I hate how the people I live with and call friends hardly know me at all. It’s not like I don’t want them to know, it’s just who I am is so much different than they think I am. It’s like I’m living a double identity. I pretend to be one person for my family and friends, but then when I’m alone online I’m more happy, more comfortable, more myself. My whole life I’ve built up walls trying to be a fun person that people like, but now I’m tired of it. I want people to know me and like me for who I really am. I’m just… scared. So that’s where I am right now. Living a double identity and not knowing what to do about it.
Sneak peak of my faith based novel. Super exciting.
I watched as Chealyn defeatedly slumped down in the middle of the wet cobblestone street. Her long, red hair limply clung to her face, drenched from the steady downpour. She looked pleadingly up to me. “Micah, please!” she started to sob. “My heart is broken, and you are the only one who can fix it.” Her voice was hoarse and quiet. I sighed and knelt down next to Chealyn. It didn’t matter how wet or muddy the street was, all that mattered was getting through to this lost, confused woman. “No, Chealyn.” I took her cold, dainty hands carefully in my own large, rough ones. ” I can’t fix it. In fact, no amount of earthy love can fix it.” Chealyn searched my eyes desperately hoping to find something more than despair. “But, I happen to know a man who I know could fix your broken heart.” “Who?” Chealyn whispered, her fragile body violently shaking from her sobbing. I continued slowly, my voice starting to fill with emotion. “A very special man named Jesus Christ. He was born of a virgin and when He grew up, He willingly died on the cross. He was crucified, Chealyn. Crucified as a sacrifice to pay for every sin of every sinner, ever.” I looked intently at her, waiting for some kind of response. Chealyn began to shake her head slowly, her eyes turned down towards the ground. After several minutes of uncomfortable silence she finally spoke. “I’ve heard all this before, Micah.” Her voice was barely audible due to the still persistent rain and the roaring wind that was now tearing at both of us. However, I could tell she was struggling to keep from bursting into another puddle of tears. “You just don’t know what I’ve done. So many bad things. Disappointed so many good people.” She brought her steel gray eyes to my own dark blue ones, fresh tears glistening in Chealyn’s. “I’ve strayed so far from my parents’ faith. Rejected it. Told them I wouldn’t be burdened by spending all my time and effort trying to be a “good Christian”. I told them I wanted to actually have a life, not be a slave to some religion. It’s too late for me to turn back now.” Chealyn seemed to shrink into a state of hopelessness. I couldn’t bear it anymore. Suddenly, like a surge of energy had just flowed through me, I grabbed Chealyn’s shoulders sternly and almost shouted. “NO. It is NEVER too late. NEVER. Jesus came to die for sinners. The imperfect. The not good enoughs. He came for all of them. For all of us. He loves you, Chealyn, more than you could ever imagine, hope or dream. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. He forgives all of that if you ask Him to. He will forget they ever happened. The Bible says He will cast our sin as far as the East is from the West. He longs for you, Chaelyn. He misses you and weeps over you. He has been anxiously waiting for the day you find your way back home.” I let go of Chaelyn’s shoulders, watching her carefully, hoping I hadn’t been too abrupt or uproarious. It was obvious she was mentally processing everything I had just said. There was doubt clearly painted in her pained expression. After a few moments of agonizing silence, Chaelyn shook her head. “Not me, Micah. I had my made up my mind. I told God I didn’t need Him. I’m not going back on my word. I can’t.” My voice softened, seeing the hopelessness the woman felt. “Yes you can, Chaelyn. Yes you can.” I closed my eyes, wishing she could feel what I felt. Hope. Chaelyn looked up at me, her face dirty and tear stained. “I want that, Micah.” she whispered. After a few long moments and some wordless expressions between our eyes, she cried out almost as loud as I had just been moments before. “I…I…I want to go back home, to Jesus! I want to know Him, Micah!” And with that she dissolved into yet another fit of weeping. I placed my arms tenderly around Chaelyn, trying my best to comfort her. Chaelyn’s head quickly jerked up and I let my arms slide off her and fall back to their well-known spots at my sides. Chaelyn’s brilliant eyes searched mine with a wild hunger that almost scared me. “How?” She grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly. In the most pleading voice I’ve ever heard, she continued. “How can I know Jesus?” I smiled, tears streaming down my face. “That’s the great thing about it Chaelyn.” I said. “All you have to do is ask…pray and ask Jesus to come live inside your heart and He will.” “Please! Help me! Micah, can you help me pray and ask Jesus into my heart?” Chaelyn whispered franticly, her eyes wide with desperation. At that moment I was so full of joy I could have leapt up and danced around in the storm, but I remained on the ground, next to Chaelyn. “Yes, Yes I will, Chaelyn. In fact, I would love to.” Chaelyn seemed to glow with joy as I led her in a prayer of salvation right in the middle of that old, worn cobblestone street, during one of the biggest downpours I think I’ve ever seen.
Those days when lies compress you, tear you down, undress you. The things left unsaid but always shown. The things that laugh and light but struck you to the bone. The cries, the marks, the hurts, the dark. The fear in the hauntings of yesterday’s home. The moments never had, but always blown. Shattering glass that never mended. The burning that started, but never ended.
I glanced up from my spot at the corner of the diner as the bell above the door jingled merrily as a happy looking couple made their way towards the counter. Their light voices were heard clearly through the humid air. They were young, I observed, especially the girl, who looked miniature next to the muscly, well-built cowboy who was obviously her beau.
"C’mon, Timothy!" The girl pulled at the cowboy’s arm. "We have to hurry. Ma’maw is gonna be awful upset if we’re late to help her catch crawdaddies." Her not naturally black hair danced around her petite face in a flattering fashion as she bounced up to order, dragging her boyfriend with her.
"Now Jess," I cringed as he put his tattooed arm around her, obsessively. "Calm down, sugar bug. We got time. An’ plus I gotta talk to you ‘bout that, ‘member?" He let his arm drop and slip his hand in his pocket. The girl looked at him confusedly. Timothy bent down ever so slightly and kissed her rather roughly.
My eyes went back to my plate and the paper. I concentrated on reading the newspaper in front of me as I heard them order, gather their food, and walk across the dusty tiled floor to the red upholstered booth across from me.
The cowboy took his hat off and wiped his brow. They set the plates of food on the outdated table and slid into the booth, Timothy purposely knocking into Jess. The girl laughed and shoved the man’s broad shoulder playfully.
Popping a French fry into her mouth, she turned to face Timothy.
"What did ya wanna talk to me ‘bout, Tim? I know crawdaddy fishin’ isn’t the most fun thing to do durin’ a heat wave like this, but Ma’maw needs your muscles to help us with the traps. I’m sure she ‘preciates it." Jess’ eyes were big and genuine and she had a sweet, joyous smile on her mouth.
I watched as a fat, lazy fly buzzed around the cowboy’s head, creating an unwanted annoyance in the tense moment. Timothy let out a sigh.
"Listen, Darlin’ I know your Ma’maw needs help and your dad is always too busy to help her. I can help some other time, but I’m tired of bein’ pushed ‘round by her. Plus, some of the guys and I were gonna go down to the lake and go swimmin’ today."
The girl’s face fell.
"But, Tim… You told her you’d be there. She’s ‘spectin’ us to be there in half an hour. By this time she’ll have the traps pulled out and ready to load into the truck."
I looked back to my wrinkled newspaper, grimacing at the boyfriend’s obvious priorities and selfishness.
"I know, hun. I said I’ll do it another time. I have better things to do, okay?"
I couldn’t help but glance back over to the table where Jess was trying hard to look brave. Timothy placed a hand under her chin and lifted her face towards him.
"Hey, babe, don’t be so down. You don’t even like crawdaddies anyway. How ‘bout you ditch the old lady and come with us to the lake. I know how much you love the water."
The saddened girl shook her head.
"No, Tim. You run along and have fun, but I can’t go. I should go home and go help Ma’maw put away the traps."
I watched in suspense, hoping the boy would have a change of heart or have some sense knocked into him, one of the two. To my great displeasure all he did was shrug and grab his bag of food before hurrying towards the door. I wanted to get up and slap the boy, make him apologize to the lonely girl he left, and force him to catch crawdaddies all night long.
I sat there, stroking my white beard and shaking my head in disbelief. Slowly and carefully I folded up my newspaper, trying to read the emotions Jess was displaying. It almost looked like she was afraid. I tucked my neatly folded newspaper under my arm, grabbed my weatherworn cane, and made my way over to the girl’s booth. I smiled widely and nodded at Jess when she noticed me.
"Hello dear, may I sit with you for a moment?" Jess smiled, her eyes still filled with sorrow and a hint of fear.
" ‘course ya can."
I nodded my thanks as I sat down on the other side of the sticky red booth. After a few moments of awkward silence I spoke up.
"I couldn’t hope but overhear your conversation about your grandmother. I’m sorry your beau isn’t going to help you."
The girl looked up at me shyly.
"Yeah me too, but that’s okay. He’ll help another day and I know he loves me, so it’s fine."
I took a deep breath of musty, hot air.
"Beg my pardon, but it didn’t sound like he loved you to me."
Jess laughed rather tensely.
"Timothy loves me very much. He tells me constantly."
I looked intensely into her eyes.
"Is that what love is? Just a few words? It seems to me, love is a bit more than that."
Jess turned her head away, looking past my abandoned table, out the large smeared window, onto the busy street. I continued.
"Jessica, what do you think love means?"
Her gaze tore from the window and met mine in a blank stare.
"I ‘spose love is bein’ there when someone needs ya the most, right?"
I chuckled lightly.
"Close, my dear, close." I looked into the air in a thoughtful expression. "Where I’m from, Jessica, love simply put is laying down one’s priorities for someone else’s. It’s being selfless and dying to your own desires." I looked back at the girl who was listening with full attention. "How I saw your cowboy acting towards you earlier was not love."
Jess nodded sorrowfully.
"Everything you’re sayin’ makes perfect sense. Tim will come ‘round. He just had plans is all."
"However, leaving you and your grandmother against his word was not selfless. He was putting himself before you."
We both looked up as the bell jingled loudly and Timothy came rushing through the glass door. He came hustling over to the booth.
"I forgot my hat." He managed to mumble, slightly winded.
Jessica reached down and took the worn hat that had been sitting on the red seat beside her. Timothy shot me a glance, but didn’t say anything.
She slowly rose from her seat and timidly walked over to Timothy, his hat in her small hands. He wasted no time in trying to take the hat from her, but she didn’t let it go.
"What’s goin’ on, babe? I gotta go. I’m late already." Timothy said in a hurried, uncaring tone. I spectated as Jessica took a deep breath and said;
"You don’t love me, Tim." She looked like she might cry at any moment.
I was anxious to see what Timothy would do with this reaction from his submissive girlfriend. He shook his head.
“‘course I do, darlin’. I tell ya all the time, don’t I?”
"But that’s just it. Tellin’ me doesn’t mean nothin’. Love, Tim, is puttin’ someone else before yourself and that has to be done, not said."
Timothy laughed, clearly not getting how heartfelt Jessica just was with him.
"I’m serious, Timothy. Show me ya love me and come help Ma’maw like ya promised." The girl was shaking and was obviously not accustomed to being this assertive. The humid air felt almost suffocating, making the moment still more uncomfortable.
Timothy put his arm around the dumbfounded Jessica and kissed her quickly.
"Silly girl, I love ya, but I gotta go. We’ll talk about this later." With this remark Timothy took his hat out of her limp hands and rushed out the door.
Jessica turned back towards me and sadly sighed and gave me a small smile.
"I’ll talk to him later ‘bout it. Until he can show me he truly loves me, I’ll take a little break from spendin’ so much time with him." I gave her a comforting smile.
"That’s progress, dear. Well done."
She turned away and faced the window.
"Thank you for showing me what true love meant. I never knew what it was like to be…hey… where did you go?" Jessica looked around but only saw a few words written in ketchup on the edge of her plate, John 15:13.
She greeted death with a weak smile. “Hello, friend.”
Every story, even the ones we love most, must come to an end.
The girl who always called herself worthless changed the world with the smile she forced.