Friday, June 30, 2023

Provider - Part 5

 Good morning!

Writing camp is busy. Tomorrow is the official first day of camp. Lots of words will start to get written then. Some are being written now, but they don't count for July's goals.

It's been HOT here the last few days. Yesterday was 105ยบ. Ugh. We stayed inside. 

This is the final part of this story. I hope you enjoy it. I don't have any other story to share next, so you might have to wait a bit. Thanks for reading!


Part 5

    It was Cherry’s voice.
    “Yeah.” Heidi wasn’t sure if she had actually answered outloud until she heard what sounded like sighs of relief.
    “Just relax.”
    That was not one of the four girls. It had to be a man. Forcing her eyes open, Heidi fought against the whirling sensation and blinked until things came into focus. She was lying on the floor, and several people were standing around.
    “How do you feel?” It was the young man’s voice, and she slowly moved her eyes to his face.
    “I’m okay. I must have leaned down or tried to get back up too quickly.” She started to sit up, but the young man and Cherry both ordered her to stay still.
    “Your face is still really pale, Heidi. Better do as Neil says. Oh, he’s my brother. He was studying at a table on the other side of the room.”
    Heidi closed her eyes and drew a deep breath.
    “Did you eat lunch?” Neil asked.
    “Yeah. A little.”
    “And breakfast?”
    “Uh huh.”
    “What did you eat?”
    Heidi hesitated. She didn’t want to admit that she’d fallen asleep before she could get the check cashed and buy groceries, or the girls might feel bad. “I’m okay. Really. I just need a drink.”
    Cherry got her water bottle and along with her brother helped her sit up slowly so she could drink.
    “Sorry about the interruption. I really am okay.”
    “Do you have any food allergies?” Neil asked.
    Heidi shook her head and regretted it the next second as her head began to throb. “No, but I’m okay. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to tutoring.”
    “Heidi–” Cherry began but stopped short.
    “Why don’t we all go back to your place, you can rest and eat if you need to, and if we need help, we can ask,” Ems suggested.
    Heidi wanted to refuse. But she did need to eat, and her head pounded. If she didn’t agree to it, then she’d have to give part of that check away.
    The girls had their stuff gathered in record time, and Thia grabbed Heidi’s bag. “I’ll carry this.”
    “Here. Eat this on the way.” Neil pushed a protein bar into Heidi’s hand. “See that she does, Sis,” he remarked in lower tones to Cherry. “And Dad doesn’t go to work until six.”
    Heidi didn’t have the energy to give more than a passing thought of wonder as to why Neil was telling his sister when their dad went to work. Her hands shook as she tried to open the package of the protein bar, but Lyds noticed and did it for her.
    “Of course.”
    Thia had gone to bring her car up front, and the girls all climbed in. Wearily Heidi leaned her head back and closed her eyes. She would take another bite in a minute and then tell the girls where she lived. Where she lived? She cringed. It was so small and bare and dreary. They wouldn’t want to go there!
    “The sun is out,” she remarked. “We could finish at a park.”
    “Nope.” Thia drove like she knew where she was going. “Listen, Heidi, it doesn’t matter to us where you live. We want to make sure you are all right since we feel kind of responsible for what happened today.”
    “Oh, but you shouldn’t–”
    “Eat,” Cherry reminded her gently.
    Heidi took another bite.
    Thia pulled into a parking space at the apartment building, and everyone climbed out. Heidi was still feeling shaky and was grateful for Cherry and Thia’s support.
    They got her inside and helped her to her room to lie down. Then Ems came to the bedroom door.
    “Heidi, did something happen to the check Thia gave you yesterday?”
    “No. I was going to cash it. But I made the mistake of coming home first and I fell asleep.” She moved a hand to rub her aching head. “The check’s in the zipper pocket of my backpack.”
    She heard murmured voices in the next room but lay still because any time she moved the room began moving too. The front door shut, and then someone came back to the bedside. Opening her eyes, she saw Cherry. “Where are the others? We need to study.”
    “Do you have any plans for tomorrow?”
    “Then we can all study then. You can tutor Thia, Ems, and Lyds, and I’ll tutor you. But tonight you aren’t doing any more studying. You’re going to rest, and when the girls get back from grocery shopping, you are going to eat a proper supper. After that, we’ll see if you are well enough to stay here alone or if we kidnap you and take you somewhere else for the night.” She smiled as she spoke.
    “But–” Heidi wasn’t sure what to say. “You all don’t know me.”
    “Not very well yet,” Cherry admitted. “But Mrs. Almstead does, and we are all sisters in Christ.”
    Tears filled Heidi’s eyes. “Thank you.” It felt inadequate, but she couldn’t say more.


    One week later.

    Heidi smiled as she pulled out her journal before settling into bed for the night. She wrote the date and then wrote:
    “The Lord is my Provider. I have tested it, tried it, and proved it true. He provided friends, food, and” –she smiled, thinking over Cherry’s remarks that Friday afternoon– “family. Sisters in Christ. And He provided a tutor when I needed one, and girls who need me to tutor them.”
    Closing the journal, she turned out her little lamp and settled down on her pillow. “Mrs. Almstead was right. The Bible is true.”

Did you like the story?
Are you planning on writing next month?
How has your weather been?

Friday, June 23, 2023

Provider - Part 4

 Good morning!

It's still been nice enough before 7 to go walk, but it warms up very quickly. 

I've been staying busy with camp prep, blog post planning, and writing. Along with other life things. I'm going to keep this very short since I'm sure you didn't get on here to read me rambling. You came to read the next part of this story. There's one more part after this. Enjoy!


Part 4

    Breakfast wasn’t anything spectacular, but it wasn’t the worst thing she could have eaten either. She made her lunch, wishing she had just a little something else to put in with the ramen.
    “It’s what I have and I’ll be thankful,” she said aloud.
    Shouldering her backpack, she left her apartment, locked the door, and started for school. The sky was a little brighter, but the wind blew. Heidi shivered and squinted up at the sky, hoping the winds would blow the clouds away and let the sun shine again.
    Her first class went well, but the second one was difficult. She had hoped the tutoring she had gotten would help her understand things, but she just wasn’t getting it. Class ended, and slowly she began closing her notebook, wondering if she should find a different tutor or if–
    “Miss Sandler.”
    Startled, Heidi looked up to find the professor, a gray haired man, standing near her. “Yes, sir?”
    “I have been noticing that you always take notes by hand on paper instead of on a laptop. To a man of my age, that’s refreshing. But you seem to be having difficulty with the course. Do I talk too quickly for you?”
    “No, sir. I learned speed writing when I was young.”
    “Speed writing? May I see your notes?”
    Puzzled, Heidi flipped open her notebook and handed it to the professor.
    “Amazing! And who taught you this?”
    “I learned it on my own, sir. I found an old book of it once and decided to try it. I discovered I enjoyed it and have done it ever since.”
    “Well.” He handed the book back to her. “We’ve discovered your problem isn’t my speed of talking. Are you having trouble with the subject?”
    Heidi nodded. “I’m just not understanding some things, and that means I’m not getting the later things.”
    “Have you tried a tutor?”
    She nodded.
    She gave the name.
    “No. She may understand this class, but she’s no tutor. She understands it with her brain but not her head. In other words, she can’t teach what she only knows as surface knowledge. I think you need someone who can help you get to the root of it all and who actually knows it with a knowledge that will last longer than her final exam. Now let me see, who would be good?” He pondered a moment as Heidi waited. “I have it. You really need Agape Millsap.”
    “Agape Millsap. She’s in her second year here, attends my second course. Someone could probably get you in touch with her. I’ll have to get ready for my next class, but Miss Sandler, if I may be so bold, get some rest this weekend. You look exhausted.”
    “I will, sir. Thank you.” Heidi put away her notebook and rose. Everyone had left the room including the professor, and Heidi gave a short laugh. “No one has ever been amazed by my speed writing before.”

    By the time three o’clock rolled around, Heidi felt miserable. She’d discovered that cold, soggy ramen was a poor substitute for even a peanut butter sandwich, and she’d barely been able to stomach half of the small portion she’d eaten. On top of that, one of the students who was supposed to be doing the group project with her had found her and informed her that the rest of them wanted to change the project. And it was due on Monday. Thankfully, one of the instructors had been passing in the hall, and Heidi, feeling desperate, had asked about changing. She wasn’t sure if this instructor had had experience with just that sort of “group project” or not, but she informed Heidi that if she wanted to complete the project they had started instead of starting something new, she had permission as long as she only used her own work. Then she had turned to the other student and said, “Just make sure your new project is completed and turned in on time. And Miss Sandler is not included.”
    That had been a good feeling at the time, but now Heidi was worried that she wouldn’t be able to do as good of a job or would get a lower grade because she didn’t have anyone to work with.
    “Something wrong?” Cherry’s concerned voice brought Heidi out of her thoughts.
    “Just this group project that’s now just my project.”
    “Oh, yeah. Those are hard. When’s it due?”
    “Oh. I’ll be praying for you.”
    “Thanks.” Heidi turned away to look for something in her backpack that she didn’t need, so she could hide the tears that filled her eyes. She wasn’t used to hearing people say they’d pray for her.
    “We’re here!” Thia’s voice made Heidi look up.
    “And only three minutes late,” Cherry said, looking up from her phone.
    “I think your phone is off, Cherry Millsap,” Thia flashed back with a grin.
    “I love it when you slap our nicknames together with our last names, Thia,” Ems laughed.
    Heidi turned at stared at Cherry. “Do you take Mr. Gregory’s second year course?”
    “Can you tutor me? He said you could. I tried someone else, and she just sat around and stared at her phone while I studied, and if I asked questions she rattled off things I didn’t understand.”
    “Sure. I’m free this evening if you want to start then.”
    This evening? Heidi didn’t know if she should agree or not.
    “Or we can do it another time.” Cherry must have sensed her hesitation.
    “I don’t know.”
    “Why don’t we talk more about it after you finish here. I’m sure Thia, Lyds and Ems are longing to dive into English Lit.” Her tone was exaggerated and teasing, and her friends laughed.
    Part way through the tutoring session, Heidi bent down to pick up her pencil that had dropped, and everything started spinning. She wasn’t sure if she was falling or if it was just another strange sensation. Voices, worried and concerned, were around her, but she couldn’t seem to concentrate on their words or open her eyes.
    Something cool was placed on her head, and hands touched her wrist.
    “Heidi, can you hear me? Don’t try to open your eyes if it makes you dizzy. I just need to know.”

What have you been busy with?
Have you been walking this week?
Do you have any plans for next week?

Friday, June 16, 2023

Provider - Part 3

 Good morning and happy Friday!

I'm not sure how it can be the middle of June already, but that's what the calendar says. I haven't gotten as much writing done this week as I had hoped, but I did have to stop and do some research a few times. I haven't been working on my secret project this week. Sorry. Monday's Mystery said it was time I work on it. So I am.

Anyway, enjoy this next part.


Part 3

    Laughing voices announced the arrival of the other girls.
    “You’re late,” Cherry said, shaking her finger at her friends.
    “I know, and I’m so sorry, Heidi!” Thia slid into a chair. “One of the other students had a question about our group project that I had to answer.”
    “It’s okay. Let’s get started.”
    Heidi quickly found out that tutoring these three friends was fun but exhausting. If it wasn’t for Cherry’s reminder to her friends to “quiet down and get to work,” a few time, Heidi wasn’t sure how she would have lived through the session. As it was, when they had finished she gave an inward sigh of relief.
    “Can we have a session tomorrow?” Ems asked. “I promise I’ll come without Thia if I have to, but there’s a test next week, and I need all the help I can get right now.”
    Lyds and Thia instantly added their pleas for a session tomorrow.
    After checking schedules, they agreed to meet at the same time and place.
    “And don’t be late tomorrow,” Cherry said.
    “Promise!” Thia pulled out a blank check from her pocket. “Do you mind a check. I will pay for today and tomorrow at the same time, and next week I’ll make sure I have cash.”
    “That’s fine.”
    “Wait. Would you rather have us vinmo it to you?” Heidi must have given her a blank look, for Thia said, “Never mind. Let’s stick with a check.” She looked at her two friends. “Did you two bring cash, or do you want to vinmo me the money and I’ll just write one check.”
    “Oh, that would be good. I don’t carry cash,” Ems confessed. “It never occurred to me that I couldn’t vinmo the payment. Sorry, Heidi.”
    “It’s fine. I’m just not up on all that technology stuff.”
    “Put mine on the check too, Thia,” Lyds said. “Then she won’t have to cash two checks.”
    This was quickly done.
    “Thanks so much, Heidi! We’ll see you tomorrow.”
    “Bye. Thanks.”
    Heidi gave a wave and a smile and put her things away.
    “Are you sure you’re okay?” Cherry hadn’t left with the others.
    “Yeah. I’ll go home and eat something.”
    “And maybe take a nap too. That often helps my headaches. I’ll be praying for you.”
    The walk home through the misty rain, was almost disheartening to Heidi. If she wasn’t feeling so light headed and dizzy, and if her head didn’t pound so hard, and if the bank and grocery store hadn’t been on the other side of her apartment, she would have gone to the bank, cashed the check, and then stopped at the grocery story for some food. “After I eat something,” she murmured to herself. “Then I’ll go to the bank and the store.”
    Never had the bare and almost dreary rooms of her tiny apartment looked so good to her. It was quiet. She could act as miserable as she felt, and no one would notice and question her.
    She started her last can of soup heating up then took off her shoes and put on her slippers, hung up her coat, and pulled a worn sweatshirt over her sweater. Maybe it wasn’t the most stylish thing to do, but it was warmer, and her apartment wasn’t known for being warm. Except in late spring when it felt more like summer outside.
    Once her soup was heated, Heidi ate it, enjoying the warmth. She closed her eyes for just a minute when the pan was empty. “I should have kept my shoes on,” she thought, resting her head on her arms. “Now I have to put them on again. What should I buy at the store? Bread. Eggs. Waffles. Soup. Something to put on the bread. What do I put on . . .”
    A crash of thunder startled her.
    She lifted her head and rotated her stiff shoulders. Her eyes fell on her watch and she gave a cry of dismay. The bank was closed. She’d fallen asleep, and now there was no way to get the check cashed until tomorrow!
    Rain began pattering against the window as though the clouds were crying with her.
    “What am I going to do, Lord?” she prayed in a whisper. “I have a little bit of beans and rice, and two packs of ramen, and that’s it. I’m trying to trust You to provide, but it’s really hard right now.” Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she gave a shiver as another crash of thunder seemed to shake the apartment.
    A part of verse she had memorized a few weeks ago came to her mind, and she repeated it out loud. “He prepareth a table before me.”
    Slowly, with a feeling of uncertainty, she rose and carried the empty and now cold pan to the sink. Then she looked into her cupboards once more.
    They were still the same. The fridge was still empty except for some salad dressing, a half filled bottle of catsup, and a little bit of maple syrup.
    Giving a sigh, she stood and leaned against the counter. “I can cook the rice for supper tonight. it’s not much, but I did just eat some soup. Then tomorrow I can cook a package of ramen noodles and eat them with syrup. I wonder how they will taste. But lunch . . .” She frowned. “Maybe I could cook the other ramen and eat it cold. People do make pasta salad and that gets eaten cold. It would be better than nothing. Then, no matter the weather, no matter how much my head aches, I’ll go to the bank first.”
    With this plan in place, Heidi got through her evening of studying, eating her small bit of supper, and working on her group project. She went to bed early in hopes that extra sleep would help her head.

How has June been for you?
Have you ever tutored?
Does rainy weather ever give you a headache?

Friday, June 9, 2023

Provider - Part 2


 I don't know if anyone is reading this story, but here's the next part.


Part 2

    “And Ems, well, we already knew so many Hannahs, and I have a sister named Hannah, and it was just awkward trying to always have to use a middle name or last name, but her birthday is in May, and I thought of using that, but then I had a niece who was named May, so that was out.”
    How quickly Thia talked!
    “But May starts with the letter M and that sounds like Em, so she became Ems because apparently I like to end some names with an S.”
    “I see.” Heidi wasn’t sure she really saw, but another explanation was likely to just confuse her even more, so she smiled like it made complete sense and ate the last of her energy bar. She had hoped to study a little before her next class, but she didn’t want to appear rude.
    “Heidi said she’d tutor me in English Lit.” Thia was talking to the other girls, but instantly Lyds and Ems turned to Heidi.
    “Will you tutor me too?
    “And me? I had a tutor,” Ems said, “but she didn’t really do any tutoring. She mostly just sat there on her phone and expected me to learn everything on my own. Not fun.”
    Thia looked at Heidi. “Maybe you could tutor us all together. We will promise to work hard.”
    Heidi looked at the girls. She had just prayed that morning for the Lord to provide, and here was a chance to tutor not one but three girls. And in her favorite subject! “I can try it with all three at once,” she began. “But I don’t know if you’ll all need the same kind of help or not.”
    “Well, I’m not in English Lit,” Cherry began, “but can I come and hang out too when you do it? If I’m not busy. I like having company around when I study.”
    Heidi shrugged. “I don’t mind. When shall we start?”
    “Hmm, good question. When’s your last class tomorrow?” Thia pulled out her phone and the other girls did too.
    Feeling somewhat embarrassed because she only had an old fashioned flip phone, Heidi reached into her backpack and pulled out a small notebook that held her schedule and other info she might need. “My last class is at two, so I should be done by around three.”
    “That works for me.”
    “I can do that too,” Lyds said. “Where do you want to do it?”
    “Too hard to do it at the library with three of us,” Thia said. “I’d offer my house, but tomorrow we have painters coming, and the place will no doubt smell awful.”
    “Why not right here?” Ems suggested.
    The other agreed, and Heidi nodded, trying not to frown at her headache. “We should probably exchange numbers in case something needs to change.” She opened her notebook to a new sheet of lined paper and slid it across to Thia along with a pen.
    Each girl wrote her name and phone number down, including Cherry.
    The four girls chatted to each other and Heidi a few more minutes before they all scattered to get to their next class.
    Somehow those few minutes had brightened Heidi’s day. Yes, her head still ached, and she didn’t have more food, but soon she would. And she had made not one, but four new friends. Mrs. Almstead had sent Thia to find her, but God must have prompted Mrs. Almstead. Even the dreary drizzle didn’t seem so forlorn to her when after her final class she pulled her hood up and started for home.

    The next morning she toasted her last waffle and drank the last of her milk. Lunch was a problem. She didn’t have money to buy lunch on campus, nor did she have time to go to a grocery store and pick up a loaf of bread.
    “What do I do, Father?” she prayed. “I can’t exactly take uncooked beans or rice, and I can’t make ramen for lunch. If I didn’t have tutoring, I’d just come home and eat early. Do I have anything I can eat to tide me over until I get home?”
    Her search of the cabinets revealed nothing. “I don’t even have an apple or a carrot!”
    She thought of her brother and his wealth. He was making plenty of money but would never dream of sharing it with his sister.
    “He did pay for our supper when he was here,” she argued with herself. “And it was a large supper, and I had enough for lunch the next two days. I’m sure he just didn’t know.”
    Suddenly a faint memory of putting a granola bar into her purse some time ago came to her mind. Running into her room, she grabbed her purse and started digging. Sure enough, there it was. Rather beat up but unopened.
    “Thank you, Father! You do provide!”
    With a grateful heart, Heidi tucked the small bar into her backpack and set off for school. The rain had ceased to fall, and although it was still chilly, the sun was trying to peek through the lingering clouds.

    Heidi didn’t see Thia or any of her friends that day at lunch, so she ate her small granola bar and studied.
    At three, she found the table they had eaten at before and sat down. Her head ached, and if she hadn’t needed the money to buy groceries, she would have texted the girls and cancelled, even if it took her forever to text on her cheap flip-phone.
    “Hi! Where are the others?”
    Heidi looked up to find Cherry standing beside the table. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen them yet. Maybe their class ran late.”
    “Or Thia got stuck talking. She does. And Lyds is often late for one reason or another, but I thought Ems would be here by now.” Cherry sat down. “I’ll text ‘em and see where they are.” Without waiting for Heidi to reply, she whipped out her phone.
    Heidi took the moment to massage her forehead a little.
    “Are you okay? You look like you’re not feeling well.”
    Dropping her hand, Heidi forced herself to smile. “Just a headache. I sometimes get one with weather like this.”
    “Yeah, the weather is enough to give anyone a headache. Do you need something? Water? Food? Tylenol? Do you want to cancel the tutoring today?”
    How Heidi wanted to say “I need a paycheck so I can get some food and eat again,” but she shook her head. “I’ll be okay.”

Friday, June 2, 2023

Provider - Part 1

 Good morning and happy June!

I have another story for you. This one was written back in March during KDWC, but I didn't get it edited until just a few weeks ago. A few names might be recognized if you are also a KDWCer. :)

Life has been busy here. April and May just flew by! I can't believe it's June already! Time to get ready for another month of writing camp soon. I'm trying to get back into a regular habit of writing. With so much going on, and publishing Kate & Kylie, and another novella (read my post this coming Tuesday on Read Another Page), and yard work, and music practice, and updating my website, and getting two of my books in the process of becoming audios, and reading, and . . . well, you get the picture, I've had a hard time really focusing on writing. But I have started working on a secret project and it's fun. But if you want to know what that is, you'll have to subscribe to my Read Another Page newsletter because I'll only be announcing it there.

Anyway, enjoy this first part!


Part 1

    It was a dreary day. The clouds had hung low  all day and allowed no sunshine to peek into the dull room of the small apartment. It was a very small apartment. The living room, with two worn out chairs, a small bookshelf, and an old TV tray used as a table between the chairs, ran into the dining room and kitchen. No steps were needed when taking a pan of the stove and putting it in the sink across the room, for they were within reach off each other.
    A small, slightly wobbly card table sat in the corner of the dining room under a window on which the rain pattered and spit. It was here that Heidi sat trying to study in the light of a single bulb. It wasn’t exactly raining, but tiny droplets had been flung intermittently against the window for the past two hours. Even though the temperatures were hovering in the sixties, the girl at the table shivered and pulled her thin sweater closer.
    “If you ate more, maybe you wouldn’t be so cold.” The chiding voice of her brother echoed in her ears.
    Heidi frowned. Even though Joseph had only visited her for two days last week, his words still taunted her. She looked toward the cupboards as her stomach rumbled. “Maybe I should eat.”
    Reluctantly, she rose and looked in the cupboard that she called her pantry. It was almost bare. Some packs of ramen, an almost empty bag of beans and an almost equally empty bag of risc, a can of tuna, and two cans of chicken noodle soup were all that sat on the shelves. Her fridge was equally forlorn in its offerings.
    “Yeah, if I had more money to eat, I’d eat more, Joseph. Trouble is, I don’t have it.”
    Settling on a can of soup because she could study as it heated up, Heidi wearily got her meager supper ready.
    Study was not going well that evening. Nothing she read seemed to stay in her mind. Her supper was hot and helped warm her up, but it didn’t help her headache any.
    “Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.” She rubbed her aching head and wondered if she should just go to bed and try studying in the morning.   
    “I think I will. Nothing is sticking tonight.”
    Just as Heidi, having gotten ready more slowly than usual, was about to climb into bed, she let out a moan. “The group project! How could I have forgotten that?”
    Wearily she pulled her backpack over, dug through the notebooks and folders until she found the right one, then settled on her bed for another hour or two of work.

    The weather the next morning was just as dreary, if not worse, for instead of just low clouds and intermittent sprinkles, it was drizzling, and the temperatures had dropped.
    Heidi ate her last egg and toasted the last dry piece of bread. She had one energy bar left. It would have to do for her lunch today.
    Before she left her tiny, dingy apartment, she bowed her head. “Dear Father, I need help. You know I don’t have money since I lost that temporary job and had that extra expense of needing to hire a tutor to get through that one class. I’ve tried to find work, but there isn’t anything in this tiny town. Not even at the fast food restaurants. Would you please help me? I read this morning that You are the Provider. You know I don’t know very much about being a Christian, Lord, but I’m trying to learn. Mrs. Almstead said every word in the Bible is true, so I guess that means You are a Provider. I just hope that means for me too. Well, I have to get to class, so please help me learn well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
    Pulling her hood up, she stepped outside, locked the door behind her, and headed toward campus, her head bent against the damp and dreary drizzle.
    She reached her first class in time and settled down for the lecture. It was one of her favorites, and the material was easy for her to learn.

    By the time noon rolled around, Heidi was feeling light headed and more miserable than she had the evening before. The group project was quickly turning into a “Heidi do it all and everyone else will just argue and do nothing” project, and she wasn’t sure if she should talk to someone about it or not.
    Sitting down at a table in the dining hall, Heidi dug in her backpack and pulled out her energy bar and her water bottle. After bowing her head quickly and thanking the Lord for helping her get through the first part of the day and for something to eat, she took a long drink before opening the package of her energy bar.
    “Hey, are you Heidi Lincoln?” The bright voice belonged to a short girl with a blonde braid and friendly brown eyes.
    “Is this seat taken?” The girl sat down almost before Heidi had finished shaking her head. “Mrs. Almstead told me about you. Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Cynthia Grant, but most folks call me Thia.” The girl paused and bowed her head just a moment and then began eating her own lunch as she kept talking. “Aren’t you in Professor Nimms class? I thought I recognized you. Say, are you any good at English Lit? You are? You wouldn’t be willing to tutor me, would you? I’m going to flunk that class if I don’t get help.”
    “Uh, sure.”
    Heidi looked up as three more girls approached the table.
    “Hey! Come join us!” Thia motioned to the empty chairs. “Girls, this is Heidi Lincoln. Heidi, meet Lyds, Cherry, and Ems. Well, those are their nicknames. They are really Lydia, Agape, and Hannah.”
    Heidi smiled and nodded to each one then turned to Thia. “How did–”
    “How did Agape become Cherry and Hannah become Ems? It’s easy really.”
    “So says the girl who comes up with nicknames for almost every person she meets,” Lyds laughed.
    “I can’t help it!” And Thia shrugged. “My mom is always calling people nicknames, and I learned it from her. But Agape is one of the Greek words for love, you know, and Charity is another, and thus she became Cherry.”
    Heidi smiled politely though she was still confused.

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Friday, April 28, 2023

Love's Embrace - Part 4

 Good morning!

    It's really foggy here this morning! Five of my nieces and nephews are going to be here all morning. We'll probably read books, build lego, and who knows what else.

Here is the final part of this story. Hard to believe it's the end of April! Well, I hope you enjoy it!


 Love's Embrace
Part 4

    “I’m sorry, Daddy,” seven-year-old Hope piped up.
    “Me too, Daddy,” echoed little Faith.
    “I’m glad you are sorry, girls.”
    There was silence in the room, and Lindsey wondered what was going on. She almost moved her arm but was afraid of what she might see if she did.
    Elliot spoke. “I’m sorry.”
    “And me.” It was five-year-old Nate.
    “Yeah. I’m sorry too, Dad. I guess I wasn’t thinking.” Hudson sighed.
    “I’m glad you are all sorry. But actions have consequences. I want you all to go up to your rooms right now. Faith and Nate, you two lie down for a rest. Hope, you can read if you want. Elliot and Hudson, I want you two to think about what you did and what you think would be a good consequence for your actions.”
    On the couch, Lindsey almost held her breath as the kids left the room. Would it be her turn?
    “Where was Mrs. Judd?” Aunt Joy asked.
    “Apparently,” Uncle Isaiah said, “she ate lunch and then forgot about the kids and went shopping. She got back just before we did and was confused by the police asking where she was. I don’t think she’s remembering very well now.”
    “Poor Mrs. Judd. I wonder if her children know.”
    A silence settled over the living room, and Lindsey braced herself for a harsh tongue lashing if not a punishment of some kind.
    “Linds,” Uncle Isaiah’s voice was soft and gentle, yet Lindsey cringed and kept her arm over her face as though to ward off any blows that might come. “I’m sorry.”
    Sorry? That wasn’t what she was expecting to hear. She moved her arm just a little and peeked out. Her uncle was standing near the edge of the couch, and his face was almost sad.
    He spoke again. “I’m sorry we didn’t ask someone to come in and stay with you all. It might have made Hudson and Elliot think before acting. I’m sorry we laid the responsibility on you.”
    Did he really mean that?
    “What happened was not your fault. We do not blame you at all. Okay?”
    “But–” She swallowed and then blurted out, “But I was in charge!” Then the tears came.
    “Oh, sweetie!” Aunt Joy pulled her into a hug and let her cry, talking softly to her.
    Lindsey had never cried before her aunt and uncle before. Only her pillow upstairs in her own room knew of the tears of fear and pain, of loneliness and the longing to let love embrace her. Now she sobbed in the comforting arms of someone who loved her. She felt another hand stroking her hair and somehow knew it was her uncle. He wasn’t angry at her. He wasn’t going to hurt her. Somehow that knowledge brought more tears until she could hardly breathe.
    “Shh, Lindsey. Breathe, honey, breathe. It’s okay. You’re safe. We aren’t mad at you. No one is going to hurt you. Isaiah, I think she’s having a panic attack!”
    Strong but gentle hands pulled her into a sitting posture and held her there. “Take a breath, Lindsey. Come on. You can do it. One breath at a time.”
    The voice was a lot like the fireman’s, and his words came back to her.
    Smell the roses. Inhale.
    Blow out the candle. Exhale.
    “That’s it, Linds. Do it again.”
    She could breathe. She just had to keep thinking about it. In. Out. Roses, Candle. It grew easier. She relaxed and then sniffed.
    Aunt Joy handed her a tissue, and she blew her nose.
    “Are you okay now?” Uncle Isaiah asked.
    She nodded, and he eased her back onto some pillows Aunt Joy tucked behind her. They cared. Maybe Mrs. Quivira was right.
    “Do you feel like telling us what happened today after we left?” Aunt Joy asked.
    “Can I have a drink first?”
    “Of course, sweetie! Isaiah, her water-bottle is on the floor by that chair. Thanks.”
    Lindsey took a drink. Her head hurt, but if she closed her eyes it wasn’t as bad. It would be better to tell everything now and be done with it. “The kids played until it was lunch time. We had sandwiches like you said.”
    “Did you make the sandwiches?”
    “Uh huh. They were really talkative at lunch, and I got a headache, so I let them all go play while I cleaned up.”
    “You are supposed to stay off that leg, honey,” Aunt Joy chided gently.
    “I sat on the stool to wash the dishes. Then I checked on the kids, and they were wound up. I didn’t see any phone then. I guess I should have just stayed in there instead of coming in here to read. I’m sorry.”
    “Lindsey,” Uncle Isaiah’s voice was firm. “Look at me.”
    Wincing, she obeyed.
    “You did nothing wrong.”
    “And if you had a headache,” Aunt Joy put in, “being in the same room with those five when they are wound up would not have helped. Even I wouldn’t have done it. Did your headache go away?”
    Lindsey closed her eyes again and murmured. “No.”
    “I’m going to get you some Tylenol, and you are going to rest.” Aunt Joy rose and slipped away.
    A moment later Lindsey felt a hand on her head and heard her uncle’s voice.
    “Lord, I ask that You would bring healing to Lindsey’s headache, and her knee. Help her know that You love her and that we love her too. Heal her heart from the hurt caused by fifteen years of anger and abuse. Let her find Your salvation. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.” He kissed her forehead and whispered, “I love you, Lindsey.” Then he rose and left the room.
    Aunt Joy arrived next, and after Lindsey had swallowed the pills and was settled on a pillow with a light blanket over her, she was left alone.
    The house was quiet except for the air conditioning. Her head throbbed, and for a time all she could do was try not to think of how it pounded. Gradually the pain eased, and Lindsey drifted into sleep thinking about her uncle’s prayer, and her aunt’s arms around her. Perhaps there was a chance for love to embrace her. Perhaps there were people who loved no matter what.

Did you enjoy this story?
Do you feel like April has flown by?
If I get another short story ready, do you want to read it?

Friday, April 21, 2023

Love's Embrace - Part 3

 Good morning!

I'm not sure how many of you are reading this story, but here's the next part. I hope you enjoy it.

Life continues to be busy for me. My birthday is tomorrow, but we're not doing much then. I was supposed to get together with some friends, but some were sick, so we postponed it. My best friend is still with her sister in Canada, so we'll do something after she gets home. Anyway, I won't keep you. Happy reading!


 Love's Embrace
Part 3

     “I’ll go check it out and talk to Beauford. You staying here?”
    Lindsey watched the man go without really seeing him. The other policeman had called her aunt and uncle? They would probably be mad at having their lunch interrupted. “He didn’t have to call them,” she whispered.
    “They’ll want to know, Lindsey. It will be okay. I promise. Now, I’m going to go find out what the other kids are doing. Are they supposed to do anything?”
    Leaning her head in her hand, Lindsey answered, “Aunt Joy said I could send them to take naps and have quiet time if they weren’t back by one-thirty.”
    “Well, it’s almost that, but . . . I’ll be back.”
    Left alone, Lindsey leaned her head back and closed her eyes, fighting the desire to cry. This was all a nightmare, right? Would she wake up soon and find she had only dreamed the sirens, the firemen and policemen? She had liked living here. It was so much nicer than with her dad and his many girlfriends.
    A car door shut. Her eyes flew open, and she looked out the window but didn’t see her uncle’s familiar blue car. Where they coming home? Why hadn’t she just gone into the play room even though she had a headache? Who got the phone? Surely it hadn’t been Hudson. He was eleven and knew better. They all did actually.
    A familiar blue car turned into the driveway. They were home. A feeling of panic rose up in her. She felt the card in her hand and with shaking fingers tucked it into her pocket, hoping that no one would notice it. She saw her uncle cross the yard and stop to talk to one of the police officers, and Lindsey felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her aunt was coming up onto the porch. She had to breathe! What was it the fireman had told her?
    Roses. Candles.
    She took a breath and blew it out.
    Aunt Joy stepped inside. “Lindsey! Are you okay? Where are the kids?”
    She didn’t sound mad.
    Lindsey was saved the trouble of answering, for Mrs. Quivira entered the living room and started talking.
    “They’re cleaning up in the back room. Everyone is fine. Lindsey is still a little shaken up from it all. She had a bit of a panic attack when the firetrucks and police arrived because she didn’t know they had called. She has the regular phone with her.”
    “They went into the office and got that phone?”
    Roses. Breathe in.
    Candles. Blow out.
    Lindsey tried not to think about the surprise and sternness of her aunt’s voice. She just had to breathe.
    “Sergeant Mulligan talked to them, but I’m sure he’s talking to Isaiah now. I don’t know where Mrs. Judd is.”
    “Thanks, Jessie. I’m thankful you weren’t working today and could come over.”
    “Me too. I’m going to head home now. Call if you need anything. I’m off until Friday.” Mrs. Quivira stepped over to Lindsey. “It’s going to be all right, I promise,” she said softly, patting the girl’s hand.
    Smell the roses.
    Blow out the candle.
    Lindsey focused on breathing as their neighbor left the house. She saw her stop in the yard and speak with Uncle Isaiah and the two policemen. Then she walked away.
    “I’ll be right back, Linds,” Aunt Joy said gently.
    Lindsey darted a glance after her before returning her gaze to the window. When would Uncle Isaiah come in? Would he be mad? She knew her dad would have blown a gasket had she called 9-1-1 for any reason. “But Uncle Isaiah is not like him,” she reminded herself.
    “Sweetheart, are you okay?” Aunt Joy had returned.
    Lindsey nodded.
    “You don’t look very okay. Your face is pale. Let me help you to the couch, and you can lie down. How is your knee?”
    “It hurts,” Lindsey admitted.
    Carefully, Aunt Joy helped her up and steadied her slow way to the couch, then helped her lie down, put a pillow under her knee and gently pushed her hair back from her face. “I’m sorry you had to deal with all this. Have you put any ice on your knee since we left?”
    “I’m going to get some ice for it.” There was no scolding.
    Flinging her arm over her face, Lindsey tried to block out the pain in her head and the worry in her heart. She heard the footsteps of the kids coming, but she didn’t move.
    The front screen door creaked open and then the storm door shut.
    Lindsey cringed.
    “All right, what happened?” Uncle’s voice was calm but firm. “Hudson?”
    “I didn’t mean to call, Dad.”
    “But you had the phone.”
    “It was on the shelf outside the office. I didn’t go in,” the boy protested.
    “So you just decided to play with it?”
    “Yeah.” Hudson sounded embarrassed. “We needed a phone and couldn’t find the one we usually have.”
    “It was lost, Daddy,” Elliot, who was nine, put in. “We looked for it.”
    “Does that give you permission to play with something you aren’t supposed to play with?”
    Aunt Joy settled a towel and an ice pack on Lindsey’s knee without a word.
    “Does it?” Uncle Isaiah’s voice was growing stern.
    “No, sir.” Hudson’s voice was low.
    “Because you decided to break the rules and play with the phone, you called 9-1-1 and then hung up on them, so they had to assume things were really bad and came racing here to help. They came out here and found nothing wrong. And by them coming, you frightened Lindsey, and the police had to call us home from a lunch with some people who are going to be gone for a long time.”


Has April been a busy month for you?
Do you want the next and final part of this story next week?
What do you like doing for your birthday?