I can’t believe camp is over. O.o Well, officially. We get to stay another week before we’re kicked out. XD My goal was to finish editing the story I’m submitting to their Hope collection and find beta readers and *throws confetti* I did both! I also sent out my Hope story to betas today!!! ^_^
Since this was The King’s Daughters’ Writing Camp’s 1 year anniversary, we had a party where we had to search for five story prompts. If we wrote and shared all five we would earn a free ebook or two. *grins* We weren’t required to make the prompts all one story, but if you’ve known me for long, you’ll know I can’t write anything short to save my life, so my prompts morphed into a single story.
All of the prompts turned into a just over 4,000 word story that ended up being a prequel to another story I’m working on. It was fun delving into Ameira’s backstory and finding out certain things. I say fun, but I also mean heartbreaking. This little 4k story was one of the few WIP’s I’ve written that has actually made me cry while writing, just to warn y’all. 😉
The story still needs editing, but I thought y’all would like to read some of it . 🙂
An Open Heart of Praise
Ameira pulled her jacket tighter around her middle, as if to hold in all the raging emotions. Each one hitting her like a freight-truck.
It was all her fault.
She squeezed her eyes shut as she came to a stop at the cross-walk, waiting for the light to switch.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. That’s all she seemed to be doing lately.
Waiting for a change, for a sign, for hope. Something, anything, that would tell her he would be okay.
Someone jostled her arm and she opened her eyes. With a mumbled something, she willed her legs to move her forward, picking her way among the piles of fluffy slush the cars had spread along the road. It was like walking over melting ice cream.
With a deep breath of frigid air zinging through her lungs, she turned towards the hospital and went inside. On her way up the elevator, which was blessedly empty, she leaned her head back, resting against the cold metal wall.
She wanted to pray, knew she should pray, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t form the words to say or think. Nothing came. Not even a Bible verse to guide her.
It was her fault, and she was alone.
All she had were the frazzled emotions of a girl soon to lose her most precious possession.
Walking into the room, she was met with the familiar sound of his snores. Four quick strides brought her to the edge of his bed.
She trailed her fingers down the blanket beside his hand. How desperately she wanted to take that hand. To hold it close and weep over him. But he didn’t need to see her break down. She needed to be the strong one for him. She tucked her loose hair behind her ear and kissed his forehead.
He opened his eyes, blinking against the light coming in from the partially open windows.
“Mei-mei.” He whispered past blue tinged lips and smiled weakly.
Ameira stood on the edge of the cliff. The lake stretching out for miles and miles before her. The rising sun not yet bringing light to the world behind her.
It seemed a mirror opposite to her life, all her life lay stretched out before her and yet all was dark, light had long faded behind her. Without her little brother, what was left to her?
She sucked down a sob. Now? Now He speaks? When everything is gone, all hope is lost, He deigns to speak? Where was He all these past months? When her brother first got sick? When her family tore itself apart and she had to become his caregiver, his protector, his everything?
I am here.
She squeezed her eyes shut, clenching her hands into tight fists. Months upon months of silence and He expects her to just open her heart back to Him? It was too much. Too much too soon, and far, far too late. Her knees gave and she crumbled to the ground, sobs wracking her body. She dug her fingers into the grassy dirt, clinging to the solid ground as her world careened out of control.
“You promised…” she sobbed, “You promised to be there in our afflictions! You promised… You promised and You weren’t there. Where were You?”
I am here.
“But You weren’t.” Her chest hurt and she gulped air in-between broken sobs. “You weren’t there. You left us alone, left him dying,” she raised her eyes and gazed across the lake towards the growing light of the sun, “What’s the point,” she whispered, wind sifting her hair over her shoulders, “What is the point of all those verses promising that You never leave us, that You are always there, if in our darkest hour You weren’t?”
The wind grew stronger, flinging her hair behind her. Memories slipped into her mind, working their way among her heartbreak. Times when a random stranger showed kindness. When the nurse went out of her way to get her brother his favorite flavor of ice cream. The new job she found out of the blue that would cover more of her brother’s treatment bills. When the hospital’s Secret Santa somehow got him the only thing he’d wanted for Christmas without him telling anyone. And other small random blessings along the way.
I was there. I am here.
Tears streamed down her face. She ran a hand over her face, uncaring that she smeared dirt across her cheeks. “But why were You silent? I cried to You so many times… Why haven’t You healed him?”
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” She breathed out the rest of the verse, the one her grand-mère would whisper over her in prayer each night.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.
Verse after verse filled her mind, and her tears slowly dried. It still hurt, dealing with sickness and death still sucked, but He was there, even when she couldn’t see. He was always there.
Sitting in the chair beside the hospital bed, with legs tucked beneath her, Ameira tried to balance her book on her knees with one hand, the other firmly claimed by her sleeping brother. Her fingers were going numb but she didn’t care, he was still breathing and that was all that mattered.
The doctors had given him only six months to live and, Oh, Lord, it hurt to hope, yet they were now approaching his seventh month. Day by achingly slow day passed by and still he remained alive. His heart was still going strong and the tests projected it would continue gaining strength. She was warned this might just be a precursor to a sudden end, but the doctors and their tests were not where her faith was founded in.
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
She would wait and she would have faith. He was there, in the room with them, and no matter the outcome, He would always be with them.
“Mei-Mei…?” His grip loosened.
She closed her book, not bothering with a bookmark. “Hmm? What’s wrong, Cap?
He smiled at her, dimples still showing despite his weight-loss. “Can you turn on the music, please?”
The breath she’d been holding slowly eased out. What had happened to the faith she’d just been thinking about? With a mental shake-off, she smiled back at him. “Sure thing.”
She reached for her bag, digging for her phone among her supplies.
“Bucky.” He whispered, with a laugh.”
“Hmm?” Where was her phone?
“If I’m Cap that makes you Bucky.”
Aha! There it was, underneath the mound of granola wrappers. She raised her head and arched an eyebrow, unable to keep from smiling. “I’m Bucky, eh? I thought I was Nat.”
“Nope.” He grinned. “Bucky watches over Cap, Nat usually gets Cap into trouble.”
“Ahh, big difference there.” She gently ruffled his hair. “Alright, Cap, what song do you want Bucky to play for you?”
“Can you put it on random?”
Ameira smiled, “Sure, buddy.”
She tapped the screen, pressing the volume up as soft notes of a piano and guitar duet filtered through the room.
“On the mountain when You speak,
In the valley when Your silent,
I will praise You, I will praise You,
For the pain that’s yet to heal,
For Your peace that’s deeper still,
I will praise You.”
Tears streamed down Ameira’s face and she struggled against the urge to sob as the music neared its end. She had been on that mountain and she had been through that valley, but was she praising Him? Or was she shoving Him away because her life wasn’t going the way she wanted it too? Because there was pain yet to heal, but after her collapse at the lake He’d given her peace… I will praise You…
“So from now until that day,
When the darkness fades away,
And I see You face to face,
I will praise You.
She wiped her face with her sleeve as the song ended and the next one played. She glanced at her brother, eyes closed and a peaceful smile spread across his lips as he mouthed the words. All this time he had been the strong one. Never once did he cry out in anger to God or ask why he was going through this. His faith shone out like a beacon and yet was so simple and quiet in its trust.
A tear slid out of the corner of his eye. She leaned forward and brushed it away. Without opening his eyes, he took her hand and laid it on his chest.
“I love you, Mei-Mei.”
She moved to sit on the bed and kissed his forehead before curling her body around his, pressing her lips into his hair.
“I love you too, Cap.”
He traced his fingers over the back of her hand and arm. “I might be going home soon, you know.” He swallowed and his body shook slightly.
“Uh-huh, the doctors say you’re getting better. We’ll go to my apartment for a bit first, though.”
His fingers stilled. “Not that home, Mei-Mei. I can hear Him, I think He’ll take me home soon. And if I’m going home, you’ll have to be Cap for me.”
No, no, no. Ameira’s heart screamed. But she couldn’t show her fear. She swallowed the lump in her throat. I will praise You… “Are you sure? Maybe He’s just…“ she trailed off, not sure what to say. Oh, God, I’m not strong enough for this. Not when You gave me hope.
“I want you to promise me, Ameira, if I go home, you’ll take the shield. Only this one will be the shield of faith. You have to promise not to let it go.”
Her heart felt like it was about to burst apart, but she swallowed her pain and fear and whispered, “I promise, Cap.”
Satisfied, he snuggled closer to her and she held him tight as her tears wet the pillow and song after song played.
I will praise You in this storm…
*hides* Yes, I know how evil I am to end it right here. Sorry! Yeah… I think I should quickly end this post before anyone throws something at me… >.>
5 thoughts on “A KDWC Short Story Snippet”
Oh my, Jen. Oh my. I…I don’t know if I even have WORDS. This was just– *clutches heart* SO BEAUTIFUL. SO MOVING. I honest to goodness practically forgot I was even reading, this sucked me in so wholly! I could FEEL Ameira’s pain. As well as the comfort the Lord brought her amidst it.
I haven’t been going through the easiest season myself (certainly nothing as hard as THIS, but still), so this really hit home and was honestly JUST what I needed at this very moment. I needed the reminder that God is ALWAYS here and ALWAYS has a plan. It is simply our job to have faith and seek his joy and comfort through the turmoil.
All I can say is THANK YOU. Thank you for writing this and sharing it. It touched me more than I can express.
It was also SO beautifully written and immersive. Seriously, the emotion was utterly palpable. I also kind of totally adored the Marvel references! Him calling her Bucky because he “watches over Cap” especially got me. *SOBS* What a precious boy!
Thank you again for sharing this. I truly adored it. ❤
This is heartbreaking, but beautiful at the same time!! *sobs silently* Thank you so much for sharing!
And it might be a good thing camp is over for now because certain individuals are becoming a bit impish. 😉
This is beautiful, Jen, and so touching. I enjoyed watching the story evolve throughout that week. Will you publish this eventually?
If there were an award for the writer who could keep her flash fiction from becoming a series, it wouldn’t go to me. XD One reason we have this “issue”, I think, is because we love these stories so dearly and can see how they would touch lives if they were expanded. You can only cram so much into 5,000 words.
Christine’s comment basically encapsulates my feelings. Jen, this was gorgeous. I loved it so much. (And NO, the Marvel references were BEAUTIFUL, not corny in the least. Emotional impact. You got that down.)
I loved this. So. Much. *sniffles*
(Camp was so wonderful!!! I cannot wait for the next one!)
This is beautiful!
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