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A Cry of Strength

By Alexis WellmakerPublished about a month ago 11 min read
A chapter from ...
Photo by Iván Díaz on Unsplash

Earlier that morning, Shaelyn’s doctor had given her the news that she was four months pregnant. Shaelyn had chosen to tell Silas later that evening after work. She was looking forward to giving him the good news. After all they had been through, they had been blessed with a child. Unfortunately, Silas did not share her feelings.

“Just what we need, right?” Silas said, sarcastically, as he put his arms around her.

Shaelyn pulled away, “What’s that supposed to mean? Are you saying that you are not happy about our baby?”

“That’s not what I’m saying at all. It’s just that…we’re young… we just don’t have the money right now. We have so many things we want to do…we’re not ready for it.”

“Silas, why is it that you cannot allow yourself to be happy? Just accept this blessing that God has given us, please?” Shaelyn said with an exasperated sigh.

Later that night, Silas woke up in a torrid sweat. Silas felt as though his whole body was twisted. He could not move. Yet, he could hear the raindrops falling outside. He needed to get outside -- far away from the nightmarish dream that he just had. Finally, Silas was able to come out of his frozen state. He silently walked out to the front porch. Sitting down on the steps, he remembered the tragic memory that he had long forgotten. The lightning flashed through the windows and there was a chill in the air. Shaelyn turned over in bed to snuggle close to her husband. However, he was not there. Shaelyn grabbed her robe off the edge of the bed. She wrapped the robe around herself before she went to look for Silas. She searched from room to room. The rain was pouring down. The lightning continued to flash outside the windows. As Shaelyn approached the front door of the house, she sensed that something was terribly wrong. The door was left ajar; although, she clearly remembered locking it before she went to bed. She cautiously stepped out onto the porch. Shaelyn was confused by what she saw: Silas sitting on the porch steps, slowly rocking back and forth. He was wearing his pajamas, which were soaking wet from the cold rain.

“Silas?” Shaelyn said in barely a whisper, “What are you doing sitting out here in all this rain?” When her husband did not respond, she approached him. As she knelt behind him, she was unprepared for what she saw. Sitting there on the porch, Silas was shivering like a lost child. As she turned his face toward her, she realized that it was not just the rain that was pouring down his face…He was weeping. Voice breaking, Shaelyn asked, “Silas…are you okay?” When he did not answer, she took his face into her hands and asked again, “Are you okay?”

Silas’ expression suddenly changed. Ignoring her question, he took her hands into his own, “Shae…Come on, we’d better get you out of all this rain”. He stood and quietly led her inside. Shaelyn paused to close and lock the door. As she followed Silas quietly into their bedroom, she became more concerned with his uncharacteristic behavior. Oddly, Silas did not want to talk about what had just happened. Shaelyn helped him change into dry pajamas. Then Silas climbed into bed. His wife lay next to him as she wondered what was worrying him. Had she upset him by telling him that she was pregnant with their child? Surely, it was deeper than that. “Shae?” Silas whispered into the darkness, “You awake?”

“Yes, baby, I am,” Shaelyn told him as she reached over to rub his back. She retrieved her hand as she noticed his muscles tense up. Suddenly, Silas turned to face his wife. Through the darkness, she watched as a deep sadness clouded her husband’s eyes. His eyes were glistening with tears. Propped up against the headboard of their bed, Shaelyn was frightened by seeing her husband this way. However, she would not break down when he needed her to be strong.

Taking a deep breath, Silas began his story -- a story he had only remembered earlier that night. Troy Baskin had abused the family for years. The summer that Silas had turned eight had not been any different. At sixteen years old, Valory argued constantly with their parents. Silas had done his best to stay out of their way. Yet, it had not done him any good. One night Troy had slapped Valory so hard that she lost her balance and fallen to the floor. She challenged her father. Then something stopped her. There was blood on the floor. Then Brenda rushed her daughter to the hospital. After they left the house, Troy decided to go out for a drink. Before leaving, he ordered Silas to have the whole mess cleaned up by the time he returned home, or else. Obediently, Silas had done as he was told. The chore had taken him a while to complete. He decided to take a quick shower before either of his parents returned. Just as he finished showering, the bathroom door swung open and the lights went out…the next thing he knew Troy had gotten into the shower and molested him.

Shaelyn quietly listened to Silas’ words as she held him close to her heart. Silently, she wondered how Silas could have kept this horrible secret to himself for so many years. How could she not have known? All the classic signs of abuse had been obvious over the years: his mistrust of others; his uneasiness when being touched, and the way he seemed to sabotage his own dreams. That night Shaelyn’s heart went out to him. She wanted to be Silas' comfort as he unveiled his pain.

For the following days, Silas refused to do anything. He called into work saying that he had the flu. He did not attend his classes at the university. He did not bother to eat or get out of bed. Shaelyn had tried to talk to him, but Silas shut down. As a last resort, she decided to call Aizach. To her surprise, he came. Shaelyn gave him a brief account of Silas’ story, as Aizach listened in cold silence. Aizach followed Shaelyn into the bedroom to see Silas. He was sitting in bed, staring off into the past.

“Bro…what’s going on?” Aizach said uneasily. When Silas failed to respond,

Aizach went on to say, “Man, you got everybody worryin’ and carryin’ on. Come on, man. You gotta snap out of this. I mean…we all went through some rough things when we were kids, but you can’t let it get the best of you-”

“You, too?” Silas whispered, suddenly coming out of his trance.

Now it was Aizach’s turn to look away. His silence was affirmative. Silas sadly shook his head as slow tears rolled down his face, “I’m so sorry - …”

This was all Aizach could take. For all his toughness, he could not bear to see his big brother fall apart. Suddenly, Aizach became angry and stormed out the house.

When Shaelyn reached out to touch his face, Silas jerked away.

“Silas, don’t,” Shaelyn pleaded. Since the night he had confided in her, he could not look her in the eye, anymore. He was ashamed.

Shaelyn had always believed that love could conquer all. However, when it came to her marriage, she began to wonder if Silas ever really loved her. She knew that she had always loved him - and always would. She knew he cared for her…Perhaps; he was incapable of loving and trusting anyone. Tears filled Shaelyn’s eyes, as she recalled how he had shown no emotion when she told him that they would be expecting a baby soon. Yet, she could not abandon him when he needed her to be there. Shaelyn had to find a way to help her husband. She sought advice from the wisest person she knew -- her mother.

Although Shaelyn knew that she had broken her parents’ hearts when she had chosen to marry Silas so unexpectedly, she knew that they would be there for her. As her mother listened to her daughter’s heart breaking for the man that she loved, she told her daughter to go to God in prayer. Shaelyn went to bed that night, pondering what her mother had said.

Silas went back to work the next week. Shaelyn had not returned home from her parents’ house. Silas began working all shifts, from morning to night. With the new discovery of repressed memories, he could not sleep, anyway. One night after work, Silas made a cup of coffee. As the coffee began to brew, he carelessly glanced through his mail. A plain white envelope with neat handwriting caught his attention. The return address did not include a name -- just a number. Silas was curious: Who would be writing to him? Not long after opening the letter, he found his answer:

Dear Silas: I heard that you came back to town after being in the army. I’d like to see you whenever you have some time. You know that I’ve never asked you for anything… Just come see me…it’s really important.

Valory

Silas wondered what his sister could possibly have to talk to him about after all this time. It was only recently that he had remembered the last night that she had been home…it had been the worst night of his life.

The next week after visiting his sister in jail ... Outside, the rain was pouring down as Silas walked to his car. Once inside, he sat quietly as he watched the raindrops fall. Suddenly, he started the ignition. Silas began to drive home with tears in his eyes. However, anger was the only emotion that he felt. All his life, his family had laid burdens on him. Silas had his own problems to deal with -- problems that may have cost him the only bright spot in his life. Shaelyn…his wife…the woman who had taught him how to love. Although, she had never known it because he had not told her. Silas decided that it was definitely time for her to hear it.

Silas found a pleasant surprise when he returned home. Shaelyn’s car was in the driveway. Silas entered the house with trepidation. He figured that his wife had only returned to tell him that she was leaving him. If only he could convince her to stay…

“I have been waiting for you to come back. I cannot handle this -- being away from each other. I miss you. Whatever it is we can handle it together. We cannot give up on this marriage, Silas,” Shaelyn said as she took his hand.

Wow! Her love had always been there for him. His heart was full: How could he ever express his feelings to her?

Silas took her hand and led her to the sofa. He sat her down. Kneeling on the floor directly in front of her, he took a deep breath as he began telling her how much she meant to him: “Shaelyn, I have always believed that I was the strong one. With the kind of family I had, I guess I had to be. You and I -- we come from different worlds. Who would have ever guessed we’d marry?” He chuckled, “I know that I haven’t told you, but I do love you. And I know --”

“Silas, I know,” Shaelyn whispered with a tearful smile as she touched his face.

“I want you to hear it from my heart,” Silas stated as a single tear slid down his face, “You’ve always been there for me. With all your love and your heart. In high school, I don’t think you realized how much of an impact you made on my life. You encouraged and inspired me to make something of myself. To this day, your smile lights up my soul. You are definitely a powerful force in my life. And for that I want to thank you.”

Shaelyn had been waiting a long time to hear those words. However, Silas had surprised her with his honesty.

Later that night, Silas told her about his visit with Valory. He admitted that the whole situation saddened and confused him.

“Well, you’ve got to do something,” Shaelyn said, thinking aloud.

“I know I do,” Silas agreed. Exhausted, he laid his head in Shaelyn’s lap and closed his eyes. He felt at peace as her gentle hands caressed his head.

“Do you remember when we began seeing each other, Silas? Even back then, I noticed how you cared for your brother and sister. I saw the way you took care of them -- almost like a parent would … That truly left an impression on my heart,” Shaelyn’s clear voice was reminiscent.

Silas opened his eyes slowly to stare up at the ceiling. Then he absently took her hand as he quietly stated, “I did what I had to do.”

Shaelyn slid her hand out of his grasp. She placed her hand over his heart as she whispered, “You always do.”

The next day, Silas visits his mother. Brenda is happy to hear he is doing well. However, she remains emotionally distant. Silas offers to help any way he can, but Brenda refuses. Silas talks to Jorja, who is receptive to him; however, she is headed for disaster. Troy, now bedridden, continues to be just as cruel as he was in the past.

Silas leaves, still haunted by the past. He drives around for hours, finally stopping in front of a church. He noticed that the doors were open, so he went in. No one was there, except for the choir members who were preparing for Sunday services. As they began singing the words of the twenty-third psalm and songs of praise, Silas was inspired by the message of God’s love. He was comforted by the salient realization that God was always with him.

When Silas finds his way home, he asks Shaelyn to show him how to pray. He had watched her pray many nights before without really thinking about it. Now he was ready to open his heart to God. Shaelyn tells him that prayer begins in the heart. Then she shares the Lord’s Prayer with him. From that night on, they begin to pray together. The couple begins attending church regularly. Slowly, Silas learns to accept their unborn child as a blessing from God.

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About the Creator

Alexis Wellmaker

Wrapped up in Words / Chaser of Dreams / Keeper of stories / Maker of well-written work ... I strive to create positive, uplifting stories for children and adults.

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Comments (1)

  • Luksi Bayouabout a month ago

    This story is powerful, reflecting the heartbreaking lived experiences of real people in the world. Trauma and mental health have impact, generation after generation.

Alexis WellmakerWritten by Alexis Wellmaker

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