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The Prayer Seeker


walked into the hallway, still clutching the corkscrew. Strangely, it didn’t even occur to
him who it might be.
The moment he picked up the phone and heard Alan’s voice, he knew. In one way it
was as if all the years in between had been too long and he was listening to a stranger,
whilst in another the man he heard seemed as familiar to him as his own skin.
“Is that Michael Woodthorpe?”
“Speaking,” he replied, his free hand shaking so much that he dropped the corkscrew
which landed with a dull thud on the carpet. “Alan?”
But anything Michael might have been about to add was lost in the stream of words
assaulting his ear.
“I can’t believe you’ve contacted me after all these years,” Alan said, his voice low
and controlled but Michael could hear the anger behind it. “Don’t you think too much
time has gone by for this? We’re not living in some film or pot-boiler book; this is real
life. Both of our lives have no doubt moved on and, as far as I’m concerned, some things
are too much in the past ever to revisit. I don’t believe in the evangelical nonsense that
you must make everything right that you’ve ever done in the past. Heavens, Michael, if
we all did that, then none of us would have time for anything else. I don’t mean to be
angry – at least I didn’t – and you must believe me when I say I’m glad you’re gaining so
much from your faith but, please, leave me out of it. I’d be grateful if you don’t contact
me again. And, by the way, I’m sorry about your wife.”
With that, Alan disconnected the call and Michael was left alone, kneeling on the
carpet and trembling like a child, unable to think anything further at all.
*****
In his sitting room, French windows wide open to make the most of the sunshine and
breezes, Michael sipped at the glass of water Chris had brought him when he’d explained,
as best he could, what had happened. He knew he needed it, and smiled his thanks at the
other man.
Chris returned to his customary chair and sat down. He waited a while before
speaking and, once more, Michael was glad of it.
“What would you like to do?” he asked at last.
Michael half-laughed. “I’m not convinced there’s anything more I can do, to be
honest. I tried to change a past mistake, but the man I wronged doesn’t have the same
opinion. There’s nothing I can do about that. It makes me wonder though.”
“About what?”
He hesitated before replying, partly in order to martial his thoughts. “It makes me
wonder why God should give me this need to look back, when it’s more than obvious that
nothing is going to come of it. Now there’s a niggle, an itch inside I think I’m going to
find it hard to scratch. I thought I was achieving some sort of peace, or at least on the way
to it, but today I’m not sure I can discover that again. That sense of purpose and
steadiness has gone. And of course, there’s Alan …”
“Go on,” Chris prompted him after a few moments had ticked by.
“There’s Alan,” Michael repeated, staring down at his hands which suddenly seemed
to belong to someone entirely different from himself. “Because he’s right, isn’t he? As
Anne-Marie was right. By contacting him like this, I’ve made things worse and I should
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