Tag: christian fiction

Fiction Friday: He Leadeth Me, Part 2

There is aliteration, Fiction Friday, so I’ve chosen Fridays as my days to share some fiction, if I have any to share a particular week. This is the second part in a story called He Leadeth Me. To find the first part, click HERE.

He Leadeth Me Part I


Part 2: Dancing in the moonlight

“Have you yet had the chance to dance in the moonlight in India?”

He was standing in front of her with one hand out toward her.

His uniform had been replaced with khakis and a plain white button up shirt like those commonly worn by the Indian men.

“I can’t say I have,” she looked nervously at her feet, unsure how to react to this pivot in their conversation.

“Well, come on,” he said with one corner of his mouth turned up. “Let’s be brave and see what happens.”

“There’s no music.”

“I can hum a tune or two.”

His hand was warm, the palms rough from days of working hard to build hangers for the Indian Air Force planes. He gently pulled her closer and placed his other hand lightly against her waist but pulled it back again.

“My apologies. Is it ok if my hand rests there?”

She immediately felt embarrassed and looked down at her feet.

“Um… yes? I guess so.”

She was ashamed to admit she had no idea how to dance and had never had a man ask to dance with her.

His hand barely touched her as he began to sway and gently guide her movements.

“Over in Killarney

Many years ago,

Me Mother sang a song to me

In tones so sweet and low.

Just a simple little ditty,

In her good old Irish way,

And l’d give the world if she could sing

That song to me this day.

 

“Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don’t you cry!

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that’s an Irish lullaby.”

 

She couldn’t look up as he sang.

Her heart was pounding and her head felt light.

What would her father think if he knew she’d come to India to care for orphans and tell others about the love of God but now she was dancing in the moonlight with an Irish airmen? And if pastor Franklin saw them? What might be said? Thoughts raced fast through her mind but she couldn’t seem to pull away, reveling in the feel of her hand in his and the smell of his cologne. She’d met him only a couple weeks ago before at the market, looking for vegetables and lamb for the mission and orphanage kitchen, and now here she was letting him lead her in a dance in the heat of the Indian summer.

He stopped singing, leaned back so he could look into her face and she looked up to see his blue eyes staring into hers.

“Tell me Emily Grant, the American girl with the very Scottish name, have you ever thought that God has made you for something more?”

The muscle in his jaw jumped a little as he started talking about what he expected for his future, not waiting for her answer.

“I mean, I grew up with my family, on a farm, thinking ‘There must be more to life than this.’ My brother loved farming, the shoveling of manure, and rounding up cows, but I just knew there was something more for me and I knew when I saw those children at the mission, my something more was here in India or at least in helping others.”

“Does it sound arrogant to say I believe God has a plan for me? A plan to show others His love not by what I say but by what I do? Is that what brought you here to India with your mission group? Did you think God would do something grand? That life could be something more and beautiful; the more you showed love and felt it back?”

 

Emily didn’t know what to say.

 

She felt her face growing warm.

 

She knew exactly what Henry meant but she’d never known how to explain it. Her parents couldn’t understand why she had signed her name to the list to travel to India with the missionary who had been visiting. They were worried for her safety, terrified she’d be killed by people her father called “Devil Worshippers” and “dark skinned heathens.” Emily had read the Bible. She believed God had created all humans and if that was true, then he had also created the Indian people and He loved them as much as he loved a white-skinned American farmer’s daughter.

 

“It doesn’t sound arrogant,” she said. “It sounds true and real and wonderful. I believe God has a plan for me, but I truly don’t understand it yet. All I knew was something inside me said I needed to follow Pastor James and Margaret here.”

 

Henry was still looking at her, eyes intensely focused on hers.

 

When his eyes glanced to her mouth as she spoke she tensed, suddenly self-conscious.

“Maybe God meant us to be here at the same time. For us to experience all this beauty together, ” he said.

His voice had slipped into a whisper.

He was too close.

Her heart was pounding too fast.

And when his lips touched hers it was too soon.

They’d only known each other two weeks and she hadn’t come to India to fall in love. She’d come to learn more about God’s will for her life.

She pulled away from him quickly and looked quickly at the ground.

“I’m past curfew at the mission. They’ll be concerned about me.”

She walked into the darkness before he could speak.

“Let me at least walk you home,” his voice followed her. “It’s dark and dangerous here at night.”

She paused and nodded an acceptance of his offer.

He fell in step beside her, silent as they walked. When they reached the gate of the mission she placed her hand on the gate and he reached out and wrapped his fingers around hers.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to overstep. I’ve never been so bold before. Will ya’ forgive me, Emily? I’ve enjoyed our time together. I hope you won’t disapprove of seeing me again.”

“It’s okay. I’m just – it’s – I’m here to be a servant to the mission. I shouldn’t get distracted. I don’t know – I just – wasn’t ready.”

She felt foolish as she spoke.

Wasn’t ready for what? To be loved? To let this young airman who spoke of wanting to serve God love her?

“I have to get to bed. We have open clinic in the morning for the village women. Thank you for the dance Henry.”

She pulled her hand from his and rushed through the gate, closed it and walked down the path toward the mission.

In her room, with the door closed behind her, she touched her fingertips to her lips, closed her eyes and remembered the warmth of his mouth on hers. She breathed deep, shook her head to clear her mind of the memory, and reached for her Bible to take her mind off the distraction she felt God didn’t want her to have.

 

 

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He Leadeth Me Part I

The rain was pouring down in sheets, not drops and Emily Grant felt the heavy weight of uncertainty at the sight of the empty platform. He’d promised he’d be here to meet her. She knew he might have been delayed but she’d been standing here for over an hour already. Her hope of not having been abandoned at the station of this small Indian village was fading into the fog encroaching around her.

Pulling the collar of her coat closed with one hand she clutched the handle of her suitcase in the other and sat on the bench, unsure of her next move. She needed a moment to think and maybe even to cry.

A month before she had been swept away by his Irish charm and cornflower blue eyes but now she sat with her body cold from the damp clothes hanging off her and wondered how she  could have been so naive.

 

Of course it was clear now. His words had only been whispered to her to make him feel superior in his game of manipulation. He seemed sincere, telling her of his plans to teach the gospel to the people of India once his time with the Royal Air Force was complete, impressed that she planned to do the same.

He was probably laughing with his Air Force buddies right now about how he’d pretended to care and even talked her into traveling to visit him where his squadron had been moved to a month ago, 30 miles from the mission she was working at.

Had he simply lied during all those conversations they’d had, about believing God had bigger plans for him than being a farmer or an airman? She stared at the rain pounding into the ground, turning the red clay-like dirt of India into thick mud.

“Emily?”

A man’s voice, though gentle, startled her and she gasped as she turned. The man standing at the edge of the platform was wearing a tweed jacket and a fedora pushed back on his head. His expression was soft and kind as he took the hat off and held it to his chest.

“I’m sorry to scare you and to keep you waiting,” he said softly. “Henry called us this morning and asked if we could meet you at the station, but the rain –“

He gestured out to the sheets of rain still soaking the ground. “Our car got stuck in some mud along the road and it took me a bit to push it out.”

She felt her muscles relax as she stood to face him.

“Oh. Well- thank you. I have to admit I was beginning to wonder.”

She held her hand out and he took it. His palms felt rough and calloused and the grip was firm but gentle.

“I’m Frank O’Donnell.,” he told her. “My wife and I are the pastors of the local mission church. Henry’s been restricted to the barracks and he hoped you’d agree come to stay with us on your own until he can leave again.”

She felt relieved she hadn’t actually been forgotten and maybe not tricked by the handsome Irish cadet after all.

“ Henry mentioned he knew someone here I could stay with. Someone from near where he grew up.”

Frank smiled.

“Call me Frank. And, yes, we are originally from Belfast, about an hour from where Henry grew up in Northern Ireland. I’d say it’s a bit of divine providence he was stationed here at the same time we are.”

He reached for her suitcase.

“Mary, my wife, is waiting for us at the house. She’ll be glad to have another lady in the house to chat with. She’s been preparing a meal for you, sure you’d be hungry.”

Emily was definitely hungry after a three-hour train ride with little more to eat than a

package of crumbling crackers and water from the canteen she had packed in her bag. Her stomach still wasn’t completely used to the spices from the Indian cuisine she had been eating at the mission since arriving three months ago. The train had moved slowly, stopping repeatedly to pick up more people than the cars could even hold. Each seat was crowded with three or four people and Emily could still smell the bodies, the goats and the lunches some of the travelers had packed.

Frank placed her suitcase in the back seat of the car and held the front door open for her. She climbed in, relieved to be out of the drenching rain they had run through from the platform.

Frank closed his door firmly and turned the engine.

“Tell me, Emily, what part of the States are you from?”

“Pennsylvania. A tiny little farm town no one has ever heard of.”

“Pennsylvania. Ah. I have family there. In the city of Scranton. An aunt and uncle. Visited them once as a teenager and was amazed with the steam engines. I was less amazed with the food at first but it grew on me.”

Emily nodded. “Scranton is about two hours from where I’m from. I’m sure the food was different for you but I can imagine the food here has been even more of a shock?”

Frank laughed and nodded as he pulled the car on to the muddy dirt road.

“My stomach is finally settling,” he admitted with a grin. “I think I’d much rather have one of those American hot dogs than the spicy curry on some days, but even that is beginning to become a favorite of mine.

Emily noticed small lines along the edges of his eyes as he smiled. His sideburns also showed his age with flecks of gray mixed in the dark brown.

“Henry was certainly flustered when he called this morning. He’d much rather have been here to greet you, but what a blessing we are so close to the station.”

She looked down at her hands folded in front of her and felt her cheeks flush warm. She was uneasy at the idea that this man and his wife had had to accommodate her after she’d agree to visit this small village, 30 miles from her mission, for a few days to get to know the Irish airman she’d met a couple of months earlier.

She felt like a silly school girl. She wished she had a more noble and mature reason for her journey north.

“Yes, it worked out nicely,” she said softly over the sound of the windshield wipers and pounding rain.

“There has been violence in the Hyderabad, he said. They locked down the area late last night and Henry only found time this morning to call and ask for our help. He was very concerned about you being left at the station.”

Emily felt the uneasiness she’d been feeling about Henry’s absence begin fade at this news. It was duty that kept him from her, not indifference. When would she learn not to judge so quickly?

Frank glanced at her with an amused grin.

“He seems quite fond of you.”

Her cheeks flushed again and without thinking she put her hand against the warmth.

“Oh. Well, we barely know each other.” She was struggling for words. “But this was a lovely chance to get to know him better.”

Frank laughed.

“My wife and I got to know each other better about 25 years ago. I can only hope you two will have the same success.”

Emily smiled and glanced at him then back out the windshield.

“I don’t know about that just yet. We’ve only known each other a month,” she said.

Frank was still smiling. “Time is of no matter if the match is made by God.”

A small house was taking shape in the mist kicked up by the rain. The car slowed.

“This is us,” frank said.

Emily placed her hat back on her head and prepared for the soaking. She kept her eyes on her steps to keep from slipping. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw chickens, a young cow, and two goats in a makeshift shed to one side of the house.

“Get on in here! Out of that rain!” a friendly Irish accent called out as they reached the stone stairs. The smell of something wonderful cooking in the oven was the first thing Emily noticed once inside the small house. As she took her hat off she looked up into bright hazel eyes and a beautiful smile.

“I thought this rain might have washed ye’ both down the river,” Frank’s wife laughed as she took Emily’s coat and hat and placed them on a hook behind the door.

“I’m Elizabeth. So happy to have you, dear Emily. Any friend of Henry’s is a friend of ours.”

Elizabeth hugged Emily close as if she was a long lost relative. Emily was surprised by the greeting but also felt comforted.

“Thank you, so much. It’s a pleasure to meet you and I’m so grateful to you both.”

“Let’s get some food in you, shall we?” Elizabeth gestured toward the table.

“You must be famished. Frank will take your bag to the guest room.”

The beef roast, steamed potatoes and carrots, and homemade bread were a welcome meal after two months of curry and spice. Emily felt emotion rise in her as each bite reminded her of meals at home cooked by her mother. She suddenly remembered the letter in her pocket telling her about life at the farm and how proud her parents were, but also how worried. She’d read it again later, before bed, along with Henry’s last letter, which came just before she packed to head to the station.

“So, Emily, Henry has told us so much about you,” Elizabeth dished more carrots onto her plate. “His face just lit up when he told us about meeting you. He says you are working at the mission and orphanage there. Frank and I used to know the couple who founded the orphanage – James and Margaret. Are they still there?”

“Oh yes. Very much so. They are both getting older, but no one can seem to slow them down,” Emily said. They’ve been amazing, letting me stay on even when the rest of our mission group traveled back home to Pennsylvania.”

“And the children? Still as many as there used to be?”

“Yes. If not more. So much poverty – their families simply can’t afford to care for them.”

“Henry says you hope to stay in India? Help the orphanage?”

“That is my hope, yes, but we will see if my family agrees.”

Frank dished more potatoes on her plate.

“Grew these in the garden out back,” his voice was full of pride . “The soil here isn’t the same as in Ireland. Took us awhile to figure out how to get to them to grow the way we like them, but they finally taste like home.”

“They’re delicious and remind me so much of my home too.”

She felt tears hot in her eyes and looked down at her plate. She hadn’t expected the emotion and felt ashamed of seeming weak in front of people who had sacrificed so much in the last three years to serve the people of this area of India. Elizabeth laid her hand on Emily’s and squeezed it a little.

“You must be so homesick. Let me brew you a cup of tea, love.”

“Oh, thank you. I’m so sorry. I don’t know where that came from.”

“It’s been a long day,” Frank said. “A lot of traveling, then all that waiting, all the unknowns. I’m sure your soul is as exhausted as your body.”

After tea had been enjoyed Elizabeth urged Emily to rest before the evening meal.

“I’d rather help you clean up,” Emily said but after Elizabeth insisted she rest, Emily finally agreed. Within minutes after she laid on the top cover of the small cot in the tiny, dark room she was in a deep sleep.