Storytime: “The Siege”

Once upon a time, I was a storyteller. All of our religious traditions use the power of fiction and metaphor to illustrate truth. Here is a short story I wrote last year called “The Siege”. I hope it gives you something to think about. Enjoy.

“The Siege”


His mother tucked him in on the sofa with the green and blue quilt his grandmother had sewn for him. She was there too, on her crackling, arthritic knees, praying at his side.

“Lord, we know that through you all things are possible.” She tilted her age-creased face back and lifted her hands above her head. “Cleanse my grandson of this unclean spirit.”

His father, with a 12 gauge over his left shoulder, looked back at his family from the side of the dark bay window. The days-old stench of sweat and diarrhea soaked the air and curdled in his stomach as the illness siphoned life and fluid from his son. He coughed with his hand over his mouth and nose and said, “How’s the fever, Grace?”

His mother took the thermometer from the boy’s mouth and shook the mercury. She squinted at the reading in a living room starved of light. A smile unzipped across her face as her son groaned below her. “Down to 102!”

“Praise Jesus,” he said with a nod and turned away. He stuck his index finger into the scales of closed mini-blinds and scanned for more FBI agents. A blade of sunlight cut through the darkness and painted a dusty yellow ribbon on the carpet just below the boy. The mother and grandmother clapped and danced around him, singing hymns to a god they believed didn’t want the help of doctors. Dry sweat and mucus crusted on the boy’s face. His voice trembled and cracked beneath the thunder of song and praise as a request for water withered upon his last breath.

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  • Lauren Elizabeth

    The sad thing is that this actually happens. My great-grandmother on my mother’s side was a believer in faith-healing. She refused to see a doctor when she got sick and she died. Four years later, her husband died leaving their fifteen children (although it may have only been eleven of them by that time) as orphans.

    • Anonymous

      You know, this presents a tough situation. I’m okay with folks who want to refuse treatment for themselves, but don’t involve a child who doesn’t know any better.

  • Lynne Pfeiffer

    This has been happening in Oregon for many years.  FINALLY this year the law is no longer allowing the Followers of Christ parents to just let their children die for lack of very basic medical care.  They are now being prosecuted and put in prison. 

    • Anonymous

      Tragic. I’m glad common sense and law are finally meeting there.

  • Kitsune

    Ive read this before, but I dont remember where you posted it….