Authors: C. Elizabeth
Mom smiled. “Well, tell me all about it!” Something told me my happiness helped her forget her sadness.
The words exploded. Every single detail flew out of my mouth and I couldn’t get it out fast enough. We talked, or should I say I talked, for another hour or so. I told her everything that had happened, right up to the kiss.
The excitement was instantly snuffed out the second she saw the book. “I don’t want you reading that book!” Her voice was shrill, startling me.
She pushed hard away from the table. “No! And you are not to see that boy again! You are to stay away from his family, all of them!”
Her reaction was nothing short of an overreaction. I clutched the book to my chest. “Why? Because he kissed me? And what’s wrong with reading the book?” I demanded.
“Because I said so!”
“That’s not fair!” I stood to leave.
Mom held her hand out. “Give me the book, Saydi.”
Twisting away from her I said, “No! I’m going to read it!”
She spoke through her teeth. “Give...me...the...book.” It was a side of her that was very rare.
Still, I held my ground and stomped away, yelling, “I’m reading it! And I’m going to still see Nathanael!”
Slamming my bedroom door, I threw myself on my bed.
There, I sure showed her
. It wasn’t normal for Mom to have such outbursts and especially without a reason.
Why did she flip when she saw the book?
I wondered, stroking the cover. I sat up, crossed my legs and carefully opened it.
The first chapter began with the words: “The Spirit Light of the mortals, beware.”
The first couple of pages covered the expanse before the beginning of time, and how there were wars and battles between the Shamar Tov, which I translated to mean gods, and the Pyre Nefarious—demons.
Some battles the demons won and others the gods won. All of them were fought over one thing—the Spirit Light of the mortals, even long before mortals existed. The Spirit Light I interpreted as the soul—apparently they knew we were coming.
~ * ~
“Capture it, Saydi,” Mom yelled. I could barely hear her over the wind.
“Capture what?” My throat was dry. “Mom, I still don’t know what you mean.”
Waves crashed against the shore... Nathanael walked from the depths of the swimming hole, then turned, lifting his arms and closing his eyes. Job, Joshua, and their dad crept from behind.
“Saydi!” Mom shrieked frantically. “Capture it!”
A panic took hold of my heart. It felt like it was being ripped apart. A deer sat on the edge of the water, staring at the mayhem.
Looking back to Mom, I asked, pointing, “That?”
A chant rode on the wind—Nathanael snapped his head at me, his green/blue eyes had a ring of blood around them. The chanting stopped as his brothers looked in his direction. He glanced at them, then back to me.
“You’re too late,” he cried.
~ * ~
Bolting awake, sheer panic gave me an instant headache. The pulse of it pressed against my temple and my breathing was so heavy it struck against my temples even harder.
Sleep took a long time to come back with Nathanael’s sad face plastered in my brain, and when the morning arrived Mom looked like she hadn’t slept much, either. It was obvious she had cried all night, for her eyes were red and her face was blotchy.
When I asked her if she was okay, she gave me a weak smile and nodded. It worried me that she was so out of character, but I also wasn’t going to bring up the book or Nathanael, at least not if she didn’t.
In anticipation of seeing Nathanael in church, I opted out of my usual sweatshirt and jeans. Instead I chose a white button-up blouse with long sleeves that flared a bit at the cuff, along with my nicest pair of jeans. I inspected my hair and teeth as well as my makeup, making sure they were all in perfect order.
Both Mom’s reaction and the crazy dream stayed with me all the way to church and, with Mom’s silence adding to the mix, the air felt heavy all around me, strangulating my air. It didn’t even loosen its grip when Father Lacombe met me at the Sunday School doors.
“Ready, Saydi?” he asked, smiling.
“Yeah.” It was the only thing, at that point, I could offer.
“Good luck,” he quickly said and scuttled away.
“Thanks,” I called after him, pretty sure he didn’t hear me.
Walking in threw me for a loop. The kids were throwing crayons, paper, and anything they could get their hands on.
Why would Father Lacombe let them do this, then leave it for me
“Hey! Stop it!” I commanded.
Ten pairs of eyes gaped at me, most in mid-throw of something.
“Is this how we act?” I put to them.
With sheepish looks on their faces, they lowered their weapons and shook their heads.
“Okay. Now let’s get this all cleaned up and we’ll see if we have time for our lesson. Something tells me we won’t.”
There was no way of getting in the whole lesson after cleaning up such a massive mess, especially if we were going to have snack time. So I did the best I could, which wasn’t very much, and the kids barely finished before it was time for the parents to start coming. “All right guys, sorry, but next time remember this when you want to have a crayon war.” Some giggled, and some simply ran to the door to wait for their parents. For me, I wanted to run upstairs to wait for Nathanael.
When the parents started coming, it was clear that most, if not all, were out of sorts. Some started arguing with me about not having the full lesson, and when I tried to explain, they didn’t care. They thought it was the staff’s job to clean up. Every one of them didn’t get that it was their kids’ behavior, not the cleaning part, that caused the problem.
~ * ~
“Saydiiii!” Becky said when I walked into the hallway—all my friends met me. “We have so much to tell you,” she gushed.
Angie wrapped her arm though mine as we walked to service. “So much!” she said, adding to Becky’s intensity and rolling her eyes elaborately. “That party was amazing!”
Smiling at them I said, “I see you’ve recovered quite nicely.”
“Oh, don’t let my beauty fool you! It still hurts,” Angie revealed, giggling.
Angie glanced at both Norma and Becky; they nodded in agreement. They, too, were still feeling the after-effects of such a
All the pews were full except for the last one. I did a quick scan to see if the Braxton boys were there—not that I had to. Angie was already on top of surveillance. She tugged on my arm and bent toward my ear. “There they are,” she giggled, pointing.
Cocking my head to look around a very large hat that blocked my view, I spotted them. Yes, there they were! Nathanael and his family were standing in the second row, an eerily familiar scene—the three boys and their dad stood in the same sequence as they had in my dream.
Regardless, my heart skipped a beat when Nathanael slightly turned his head and smiled. He was so gorgeous, all decked out in a dark blue suit, white shirt and bright red tie. Then he waved quickly—the air unexpectedly gushed out of my lungs, forcing me to throw my hand up to my mouth. His shoulders vibrated while he turned back around, chuckling quietly. It was almost like he knew the effect he had on me.
One of his brothers, whom I assumed was Job, turned his eyes on Angie and smiled with a quick hidden wave. Then the other, Joshua, peeked around, giving Becky a smile.
We must have looked like idiots with the huge smiles plastered on our faces. It was impossible not to keep monitoring the back of his head in hopes he might look my way. Each time I did, my stomach did flip flops, not to mention my racing heart...but that all changed when Mr. Braxton turned. He had an approving smile on his face, but I found myself drawn to his eyes.
They were dark with no color at all. They weren’t even black... Two holes, pits, stared back at me. My dream suddenly slammed back into the front of my mind, making me wince. Nathanael turned, his brow lifted in concern, then he smiled right at me, easing the commotion inside surrounding the stupid dream.
Father Lacombe opened with a wish for everyone to pray for Lilly and Ted, and also welcomed the Braxton family. They all stood and nodded once, giving a small wave. When I scanned the pews, most of the girls had huge grins on their faces. It was nothing short of ogling!
Back away from the babes
“Have you ever wondered what went on before the Bible?” Father started, then stepped out from behind his podium. “I’m not speaking of all the scriptures we know about. I’m talking about those things that went on behind the scenes...behind closed doors, if you will. We all know of the battle for souls, of good over evil. However, there is more to it than that.” He paused and took a look toward Nathanael’s dad before continuing.
“There is an old story—I use the word ‘story’ loosely and I don’t know how much of it is true, if any, or how much has been blown out of proportion over the years. But it’s a story to reflect on, and it pertains to all our lives and how we see ourselves in the world.”
He outstretched his arms. “You see, it is said...
~ * ~
...The waves hugged me as they moved along, taking me with them. I could no longer touch the ocean floor. The black water was turning slowly into a deep blue as the hue from the sun above got stronger, letting a little more light into the depths. It wasn’t close enough for me to feel the warmth on my skin, but floating up I anticipated that soon I would...
...The light! Where did the light go? A shadow stole it. A tug on my leg pulled me down, down, down. I fought, trying desperately to move my legs. It got deeper, darker...
...The teardrop crystal was slipping from my fingers.
“Let it go,” the waves sang.
~ * ~
My breath released.
What was that?
Frantically, I inspected the people around me to see if my craziness was notable outwardly; it seemed not, except by one. Nathanael’s head was tilted sideways as he watched me from the corner of his eyes. It embarrassed me so much I couldn’t look at him, and instead tried to pick up on what I missed of Father’s sermon.
Father Lacombe smiled. “You’re probably wondering how this story fits into our lives. Well, every day we battle with good over evil, from small mundane things right on up to things that could destroy our lives. Your decision on how to handle each situation will ultimately decide which side you’re fighting for. Food for thought, hmm?”
Then he closed service as he always did, breaking the bread, and once we were done, the gold rush began. Everyone started filling up the aisles, jockeying for position to get out. Angie tugged on my hand when a hole between bodies presented itself and ducked us into the middle of the aisle, pulling me along. Becky and Norma were in front, pushing through as politely as they could without taking someone out.
Finally Angie burst us through the thick double wood doors. It surprised me when she said, “Come on, let’s get to Sloppy’s before all the best seats are taken.” I thought for sure she’d want to hang around, batting her eyelashes at one of the triplets. I certainly did, but she had the car. She let go of my hand and raced down the steps.
From the top of the steps I saw the Braxtons were an instant hit. The triplets and Mr. Braxton greeted everyone with smiles and handshakes, lighting up the faces of whomever they were talking to. I studied Mr. Braxton. There wasn’t anything out of place and all seemed normal, but after the church episode, he gave me the willies.
Stop it, Saydi! You’re only transferring the weight from your dream onto them. There’s nothing wrong with them
Nathanael was speaking with Segra’s parents, while Segra, of course, batted her eyelashes, giggling at every word he spoke. If she got any closer, she’d be hugging his chest.
He took a glance up and did a double take when he saw me, smiling and waving. I waved back, instantly feeling giddy.
“Saydi, come on!” Becky yelled from the bottom of the steps.
Suddenly, getting down the stairs seemed to be a feat. My legs were quivering so badly, and knowing me, the first step would see my face scraping all the way to the bottom. Holding onto the railing, I inched closer, then peeked up to see if he was watching. Nope, he was busy trying to keep Segra off him. With the first step mastered, some confidence returned and I was able to smoothly flow down the rest. At the bottom, Norma grabbed my hand.
“Come on! All the good tables will be taken!”
Angie already had her car started, motioning frantically for us to get in. We piled onboard and she started backing out before my door was even closed. When we turned onto Main Street, it felt like slow motion as we passed Nathanael and his family. His eyes locked on mine as we drove by.
That time, he stopped my heart.
~ * ~
Sloppy’s was filling up fast, but we were in luck. Todd was there holding a booth for us.