Hello All! Hope you are having a lovely weekend, preparing to worship the Lord with fellow believers tomorrow! Today I am sharing a short story (as requested/promised)! Since there is a side plot involving the Mennonite, I want to go ahead and state that this story is NOT intended to look down on the Mennonite people. It is meant to show the tension between those who believe in pacifism and those who do not. I will go ahead and state that I do not believe in pacifism and I do have scripture to back that up (if you have questions about it, feel free to contact us!), but I respect each persons' choice to believe how they want on this matter ;)
This is a longer story, so I will be releasing it in parts! (Also note, this is a part of a WIP, so it is subject to change.) I wrote this story last year as a part of a writing challenge several of my writing buddies were doing! It was so fun!
So, without further ado, let's hope into the story.
Charlotte tugged at my sleeve and said, her voice trembling, “Christina, please take this customer. It’s…a soldier, and I’m scared.”
It killed me. My uncle's family were Mennonite, and as such, they didn’t understand the Biblical and moral reasons to maintain a military to defend their right to pacifism. But I’m not Mennonite, and I’m not gonna turn my back on a soldier.
I hurried out, my denim skirt swishing as I rounded the counter. “Hello! Welcome to Schnyders! What can I get you, sir?”
At first, He didn’t realize I was talking to him, and I laughed. “Sorry, I forgot you don’t ‘sir’ Specialists.”
A smile split his face, and he said, “I’d like a Ruben, side of sauerkraut and a cup of coffee, black, decaf, please.”
“Coming right up! And,” I held out my hand. “Thank you for your service, sir. My brother was Army. Lost him in Baghdad.”
His eyes clouded, but the look disappeared in a blink. “Thank you for standing by him. And thank you for your support, ma’am. I…I almost lost a brother in Iraq too.”
“He’s all right?”
“Thank God. Let me get your coffee.”
I didn’t even know what had happened to his brother, but I wanted to cry anyway. I wiped my eyes and straightened the bow in my hair, and faced him with a smile. He smiled back and took the coffee, turning his attention to a letter in his hand.
Moments later, I interrupted his reading with his food. “Okay, I have to ask. Do you speak German?”
He looked up at me. “I do. Why?”
“I noticed your accent when you ordered. I grew up speaking it, so I notice it when an ‘outsider’ speaks it around here.”
His eyes laughed. “I was born in Germany. My family moved here when I was eight. Thanks for not getting creeped out by how I talk.”
“Oh, yes, I get that too. Too bad, though. It’s a lovely language.”
I refilled his coffee and turned away.
“Could I ask for your advice?”
“Okay, so I have a younger sister. And I… well, I’m deploying in about a month. I’ve had two, and both times, I’ve had close calls, and I know this is gonna tear her up. How would you suggest I tell her?”
I let out my breath in a rush. More than likely, he was heading to Iraq. It was horrible over there right now. “I…” how would I have wanted Stanley to tell me if we could redo it? No, I wouldn’t change it. “Find a restaurant where you two can talk, with food that she likes. And order dessert.”
He laughed. “So our family isn’t the only one that doesn’t normally do that.”
I smiled. “Then take her somewhere special, and break it to her gently. And tell her…”
I swallowed. “Goodbye isn’t in the Dictionary.”
I expected him to ask what I meant and I wished I hadn’t said it, because I didn’t want to explain. But he didn’t. He got this look in his eyes… and nodded slowly. “And get her one to prove it?”
I nodded. Lucky guess.
I figured I’d never see him again. But I was surprised when three evenings later, he opened the door and entered. He wasn’t in uniform, but he had an Iraq War T-shirt and jeans. His sister was about nineteen, older than I had expected.
I greeted them and took their orders. She talked softly, but loud enough for me to hear, about how beautiful the place was and how good the food was. “How did you find this place? It's so quaint!”
I smiled and quit eavesdropping. I looked over the evening’s dessert menu and made a guess at what they might want. I got right to work on it. This needed to be extra special for them.
As they were finishing, I walked up. “I hope you don’t mind…I made this for y’all, my treat.”
The girl looked up at me, and her eyes brimmed. He thanked me and accepted the two fried Apple pies with frosting, spelling out “Army Strong” on each one with stars. “Oh, wait! This is my sister, Becca. Becca, this is…I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”
“Christina. It’s nice to meet y’all.”
“And this is Randy,” Becca laughed. “He never remembers to introduce himself. I tell him it’s because he’s SF now.”
“Airborne?” I asked eagerly.
“Airborne Ranger Infantry,” Becca said, clearly proud of her brother. I couldn’t help smiling, or the tear that ran down my cheek. “Oh, dear,” she whispered. “He told me about…your brother. Oh!” She jumped to her feet and hugged me. And I hugged her, a stranger. How had I not seen his wings the other day? Or maybe I had but didn’t want to.
How long we stood there, I don’t know. Finally, I dried up and let them enjoy their dessert. Randy laid something on the table and paid their bill. Then they left.
I cleaned up the table, my heart aching for Becca, and the news he was about to give her. I found tucked under his cup a wad of dollar bills, $10 in all, and a note. “Thanks for caring. Lead the Way.”
And I sat at the table and cried.
Interested? Want to see more of the story? What is your favorite part so far? Any ideas about what will happen next? Recognize any of these people? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Have a blessed day and God Bless America!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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