For anyone willing to hear my story, believe what you will but understand there are no lies in what I am about to tell you. For the sake of remaining anonymous, my nickname growing up was Pete, or at least what my folks referred to me by. I recently turned forty and currently reside in New York with my wife and the rest of my immediate family. However, this account of mine took place twenty-seven years prior while growing up in the suburbs of Nevada.
I was a naïve thirteen-year-old at the time and very much an introvert. Never was I the popular kid at school with a scrawny physique and thick-framed glasses to match. I struggled with depression as I came from a broken home. My father was a mean alcoholic to the point where my mother was abused both verbally and physically every so often by him. I also endured the backlash of my father’s unhinged behavior and the constant bickering between parents. Despite the authorities stepping in on a few occasions, my mother (for some reason) seemed to give the benefit of the doubt in believing that my father would change and that things would ultimately get better for us as a family. I suppose it was all part of her faith seeing as she was a devout Christian and would drag me to church every Sunday. At the time I never understood what it meant to have faith in the God my mother worshipped but I accompanied her to service whenever I could as it appeared to have brought her much needed peace.
Regardless of all the constant prayers my mother sent to the heavens, they all apparently went unanswered as both my parents divorced in the Spring of ’93. My father moved out and my mother was soon to put our house on the market in the Fall. With all said and done, that was one of the roughest patches in my life. From poor academic performances at school to crying myself to sleep near every night drowning in the trauma of divorce and abandonment from my father, I never knew life could bring one too their knees as easy as that. Despite it now being both my mother and I in a house by ourselves, it was clear to see that she had become emotionally detached from myself as she grieved internally. Friends were a rare commodity in my younger years, but then again, I wasn’t exactly in a stage of life where socializing seemed like a logical option.
However, that very summer, unbeknownst to me, I found some kinship in an unlikely friend and fellow neighborhood kid, actually the kid right next door. His name was Lucas. Never did I realize there was someone my age who lived just next door to me, but then again, I never really paid much attention to anything other than the turmoil of my own life. Despite my sulking nature, Lucas was always upbeat and pleasant towards me. Coincidentally we both shared the same interests and engaged in various outdoor activities from racing our bikes to hitting a few baseballs at the park. It was strange yet refreshing that someone would take such an interest in myself amidst all of life’s craziness. Needless to say, he was the first person I ever opened up to about all the dour incidents my family had gone through. Within the couple months we had known each other, never did Lucas invite me over to his place or divulged the whereabouts of his parents since he was the only person I ever saw leaving or entering the house. Never was I one to so easily pry into the affairs of others, but on the instances where I did ask him about it, he always explained it as also having a neglectful father that was on the road a lot.
Despite having made a new friend and however briefly I felt a sense of happiness, the harsh reality would set in once again one evening. My father stopped by supposedly to collect some remaining belongings of his when both he and my mother went at each other’s throats yet again. I sat on the steps of our front porch listening to the heated argument unfolding inside. One would assume I’d be accustomed to such bickering by now but the sheer occurrence of it ignited the fear and sadness within me once more. I covered my ears, and tightened my eyes shut hoping the yelling would stop. Minutes seemed like a lifetime until the raised voices ceased and my father angrily stepped out of the house. Never did he say a word to me, nor did he even seem to acknowledge that I existed as he made his way back to his car and barreled down the empty street. Moments later, I heard the faint sobbing of my mother emitting from the upstairs bedroom.
Engulfed in the ever too familiar sadness, my eyes welled with tears as I sat quietly on the steps of my porch with my face firmly planted in the palms of my hands. The swarm of negative thoughts plagued my mind especially that of feeling hopeless and abandoned. I can honestly say in that very moment, I welcomed death more so than I have before. Life as I knew it wasn’t kind to me nor was it revealing to me an end to this agony. The twilight of the evening sky set in when I saw the barest hint of a shadow before me as I peered through my hands. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I saw Lucas standing in front of me. Having not heard him make his way over, there was something slightly different about his overall posture. As he knelt down to meet me at eye level, I noticed how less upbeat and more direct and mature his demeanor was. Despite this being the first time witnessing him appear in such a way, his words began to resonate in a manner that he understood me better than anyone possibly could from the moment he started speaking.
There was a sternness to his eyes which never lost contact with mine as he sympathized with the troubles I endured. He began to then speak about himself and related that he knew what it was like to be unappreciated and cast aside by his own father, the sheer anger and bitterness he harbored towards him. The feeling of being unloved, unworthy and to have someone else take your place as the most cherished in a father’s eyes. I became a bit uncomfortable listening to him as I sensed from his expressions while he spoke about his past that it sparked deep rooted hatred within him. Before he went any further, I paused and asked why he was telling me all this especially when it all clearly became upsetting to him. Regaining he calm demeanor, Lucas told me he was here to offer me a deal, a deal that would make my life better where I can have both my parent together again with no more arguments, no more strife and no more being afraid.
This was obviously a weird thing for him to say especially knowing that a situation such as mine couldn’t come close to being comprehended by the likes of anyone. As far as I was concerned, Lucas was spewing crazy nonsense in an attempt to make me feel better. Being done with the conversation and turning to walk back inside, he uttered something that caused me to stop in my tracks. He asked if I enjoyed contemplating various ways on how to take my own life or whether I rather not to have such thoughts. I turned back around in shock and awe because I never told a soul about how I suffered from suicidal depression. He proceeded to mention details about both my parents like the year they got married to the very date of their divorce. How could he know such intimate details about people he never met or knew? In that moment my depressed nature transition into that of fear, but it was a different kind of fear, one that you couldn’t understand or even knew existed.
Managing to find the words, I sternly asked Lucas a question, a question to this day I regretted asking. “Why me? What is it that you want from me?” He smirked as his eyes briefly gazed down at the floor then back up to me before responding, “I can take away all your pain, all your suffering and mend your family to where you’d never want for more. Your mother and father will never be at odds ever again and you my friend will finally be able to feel that love and happiness you so yearn for. All I ask in return is for that hint of a glimmering light within you, that steadily diminishing spark of potential, your soul.” I wanted to sum this up to him being humorous but there was no way he was even remotely kidding based on his intensity. Lucas extended his arm and told me to shake his hand, for once I do, everything will be as he said, renewed.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t ponder his offer, but it took the slightest bit of courage I could muster within my fear polluted heart to once again turn my back to him. As I opened my door, in an angry tone, Lucas shouted out that I was making the biggest mistake of my life by denying him. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind but within the twinkle of an eye, he had disappeared from where he was standing near the steps of my porch. My eyes trailed around but there was no proof than he could have run off without being seen, he had vanished into thin air. That entire encounter not only spooked me but had me unnerved the entire night. The next morning however, I decided to disclose to my mother my friendship with Lucas and the events that transpired the night before. Needless to say, she didn’t fully grasp what I explained to her but her mention that the house next door had been vacant for over a year now puzzled me even more.
Was I losing my sanity or was everything that happened all too real? Fearful of not only my own mind but the thought of running into Lucas again made me that much more willing to attend church with my mother the very next Sunday. Being the first time I honestly gave my undivided attention to the message being delivered that day, the pastor quoted a verse from the scripture that rang true to me and made me realize that my decision to refuse Lucas’ offer not only saved my life but truly made me a believer in Christ from that moment forward.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
For anyone out there hearing my story, understand that it is in our darkest of moments that evil descends upon us and tempts our hearts, but we must never be shaken in fear rather than resist for all that is good.