A man of God steps in.
Joellen arrived at the church with blood dripping from her face. Drops had settled into her blouse and now a stain was growing in an irregular pattern. She was all at once aware that she had been gripping the steering wheel of her car as if her life would slip away if she let go. When she did let go, she saw her hands were shaking. It seemed to her there were two Joellen’s at that point. The physical one whose hands involuntarily shook and the other, whose mind seemed quite calm. It was as if she had come to a mental decisions and now her body was lagging behind in getting the message.
She hadn’t planned to drive here. She had simply run to the car and left the house behind. Arriving at the church seemed to her a logical step. There was no one else she could turn to with this. All her friends knew them as Brent and Joellen. How fair would anyone be to her? She had seen other breakups and it always seemed as if the wife got shafted, even by other women, women who had been the wife’s friends. A marriage gone awry was threatening to all marriages. She had felt it herself.
She opened the car door and sat there, blood dripping onto her blouse, but slower now. She felt too weak to stand up on her own. What was she doing here anyway? She should go to the emergency room and have pictures taken. Maybe she needed stitches.
And then there he was, walking toward the car. Seeing her sitting there, his pace quickened and then he must have seen something was wrong, because he broke into a run.
“Joellen,” his voice was concerned. “What happened? You’re bleeding. Are you all right? Come inside. Oh, dear God, did you have an accident?”
The sound of his voice, gentle as spring rain, and the sight of his face released some emotional catch, like a garden gate and she suddenly burst open, the tears cascading down her face, running over the blood and dripping onto her sweater spreading the stain.
“Come out of the car,” he held out a hand and helped her, gently holding her up and putting his other arm around her shoulders. He kicked the car door closed and they walked toward the church offices.
“We’ll get you cleaned up and you can tell me what happened. Was there another car involved? Was anyone else hurt?”
“No,” she said between sobs, sounding, she thought, just like her daughter after she skinned a knee from a fall.