(This post first appeared on the blog of my friend, Kathy McKinsey.)
Birdie—my one remaining sibling—phoned. She had read to page eight of The Boy Who Closed the Sky, A Novel of Elijah the Prophet.
“I’m disappointed my baby brother didn’t give credit to our mother. Sunday afternoons she read Egermeier’s Bible stories to us and would be proud her little boy published a Bible story.”
Mother read to us of David and his five smooth stones? Sorry. I only remembered Oliver Twist and Chuchundra, the muskrat, who never came out into the middle of the floor, but always crept round by the wall.
Birdie forgave my poor memory, and I told her to keep reading.
She’ll find family in a line I dug from the archives of 1946. With my spoon standing in the oatmeal, I leaned across our porcelain-top kitchen table and asked Dad, “Why doesn’t God just kill the devil?”
A few chapters later Birdie will phone again when Elijah says, “Small matter, pal.”—a phrase our dad used so often people called his business Pal’s Place.
Two lines, though, I’ll have to show her.
The first line comes from Oboth, the desert spot where Moses camped in 1293 BC. One night 3,277 years later, when my wife, Delphine, and I lived there, she looked up at the Lord’s brilliant star show. “The sun goes down and the sky is ours.”
The second line comes from a custom of Delphine’s mother.
Elijah turned to his brother, Nathan, “Remember how mother takes your cheeks in both her hands?”
“Mm-hm. To help you listen. She holds your face and looks into your heart.”
So, family bits did work their way into the Elijah novel. Hmm… Had Mother’s Bible stories been the thumb in my back which nudged me to complete this book?