Revelations 12, p.1
Revelations 12, page 1
David De Freitas
Copyright © 2017 David De Freitas
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events
and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination
or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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To the Creator who by design has made it all possible.
Mom & Dad, I thank you for everything.
To my mother in law Irene for her support during the writing of this book.
And finally to my dearest wife of nineteen years, love you always…
“Woe to the inhabitors of the earth and of the sea!
For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath,
knowing that he has but a short time.”
The young doctor drove quickly through the endless fields of wheat. He was unfamiliar with the area and the dusty farmland roads were difficult to navigate. He knew, with the sun setting, he had to find the house before dark. There was little time to get there and Martha was already thirteen hours into labour.
At the end of a long track stood the old wooden house. It was just about dark and there was hardly a light on. He let himself in and made his way following the voices. Martha lay in the bed surrounded by a gathering of women. It was clear that after fourteen hours in labour she was drifting in and out of consciousness. Despite her contorted face, Dr Brockman was immediately struck by how young Martha was.
“How can we help you?” asked one of the women.
“Who are you?” asked Dr Brockman.
“I’m Annamae. Martha’s sister.”
Immediately the doctor saw the resemblance.
“Annamae, you will help me deliver this baby.”
Turning to the other women, he said, “I need some more light in here and get me some clean towels and bowls of hot water.”
Two hours passed and the unmistakable sound of a baby’s cry filled the air.
“It’s a boy!” said Annamae.
Dr Brockman then glanced up at the unconscious mother, before giving Annamae a knowing look.
08 April 1969
Martha laid her son in the small bed, took his hand and made the sign of the cross over him. With a gentle kiss to the forehead, she closed her eyes and said a silent prayer. It was hard to believe that tomorrow would be Simon’s first birthday, so much had happened.
Martha lit the fire and made herself a cup of coffee. She sat back and reflected on the last year, the joy of her first child followed by the sadness of losing her husband in the war, and the thought that Simon would grow up to never know his father. So many sleepless nights staring into the darkness, the loneliness and the tears that ran down her face onto the pillow. Why did you take my husband, Lord? Her faith at times was unable to overcome her anger at God. She clung to her sanity by thinking of Simon; it was all she had and he gave her a reason to live.
Annamae did not need reminding that it was a special day. She wrapped the gift, got dressed, and drove the short journey over to her sister’s home. From childhood it had always been a difficult relationship. Despite the obvious resemblance, Martha was always the prettier one, the one that got all the attention, the one who all the boys spoke about. It was impossible for Annamae not to harbour a deep jealousy of her sister. However, from childhood she had mastered the art of never letting her true feelings show.
For the first time Annamae witnessed her sister suffering and somehow felt it was justified; after all, her own life had not been easy and Martha had seemingly gone through life without a care in the world. Suddenly, it was the first time Martha had to face real pain and it made Annamae feel better.
The events of the last year had done much to bring the sisters closer to each other. In the weeks after the death of Martha’s husband, John, Annamae visited more often and spent an increasing amount of time with Martha and Simon, who became the centre of their lives.
“Come on in,” said Martha, “the birthday boy is just finishing his breakfast in the kitchen.”
Martha and Annamae sat at the table, lit the solitary candle on the cake, sang happy birthday and together blew it out.
Annamae opened her handbag and handed Simon a gift. Martha took Simon’s small hands and together they opened it. Inside the silver box was a small white cross.
“It’s for above his bed,” said Annamae.
“It is perfect,” said Martha. “Thank you so much. Now, how does a cup of coffee and a slice of birthday cake sound?”
“That would be great thanks.”
“How are you doing, Martha?”
“Oh, I’m fine, keeping myself busy.”
“No, I mean really how are you doing? I’m referring to your faith.”
Martha paused for a moment to collect her thoughts; Annamae had never asked her this before and the gift of the cross was also so out of character.
“It is hard but I’m slowly coming to terms with losing John.” She looked over at Simon, “I have a lot to live for.”
The sisters’ conversation was stopped by a knock at the door.
“You expecting visitors?” asked Annamae.
“No, I’m not – I’m not sure who that could be.”
Martha went to the door, stopping briefly to look in the mirror and fix her hair. She opened the door and in front of her was an attra
“Hello, Martha. My name is Dr William Brockman. You may not remember me – I delivered your son.”
Martha stared at the young man’s face, searching her memory. There was something definitely familiar about him. She remembered Annamae telling her about a doctor that arrived that night and she promised herself that she must pay him a visit to say thank you. However, with the death of John, she had completely forgotten about him. She composed herself.
“Please, come in. My sister is here and would love to see you. Dr Brockman, you remember Annamae, don’t you?”
“Of course I do. How are you, Annamae?”
“Oh, I’m very well, Dr Brockman. Can I offer you a coffee?”
“Sure I’d love that.”
As Annamae poured the coffee, the young doctor passed his hand through Simon’s hair.
“Let me take a look at you,” he said.
With that he picked Simon up out of his high chair and looked intensely into his eyes. Martha noticed that her baby did not cry but returned the intense look. Martha broke the moment’s silence.
“Dr Brockman, do you know it’s Simon’s birthday?”
“Yes, I do. In fact, I have a gift for him in my car.”
“You must have a really good memory to remember his birthday.”
“Well, in general, I’d say its average but you never forget your first birth so it was easy for me, and I’ve become familiar with the area so finding your home was not too difficult.”
“Oh, that is so nice of you. There is still some cake left; would you like to try a piece?”
“Ah no, thank you. This coffee alone is great and I can’t stay too long as I need to get back for an appointment. In fact, I really should get going, Martha. Why don’t we take a walk out to my car?”
“Annamae, can you stay with Simon? I won’t be long.”
“Sure, Martha. Have a safe journey, Dr Brockman.”
“Thanks, Annamae. It’s been great to see you again.”
And with that Dr Brockman and Martha went out to the car.
Doctor Brockman opened the passenger door and picked up the immaculately wrapped gift and handed it to Martha. “This is the most important gift you can give to your son.”
“Thank you so much, doctor. Not only for this but, more importantly, I never got the chance to thank you for delivering Simon. I’m forever grateful to you.”
“I will see you again, Martha.” With a hint of a smile, the young doctor got into his car and sped off, leaving a slow moving cloud of dust behind him.
Martha picked up the half-drunk cup of coffee and put it in the sink. He really did not stay very long, she thought, but it was so nice to see him.
“What have we got here?” she said as she excitedly showed Simon the present. She put it on the table in front of him and sat down. “Annamae, you know I’ve just realised that I’ve not even asked Dr Brockman for his number. I don’t even know where he works, do you?”
“I’ve no idea. I’d imagine it would be at the main hospital in town. Anyway, I’m interested in seeing what he got Simon so, come on, let’s open it.”
Martha took her son’s small hands and together they removed the paper to reveal a book wrapped in brown cloth. Martha read the cover to her son, “My First Bible.”
Simon’s small hand flicked at the pages with the colourful pictures.
“Wow,” said Annamae “I was actually thinking of getting that for him. I’m so glad that I chose the cross instead.”
“I know things have been difficult, Martha, but what about baptising Simon? I can have a chat with the parish priest to see when would be best. We don’t need to invite anyone but we really need to have it done.”
Martha knew Annamae was right. Church, she thought, I’ve not been to church since John’s funeral and that was over seven months ago. In fact, I used to be able to count on one hand the number of times I’d missed Sunday Mass since I was a little girl, yet I’ve not gone for so long now.
“You know, Annamae, you are right. I’d appreciate that, please have a word with Fr. Mark, we need to get this done.”
The church was empty, except for the front pew, which actually fitted the small group: Martha, baby Simon, Annamae, and a few of their neighbours (who Martha had chosen to act as Simon’s godparents). After the short service, they all stood and gathered around the baptismal font. Fr. Mark had only recently been ordained. His voice was strong and it echoed through the empty church.
“Almighty and ever-living God, you sent your only son into the world to cast out the power of Satan, spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness, and bring him into the splendour of your Kingdom of Light. We pray for this child: set him free from Original Sin, make him a temple of your glory, and send your Holy Spirit to dwell with him. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
“Simon John Holman, I baptise you in the name of the Father,” he poured water upon him, “and of the Son,” he poured water upon him for a second time, “and of the Holy Spirit,” he poured water upon him a third time and the baptism was complete. The small gathering then sang a short hymn that Martha had chosen.
“That was lovely,” said Fr. Mark. “I’m just off to get changed and then I’m going for lunch. You are all welcome to join me. In fact, one of our parishioners has opened a café nearby. I can definitely recommend the home-made soup.”
“Thanks,” said Annamae. “But I have an appointment I really must get going.”
“What about you, Martha?” asked Fr. Mark.
“Well, I can’t promise Simon will be on his best behaviour but, if you’re willing to take the chance, I’d love to join you.”
Martha turned to Simon’s God Parents. “What about you guys?”
“Thanks, Martha, but we really need to get going as well but we’ll come round to visit you this week coming.”
“Sounds good,” said Martha. She strapped Simon into his pushchair and, turning to Fr. Mark, she motioned up at the sky. “I hope we don’t regret it. Perhaps we should have taken the car.”
“Don’t worry, Martha; the rain should hold off. It’s not too far and I need to make the effort to walk more rather than drive. Well, truth be told, what actually happened is I asked the bishop for a running machine and he told me I should just walk more.”
“So, in other words Father, there’s cut backs at the church as well, huh?”
Fr. Mark smiled.
The waitress put the two bowls of soup on the table and handed Martha the milk she had warmed up for Simon.
“You know it’s great to see you again, Martha. Every Sunday Mass I look over to where you used to sit and wonder if I’m going to see you again. How have you been?”
“Well, I won’t say it has been easy. In fact, it’s been the hardest time of my life, but I am coping better than I was and Annamae has given me great support. We are closer now than we have ever been.”
“I’m happy to hear that, Martha. Actually, I was a bit surprised when Annamae called to ask about arranging the baptism, I thought it was you. Both of you sound identical on the phone I knew you had a sister but I was under the impression that, ah, how should I say it? You were the spiritual one and she was less so?”
Martha smiled. “Yes, you are correct, Father. I got a bit of a surprise also when she suggested baptising Simon a couple of weeks ago. As kids, when I think back to the arguments she had with Mom every Sunday about going to Mass, it’s so unlike her to encourage anything that involves religion.”
“It’s never too late, Martha.”
“You’re right. I’m really happy for her and, to be honest, being in the church today, it felt like coming home. I forgot how much it had been a part of me before John died.”
“That is wonderful to hear. Perhaps I’ll
“How is the soup?” asked the waitress.
“It’s fantastic,” said Martha.
“Can I get you anything else?”
“Do you have some more napkins? Simon’s made a bit of a mess.”
“Sure no problem, anything else?”
“Just the bill please,” said Fr. Mark.
Over the next nine years Martha dedicated herself to raising Simon. It was not easy. Times were hard, and living on a VA Pension meant she had to be frugal, but Simon wanted for nothing. Annamae continued to visit Martha and the bond between the two sisters continued to grow. Despite the fact that Martha took Simon to church every Sunday, the only time she got Annamae to go was when Simon made his First Communion.
“Well done,” said Martha. She handed the exam results to Annamae to look at.
“I’m so proud of you,” said Martha, “those are your best results yet. I told you that you can do anything you set your mind to.”
“Yes, Mom,” Simon replied, “but I’ve no idea what exactly I want to do.”
“Don’t worry. You will be guided. Right now, all you can do is keep working hard at school and continue to build your relationship with God. Would you like me to make you something to eat?”
“No, thanks, Mom, my stomach has not been good. I did not even eat lunch at school today, I think I’m just going to lie down.”
Annamae put her hand on Simon’s forehead. “It feels a bit warm. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to give me a call. Otherwise, I’ll be over to see how he is in the morning.”
Martha was up all night. Simon’s abdominal pain steadily got worse and at 5am she picked up the phone. “Annamae, can you come over? Simon is not well. He has started vomiting and the pain in his stomach has gotten worse. I’m really worried.”
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