Two Halves of the Apple, Chapters Two and Three

Chapter 2
Breath of Life
Adam – 1996
The nurses were terribly silent as they handled the baby. None of the usual comforting comments for the mother, just hustle and focus. Rianne waited - dread building in her chest. She didn’t even know what to ask to find out what was wrong. The doctor attached some tubes and a mask to her baby while giving quick orders to the nursing staff. She watched them rush her baby out of view, too far away from her arms.  Her husband would have no idea that their first child might be lost to them. He would still be waiting to hear the good news.
She could hear the instruments and voices just twenty feet away, but she went inside herself.
She pressed her lips together, swallowed hard and began to pray: “Dear Lord, you know how long I’ve been waiting for this boy. I don’t know why you’ve given me his perfect soul in this body, but please give him life. Let me leave this hospital with him in my arms.” Tears wet her cheeks, “Please, don’t let this be how his story ends.”
Then she thought of the empty farmhouse she and Jake would return to and how they would bear this loss, barely able to speak through their grief. Guilt and sadness were already choking her.
Rianne kept her eyes shut, as if unwilling to leave her prayerful state until she felt a hand gently brush the hair back from her forehead. She opened her eyes to see another nurse smiling gently. The eye contact was compassionate and uncharacteristically long for a busy nurse, but there was something greater in his eyes.
“Rianne, I’m Elazar. You’ve been so strong. Rest and know that your son is in good hands.” As he spoke, he turned his head toward the team of people working to coax Adam’s underdeveloped lungs into life. Under the giant fluorescents and heat lamps, the light was nearly blinding from her bed.
There were so many hands laboring for one goal, and this did give her comfort. Elazar did not leave her side, and all at once, Rianne knew her prayers had been answered when a precious cry from Adam’s lungs cut through the heavy air. Watching the doctor and nurses rejoicing, Rianne wept tears of gratitude. The only words she had were “thank you,” but Elazar was no longer there to hear them.
Two days later when she and Jake cradled baby Adam on the threshold of their home, Rianne glowed with happiness. Together they vowed to guide their sweet boy with love and gratitude befitting his miraculous beginnings.

Adam – 2010
 “Adam, is your shirt pressed? Dad’s already warming up the car.”
“No one’s gonna see the shirt under my robes anyway.”
“I’ll know. And we’re going to Gran’s after mass for your brother’s birthday lunch.”
Adam wasn’t going to risk extra chores by making everyone late to church. He mostly ironed his shirt, rolled his eyes and helped Danny into his leg braces. He’d need to carry his little brother piggyback if they were going to make it from the back porch through the snow to the station wagon in time. He couldn’t see Danny’s grin, but as he backed up onto his brother’s bed and said, “Climb on, man.” Danny practically leaped onto his back. For a kid who had trouble walking Danny could be incredibly strong.
Giggling down the hallway, the boys stopped by the kitchen table to smuggle a couple of extra biscuits with ham and then braced themselves for the biting winter air on the way to the car.
He didn’t want to slip on the ice, but he had to be quick. Adam was pretty sure his dad would’ve started driving down the gravel road to church with or without him. His dad would’ve just rolled down the window a little and shouted for him to run alongside the car and make a jump for it if they’d been a second later.
Not only had the Franks never missed a Sunday mass, but they were also usually one of the first families to fill a pew. The boys went to St. Anthony’s school. Adam was an altar boy and shared the candle lighting, bell ringing, and the water and wine preparation duties with several other boys. Since Adam’s family was a constant fixture on Sundays, even when it wasn’t his turn to serve, sometimes the priest would make eye contact with him in the congregation and give a little nod. This meant he was to leave through the side door and come back in through the vestibule in robes and ready to fill in for someone who hadn’t shown up. 
His favorite job was to ring the bells as the priest held the chalice up with arms outstretched overhead. The set of six gleaming brass bells made a joyful noise to signal the consecration and presentation of the Eucharist. When he was feeling like a smart-aleck, he’d ring them over and over until he could barely contain his laughter. He figured fun wasn’t so bad. Irreverent, maybe, but not bad.
After his duties as an altar boy and the long drive out to Island Grove, Adam was eager to spot the chimney sprouting from the green roof of Gran’s old white farmhouse. If this were a summer get-together, they’d be helping Gran pick out a chicken for supper. She’d walk through the yard kids trailing behind her. Since she fed the chickens every day, they weren’t disturbed by her presence. If Adam or any of the other kids went into the pen, they’d scatter. She’d reach down, pick one up and hold it firm as she left the pen. Then they’d all walk to the stump with the hatchet- Gran with the children trailing behind once more.
Cradling the chicken, in a swift movement she would grab its feet and string the chicken’s head between two nails forming a V shape in the stump. She’d produce a knife out of nowhere to cut the head off, throwing the chicken out in the yard to flop around. The most fascinating part to Adam was how quickly a dozen cats would materialize at the sound of the knife hitting the stump. The mewling and hissing started an instant later. They knew better than to go for the chicken itself, so they battled over the chicken head.
As it was, there would be meat, potatoes, and fruit pies made with the fruit Gran had put up the previous season. Danny always asked for Texas sheet cake for his birthday, so his mom had made that the night before to be brought along to Gran’s the next day. Adam didn’t know any other life, but even so, he felt pretty lucky to have the family had.
As soon as the days warmed up, he would leave early in the morning on his three-wheeler, take the fishing pole, ride up and down the hills, do some fishing, ride over the creek and back again, and come home at dark.
Newton wasn’t the kind of town with enough opportunities for all of its young people. It joined the scores of other small towns that were sadly no longer economically viable after the age of technology. Adam would graduate high school and then head north to Chicago to start his life.

Chapter 3

Gabe and Abram -- Another Plane of Existence
“Did you just rewind that guy’s life?”
Abram shook his head like it was a ridiculous question. “Nah, I’m just showing you the replay of the celestial record. I’ll cut to the interesting parts.”
            I hesitated to ask another question, but said, “Why?”
            “Do you want to watch him learn to tie his shoes and blow out every birthday candle?”
            “I mean, why are we watching him at all?”
            “You and I are meant to inspire this young man to carry out his life’s purpose.” Abram produced a scroll of paper out of thin air and unrolled it with a flick of his wrist. “This here says, I, Adamah do solemnly swear to… blah, blah, blah.” He was getting impatient. “I’ll summarize it.” He scanned the scroll quickly, running his finger along the lines of script, “He promises to find Eve, love her, and follow her into death.”
            “How do we help him from up here?”
            “Oh, we can’t interfere. We can plant seeds in his dreams, throw in some symbols, repeated phrases, and such.”
            I nodded with a look of utter confusion, trying to catch up to what I was supposed to understand.
Abram added, “Even if Adam and Eve find each other, and make these choices for themselves, without Michael’s Faith, it’ll all be lost.” He drew a long puff from his magical cigarette and gestured to the screen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I would love to hear what you think!