Chapter 23 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 23

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

            Trust is such a fragile thing. I have often pictured it as being like a spider’s web; the whole of the thing is held together by a number of individual threads. But let one break, and the whole thing falls apart.

*          *          *

Jørn rapped his knuckles against the gate of the store. He had already ringed the doorbell several times without an answer. He knew somebody was in there. Music was playing and the lights were still on.

He pressed the doorbell several times again and waited a few more seconds before shouting, “Open up!”

A clerk from the adjacent store hollered at him. “Dude, they are closed! They close at eight.”

Jørn ignored him and beat on the gate again. The sound of swift moving feet, someone falling and swearing could be heard, until finally Kyle came into view. There was a startled look in his eyes when he saw Jørn. He rushed to buckle his pants and unlocked and lifted the gate.

“Jørn, what are you doing here?”

Jørn pushed passed him, nudging him aside with a stiff shoulder, calling out Etta’s name.

Kyle stumbled aside holding his shoulder with his mouth open in shock. “Jørn, what the hell?!”

“You want me to call the cops, Kyle?” Jørn heard the clerk for next door ask. If Jørn found Etta in the store in the same mussed condition as Kyle, they were going to need the cops.

He shoved open her office door and gave it a quick sweep with his eyes. There was an inflatable mattress behind her desk. The sheets were a disarray but Etta was no where to be found.

Trying to contain the panicked rage that had kicked his pulse into hyper speed, he stalked back towards Kyle and the clerk. The young man wasn’t much bigger than Kyle and probably the same age. But unlike Kyle, his fist were balled and his chin was raised.

“You sure you don’t need any help here?” He kept his eyes on Jørn, a warning glint flashed in them. Jørn sized him up.

“No, man. It’s cool. He’s Etta’s husband. It’s all good.” A handful of nosy customers looked in their direction.

Jørn didn’t bother making eye contact with them. He waited until the clerk was gone and Kyle had closed the gate again before he spoke again. “Where is Etta, Kyle? What’s going on here?”

Kyle glared at him, still holding his shoulder. He walked behind the checkout counter and turned off the music. “I could ask you the same question. What’s with the shoulder checking, man, banging on the gate like a crazy person?”

“Why didn’t you answer the first 15 times I rang? What were you doing?” His eyes looked around the store again. “You alone?” He initially doubted the suggestions that Mr. Albert had made about Etta and Kyle, but with his delay in opening the gate, coming at him with his clothing have fixed, and the mattress on the floor in the office, he just couldn’t seem to stifle his jealousy, no matter how irrational it was.

“Yes, I’m alone. Why?”

“Where is Etta? She is not here with you?”

“She has been gone for a few hours, Jørn. What’s this about?”

He pinched the area between his eyes. When he opened his eyes again, there was a horrified look on Kyle’s face.

“You have got to be kidding me!”

“What?”

Kyle backed away from him, his finger pointed in stiff accusation. “You think- you think something is going on between me and Etta!” It was a statement, not a question. “This is unbelievable!”

Jørn was teetering between the heat of rage and the icy chill of embarrassment. It was absurd. He knew that. But his emotions and imagination had gotten the best of him within a fraction of a few misinterpreted seconds. He chose his words carefully. “I don’t know what is going on with Etta these days. I don’t know what she is up to, and I certainly don’t know very much about the company she is keeping, or the reasons behind why she is keeping company with certain people over others.

“What I can tell you is I will not leave a single stone unturned. So if I am led to believe something, no matter how nauseating or absurd it may be, I am going to check it out. You follow me? She hasn’t given me any other option here.”

“Sounds like a personal problem to me,” He scowled.

Jørn reached across the counter, his arms pulled toward Kyle’s throat with the same tug a puppet master has on the strings of his puppet. He hadn’t meant to react that way.

Kyle darted out of his path, fist raised and eyes wide. “Dude, you need to relax! I haven’t done anything! I don’t care what Mr. Albert told you!”

Jørn stalked him. “How do you know it was Mr. Albert who told me anything, Kyle? Sounds like guilt to me.”

Kyle backed into a toy display and knocked over a few of the boxes. He nearly fell backward but he quickly regained his footing, putting space between himself and Jørn. “No it sounds like Mr. Albert was here this morning saying the same thing to Etta! She told me when I came in. I swear! I am not screwing around with your wife! I am not Baldwin Falk either!” He snatched up a toy bat and held it at the ready.

Jørn stopped dead in his tracks. “You may not be fooling around with my wife, but you do know something. What were you doing before I came to the store?”

“What?!” Jørn moved closer. “I was taking a crap if you must know! I had some bad enchiladas for lunch. Check the bathroom!”

Jørn clenched his fist. He knew in his gut Kyle wasn’t having an affair with Etta, but he couldn’t seem to shake off the need to take his frustration out on someone. He needed to get a grip. “Where is Etta, Kyle? I know you know where is she is. I know you know who she is.”

Kyle seemed to consider what Jørn was saying. That in itself was evidence enough that Kyle did know something. Jørn tried to soften his expression, hoping to appeal more to the young man’s conscious than his obvious fear of him at that moment. “Tell me…please. Put the bat down—”

“I am not putting this bat down until you are out of here. Believe that.”

“Fine. Will you at least tell me what you know? I am sorry I came at you half cocked. I,” He was what? Going out of his mind? “I am desperate. I am scared for her. I just need answers.”

*          *          *

Kyle considered him again. The day had already started off in crap mode with Etta leaving him to work all day, and then practically demoting him right in the midst of battle. But he had not expected to be on the verge of getting his brains stomped out of him by Etta’s suddenly jealous husband.

Jørn was always so level headed, calm. The radiating pain in Kyle’s shoulder told him Jørn had left all sense of calm and gentleness back at the house. He readjusted his grip on the bat right as the thought crossed his mind. Sure the bat couldn’t have done any real damage. It was a practically hollow. Jørn didn’t know that. He wetted his lips but he kept the bat ready to swing. “Dude, I can’t imagine what you are going through right now. What I can assure you of is that Etta isn’t cheating on you, especially not with me. And frankly I don’t even think she would have the time to do so with everything that is going on.

“I mean she is here at the store almost as much as I am. How she found time to stop the ascension is beyond me.” He lied, but only a little. Most of what he said was true.

Jørn pulled out his phone and held up the screen so that Kyle could see it. “Do you know who this is?”

Kyle gave it an honest look, he didn’t know who the man in the picture was but he had seen it before. “No, he looks familiar though.”

Jørn stuck the phone back in his pocket but not before looking at it again himself. “It’s Baldwin Falk, the man Etta supposedly is working with.”

“That’s Baldwin Falk?” He had seen the picture in Etta’s office drawer a few times, but he never really gave it any real thought or consideration.

Jørn nodded slowly. “Is there anything else that you know that you can tell me?”

A pair of security guards shook the gate and yelled into the store. Kyle and Jørn both stepped into their view. “Is everything alright in their, Kyle? Roy said some wise guy was giving you trouble?” They looked at Jørn.

Before Kyle could answer Jørn was pulling out his I.D. “There is no problem here,”

“We didn’t ask you. We asked Kyle.” The guard’s hand rested on his taser.

Jørn put up his hands and slowly handed the guard his driver’s license. “I am Jørn Teague. My wife owns this store with her grandfather, Albert Castle. There is nothing going on here, right Kyle?”

“It’s all good, guys.”

“You’re Etta’s husband?”

Jørn nodded. “I am,”

One of the guards started laughing out loud. “Well I will be a monkey’s uncle. Wasn’t it your old lady who stopped that ascension this past weekend? My nephew was selected to go up. We still have him because of her!” His laughter became clogged with emotion. He tried to gain composer, settling for wagging his finger at Jørn. “You got a good wife, man, a good one. God bless her. God bless you! I mean that,”

“Thank you, gentlemen,” Jørn’s voice was low.

“Kyle, you lock up good, alright?”

“Will do!”

The security guards were gone again. Jørn turned back towards Kyle, all rage gone from his sails, only sadness evident. Kyle wasn’t a great read on people, but he could tell sadness just like the next. He said, “Jørn, I don’t know where Etta went exactly. She said she had a meeting with the remaining members from the Seats of the Silence,”

“She met with the Council?”

“Mr. Albert told her Pastor Meeks wanted to meet today. I don’t know where. I just know they had a meeting. And even though it is none of my business, I don’t believe Etta is cheating on. That’s not who she is. She can be inconsiderate and rude at times but she isn’t a cheat. You should know that.”

*          *          *

Jørn parked his bike in the parking lot of Greenwich Pass city center. He sat down underneath the orange light of the street lamp and stared out into the darkness. He had almost flown completely off the deep end, forsaking the very words he had prayed only a few hours prior. What was worse was the fact that Kyle was right. Etta was a lot of things, rude to a fault, inconsiderate on many occasions, but she was not a cheat.

He shoved his hands into his coat pocket and felt the stiff bend of a business card. He pulled it out and read it. It was Maryam’s. He had put it in his pocket just before leaving work. If he had felt like calling her earlier while at work, he was really feeling like doing so now.

Biting the nervousness that welled in the pit of his stomach he keyed in her number. She answered on the third ring. “Hello Maryam? It’s Jørn. I wanted to know if I could take you up on your offer, tonight even, that is if you are okay with that.”

*          *          *

Etta gripped the steering wheel with tight knuckles. What the hell was Jørn thinking? She had just gotten off the phone with Kyle, who somehow had managed to find a degree of humor in his near encounter with Jørn’s fist. And for what? Because Mr. Albert had convinced him that she and Kyle were having an affair?

“You shouldn’t be so upset about this. You saw this coming.” Baldwin broke into her thoughts. “You actually should be praying about what actions you should take in order to do some damage control.”

Etta glanced at him before putting her eyes back on the road. “Uh, no, I didn’t see this coming. This is totally out of character! He was going to beat up Kyle, Baldwin, all because of a something Mr. Albert said.”

“He is frustrated because he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

            “I told him to trust me.”

“That’s easier said than done, especially considering the circumstances. Put yourself in his shoes, see things from his perspective. He just found out I am alive, sort of, and that you knew about it all along. And to add insult to injury, you won’t tell him anything about me.”

“What does that have to do with Kyle, Baldwin?!” She couldn’t help but bark at him.

“Everything. It has everything to do with Kyle. He is the only other man in your life and he spends more time with you than Jørn does. Mr. Albert didn’t help with his suggestions, no matter how weak they were. I mean on the day of ascension, Jørn couldn’t manage to track you down, but Kyle knew were you where. How do you think that made him feel?

And I am not pointing fingers I am just saying you have to keep these things at the back of your mind, and be ready to confront them. Jørn keeps getting blindsided by revelations of your double life, and no matter how much you say it with your mouth, you do not make him feel like you love him at all. Him being in the dark, no matter how justifiable your reasons may be, look to him like lies.

The only time you show the man any affection it is because I have nagged you into submission. So yeah he is losing it. Honestly, if I didn’t know any better, I would even question how you felt about him.”

Etta gasped as if slapped. She turned her eyes towards Baldwin again, just for a split second, but that was enough time for a deer to dart into the road and linger there just long enough for her to lose control of her car.

Are You Listening?

“Are you listening?” It’s a simple question that requires a single word answer, yes or no.

As writers, as creative beings, as people, listening is paramount in our quest for honesty and authenticity. (If you have been following along with this blog, you will know that “Authenticity” is an element that often shows up in posts like this one.) 1349825677w51fa

If you want to see the results of failed listening, then just take a peek at how your parents raised you or how you are raising your children. Now, before you jump the gun and think that I am condemning anyone, I AM NOT! I am just making a point. Parent’s (many authority figures) are notorious for not taking the time to listen to those who are under their authority. They, in their attempt to show their power, shut down the voice that is seeking to express a necessary emotion or thought.

What ends up happening when being heard is not an option, is walls begin to show up and communication is utterly broken down and destroyed.

In writing, when we are creating our characters, when we are building the world’s they live in, it is extremely important that we listen to our characters, that we listen to the flow of our creativity. Should we choose to ignore the “voice” that is speaking to us, asking to be heard, sooner rather than later, that voice will cease to speak and our work will come to a screeching halt, with thousands of typed words being led to the slaughter.

Everyone of us, when we begin to write a story, have an idea of where we want that story to go, BUT the characters know better than we do. We have got to trust them enough to let them guide our process. (I am not saying with your living children that you should let them guide you because, let’s be honest, kids can be whacky. But we should at least know they are heard no matter what direction we lead and or drag them in :P )

With NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) burning on the horizons, I hope this blog entry helps you in your prepping endeavors.

Listen to your characters, listen to your flow, and you will be one step closer to making that 50,000 word goal in 30 days or even less!

Cheers!

The 96th

“Let this be the last time.” Elise didn’t know how to respond to the statement once the words had come from her doctor’s pressed lips.  She clearly meant business, and had said everything that she meant to say without using the words Elise knew she wanted to.

Taking the squirming bundle in her arms, Elise held the child to her chest and led its squealing mouth to her breast. For a moment she had hesitated upon hearing her doctor’s six word rebuke, but then she saw the babes soft pink skin and it was as if all the pain, all the harsh stares and aggravated sighs had fallen into the nothing of forgetfulness. file5581302923593

“She is beautiful,” The nurse offered her a smile, her voice little more than a whisper as she patted Elise’s leg.

“Thank you.”

Looking over her shoulder, making sure the doctor was not in ear shot she said, “She almost looks huma,”

“Velda!” The doctor’s red eyes shot Nurse Velda a searing glance. Her eyes were as ox blood, so deep and ominous that Velda struggled to swallow from having been startled so.

Elise kept her head down, cooing into the face of her suckling babe. She knew what Velda had meant to say. The babe looked almost human…almost. She was close enough for Elise, so close even with the slits she was using for nostrils. The way they opened and closed with each inhale reminded her of the gills of a fish. Her eyes were still too cloudy to tell the color. Perhaps they would look like the man’s who had fathered her. Elise hoped so. A few cosmetic changes would fix her gill like nose…if it were possible.

She had birthed so many times already and none of her other children had come this close to passing for humankind. This new child was number 96. This child would be her chance, her proof that she, like so few others, had done what her kind had been striving to do.

Elise Whistan had evolved into a human. She would be allowed passage to Earth.

THE END

Oh how I miss 15 minute freewriting when I don’t just sit down and do it. At first when I began typing and the story started telling its self, I thought perhaps this was a case of an abused youngster being blamed for the acts of those who had taken advantage of her-shunned and looked down upon for having a child she had never even planned to bare. But then Nurse Velda comes on the scene with her comment and that is all dashed to bits. Elise Whistan is a counterfeit human having babies at rapid speed in order to get permission to go to Earth. Even her name is human.  Immediately it brought to mind a story title that I had jotted down for future writing. I am not sure if this will actually be part of the plot, but time will certainly tell. Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed it!

Cheers!

 

Fountains of Living Water

 

I want to share a word of Joy and Faith for Sukkot (Tabernacles) The (ceremony called ) Hoshana Rabbah is done on the last day of the festive days. It is believed that the amount of RAIN WATER FALL would be determined on this day. Through rain are our seeds fed and made able to bring fourth fruits. (Sukkot also celebrates the previous years provision with thanksgiving). In Zechariah 14:16-19 we read the support of this. 1378320404gwq4v

BUT OH WHAT JOY DO WE HAVE IN YESHUA OR KING AND MESSIAH! For not ONLY did He fulfill His Word in Tabernacling with us, but He fulfilled Isaiah 55 “Oh everyone who thirst come to the waters…” We find our Messiah in the Gospel of John 7:37-39 offering these very life giving waters with power and grace! “On the last and greatest day (Hoshana Rabbah) of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

He is so Faithful! He has opened the windows of heaven and through trusting faith in Him do rivers of water run forth! Seek His face and Bask in His goodness! He loves us, Jew, Gentile, Pagan, Muslim, Hindu,  etcetera!  No matter how you identify, He has called you His and He is calling you to Himself because He loves you!

Come to the Living WATER! Trust in Messiah Yeshua, Jesus Christ ( Isaiah 12:3, 135:6, 44:3, 58:11, John 4:10-14) Chag Sukkot Sameach ya’ll <3

Braid: A Drawing

To be honest, I am not sure if I should call this a “Drawing” or if I should stick with calling it a “Sketch.” I suppose it doesn’t really matter in the end. I worked on this for 20min the other day, and would have shared it then except my phone email app has been on the fritz and I couldn’t send the pics to myself. (Gotta love those smartphones.)

I call this, “Braid.”

The first 15 minutes vs the final 5 of the sketch done in pink ballpoint pen.

The first 15 minutes vs the final 5 of the sketch done in pink ballpoint pen.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I LOVE working in ballpoint pen. It is so freeing.

One Braid

20 min ballpoint pen drawing

 

Chapter 22 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 22

    ~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

Did you know that the word “Kangaroo” actual means “I don’t understand your question.” In the tongue of the aboriginal people of Australia? When the Europeans first laid eyes on the hopping creature they asked what it was, and the Aborigines answered “Kangaroo.” The Europeans thought that was its name, and it has been called Kangaroo ever since.

To call this a miscommunication would be an understatement.

I feel like this when talking to the Council. They have so many questions and yet they cannot handle the simplest answer. They are just a bunch of broken dolls.

            Me: “This is a mission to save the world from the Towes.”

           The Council: “What are you doing?”

            Me: “Kangaroo.”

*          *          *

Jørn sat at his dining room table, staring down at the folded piece of paper he had pulled from his wallet. It had taken so many trips from wallet to table, folded to unfolded, that the creases in the paper had become velvety over the course of two weeks.

He read over each of the notes that he had jotted down, and hated the new ones that he had no choice but to chew on. He closed his eyes and laced his fingers together in a fist, leaning his forehead upon it. He calmed himself as best he could be for beginning to pray.

“Dear Heavenly Father, I need your help,” He sighed. “I have been asking for your help. My life is turned upside down, and I am finding it hard to find solid footing. Part of me feels like you aren’t there, that you aren’t even listening, but I know better.

“Lord, as I look at this paper and the revelations about my wife, Baldwin and other things,” He tightened his jaw. There was bitterness that soured his tongue each time he put Etta and Baldwin in the same thought. Their betrayal of his love and trust was beyond raw. “…I realize that you have been answering my prayers, even if these are not the answers that I wanted or expected.”

That was the truth. He wanted to know what had become of his cousin, now he knew…partly. At least he knew he wasn’t dead or missing, just missing in visual action. He wanted to know if Etta was a Seat holder for the Seats of the Silence Council. What he found out was that she was not a seat holder, but something else. And even though that ‘something else’ had proved to be far better than the Council, how he found out had made him put Etta at arms length. She had shut him out of her world so fiercely that he began to question if he was even apart of it, or was he just some part of her entourage.

The deception on her part did more than rock his core. It made him want to moan in physical agony. They had gone to the Justice of the Peace to be married, but they still made vows. A marriage was a marriage, a covenant a covenant. What had happened to honor and trust, love and respect? He had upheld his end of their promises with all of his being, yet Etta…

He could not shake the thought that she had never really been in love with him at all, she only pretended. By the way she had responded to him over the last few years it was if she was merely tolerating him, biding her time with him as some cover for her and Baldwin’s grand plan, waiting until Baldwin returned, all in the hopes of returning to Baldwin in the end. Maybe she had never even left him.

Part of him was holding out for hope that he was completely wrong.

“I just don’t know what to think anymore, Jesus. I feel like Etta has done some terrible things, is hiding even worse, and I keep getting blindsided by the truth.” The thought of the Prophet Hosea and his wayward wife Gomer came to mind. Hosea knew that Gomer’s heart was divided from day one, yet he still married her, and even when she went astray, he redeemed her to himself again. Jørn knew from the first time he made love to Etta that her heart was for Baldwin yet he took her anyway. He married her and gave her his heart. He should have known better. Now he was paying the price. But he didn’t want to let her go, not then and not now.

“I played my hand in this. I am guilty of the mess before me, but I have done my best to make things right and I don’t believe that Etta is even interested in that. I need your mercy and your grace, Father. I know your word says all things done in dark will soon come to light, but it feels like I am being blinded by the light, and now I am left stumbling.”

That was a fair estimation of things. He felt like he was stumbling. When he found out that Baldwin was not dead, but had been in contact with Etta for all this time it wounded him in a way that was far worse than finding out that Etta was the one who had stopped the ascension. Now he had to wrestle with the possibility that not only had Etta put Vanessa Wong in a coma, but she possibly was the one who put Heidi in a coma as well.

He knew that speculation and negativity was the devil’s playground, but he could not help but look at the possibility. What if Baldwin and Etta had planned all of this—gotten rid of Heidi so that Jørn would stop searching for Baldwin. He would be too distracted with grief to really even think about Baldwin, and the truth of it was, that he had been completely distracted. Etta had consumed his entire world, she and alcohol.

His mind drifted towards the day Heidi was selected to ascend. Etta was behind Heidi when she went into the coma, wasn’t she? She didn’t even really help fight the Lotus off. If his memory served him correctly, all she did was spit at it. What good was that?! He grounded his teeth. Then as soon as he came home again she had suddenly warmed to him. It was like night and day. Why?

The thought was making him sick to the stomach, sicker still, because at the end of the things, he loved Etta too much to let her go. He didn’t even know how he could if he had to.

“I need to know what to do, Lord. I am asking you to tell me what to do. I love my wife. I don’t want to lose her, but what if I never had her in the first place? What if she did do something to Heidi? Father, I don’t think I can handle that. I also can’t handle the fact that Baldwin may be lurking around waiting to take her from me.”

His fist clenched as tight as his jaw. “Help me with this bitterness, help me with this anger. Guide me in your truth and wisdom, and give me the strength to see the truth. Show me how to protect Etta from whatever it is that we are up against, and give me the wisdom to know how to protect Etta from herself if needs be. I ask all this in Jesus name. Amen.”

He rested in silence for a few moments longer before looking at the paper again. He turned it over and wrote on its blank side, scrolling down instructions more than questions. The answers would come with his ability to follow through with actions.

  1. Find out what happened to Heidi. Work with Rachel. Confront Etta with facts, and give her the benefit of the doubt regarding Heidi until then.
  2. Find out what is going on with Kyle Hime.
  3. For other answers dealing with the enemy, the council, Baldwin, follow Etta.

He meant that literary and felt a peace about it. He was going to follow Etta. She was the common denominator to all of his questions. She was the biggest question of them all. He scratched his beard, the thought suddenly coming to mind. Mr. Albert had alluded to the amount of time Etta was spending with Kyle, even suggested that the kid was Baldwin or worse, Etta’s boyfriend. He prayed the later was not true, for Kyle’s sake, because if he had anything to do with Etta other than work, Jørn would snap him in two, and if he had to, he would do the same to Baldwin.

He stuffed the paper back into his wallet, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then glanced at the clock on the living room wall. It was a quarter to eight. Etta’s shop closed at eight. She hadn’t come home last night and had likely stayed there. He doubted she would be there now. Reality was she was never where she was supposed to be. But Kyle was probably there, and most likely alone. There was no better time to tick off action number two than the present.

He grabbed his keys and headed to the shop.

*          *          *

Etta fought of the urge to bang her head against the table. She had been at the meeting with the Council for three hours, three dreadfully long, meaningless hours. If she had found anything out of value that was the fact that the Pulse was scared enough of her to call in 12 other Seat holders from around the world.

Etta didn’t know what good that would do. Ironically enough, the Pulse had not even shown up. Clive Meeks had not shown up.

“So let me get this straight, Mrs. Castle-Teague,” A woman called Ayo Adeyemi, one of the chair holders from a Junction in Nigeria, leaned forward. “You want us to completely stop what has been done in nature, since the dawn of time? It is like you are asking us to stop breathing, or asking us to make the rain cease to fall. We cannot do that!”

“Why not? The Prophet Elijah did it for three years.”

“I am sorry? I don’t understand.”

“Of course you don’t.” Etta grumbled.

The look in Ayo’s dark eyes was so laden with confusion, Etta almost felt sorry for her…almost. She heard Baldwin sigh, making a remark about if he weren’t already dead he would kill himself, just to be spared the idiocy in the room. Etta couldn’t help but chuckle. She did give Baldwin a curious look however. What did he mean ‘if he weren’t already dead?’ She pressed her lips together and addressed Ayo. She didn’t know why she was wasting her time. She had answered this question several times already. It was like a arguing with a person about which came first, the chicken or the egg.

“Ayo, may I call you Ayo? I feel like we should all be on a first name basis here.” She met the eyes of the members of the Council. No one showed any obvious sign of protest, even though their shards were shifting in colorful bouquets of irritation. She completely ignored Mr. Albert. “What I am instructing you to do, is to cease cooperating with the ‘Powers that be,’ for lack of a better phrase. Just be still, and stay out of our way.”

“You are proposing anarchy!” Ayo looked around at her cohorts. “Mr. Castle, what has gotten in your granddaughter’s head?! How could you let such a thing happen? I don’t understand how you could even hold a seat in this Council if you cannot even control your own granddaughter!”

Mr. Albert cocked his bushy eyebrow, but he didn’t bother to respond. He couldn’t have even if he wanted to. Ayo had taken the floor and she was not showing any signs of yielding it. She was beginning to remind Etta of Vanessa Wong.

Etta rapped her knuckles on the table. “Ayo, you are putting me in the mind of a woman called Vanessa Wong. You are familiar with who she is, right?”

Ayo narrowed her eyes.

“I figured you were. Now unless you want to become her roommate in the Greenwich Pass hospital, I suggest you reign yourself in before I lose patients.” Etta stared her down before continuing. “I am not proposing anarchy, here. Neither is Baldwin. What is happening here has nothing to do with the government. Shipping people off to the stars as chattel is not a form of order, or government policy. It’s genocide, and you all, every-last-one of you is guilty of it.”

She whistled through her teeth and three Lotus shot through the windows, weapons ready as they flanked her sides. Glass spread across the floor. The third Lotus hovered above the only exit door. The room erupted with scrambling and fearful cries in several different languages until Etta demanded order.

“What are you doing, Etta?” Mr. Albert finally asked, slowly and stiffly taking his seat again, as he and the others had been ordered.

“I have told you all a thousand times. I am stopping the ascensions. Baldwin Falk is stopping the ascensions, for the sake of this world.”

The question was repeated again. “Everyone shut up. I have the good mind to put you all down, right now in this very room. But then that would not be very diplomatic, even though the reality is none of you really serve any real purpose here.”

“What do you mean?! We are the Council of the Silence!” A thick German accent hollered at Etta.

“Then why don’t you honor your name, and stay silent!”

“I couldn’t agree more.” Clive Meeks’ voice, dripping with the static of the Pulse its self, cut through the din in the room, drawing everyone’s attention to the door.

Etta called the Lotus to herself allow Clive to enter. “So nice of you to finally show up, Pastor…and guest.” She smiled addressing the Pulse. “You call a meeting and yet you are late.”

The Pulse scowled through Clive’s eyes. A violent darkness swirled about in the ice blue of his eyes before drawing back. “As I recall, it was you who called this meeting. You should be grateful that I obliged you.” Clive took the seat farthest away from Etta. “So what is it you aim to do, you disrupter of sequence and order?”

“I want you to leave.”

“But I only just got here.” Clive’s face was smug.

“I am not referring to you, Pastor Meeks, but your guest, they one you are hosting.” She stared hard. “I want you, and everything connected to you, gone from this Earth, this atmosphere. I want you to go back to wherever it is that you have come from. And I want you never to return.”

Clive’s face contorted. The shards around him melted like wax and seemed to evaporate into nothing. The Pulse was taking over again, its irritation ripe like a summer peach. “And if we don’t?” Its tone was cool but threatening.

Etta pointed her finger at Ayo and then the German, concealing the tiny white object in her grasp. Both of them seized and dropped their heads to the table. The same cloud and coma overtaking them just like it had Vanessa Wong.

The Pulse shot to its feet and pounded its borrowed fist on the table with such brut force that the thick Formica chipped and cracked. It howled with an unearthly cry and rushed towards Etta dragging a frequency in its wake that left the rest of the Council members frozen, suspended in time. Even Etta’s Lotus froze still.

The ceiling lights flickered and darkened terribly, and even put forth the scent of heat and fire. Had Etta and Baldwin been within the Pulse’s sphere of influence they would have cowered in terror; the darkness, the heat, the smell the shear enormity of the Pulse, all of it was terrible and powerful and searching them out to press against them. It could see Etta through Clive’s eyes but it could not see her through its own sight. It could not touch her apart from him.

It lunged forward. Baldwin reached for her calling out her name.

“Don’t touch me! Stay BACK!” She shouted as Clive’s fist latched around her throat. Etta had leaned back just far enough to keep the thing from cutting off her air. Clive’s fist stilled against her flesh like a stiff necklace, not choking but ever threatening to do so.

Etta heard Baldwin’s breath catch and through the darkness could see the fear in his eyes. She winked at him, the gesture being mistaken by the Pulse as a flinch. For Baldwin it was a sign of good faith, that all was still under control.

Although she could breathe, could move her mouth and blink, the rest of her body had frozen still the very moment the Pulse made contact with her flesh. She pressed her eyes shut and tried to steady her rapid pulse. Beads of sweat saturated her scalp and began to pour down the sides of her face, tickling her burning skin. She was in pain, a great deal of it but she would not yield.

A strange pull on her mind began to tug at her like the force of a magnet. The Pulse was searching her, trying to read her like a book. Baldwin called her name again, the fear in his voice was enough to snap her out of her moment of pain induced distraction. She opened her eyes and forced them to stare into Clive’s, drawing up every impenetrable wall that she had learned to forge over the years, hiding away ever thing that she did not want seen. She could feel the Pulse’s presence snatching at the threads of her being, pulling against her barriers like claws against tar covered leather. Its efforts were to no avail.

Etta had blocked away everything, everything necessary. She could see the smile edging on Clive’s face, the Pulse had found something.

“You cannot kill me,” Etta rasped.

The Pulse snarled. “I will rip your spine from backside, and make your loved one’s eat your meat, Etta-beast!”

The smoke of its fiery breath almost made Etta choke. She grounded herself again. “You would have done so already, if you could. But you can’t. The pain you are making me feel, my heart can handle it. But can Clive’s? His heart is worn out.” Clive’s hand trembled against her throat. It had been trembling. His body had begun to sweat from the very moment he made contact with Etta. “But better question, can you handle it?”

The Pulse didn’t answer only snarled again, intensifying the painful thrust against Etta’s body. Every cell within her seemed to be crying out. She pressed her lips together and stifled a moan. “I have had migraines worse than this,” She lied. “But this is foreign to you. Everything you are doing to me is happening to you.” She made her mouth smile. “I die, you die. Remember what happened at the Yard on Saturday? You tried to harm me and harmed yourself.”

She let out a laugh. “You can’t even move! You are just as frozen as I am!”

The Pulse tried to hit Etta again but reared back into Clive as if it had touched fire with tender hands. Etta dug down deep, pressing with her will against the intruder. Even her Lotus began to shake themselves free from its grasp.

Clive’s eyes peered through the darkness at the Lotus, and then back at Etta, who was rebelliously reanimating herself. The Pulse howled again. The lights above cried out with the force of amps and frequency let out in the room. Several of the bulbs exploded. Baldwin cupped his ears, Etta winced, but the pain and heat ebbed away. Clive removed his hold from her neck and stumbled backward.

The darkness in the room had fled just as suddenly as it had come. The Lotus began to move again as did Etta.

“Are you okay?” Baldwin whispered, still keeping his distance from her. Etta touched her right ear—another gesture of well being. “I hate that thing.” He glowered at Clive and the being inside of him.

The Pulse took the German’s seat, dumping his comatose body on the floor and pushing him aside with Clive’s foot. It batted the sweat from Clive’s eyes. “Do not think that I cannot dispose of this husk. There are millions I am willing to discard in order to be rid of you and your hidden partner.” A smile twitched on Clive’s lips.

Etta took a slow breath. “I might have believed you if I had not have felt how worn out you are.” She leaned forward. “You have hurt yourself, twice now, and you have no idea how to mend your wounds.” Clive’s eye twitched. “You may be willing to sacrifice humanity to get rid of me, but I doubt you are so willing to sacrifice yourself.”

Clive’s fist clenched, white-knuckled. “You are severely out numbered.”

“What? You think the few humans you have acquired or the inexplicable technology you use, somehow gives you the upper hand? It doesn’t. Not anymore.”

Clive’s eyes calmly glanced behind her, looking at the Lotus Etta controlled. The Pulse’s voice was laden with pride when it came out of his mouth. “This is not our technology. This isn’t even our anatomy. What you view as an upgrade or invention is simply a glimpse of our artistry. We are superior by nature, naked in our reign over you. We have no need for technology. Even your world is inferior to who I am.”

Etta narrowed her eyes. “Yet you have need of human kind. Even with all your invisible nakedness and self-righteous grandeur, you depend on what is beneath you. That doesn’t sound so superior to me, sounds pathetic actually.”

“And what makes you think this is a dependency?”

“You wouldn’t fight your eviction if it weren’t. Bottom line, this is your notice. You were never welcome, and I want you gone. We, want you gone.”

“Thus says Baldwin Falk?” The Pulse was mocking.

“Thus says humanity.”

The Pulse smiled again. “Etta-beast, ‘The ruler of the home.’ That is the meaning of your name and by nature you have taken it upon yourself to rule what is no longer yours, nor any of your kind.” It stood up and slowly walked the room. “This isn’t about need, Etta-beast. This is about power, the right too because we can.” Clive’s finger wagged in her direction. “You, your humanity, are nothing more than a disease, soft tissue fossils of a bygone era. Only pieces of you are worth salvaging. That is what we are here for, and we will continue our tenure until we are satisfied or bored of you. Whichever comes first. But you must know, I have no tolerance for you, Etta Teague__”

“Etta ‘Castle’ Teague.” She flashed her teeth.

The Pulse growled. “You have disrupted the sequence. This,” He pointed towards Ayo and the German. “This game you are playing will soon be your demise. Mark my words. I will destroy you.”

The Pulse sent out a frequency that drew the others in the room out of their daze. “We are finished here.”

Etta stood, pointed at another Seat holder and sent him into a comatose state as well. “No, we are only just beginning.” The remaining seat holders scooted out of her way as she walked towards the door, the Lotus at her sides. “But we can continue our conversation soon enough, discuss the changes that are about to take place. Clive will let you all know when we have decided on our next meeting. Won’t you, Clive?”

Mr. Albert stood up. “You don’t have any authority here to make changes. You are nothing but a disgrace and a troublemaker! You aren’t even willing to negotiate!”

Etta stared into Clive’s eyes as she addressed Mr. Albert. “Sure I am, and yes I do have authority, from this movement on. I officially name myself head of the Seats of the Silence. You have several openings available now.” She waved towards Ayo and the others. “I will just go ahead and fill them. You might want to get those three to a hospital as well. You too Clive, make sure the ticker is alright.” She drummed her chest and left the room.

Random Thoughts of Doing and Delighting

I am having a lot of those right now…random thoughts. I think mostly its because of the change in the seasons, and with the change in nature I have this desire for other changes.

I want to change my surroundings, I want to change the way I manage my time. (I don’t know if you know this, but sometimes having control of your schedule often times can lead to poor usage of your time. This is mostly due to the fact that we begin to believe we have all the time in the world.) I want to control.

I suppose I need to remind myself (AGAIN) to just go with the flow without growing slack. Part of my problem is I battle with being an over achiever. I measure things, I weigh their value, I count ALL THE TIME. I mean I will count as I walk down the stairs or hallway. It sounds so OCD. YIKES!

Its not OCD, it is actually a way that that ugly controlling attitude is rearing its head. “2o seconds of time gone walking down the hall when you could have been doing something more productive.”

Do you ever have these thoughts? Do you ever feel like even with your best attempts you are just not doing enough? So what you edited 5 chapters of a manuscript! You should have done 10!

It’s in these moments that I have to remind myself what the Word of God says, that the steps of the righteous are ordered by God, and that HE delights in them.  (Psalm 37:23) God Himself, the all knowing, ALL loving, merciful God, has planned every moment of our lives, and if we will take His hand,  (Walk in faith with Messiah Yeshua, His mighty right hand) then we can be confident that every step is a step towards good and victory.

We can celebrate the walk down the hallway, that 20 sec moment of doing one single act, knowing that our Heavenly Father delighted in our walking alone. It’s no different from when a parent sits and watches with expectant joy the first steps of their child.

I am not yet a wife or mother, but I have many nieces and nephews, and I have to tell you that sometimes I look at them and just smile with delight.

My eldest niece is 23 years old. She came over for dinner with one of my sisters and my eldest brother’s fiancees. We all sat on the king sized bed watching recorded sitcoms, and in the midst of that she lay her head down and fell asleep. I delighted in that. I delighted in seeing and remembering when she was born and how much she has grown, the woman she has become. I delighted in her resting. I delighted in her.

If I her aunt can feel that delight, how much more does God delight in us, His beloved childern? SO MUCH MORE!

At the end of all things, it doesn’t matter if I tick off every box on my to do list, if I “maximize” every millisecond of my day,  or if I get as many words written or edited, or paintings done or Ketubahs made. (I make ketubahs and greeting cards… I am a busy lady.) All that matters is that I started off every step trusting God and allowing His perfect will to be done, and if at the end of the day He delights in what He has planned for me, then maybe I should too!

Below is a song that just reminds me to just delight in Him, delight in the day and delight in every step, no matter what it looks like. I hope it delights you too!

Cheers!

 

Chapter 21 Ascension Graveyard

Chapter 21

         ~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague

Dreams. They have always been my favorite things—a way to escape from the reality of a world too drunk on ease to actually pay attention to the reality around it. Mr. Luther King Jr. Gave a speech on having a dream…thing of it is, he was wise enough to know in order to make that dream a reality, he had to wake up.

*          *          *

Baldwin held on to his chest and forced himself to breathe. He was still standing in Etta’s office, right behind the chair that Mr. Albert had been seated in when he opened his eyes.

How long had he been standing there?

He stepped forward and looked at the face of Etta’s cell phone. An hour, he had been standing there for an hour, except he hadn’t been there. He had fallen asleep again. That was twice in the span of a couple of days. He didn’t know what it meant but he knew it made him panic. He hadn’t slept since the accident.

“Etta is seeing colors and I am having dreams.” It sounded innocent enough, normal actually, but it wasn’t normal, not for Baldwin. Over a decade had slipped by without him actually feeling tired, and never once had he felt the urge to rest his eyes. But now, not only was he sleeping, but he was dreaming.

He cupped his mouth and nose with his hands. His fingertips were tingling and so were his toes. What was happening to him? He deduced that he could blame the sleeping and dreaming on what had happened at the Yard, but what about other things? What about him losing time, or him not hearing things as sharply as he used to?

His mind drifted back to the dream he had just awakened from. It was lovely, he couldn’t deny that. Even thinking about it made his body warm. Etta was there, the sun was bathing them in golden light. Then she was gone, the light of the sun intensified like a soothing blanket drawing a smile to rise upon his face and then he just rested, still and easy, until the dream faded and he was in Etta’s office again alone.

He walked out of the office, past the mass of costumers who lingered in the store, most of them huddled around the Secret Keepers. He sidled up next to Etta, staring at her as if star struck before blinking the thoughts of the dream away. Yes, she was still desirable to him, but she was not his any more, would never be again. He knew that, had made peace with it years ago. It was that realization that made him root for Jørn. He wanted Etta happy and he knew Jørn could make her happy if she would just let him.

If things worked the way he and Etta had planned, the Towes would be completely done away with within the next few months. There would no longer be that massive burden to keep her from living her life, having the family Jørn asked about and she pretended not to care for. Etta needed to understand that.

He didn’t bother broaching the subject matter. Not then. “Don’t you think that looks a bit odd, obvious even?”

Etta looked up from the display she was working on and followed Baldwin’s pointing arm towards the Secret Keepers tower. There were at least eight customers crowded around the thing, staring at it as if it were some beacon of hope.

Etta shook her head and whispered under her breath. “No. I did a darn good job on those Secret Keepers. They are magnificent, so yes people are going to crowd around them,” She turned her head back towards the dolls before picking up another boxed board game. “That and I amped the frequency on the Lotus seeds so it appears they are drawing more hosts. You know I have always loved this game? It was one of my favorites as a kid.” She ran her fingers over the game board face before setting it on the shelf.

Baldwin arched his brow. “When did you amp up the Secret Keeper’s frequency? We didn’t talk about that,”

Etta gave him a look. “I did it an hour ago. And no, I didn’t talk to you about it because I couldn’t find you. Which begs the question, where were you?”

Baldwin’s face would have flushed if he had flesh.

Etta huffed noticing the shift of colors in his aura. “No worries, you don’t have to tell me everything. I trust you.”

“Are you going to tell me about why you did what you did? Or is this another case similar to the Vanessa Wong incident? And I mean that seriously. I am not trying to take a jab at you.”

“I amped the frequency as a precaution. Something is going on with Mr. Albert which likely has to do with the Pulse, which means something is probably going on with Clive. There is this strange odor coming from the chapel. Clive isn’t there, but Doris was and when I went down to see her I smelt it.” She met his gaze. “It’s like the smell he had when the Pulse first made contact with him but way worse. So it’s just a precaution.”

-“Excuse me, can I get some assistance?” A middle aged woman holding three Secret Keepers smiled at Etta.

“Sure. Buying the Secret Keepers, huh?” She scanned the store for Kyle. He was busy with someone else.

The woman sighed. “Yeah. I came in for something else but I was just drawn to these. I couldn’t resist. I had to get them. They are so finely made.”

Etta followed the woman to the check out counter but not before winking at Baldwin. “Thank you. They are made with love.”

*          *          *

Rachel was still floating on cloud nine when she went into the hospital. It was her day off but she was so eager to do some digging for the Vanessa Wong case, she couldn’t keep herself away. It was that and the fact that Michael had somewhere to be, and she didn’t want to spend the rest of the day pining over him unproductively.

She thrived off of being sufficient when it came to use of time. And she had been very sufficient over the past few hours. Michael had apologized for the small bits of information he was able to share with her, but the little nuggets had led to a decent path of information. She was so excited about it she had to share it with someone.

Jørn walked into the lounge just as the thought ran across Rachel’s mind. She called out his name and waved him over to her table. “Hey buddy!”

Jørn sat down across from her, stirring the sugar and cream of his coffee with a little straw before taking a sip. “Rachel, I didn’t see your name on the schedule for today. Are you covering someone’s shift? At least seven doctors have called off, all because of what happened on Saturday.”

Rachel shook her head. “Nope, not covering for anyone. I did have a good morning and afternoon with someone who covered for you though.” Her cheeks bloomed with a touch of deep pink.

Jørn sipped his coffee again. “I take it you had a date with Dr. Baxter.” There was laughter in his eyes.

“It was for research,”

Jørn peeked underneath the table at Rachel’s fitted pencil skirt and high heals that made her legs and feet look nothing short of sexy, even in the afternoon. “Since when do you research dressed like that?”

“When I am in the mood to land a husband, that’s when. We do have an official date this week though.”

“You are welcome. Glad my calling off has aided in your efforts.”

She winked at him. “Yes, thank you. You are a gem. But we did research. Michael said he thought there was a similar case to Vanessa Wong’s and so he did a bit of digging and showed me what he found over brunch this morning.”

“Is that why you are here? All work and no play makes for a life that is very grey, Dr. Steves.” He gave her a look.

“You are one to talk, Jørn Teague. I would put money on the fact you spend more time here at the hospital than I do. At least I have an excuse.”

He leaned back and narrowed his eyes playfully. “And what’s that?”

“I have no one to go home to or to ‘play’ with. You on the other hand have Etta.” She matched his body language. “I am not into women at all, but your wife is a hottie. If I were married to her I would be at home, my friend.”

Jørn’s smile was weak. He swirled the cup of his coffee. “So research. You came into research a case similar to Vanessa Wong’s. What did Michael tell you that has you here on your off day?”

“Yes! That!” She leaned forward again, finding it near impossible to contain her excitement. “Around a decade ago there was a similar case in this very hospital.” She pointed down with her fingers.

Jørn nodded, bringing the cup of coffee to his lips. “And?” He began to drink.

“The young woman was brought in in a comatose state similar to Wong’s. Actually from what I can gather they were pretty much identical. The woman was unresponsive, and showed brainwaves that appeared to be on a relay. Like what I told you about Vanessa.”

“So what was the cause of her condition? What happened to her?”

“Her case was left open for lack of a better term. There were some labs done on her. I just need to find them. She was here for two weeks before she was discharged.”

“Discharged? While still in a coma?” He took a longer sip from his coffee.

“The hospital wouldn’t keep her or rather couldn’t. I need to find information on her next of kin to see if they can shed some more light on what happened to her prior to arriving to the hospital, but what I know for certain is that she was 28, her name was Heidi Flagg, and she was chosen to ascend.”

*          *          *

Jørn choked on his coffee and dropped the cup into his lap, from the touch of hot liquid or maybe the burn of the mention of Heidi’s name. He shot to his feet, arms out and stomach burning from the coffee. His heart was pounding so hard against his ribs and blood rushed so fast to his head that he staggered.

Rachel stood up. “Oh my goodness, Jørn! Are you alright?” She rushed to the counter and grabbed a handful of napkins and started to help him clean up.

Jørn felt like his throat was closing. “Heidi Flagg?” Nothing else came out. He was what? Caught off guard? That was an understatement. Rachel shoved napkins into his hand and dropped a wad of them at his feet, mopping up the sticky coffee with her foot.

She grabbed more napkins. “We have a mess here, Jørn.”

Yes we do. It was more than a mess, especially if what Rachel said was true, if what Mr. Albert had said was true. Heidi’s symptoms were identical to Vanessa’s. Etta had supposedly been the cause of Vanessa’s coma, even Doris and her niece verified that. Did Etta put Heidi in a…No, no she couldn’t have. The thought was making his temples throb. He pressed the heel of his hand into his closed eye and made himself take a breath. But he couldn’t stop the tremors in his hands that had suddenly sprung forth.

Rachel touched his arm and he flinched. “You alright?”

He met her gaze and forced a fake smile. He was far from alright, so far from it. “I am just an idiot,” He chuckled. “I can’t believe this happened,” Was he talking about the coffee spill or what he had been thinking about Etta, and Baldwin and everything else.

Rachel shook her head. “Yeah, you are butterfingers. You better be glad none of that got on my shoes.” She wagged her finger at him.

The timer on his wrist watch went off. He fumbled with it to turn it off.

“Are you sure you are alright?”

“Yeah, the coffee just frazzled me. I am a mess and I need to go and talk to a patient before she is discharged.”

“What now? Go! I will take care of this. Get cleaned up. I got it.” She squatted down to retrieve the soiled napkins.

Jørn backed away towards the door. He needed air. He needed to calm down he needed—

“I will keep you posted on what I find out about the Flagg case! See ya, Jørn!”

*          *          *

He stood outside the door to Maryam’s room. He was twenty minutes late in meeting her, but he did have to clean up. He also had to get his mind at ease. He had failed miserably with that attempt.

He forced his feet to move into her room, his toes sticking together from the sugar rich coffee that had seeped through the tops of his tennis shoes. “Hello Maryam,” His voice was so unenthusiastic. Not even the smile on his face could mask it.

Maryam stood by her bed, shoving what was left of her personal items into her bag. She looked up at him, and then tilted her head to the side, studying him with her fist planted on her full hips.

“What has got my handsome friend all down in the dumps?”

He tried to brighten his smile. “Coffee. I spilled a whole cup all over me and into my shoes right when I was supposed to come and talk to you. Sorry that I am late.”

Maryam sat her hip on the side of the bed. “Now worries. For you I would wait a lifetime.” She cupped her hands to her heart with the theatrical expertise of a high school teen in Shakespearean play. The smile that came to her face was far more sincere than his.

Jørn leaned against the shelf in the room, scanning over her discharge information. He did his best to be cordial as he wrapped up their time together. But he just couldn’t seem to get Etta and Heidi off of his mine. He had been trying to banish the thought but it was a losing battle. Etta might have done something not only to Vanessa but Heidi as well.

“Jørn, what’s going on with you? I know it isn’t the coffee.” Maryam folded her hands in her lap. The way she was posed, the semi-casual cut of her outfit and the fall of her dark curls against the satin glow of her golden jewelry made her look like who she was, a doctor getting a read on her patient.

Jørn pinched the bridge of his nose and pressed his eyes closed. “You’re right, it’s not the coffee.” He locked eyes with her. “But I really can’t get into it right now. It’s nothing to burden you with. Besides, I need to get you all ready to go.”

Maryam stood up and slung her purse over her shoulder, but not before digging into it and pulling out a business card. “Don’t worry about that. The nurse already got me ready to go. I just waited around to say goodbye to you. I let you talk because I like looking at you,” She winked being her usually cheeky self before transitioning back into doctor mode. “But all in all seriousness, you look like you need a friend. I don’t know what is going on, but I know enough to know that it is eating you alive,”

She stood only a few feet from him her eyes gently staring into his unblinking.

Heat rose up the back of Jørn’s neck, suddenly feeling embarrassed. He looked down at her hand at the business card sandwiched between her middle and index fingers.

“You need someone to talk to—an unbiased mind to help navigate you through whatever it is that you are dealing with. I know you are a Christian and you have faith in God. I respect that, but even Christians need someone to share their burdens with, right?”

He didn’t speak. He tried to swallow down the dryness in his throat. The near impossible act was making his brow crease. Maryam grabbed his wrist and placed the card in his hand, folding his fingers around it.

“You can’t get help if you are not willing to take it. And we both know that if the conditions are right we run the risk of taking our troubles to the bottle and not to the Lord. Just give me a call when you are ready.” She kissed his cheek and hugged him around his shoulders.

Jørn hugged her back still incapable of speaking. He didn’t even know what to say.

Maryam pulled away and grabbed her bag off the bed and stretched her arms outward. “Man, I tell you, I am so glad to be getting out of here. I feel like William Wallace right now. Freedom!” She laughed out loud and walked towards the door, stopping right at the threshold, a wan smile on her face. “Let me help you, Jørn. I will be waiting for your call.”

Jørn took in air as soon as she was out of sight, breathing as if for the first time. So much tension had risen up in him within those last few moments with Maryam, and even though he had not told her a thing, he felt better just by listening to her, even if only a little bit.

He leaned his head against the wall before looking down at the business card. Maryam’s office was 25 minutes from his home. He really didn’t want to involve anyone in what he was feeling and what was going on with Etta, but it seemed as if there were already several people involved; not just he and his wife, but Baldwin and now Heidi, and according to Mr. Albert, Kyle Hime, not to mention all of Greenwich Pass. What would it hurt to add one more?

Fall: A Poem

I love the smokey grey of the sky in Fall

The rustling of the leaves

Their shifting colors from dark green to orange lights

The chill within the breeze

I love the scent of fire that moves upon the wind

Longer nights and rain that falls

The touch of woolen clothing, hoodies, and pumpkins

I LOVE IT ALL!

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Here I am working on Chapter 21 of AG and the sound of rustling leaves came in through my open window, drawing my eyes away from the computer screen and towards the dark sky. I smiled and said aloud the first line of the poem above and decided to make it a quick poem. Because, I just LOVE the fall!