Penny’s Birthday Surprise

Penny looked up at the worn white house, with its dirty, chipped paint.  Ivy crawled up its sides.  Every window was broken, except for one, the upper right hand window.

“Grandpa, how come that house is so dirty?  Penny said.

“Because no one has lived there in a long time so it got run down,” Grandpa said.

“How come no one lives there?”

“Because of Old Maid Micknely.”

“Who’s that?”

“Old Maid McKinley was the last person to live in that house.  People say she went crazy.  My dad used to tell me stories about her from when he was a little boy.

“Oh tell me Grandpa, tell me!” Penny begged.

“Well, when my father was a little boy Old Maid Micknely and her daughter used to live in that house.  Great Grandpa became could friends with both of them and he and Old Maid McKinley’s daughter used to play together all the time.  Then, one day, Old Maid McKinley’s daughter was going to come over to Great Grandpa’s house to play, but she never showed up.  When they called Old Maid Micknely she said she hadn’t seen her since she left the house.   The police searched and searched, but the 8-year-old girl was never found.  It was then that people thought Old Maid Micknely started to go crazy.  She used to sit by that window in the upper right hand corner of the house with a candle all day and all night, rocking back and forth in her chair.  Everyone said that she was waiting for her daughter to come home.  She waited for years and years, but her daughter never came home.  Then one day someone noticed that the candle in the window had burnt out.  So they went to check on Old Maid Micknely.  That was how her body was found, upright, in the still rocking chair.  The townspeople decided to bury her in the front yard, so she could keep watching the road.  She had no family, no one to mourn her, and no will. So the bank seized the house, but no one wanted to buy the house that Old Maid Micknely died all alone in.  No one wanted their children playing over her dead body in the front yard.  So there sat the house, alone and empty for years.

One day, when I was about 16 years old me an a few buddies decided to go and explore Old Maid McKinley’s house.  When we went inside everything was exactly as Old Maid Micknely had left it, just a little dustier.  We went upstairs to the window and found Old Maid McKinley’s rocking-chair sitting by the window.  It was so strange; the chair wasn’t dusty at all, everything around it was, but not the chair. On the windowsill was a candle and a box of matches, just like Old Maid Micknely would have had. So one of my pals decided to light the candle and right when he did chair began rocking back and forth.  We could her the chair creaking against the floor as we ran down the stairs and out the door.  We never went back, but that candle burned for the rest of the week.  Great Grandpa joked that Old Maid Micknely was home because the candle was glowing, but he didn’t even know the half of it.

“Did anything ever happen after the candle went out Grandpa?”

“Only once, on your mother’s 8th birthday.”

“What happened?”

“The day your mother turned 8 years old Old Maid Micknely must have been home because a candle glowed in the upper right hand window of the house all day and all night.”

“Oh Grandpa,” Penny said, “that’s silly.  You’re just trying to scare me, because it’s my birthday too, but I’m too big to believe in ghosts.”

“Suit yourself, but that is a true story Penny.”

“Sure it is Grandpa,” said Penny doubtfully.  As they began to head for home Penny turned for one last look at Old Maid McKinley’s house and she suddenly started to believe her Grandpa’s story.  It would seem that Old Maid Micknely had come for a visit on Penny’s birthday too.

Loyalty Lies (Part V)

The next day Jane took her almost full dust-bucket and broom into the room of one of the higher ranking soldier’s staying at the Governor’s house.  Slowly, as she cleaned, she made her way over to the desk.  There sitting out for the world to see were what looked to Jane’s untrained eye to be some sort of military plans.   Jane felt a little bad for calling Ben sloppy, this was sloppy.  And now she was faced with a dilemma.  She could take the plans and give them to Ben, she could leave and tell Ben to come look up here, or she could not say anything at all.  The second option seemed the best to her.  If she told Ben to look for something up here she wasn’t exactly being a traitor, but she wasn’t exactly being a loyalist either.  Middle ground was good.  She jumped at the sound of footsteps and voices outside the door. One voice said, “I don’t know why these colonial girls are so proud.”

“Me neither, like that house maid around here.  She acts like she’s too good for us,” said another voice.

“Exactly, it’s not like she’s a lady, she has no standing.  She should feel flattered that we even know she’s alive,” said the first voice.  Without evening knowing what she was doing Jane stormed back over to the desk, grabbed the plans, slipped them in her dust bucket and ran out of the room.

Jane found Ben as quickly as she could.  Out of breath she pulled him aside.  Ben stood there very concerned as he watched a flushed Jane stick her hand into the dirty dust bucket.  Her grabbed her hand and said, “Jane, what are you doing?  What is wrong?”

“Hush,” she hissed. “I don’t want anyone to know we’re back here.”  She found the plans and shoved them into Ben’s hand. “Here, take these.  I found them in one of the rooms.  Take them and don’t say anything, and don’t expect this from me again.”  Ben looked at the papers and then looked at Jane.

“Do you know what this is?” he asked, very impressed.

“No and I don’t want to.  I don’t want to ever talk about this again.  Just take them and hide them.”

“Alright Jane, if that’s what you want.”  Jane started to walk away, but Ben stopped her.  “I know your heart isn’t in this yet, but trust me, you did a good thing.  I’m proud of you little Janey.” Jane couldn’t help but smile.  As she stood there looking into Ben’s eyes, she thought this might be their moment.  He leaned forward and her heart just stopped.  This was it, he was going to kiss her . . . “Jane, Ben what is going on?”

It was Mrs. Bradfort from the kitchen.  So much for “their moment.”  “The Governor has asked to speak with you both.  You had better march upstairs right now,” said Mrs. Bradfort.  Ben tucked the plans away safely, and the two of them headed upstairs.

Ben and Jane entered the room, surprised to see that the governor was not alone.  He was with a soldier, the soldier whose room Jane had just finished cleaning.  “Ben, Jane,” said the Governor, “it seems we have a bit of a problem.”

“A problem, sir?” said Ben.

“Yeah, a problem,” growled the soldier.

“Calm down, Tom,” said Governor Trippingdale.  “Something has gone missing from the General’s room, something important.  A couple of his men saw you leaving his room Jane, and the general seems to think the two of you have something to do with it.”

“I was cleaning the general’s room a few moments ago, sir, if something has gone missing maybe I can help find it,” said Jane.

“Oh, I bet you could,” said the general.

“Tom,” interrupted the governor.

“Don’t ‘Tom’ me, I know they took it.  You know they took it.  They should be hanged, they’re rebels.”

“With all due respect sir, I don’t know what it is we’re supposed to have taken,” said Jane.  That did it.  The general was livid.  Governor Trippingdal tried to stop him, Ben tried to stop him, but he was a man with murder on his mind.

You filthy rebel!  Where are they?” he screamed. Then the General came close, he backed Jane up against the wall.  He slapped her once, and then again, and then again.  Until she sank to the floor breathless and weak.  For a moment the beating stopped and she looked up.  Governor Trippingdale was cowering in a corner, and Ben was on top of the General, who quickly threw him off.  Ben skidded across the floor and hit his head.  The General came over to Jane. He grabbed her by the hair and pulled her to her feet.  She screamed.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, please, let me go,” cried Jane between smothered sobs.

“You liar!  What did you do with them?” screamed the General, spraying Jane with spittle as he grabbed her throat.  Jane could feel the pressure building up in her head.  Her eyes bugged out of her face.  She gasped and strained for breath, trying to speak.  As consciousness slipped from her she imagined Ben waking up, rising from the floor and coming to her rescue.   But he didn’t, he lay there on the ground, blood dripping down the side of his face.  Then Jane saw an image of her father sitting in the kitchen, wounded and broken, but glowing in the candlelight.

Thank you so much for following Jane on her journey. 

Loyalty Lies (Part IV)

Jane walked, disenchanted, to work, wondering why she had to put up with all those foul mouthed soldiers every day.  They were constantly teasing all the girls. Jane never cared much for flirting.  She didn’t even want to flirt with Ben, she certainly was not going to flirt with the soldiers. Still, work was work and she had to make ends meet.  When she walked in the door there was already a list of things she could see that needed to be done.

“Jane,” Ben called.

“Oh Ben, hello.  Is anything the matter.”

“No, no.  I just wanted to say hello and ask if it was okay with you if I walked you home after work today.”

“Yes, that would be fine.’

“Great! Your father’s invited me over to talk and I didn’t want you to think I was just going to follow you home or something,” he said with a smile.

“Oh no that’s alright,” Jane said trying to laugh.  She had no idea what on earth Pa and Ben could possibly have to talk about.  She would find out tonight, but still the thought of it haunted her all day.

Jane didn’t finish work until late in the evening.  She thought her family would all be in bed by the time she got home and assumed that Ben had changed his mind about walking home with her since it was so late already.  As she headed down the path, breathing in the fresh night air, she couldn’t help but wonder why Ben had wanted to walk her home.  And she couldn’t help but hope, just a little bit.  “Jane! Jane!” she heard a voice behind her.  Turning, she saw it was Ben running down the path after her. “Jane, why didn’t you wait for me?” he asked.

“It was so late, I thought you’d have changed you mind.”

“No, I need to speak with your father, tonight.”

“Oh, about what?” Jane asked trying to ignore the fact that her heart just skipped a beat.

“I ran into him in the village the other day, while running errands.  He and I got to talking about some of the political things that are going on.  Your father suggested we sit down one evening soon and have a chat, we thought you might like to be there too.”  Jane’s heart sank to the ground, she only hoped her face didn’t go with it.

“It’s so late.  Does this political meeting of the minds really have to be tonight?  I’m tired, I’m sure you’re tired, and my Pa is probably already asleep,” said a disappointed and now exasperated Jane.

“It has to be tonight.”

“Well if Pa is asleep I won’t wake him for you.”

“Then I’ll wake him myself.”  Jane and Ben were both tired and agitated.  This was the first time Jane had ever seen Ben so serious and the first time Ben had seen Jane so irritated. The walk was quiet. Neither of them spoke again until Jane’s house was insight.

“There’s a light in the window, at this hour,” said a confused Jane.

“It looks like I won’t have to wake your Pa up after-all,” said Ben with a smile. “I’m sorry I yelled Jane.”

“Let’s go inside.” Jane smiled.

The small candle glowing on the wooden made the empty room seem warm and cozy.  There at the table sat Jane’s father, not at all surprised to see Ben.

“Pa why are you still up?  What on earth is so important that the two of you need to be up talking at this ungodly hour?” asked Jane.

“Jane, I’ve been waiting for you.  There’s something important we all need to discuss,” her father replied.

“So I’m told.  Well, what is it?”

“Jane,” Ben stepped in.  “Jane you and I have both been working at the Governor’s house now for several months.”

“Thanks for the news,” said Jane somewhat snippily.  She wasn’t proud of herself, but she was tired.

“Come on Jane, listen.  This is important,” said Pa.  “Go ahead Ben keep talking.”

“Jane, we’ve seen soldiers come and go.  We’ve heard them talk.  In the beginning they would discuss their military plans freely around anyone and everyone, but now they’re more discreet around me.  They caught on to the fact that I was listening.”

“Well, it’s very rude to eavesdrop,” said Jane.

“Yes, but Jane the plans that the soldiers are making, the information they have, it could be vital to the patriot cause.”

“Well, then you should have been more careful.”

“Yes, he sould have,” said Pa vindictively.

“Yes, I should have,” said Ben.  “But it’s too late to go back now.  That’s why we need you Jane.”

“Me, for what?”

“You’re plan B.”

“How flattering.’

“Come on Jane. The soldiers seem to trust you.  They don’t watch what they say around you at all.”

“So now you want me to spy on them for you is that it?  This is ridiculous, you were sloppy, you messed up and now you want me to save you.  To risk my job, to risk my life for your cause!” Jane was livid.

“For his cause,” interrupted Pa loudly , “this is our cause, this is all ours’s cause.  You’ve seen what the British have done to us.  How can you go into the governors house every day and see how he lives, and come home to this cabin at night after all the work we put in and not make this your cause Jane?”

“The governor gave me a job Pa.  That job saved our family, and I’m supposed to hate him for it?”

“Jane they’re thieves.  They’re stealing not just our money, but our freedom,” said Ben. “Think of how hard it was on your family when your Pa got hurt.  It wouldn’t have been that bad if taxes weren’t so heavy. Jane just think of the soldiers.  I’ve seen them when you’re working flirting with you, teasing you.” Ben was blushing. “They don’t respect you, and they don’t respect the rights of the colonies.  No one’s asking you to give your life, all we’re asking for is a little information.”

“Even if I could get you the information you wanted, what difference would it make?  It’s not like you can just walk right up and give it to George Washington.”

“Don’t worry about that Jane,” said Ben, “You get the information to me, I’ll get it to him.”

“I don’t know about all of this.  I need to think about it.”

“Don’t think to long Jane,” said Pa, “The time to act is now.”

“Why don’t you sleep on it Jane?  I’ll see you at work tomorrow, okay?” said Ben.

“Okay, goodnight Ben.”  When Ben had left Jane sat at the table across from her father.  Neither of them said a word.  He stared at the candlelight and Jane stared at him.  As she looked at the broken man across from her she wondered what it was that made him believe so much in this cause that he would be willing to sacrifice the little he had left in life for it.  She had never seen him look so vulnerable and she knew she would carry that image of her father in the candlelight with her for the rest of her life.

The final part to come next week

Loyalty Lies (Part III)

Jane awoke to the sound of a rooster’s crow and began readying herself for work. She later found herself wandering the grounds of the Governor’s house, looking for the servant’s entrance, but she did not wander long.  Soon she heard a familiar, strong, benevolent voice that sent shivers down her spine.

“Well hello there ‘Little Janey’,” said Ben, the Butler, who was wandering around outside for some unknown reason.  The thought that Ben had been waiting for Jane crept into her mind, but it was one of those thoughts that could not be acknowledged.  Jane took it and locked it away in her inner most heart of hopes and dreams.

“Oh, please don’t call me that, it’s just Jane.”

“I had a hunch you weren’t fond of that name,” laughed Ben.  “Well, Miss Jane, you’re here to work, so you’d better get to it.  Mrs. Bradfort is in the kitchen with a list of chores a mile long.”

“Point me in the right direction and I’ll hop-to.”  Ben smiled and then showed Jane into the house.  It was a large house, but as the day went on Ben and the other staff helped her find her way.  Jane felt she was doing well and walking home that night she was pleased with the hard day’s work she had put in.


While things at the Governor’s house were going smoothly for Jane, the life of the Governor was not so smooth. Tempers were flaring in the colonies.  The colonists were very unhappy about the new tax implemented by the Tea Act.  Parliament imposed the Stamp Act and the Tea Act, all without giving the representatives from the colonies a voice in their government.  Boston had had some sort of uprising where the patriots dumped all the imported tea into the harbor.  Jane had read that they were under some sort of military watch.  Anyways, the people in the colonies were all taking a day this week to set aside and pray for the people of Boston who apparently weren’t getting any imports.   If things didn’t change soon Jane feared the patriots would act on their desire to raise an army to free themselves from English control.  Everyday Jane went to work and listened to the Governor’s and his friends rant about the accursed rebels.  Then she came home and heard her father speak of the oppressive English.  This tended to make life uneasy for Jane, who was still hiding her work from her father.


One-day Jane came home late from work. The Governor had some important guests staying at his house so Jane had extra work to do.  She was completely exhausted.

“Jane, where have you been?!” came the voice of Jane’s father as she opened the door.

“I had some extra deliveries today, didn’t Mama tell you?”

“No Jane, she didn’t tell me.  She didn’t tell me because she has been out all evening . . . making deliveries.  Now why don’t you tell me where you have been.”

“I was out, in the village.”

“That’s plan enough! What were you doing out there is what I’d like to know.  Leaving your mother here all day to work and care for your siblings.”

“I, I, I was working.”

“Working? Working where?”

“Pa, I got a job about a month ago.  I told Mama so she knew where I was, but we decided not to tell you.”

“Why on earth would you and your mother make a decision like that?”

“Because my job is as a maid in the Governor’s house.  It’s nothing to worry about Pa.  I cook for him, I clean for him, when he has guests I help care for them to.  He’s pays well and we need the money.  I’m sorry I lied, but Mama and I knew you wouldn’t approve and I just wanted to help.”

“Why wouldn’t I approve of a young women earning a living to help her family?’

“Well, because you hate the Governor, don’t you?”

“I’m not his biggest supporter that’s true, but you didn’t take the job out of loyalty to him, you took it out of loyalty to your family and that means something Jane.  Now tell me, why were you so late tonight?”

“The Governor has some guests at his house and I had to help out. “

“What kind of guests?”

“Well some of them are soldiers, some politicians, I don’t really know much about it.”

“Soldiers and politicians in the Governor’s house where my daughter works,” Jane’s father said more to himself than to Jane. “This could be useful.”

“What?” asked a confused and concerned Jane.

“Huh? Oh, nothing, nothing.  You know me always thinking out loud.  It’s nothing important.  Thank you for finally telling me about your job and for taking such good care of your family.”

“I’ll always take care of you Pa.”

“Good night Jane.”

To Be Continued (there will probably be two, maybe three more parts to this story)

Loyalty Lies (Part 2)

Jane sat at home with butterflies in her stomach as she listened to her father talk politics.  She was excited about her new job, but nervous to tell her parents.  She wasn’t sure how her father would react to the fact that she would be working in the Governor’s house, everyday.  He had developed a growing interest in the patriot cause since he had little else to keep his interest during recovery.  And as money was tight he had an ever growing resentment towards the taxes imposed by mother England.  Jane contemplated all this and hoped her father would not be angry about her new job.  She decided since nothing was concrete, she would just keep the news to herself while she worked for the next week.  Jane jumped at the sound of her father’s voice. “I’m sorry pa, I didn’t hear what you said,” said Jane.

“I was asking what you were doing tomorrow,” replied Pa.

“Oh, I have some errands to run.  I’ll be gone for most of the day.”  Jane had not thought about how she would account for her time during the week.  Maybe it would be best to tell her mother what she was doing.  If she was going to keep this a secret she was going to need back up.

Jane let her hands soak up the warmth of the water as she cleaned the dishes.  Her mother was washing clothes next to her.  In order to earn a little extra money Jane and her mother had taken on some extra laundry form the people in town.  It helped, but it was not enough and Jane and her mother both knew that.

“Mama,” said Jane

“Yes, dear?”

“I, uh, wanted to tell you something.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, I went looking for a job today.  I thought we could use the money.”  Jane’s mother paused from her work and looked at her daughter with soft eyes.

“That’s very responsible of you Jane,” Mama replied with pride.  “You’re right we could use a little extra income around here,” as she returned to her washing.

Jane and her mother washed quietly side by side for a while, both ignoring the obvious question.  “Mom,” Jane finally decided to break the silence, “how do we tell Pa that I’m working for the governor?”

“Well Jane, I think, we don’t.”


“For right now we just don’t tell your father.  Your father, he’s a proud man, he’s a proud patriot.  He is already feeling weak right now, finding put that you are working for the governor and giving the money to us would only hurt him. So for now we’ll just keep it between us.  If he asks what you’re doing each day, we’ll just tell him that you’re are delivering laundry.”

“I’ve never really lied to Pa before, not like this, but if you think it’s best then I guess that’s what I’ll do.”

“I do Jane, I do think this is best, for now.”

To Be Continued . . .

Loyalty Lies (Part 1)

Jane took a deep, nervous breath.  She looked at the vast majesty around her.  The scent of beautiful flowers wafted up as she walked the path leading to the large white house with its painted shutters.  Jane remembered walking past the iron gate as a child, wondering what it would be like to be the only child of a governor, rather than the eldest of five wheelwright’s children. Governor’s children lived in luxury, wheelwright’s children begged for jobs as the governor’s maid.  Slowly Jane took hold of the warm brass knocker, bringing it down upon the door.  Her stomach churned violently within her, as she heard the crescendo of footsteps in the hall.  The door opened softly, and there he stood, Ben, the young, strong, handsome butler.  Jane tried not to meet his eyes as she spoke.

“I came to see Governor Trippingdale about a job,” said Jane quickly.

“Jane, how nice to see you, it’s been awhile.  Please, won’t you step inside, I’ll see if the Governor has a moment to speak with you,” replied the always friendly Ben.  Jane stepped into the doorway of the large house.  She thought about how much work it must require to keep up such a house, and became very hopeful.

“Little Janey, how nice of you to come by,” called a blustering voice from around the corner.  Jane looked.  From down the hallway came Governor Trippingdale.  He was a fat, happy sort of fellow, with a round face and sparkling eyes, always happy to see everybody.

“Hello Governor, it’s been a long time.  How have you and your family been?” Jane asked in her sweetest, friendliest manner, keeping her eyes to the floor to show respect.  She really had never known the Governor that well.  His wife had taught Sunday school for a year, and Jane was in her class a long time ago.  Other than that, Jane and her mother delivered clothes they laundered for the Trippingdale’s, but those visits were always brief and to the point.

“Oh, I look around me and see our thriving New York colony and am pleased.  How are things out in your neck of the woods?” replied the Governor.

“Well to be truthful, things are tight and I have found myself in need of a job.  You see, my father was in an accident about two days ago.  He broke his arm, and isn’t going to be able to do much work for a few weeks. I hoped you might be needing some help around here.  I’m good with all kinds of different things.  I can do house-keeping, gardening, or if you need some help with the children I can do that too.”

“Well Janey, I think your visit has come at a purely providential time.  You see, one of my maids had a family emergency and took a boat back to jolly old England about two weeks ago.  I’ve been hoping someone would come along to fill the position, and you might be just the girl. You’ll be sure to mind your business and do your job now, won’t you?”

“Oh, yes sir.”

“Well good, you start tomorrow.  You’ll get two shillings for a good days work.  If things go well we’ll hire you on indefinitely.  How does that sound?”

“Oh, that’s wonderful, thank you so much.  I’ll be here bright and early tomorrow morning.”

To Be continued . . .

Elmer’s World

Elmer locked the padlock on the rusted door of his 1983 Chevy Impala and stealthy placed the keys in his pocket.  He then turned to enter the local coffee shop, Bernie’s Coffee Pot.  Inside was a small, but warm space.  Elmer hiked-up his blue sweat pants up over his white t-shirt and walked up to the counter.  Bernie, a short and heavy middle-aged man with large glasses and a shiny head, greeted him cheerily.  “Hello Elmer,” said Bernie, “how are you today?”

“Well, I’m only okay,” replied Elmer with his nasally voice.  “My stomach is upset, and it kept me up half the night yesterday.”

“Oh, well that’s too bad.  What can I get you to drink?”

“Well I think I want a cup of hot black coffee, although I don’t like to drink hot coffee in the morning, because it makes me sweat under my armpits,” replied Elmer has he scratched the top of his bald head.

“One cup of coffee.  Have a good one,” said Bernie as he stood on his tip-toes to hand the tall Elmer his cup of morning armpit sweat.  Elmer walked out through the glass door and passed a suspicious looking man entering the shop.  This man wore a leather jacket and had spiked black hair.  Elmer rushed to the side of his padlocked car to make sure nothing of his had been touched.  Thank goodness his car was safe.  Elmer reached into his pocket to pull out the key when, to his chagrin, they were not there.  They must have fallen out of his sweat pants pocket when he took his wallet out to pay for his coffee.  Urgh, he did not what to go into the shop while that young hooligan was there, but it looked like that was what he was going to have to do.  As Elmer turned to go back into the shop he saw the black haired gangster walk over, lock the door and close the blind.  Elmer knew it, these youngsters aren’t to be trusted.  Now what was he supposed to do?

-What do you think should happen next in Elmer’s World? Leave a comment. 

The Life That Never Was Part III

Kayla was not a particularly beautiful girl; she was average looking.  She had long light brown hair and hazel eyes which were much too large for her heart-shaped face.  Her frame was small and slight, and overall, she was the kind of girl who tended to blend in with everyone else.  But she had a loving heart, and she reached out to me during this difficult time of losing my brother.  Kayla was a very strong Christian, and she shared with me the hope of the gospel.  Oddly enough I found comfort there, and I began attending church more regularly.  Up to that point in my life, I was someone who only went to church on Christmas and Easter.  Needless to say, my understanding of God was minimal.  But as my friendship with Kayla grew stronger, I gained an understanding of God, both His mercy and His justice.  When I lost my brother, through my grief, I gained truth, faith, and understanding.  I still wanted the same things.  I wanted to play soccer, I wanted to be a doctor, but now I wanted them for different reasons.  My desire was to use my talents for the glory of God.

That same year I graduated high school.  I got accepted at the University of North Carolina.  I was going to study pre-med.  I also got a scholarship to play soccer there.  So after a tumultuous year, I packed up my bags and headed to college, ready to start my life.  I enjoyed my time at college.  I studied hard, played lots of soccer, and was still able to make a lot of friends.  Additionally, I was able to get involved with some on-campus ministries, and I kept in touch with Kayla back home.  College was enjoyable.  I even liked my field of study, but I missed my family, and when the year was over, I was ready to spend my summer at home.  However, things didn’t quite go as planned.

That summer I went home and spent a few weeks with my family.  Kayla told me she was going on a mission’s trip to India with a group from church.  She told me all about it and invited me to go along.  I had a little money saved up, and after a time of thought and prayer, I decided this trip might be a good experience.  So after spending about two weeks with my family, I left home to spend two weeks in India.

My trip to India was a formative experience in my life.  We spent time, a lot of time, with the poorer people of India, bringing food, fresh water, and, of course, the gospel.  Not being able to speak their language, we found it hard to communicate, but we managed, and there was one man in the group that spoke Hindi.  We also spent a few days at the Bhogpur Children’s Home.  Kayla had a real gift for mission work.  She was able to really communicate with people and touch them, despite the language barrier.  I found out that missions were her passion, and she was learning to speak Hindi so that one day she could come back to India and work more permanently at the children’s home.  Spending time there, with the lower class people of India, I saw that there was a great need for doctors and medical resources in India.  I began to think of the difference just one doctor could make, and suddenly, my studies took on a whole new meaning.

I went back to school, year after year, working with a new zeal.  I was no longer learning medicine for myself.  I was learning it for the poor children in India.  Kayla and I learned Hindi together, working with the man from church, who spoke it fluently.  My life was taking shape; I knew what I wanted.  There was direction and I was happy.  God had taken much, given much, and I knew he expected much.  He had taken my brother from me.  He had given me a friendship with Kayla, a relationship with Him, and the opportunity for a great education.  I knew He intended for me to be a good doctor and to use my skills to help those in need. I had just finished my first year of medical school at New York University.  I was part of a select group of students, taking a three-year medical course.  Things were going well, the curriculum was rigorous, but finishing a year early was going to make it worthwhile.

When I had the chance to visit home, I spent most of my time with Kayla.  I loved my family and tried to be with them, but it was hard.  I was so involved in church, medicine, and going to India.  My family loved me and supported me, but they didn’t understand what I believed.  Though I talked and talked to my family about God and my faith, none of them accepted that faith as their own.  This made our relationship difficult.  Yet, I hoped and prayed that one day they could know God the way I had come to know Him.

Everything in my life after graduation seemed to fall into place fell into place.  Kayla and I set off for India.  We were completely happy and ready to start our lives.  As I sat next to Kayla on the plane, half-asleep, I thanked God for everything He’d given me.  Suddenly the plane jerked.

I felt excruciating pain.  Like I was being sucked out of a small space.  Then I hit something hard with a thump.  There were needles pricking me and tubes coming from my arms.  I was alive, but barely.  Then I felt as if my limbs were being torn from my body.  Everything went dark.


            Conrad took his last breath.  The amazing life that he could have lived was taken from him as he was sucked from his mother’s womb.

The Life That Never Was Part II

“Oh Conrad,” said Principal Higgs, regaining control of herself, “you aren’t here because you’ve been bad. You’re here because there is something that you are quite good at –soccer. The middle school soccer coach has seen you play at recess, and he says you have great potential. He wanted me to talk to you and your parents about your being on the soccer team. What do you think?”
“You mean actually getting to play on a real team, in real games?!” I asked excitedly. “Oh, I would love to play soccer; will I really get to?”
“Of course you will. That is if your parents want you to,” said the principal looking at my parents. “Conrad’s grades are excellent, and he has a lot of potential, both athletically and academically. If he worked hard and stayed focused, there’s no reason he shouldn’t do just fine.” My parents exchanged a knowing look with one another.
“We have faith in Conrad,” began Dad, “if he wants to play soccer we won’t stop him. But he knows we expect the best grades from him. If his soccer gets in the way of school, he’ll have to quit. It’s up to you Conrad. You can be on the team if you want, but your school work had better not suffer.”
“ I want to be on the team! I want to be on the team!” I implored. “I promise I’ll work hard; my grades will be better than they were this year. Oh, I want to play soccer!”
“Well then, you have your answer don’t you?” said Mom.
I worked hard as promised. All through middle school I played soccer, and I got straight A’s on my report card. It was in 8th grade that I realized science was a class that was really easy, and really fun. Just like soccer was my favorite sport, science was my favorite class, and I excelled at it. In high school things got harder. I continued to play soccer, but I ended up getting Bs in classes like literature and history. All the other classes I could usually get As in. Science remained my favorite class, and when I had the chance I took all the advanced science classes I could. When senior year came, I knew what I waned to do. I wanted to be a doctor. Things were going well. I was happy; my life felt full, then disaster struck.
I was the oldest child in my family, with a younger brother and a baby sister. They were full of life, always running, laughing, and playing. I loved being with them. One day my sister came home from school not feeling well. She had a fever, so my mom gave her some Advil and sent her to bed. The next morning she wasn’t feeling any better, and my brother was feeling sick too. My mom assumed it was just a bug and made them stay in bed for the next two days, but they weren’t getting any better. On the third day, she took them to the doctor, who told them it was just a cold and they had to sweat it out. We found out too late that the doctor was horribly wrong. After a full week of high fevers and sore throats, my mom decided to take my brother and sister to a different doctor. This doctor recommended we go to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. When he examined my siblings, he saw that what they had was much more serious than just a regular cold. Upon further examination, he realized they had viral pneumonia, but it had been allowed to fester, untreated for a full week. In spite of this, the doctor believed it to be highly treatable, given that my brother and sister both had strong immune systems. He was a little bit more worried about my sister because she was only eight years old, and she had been experiencing the symptoms longer than my brother. He was wrong. He should have been more worried about my brother. What the doctor didn’t realize was that my little brother had asthma, which made his lung tissue more vulnerable to infection. The infection never reached my sister’s lungs, and with time and rest she got better. My brother was not so fortunate, and although the doctor’s did all they could, it was too little too late. My 11 year old brother died because he had been misdiagnosed. My family was devastated, but there was nothing we could do. From that day forward, I vowed that I would become the best doctor I possibly could, so that mistakes like that would never be made again. I never wanted any family to have to experience the pain that my family did, when we lost my brother. But I was very blessed even during this difficult time, by a dear friendship. This friendship saved me.(to be continued)

The Life That Never Was Part I

I can hear voices, as I lay curled in a ball.  They sounds soft and muddled, the sound waves are traveling through a wall of water.  It reminds me of what I imagine a fish would sound like, if fish could talk.  There is the familiar voice of my mother saying, “but he could live with muscular dystrophy.”  A man’s voice replies, “yes, but the pregnancy and the birth would be dangerous, you both could die.  And what kind of life would your baby live, enslaved to a disease?”  the conversation continued, but I was getting too tired to listen.  It was time for my nap.  I slipped into a dream, my favorite kind of dream.  This was the kind of dream where I was looking back on the life I wish I had lived, rather than the one where I was looking forward to the life I hoped to live.

I grew up in a nice suburban neighborhood.  There were a lot of kids my age to play with.  It was always fun being one of the five year olds who gave their mother a heart attack by running into the middle of the road during a heated game of tag.  However, as we got older, we gained a small amount of wisdom.  By the age of 8, we learned to never let our mothers see the way we played, because otherwise they would be sure to spoil our fun.  There was a small tree line right in between my house and a large open field.  That is where all the boys would go to play tackle football.  Sometimes we played soccer too, and although it’s not traditional to tackle your opponents, we usually managed to break tradition.

As I grew bigger and stronger, my passion for sports became more pronounced.  I began to realize that I was capable of winning most of the games at recess, as well as the small competitions the neighborhood boys had at home.  Soccer was one of my favorite games, because I was the best at it.  I was quick, accurate, and I had stamina.  I was at the end of my fifth grade year of school when my parents got a phone call that could bring my dreams into perdition.  The school wanted to meet with my parents and I.

My heart was pounding, my mind racing as we walked into the principal’s office.  I wasn’t the most well behaved kid in the class, but I always did what I was told.  I got good grades, there was no reason I should be in so much trouble that the school needed to meet with my parents.

“Mr. and Mrs. Chesterton, thank you so much for meeting with me.  Please have a seat,” said Principal Higgs, to my parents, in her sweetest tone.  She was a woman in her mid-forties.  She still looked young, though there were hints of age on her forehead and around her eyes.  Although she was a firm woman, with high expectations, she was not strictly authoritarian.  She had a sense of humor, which was traced in the lines around her mouth.  The students thought her  fair and, for the most part, kind, but her firm brown eyes could open a doorway to punishment that would strike fear into the heart of any fifth grade boy.  She fixed those eyes upon me now, but they did not flash with justice and anger, they shown with excitement and perhaps even pride.  “How are you Conrad?” she asked.

“Well, I’m alright,” I replied, “but I’m a little confused.”

“Why’s that?”

“Well, I don’t know what I did wrong.  I wasn’t so bad this year that you had to have my parents come here, was I?  I never tried to be.  I really wanted to be a good boy.  Mr. Krest is a nice teacher.  He likes soccer, and sometimes he would take us outside on nice days and let us play a little longer.  I wanted to be really good for him, cause he did that.  I tried real, real hard!  I even told the other boys to be good too, but I didn’t tell the girls, cause well girls just don’t appreciate playing soccer outside like the boys do.  But the girls didn’t usually cause trouble anyways, so I didn’t have to tell them to be good.  They just were.”  I said all this quickly and passionately.  I’d been building up to it all day.  I didn’t know what I had done wrong, but I just wanted to clear the air by affirming my innocence as soon as possible.  Principal Higgs smiled broadly when I began my speech, and by the end she could no longer contain herself, and she laughed, not unkindly, as I spoke.  I looked around me and saw that both of my parents were laughing as well.  Now I was thoroughly confused. (To Be Continued)