anew, hands cradling her tear-streaked face.

“Oh, God, why? Why, Shayne?

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