Who's ready for the second part of the Imagine This stories, written by a fan of the blog? :D Katja did such an amazing job with this, and I'm tickled to have the privilege of sharing them with y'all.
(Confused as to what's going on? Check out part one.)
A Day in Their Mountain Vacation:
A Family Tale
“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”
I only glanced at the first entry for this challenge, but I twisted my story to make it different.
Sixteen-year-old Ashton Porteston stretched his long arms over his head. His eyes wandered over the magnificent view without, and he remembered an old verse their family had memorized at school: “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
His elder sister (“by two years”, she would say emphatically) draped her arm over his shoulders and grinned, holding her iPhone out at arms’-length before them. Ash turned his head and also grinned, folding his fingers into a thumbs-up.
While Cearra posted the selfie on her Instagram feed—for the benefit of family and friends eager to know what they were doing—Ash went back into the spacious cave and bent over a little bundle wrapped in a pink sleeping-bag.
“C’mon, Wrennie,” he said, dragging out a pigtailed, pink-pajamaed figure and swinging her up over his head. “Time to get up. We’re going ‘x-ploring’ today!”
Seven-year-old Wren giggled herself awake and watched Cearra and Ash trying to drag twenty-one-year-old Upton from his camouflage sleeping-bag. The lazy six-footer defied their efforts until Wrennie straddled his stomach and bounced up and down, chanting, “Get up, Upton! Get up. . . get up, Upton! Get up! Get—”
Upton grinned, opened his eyes, watched Wren for a moment, then suddenly rolled over and stood, dumping Wren onto Ashton’s sleeping-bag.
While Upton dressed behind the curtained-off “bathroom,” Cearra helped Wren dress and Ashton rolled up the sleeping-bags and generally “tidied up.” A quick breakfast, followed by half-an-hour of devotions, and the four siblings set out to explore the creek chattering by past the cave.
Around noon, they stopped for a meal. Ashton posed for an Instagram selfie with his sandwich, and Wren threw her arms around his neck and dimpled over his shoulder.
Snack-time, at 3:00, found them nibbling a trail-mix and admiring an adorable little waterfall, slipping over and sidling through rocks and prattling away to itself.
“Isn’t it lovely?” breathed Cearra. She watched the clear cold water splashing through her hand.
Upton rested a foot on top of a boulder and jerked his backpack straps with his thumbs. “It’s pretty amazing that the Creator with the power and wisdom to arrange and make all this cares for the very flowers—and us.”
“Enough to send Jesus,” piped up Wren, who was standing in the waterfall-pool, looking down at the water bubbling over her feet.
Ashton, seated on a rock nearby, folded his hands and interlaced his fingers, leaning his elbows on his knees and his chin on his fists. “Enough to watch over us and care for each little prayer we pray, no matter how insignificant.”
Upton eyed Wren’s deep-blue jean skirt, which had several darker spots where it was being dampened by the water. “You’re getting your skirt soaked, Wren. . . get out now.”
Cearra looked down at her own dampening skirt and dropped her hand. Stepping away from the water, she tightened her backpack straps. Upton stretched a hand out to his little sister, and Wren grasped it and stepped carefully over the slippery rocks back to the path. Ashton stood and made a stride or two forwards to stand closer to his siblings.
“When you go x-ploring,” Wren said gravely as they started off, “you’d better be ready to see just how good and great God is. ’Cause, ‘ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?’ You can’t help seeing just how amazing and wonderful He is.”
A World War II Tale
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
—Matthew 5:13-14, 16
Ahab is inspired by a character from the I Am Canada Series.
Ahab slouched down into his train-seat, scowling at the world in general and “Prince Cal” in particular. Calvin King, or “Prince Cal”, as he was nicknamed, was a bit of a martinet, and if there was one thing Ahab detested, it was discipline.
He therefore glared at Prince Cal, who scowled in return and ostentatiously turned his back on Ahab. Ahab returned the compliment and glowered out of his window, muttering something about the stupidity of aunts not worth remarking. He’d been signed up by Aunt Atosa, who was worn out by his eighteen years of mischief and petty crime.
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, wondering in spite of himself what had been the general village outlook upon this action of hers. He figured that the whole town had heaved a sigh of relief as it had heard young Alec Grange bawling out the news that “Pickle Ahab’s enlisted! He’s gone!” as Ahab, dressed in khaki, had crossed the station and entered the train.
Don’t think of that, he commanded his mind. He attempted to focus on the outdoors, in order to shake off the unpleasant feeling of vague guilt.
Suddenly he heard a high-pitched yell, and a little boy about ten came dashing up. “Daddy! Hey, Daddy!”
The guy sitting in front of Ahab leaned out of the window and threw out his arms. A woman ran after the boy, and caught him up, puffing to raise him to her husband’s window. He leaned down and pulled up his son, and they enfolded each other in a tight hug—the kind you give when you’re about to separate and you just don’t want to let go—when you want to slow down time and never end that embrace, because it’ll seem like the end of everything—like the break of the tie, which will end with one or the other’s departure.
The mother on the ground, had her head tipped, and she was clinging to the boy’s ankles, as if she felt some connection to her husband through their son’s arms. Her face was set, and Ahab knew instinctively that here was a brave woman—a woman who had given her dearest for other women’s dearests. It made him feel queer, and he sank down in his seat, almost nauseous. He’d always thought himself brave—hadn’t he messed with police and guard dogs and even dynamite and guns?—but now —well—she made him look like just a bravado.
And that love. I didn’t ever really know it. Not a father’s love. His father had died just before he had been born. His mother had died when he had turned five. He aunt was as good to him as possible, but she wasn’t a mother, and it was hard to love such a pickle as he. But he wanted love like that—within him, deep inside, he wanted it. He was bold and brash outwards, but within—.
Aunt didn’t even say goodbye. Well, not that she had the time. Actually, he was just relieved that she’d packed him off before finding his stash of dry cookies under and inside her best spare bed’s pillows. He squirmed at the mere thought. She had a sharp tongue sometimes. Besides, he never would have heard the end of it.
He leaned out again and saw the father drop his son back into his wife’s arms. The boy held up his face and puckered his lips into a kiss as his mother set him down. Then his parents each stretched a hand and gripped each other’s in a silent, last-minute farewell. There was a quiet, peaceful smile on their faces and in their misty eyes. Neither one needed to speak. They knew.
The train jerked, and Ahab’s back slammed against the back of his seat. But he hardly cared. He still remembered that peaceful joy. How come she hadn’t been bawling like some of the other women who came to see their menfolk off? Why wasn’t he crying and saying stuff over and over—stuff like, “I’ll come back—don’t worry—I’ll be okay—don’t cry—” But the father merely craned his neck around the widow-frame, smiled, and waved until the station had disappeared. Then he simply sat back and, pulling a little Bible from his knapsack, began perusing it attentively.
Suddenly a light illumined Ahab’s puzzling mind. So that was why the fellow was so peacefully happy! He knew he was saved, and Who was ruling the world, and where he’d go when—if—he died, and that he’d see his family again—someday.
What a blessing.
That night Ahab was unable to sleep. As he turned and tossed restlessly, the scene seemed to pound continually against his eyes, with the words: “If you die tonight, who’ be sorry?”
He knew the answer.
Even pronounced by his mind, the reply was sickeningly sobering in the silent dark.
He was too big a problem. They’d just grunt and say, “Good riddance.”
“So what are you going to do about?” his conscience prodded.
All night he wrestled, but his conscience, now roused, seemed determined not to be beaten, and she stuck to her guns. At last he yielded and listened. Then he sat straight up in earnest determination, clenching his fists to emphasize his thoughts. He would straighten himself out. He’d find out about Jesus and know Him. He’d find out how to ask Jesus to save him, and turn his life over to Him. Then, by His grace and help, he’d come home, apologize and set things straight, get a good job, marry and have kids, and he’d love them and help them know the love of their Father, and the peaceful joy that He gives.
And maybe someday, he’d see that guy again and thank him for this touch of love that set him on the right track.
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
Lynn Brook rested his greasy hands on his helmet and glanced around. The young mechanic's eyes widened as he gazed around at the skirmish going on by him. (He sat with his legs dangling into the tank, and thus had a vantage-spot.) A grenade burst nearby, and he grimaced.
Suddenly he was yanked from behind. Throwing up his arms, he flailed vainly for a hold. He tumbled down upon his attacker, and a fierce fight began. The Canadian boy was becoming panicked, when he heard his name shouted. Looking down, he saw he was lying upon Esias.
Lynn scrambled to his feet, stammering an apology. His comrade rose too, shaking his head. He placed his hand on his knees and leaned forward, panting heavily. “My—fault. I—pulled—you down. Guess—I was—rattled—thought—you were—a—Japanese—guy.”
Lynn glanced at his friend. The young Japanese-Canadian straightened, his eyes narrow and his jaw set. His bright, sunny, constant smile was not to be seen. He gripped his gun tighter and started forwards at a run. Lynn stumbled after him, his heart aching at the thought of Esias’ pain. It was hard for him to fight as he did. He knew he must fight—must stop Japan—he had his family's approval—but there was a dull pain at the thought that in the ranks facing him, there might be a cousin, an uncle, a family friend, or another relation. And Lynn knew, from their letters, that Esias’ elder brother Micaiah and younger brother Jeremias, who were also serving, felt the same.
Suddenly he fell heavily, pain searing along his head.
When he came to, he recognized Esias’ face bending anxiously over him.
“All right, Ez,” replied Lynn, wincing.
Esias’ infectious smile beamed across his face, causing Lynn to smile involuntarily.
“Needs a—a—” Another voice, strongly accented, struggled to find a word. A uniformed arm and its hand made a small circular motion.
“Bandage,” injected Esias in Japanese.
The soldier nodded and began bathing Lynn's head. Lynn eyed him narrowly. He was small and slender, with a handsome, distinguished countenance, pronounced by a pair of round glasses. His face was serious, but kindly, and nothing could be gentler than his movements. In a few moments he skilfully bandaged Lynn's head.
Painfully moving his head around, Lynn noticed that he was lying in a tiny glade, removed from the battlefield.
“Our men retreated just as you fell,” Ez explained. “I dragged you into here. Takehiko followed me, and insisted on helping me fix you up.” He grinned, and Lynn grinned in reply. He knew what Esias’ medical assistance was like—clumsy and inneffectual.
Takehiko motioned to Lynn to sit up and offered his water bottle. Lynn drank greedily. Esias declined, but Takehiko insisted, and Ez complied at last.
When he were satisfied, Ez and Takehiko sat back on their heels. There was an awkward silence. Finally Ez ventured to ask, “Will he be O.K.?”
Takehiko nodded, unconcerned. “Oh yes. Quite. It's only a scratch.”
Lynn frowned at little at this careless dismissal of his wound. It had hurt, after all!
After a tiny amount chit-chat, and settling the way the Canadians would rejoin their comrades, the Japanese soldier began to sigh and pluck nervously at his sleeve.
“When will you rejoin the army?” enquired Ez.
There was a pained look on Takehiko’s face. “I don't want to,” he replied in a low tone, “but—I suppose—I have no choice.” He looked wistfully in the direction of his army.
“Why do you not come with us?” demanded Ez boldly. “You would be a P.O.W., but then, at least you wouldn't be here.”
A speck of hope lept up into the beautiful dark eyes, then died away into longing grief. There was silence.
“Have you eternal life, Takehiko?” Esias asked suddenly.
The Japanese turned to look at him enquiringly. Ez repeated his question.
“I don't—know,” was the hesitating reply.
Then Esias launched into “the old, old Story of Jesus and His love”—how God's Son had left His throne above and had come to earth as a baby, had grown to manhood, and had been crucified. How He had borne the sins—past, present, and future—of each and every human being who has lived, who is living, and who will live. How, if we believe that His blood only can save us from our sins, and the judgement of eternal suffering and seperation from God in a lake of fire that awaits us (for “the wages of sin is death”), and if we call upon Him to save us, we are saved, and will live eternally with Him in Heaven.
Takehiko was greatly affected, and then and there knelt, and called upon the Name of his Savior.
A few minutes later, they set out to rejoin to the Canadian Army. Lynn’s wound was trifling, as Takehiko had said, and he and Ez were soon serving again. Takehiko was released at the end of the war, and made his way back to Saskatchewan with his two friends. There they settled down, married, and joyfully watched their families become staunch friends and grow together in the Way of the LORD. And none of the three, even Lynn, ever regretted the circumstances which made them meet, for it had given Ez and Lynn the opportunity to lead a lost soul to the fold.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights. . .”
Hayes Beste smiled across expectantly at his wife. She smiled in answer and glanced down at the wee girlie in her arms. Then both looked up, eyes focused on the barrier.
Then they saw him—Carrson. Their firstborn. In his military camouflage.
Hayes’ heart tightened. His son’s face was listless and weary—weary of the battle. Wounded. The first blow had been the death of his wife by pneumonia last year, a month after their wedding, when he was “over there”. The succeeding blows were the war. He was broken and bruised in spirit, although his tall, powerful frame was uninjured. ‘In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.’
A faint smile lit up his face when he saw them.
When the greetings were over, Mrs. Beste pressed into Carrson’s arms his new sister. Hayes and Maxie Beste had been only nineteen when they married, barely twenty when Carrson’s had been born. Carrson was now twenty, and the little girl was hardly a week old.
Carrson held the baby in both hands, one hand cradling her head and the other her body. She slept on, oblivious, as he scrutinized her earnestly. Hayes gazed at the wedding-ring on his son’s finger and winced internally. A pathetic reminder of Melyssa—and of Carrson’s broken heart.
“She’s—amazing,” Carrson pronounced at last, a smile lighting his face. He cupped his arms around her and gazed into her baby face. “What’s her name, again?”
His mother grinned. Carrson had always been terrible at remembering names. Even Melyssa’s name had been forgotten the first month or two he had courted her.
“Jane—‘God’s gracious gift’,” she replied.
Carrson nodded soberly, without raising his eyes from his sister’s face.
That night, Hayes stood unnoticed in the dark doorway to Jane’s room and watched Carrson rocking her to sleep, and raised a grateful prayer of thanks for the little gift which was slowly healing her brother’s broken heart.
What did y'all think? Be sure to leave this talented gal a comment on which story was your favorite! :D