Melody greeted as Carol hopped down from her parents' truck and
slammed the door shut.
"Hey," Carol returned a bit nervously.
"I wasn't sure how to dress; I hope this is okay." She had donned
her wavy jean skirt (her only skirt) and a hunter green short sleeve
shirt that matched her belt. For shoes she simply wore her Old Navy
flat sandals that went with her shirt as well.
"Wow! You look great! I don't think
I've ever seen you wear your hair down before." Melody nodded as
if to confirm what she said. " I like it like that."
"Thanks," Carol said as they started
walking toward the old brick church.
"Did you bring a Bible?" Melody inquired.
"Yeah, my mom let me borrow hers."
Carol produced a small pocket Bible out of her baggy camouflage
purse. "She went ecstatic when I told her that I was coming here
"...Thanks," she added as Melody held
the door open for her.
Inside the door was a long hallway
lined with closed wooden doors. At the end of the hall were double
doors that revealed a set of stairs, a corner, then another set
of stairs that led to a sanctuary packed with teens.
"Wow," Carol exclaimed, "there sure
are a lot of teens here." And
they all look happier than my other friends when we sneak out to
a party. How can they be having this much fun--at church?
"Okay guys…and gals." A man who looked
to be in his late twenties got up on the platform. "Time to be seated."
"He's the youth pastor; you'll like
him," Melody whispered as they slid into a pew near the back.
He just called me a "gal,"
Carol thought as she leaned back and tried to relax. How cool
can he be?
rushed home from tennis practice so she could keep an eye on her
mom and make dinner for her. She worried so much about her mother.
Even though Joanne's mom was religious, she was still her mom, and
Joanne loved her despite her strange
beliefs. Joanne jogged
across her yard and turned her house key in the lock. As she opened
the door, she heard her mom scream.
"Mom?" Joanne called as she dropped
her book bag in the door and rushed upstairs. She skidded to a stop
beside her mom's bed and knelt by her head.
"Oh, God, help me!" Her mother's plea
pierced Joanne to her core.
"Mom?" Joanne repeated with tears
beginning to form in her eyes. She hated seeing her mom in this
kind of pain.
Laurie turned her head to her daughter's
voice. "Joanne." Her voice was barely audible, "I'm glad you're
here." She reached for Joanne's hand and attempted a weak smile
that was interrupted by another pain-filled cry. Her other palm
clutched at her abdomen.
"Mom, do you want me to call the hospital?"
Joanne blinked and down her cheek ran a lonesome tear and fell on
her mother's hand.
"No," Laurie replied through clenched
teeth. "Just go get Jean."
Joanne nodded and ran downstairs,
through the front door, and over to Carol's house, all the while
trying unsuccessfully to brush away her tears. Mr. Linburgh answered
"Hi Joanne..." His smile quickly faded
when he noticed her tear stained face. "What's wrong?"
"Is your wife home?" Joanne asked.
"What's wrong, dear?" Jean Linburgh
had come up behind her husband to see what was the matter.
"It's my mom." Joanne sobbed. " I've
never seen her in this much pain before. She asked for you."
Mrs. Linburgh brushed passed her husband
and was running back home with Joanne in a second. As they ran up
the stairs to her bedroom, Joanne's mom let out a louder, more urgent-sounding
"Joanne, call for an ambulance--quickly."
Joanne heard the fear behind Mrs. Linburgh's efficient tone.
Joanne ran for the phone and numbly
punched the numbers 9-1-1. She listened to the responsive ringing
tone on the other end. God, Joanne prayed without realizing
it, please take care of my mom. A woman's voice came on the
"9-1-1, what is your emergency?"