Fiction Fridays: Faith and Country Part 4

See here for a link to previous parts of this story.

I wrote Katherine almost every day, and she wrote me about once a week. We didn’t talk about Dad. Technically, Dad and I were okay with each other. Still, it sometimes felt like we were skating on thin ice. I was careful with my words.

In my first letters, I asked Katherine about preferences for her room, but she made it clear that she wanted me to do whatever I wanted. I couldn’t completely redo the room because it would cost too much. I had talked to Mom, and she was willing to give me a little money.

I was excited. I hoped to be an interior designer, and this was my first real project.

I wanted the room to feel like Katherine. After I had cleaned out her room and given away things she no longer needed, I decided what I was going to spend my money on.

Her headboard was white wicker, which didn’t fit Katherine’s personality at all.    I managed to sell it online, and I found her a new headboard. It was made of several different colors of wood, assembled together in a rustic blend.

I bought her bedding at a discount department store. It was a simple, soft blue bedspread with a white square in the middle. I found a patterned blanket with a darker shade of blue to lie across the bottom of her bedspread. Her pillows were more decorative, and I was planning to embroider one with her initials on it.

I decided to paint the walls a basic color called concord ivory, which was tan with a touch of of yellow. Painting the room would take the most time, and I was halfway done. I wanted her room to be ready whenever Katherine could come home.

 

Dear Laine,

No, I can’t come home during Basic Combat Training. The whole thing lasts ten weeks, so I have three left. Most people get to see their family at graduation, but I know Mom isn’t supposed to travel this far. It’s really not that big of a deal, so don’t worry about it. Alyssa said she could take pictures and send them to Mom. I know that will make her happy. I’m glad Mom seems to be improving. Keep me updated, and TELL ME EVERYTHING.

I used to not care about things like prayer and God, but it actually makes me feel better to know that you are praying for me. I thought this was really weird, but you know that verse you sent me in your letter that said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”? Well, Alyssa was telling me about it literally the morning that I got your letter. Maybe God deserves more credit than I give him. So… you better sit down for this one, but I’ve started praying. What’s to lose? If God can really do what he says, well, I could use some mountains moved.

So, we will see. Don’t get your hopes up. But thanks. Love you.

                                                                        ~Kat

I couldn’t believe it! Kat was right, I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but I was excited. It made me pray for her even more.

That night I read the letter to my parents. Mom was ecstatic when I got to the part about faith. I hadn’t seen her that happy in a long time. Even Dad was surprisingly pleased.

“Thank you, Lord. Oh, You are so good. You give us hope.” She closed her eyes, and I knew she was praying. For a moment she put her head in her hands before slowly lifting up her face. “I wish I could go to her graduation.”

I nodded my head, knowing there was nothing I could say or do that could make that possible.

“We might,” Dad spoke.

I looked at him with disbelief.

“Don’t tell her, and I’m not promising anything, but if work allows it—” he shook his head up and down— “maybe.”

I couldn’t believe that he was open to the idea, but the way he said it made me doubt his sincerity. He might just be saying that now to make Mom feel better.

“That would be wonderful.” Mom’s voice was soft and sweet, like smooth honey.

“Please try, Dad,” I pleaded. “Katherine deserves our support.”

He nodded. “I’ll try.”

 

I took a deep breath, my heart hammering into my chest. I had seen soldiers walking around all day, and now I waited for Katherine.

I looked at Dad, who seemed just as nervous as I was, if not more. He looked at his watch and swayed back and forth, breathing heavily.

We told Katherine we were coming so that she could get a pass to spend the day with us. She had agreed, but she still hadn’t said anything about Dad. I had no idea how they would react to one another. I still couldn’t believe that Dad was actually here.

And there she was.

It took me a moment to realize it was Katherine. She was… different. Her face was clear and clean, young and serious. She looked tall and thin in her uniform, and her dark hair was pulled into a tight bun at the nape of her neck. She was strong and solemn. There was something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. She seemed mature.

“Laine,” she said as her face lit up. I began running towards her. She walked to me, calm and composed, but her eyes and her smile were running.

I threw my arms around her and clung to her trim and muscular body. Tears came to my eyes, from which emotion I couldn’t tell. I was thrilled to finally hold her in my arms, perplexed at the change in her build and appearance and proud of the person whom she had become.

And I was grieved. After being apart for so long, I yearned for her embrace, to know that she was safe in my arms. But I knew it was temporary. I wanted to freeze time and savor the moment, put the joyous emotions in a jar and seal them tightly. I longed for her safety, her stability, and her love.

I was going to have to let her go again.

Katherine kissed my cheek and I felt her pull away. I knew she had to face Dad.

She held onto my hand and turned towards Dad. “Thank you for coming,” she said and looked him in the eye. She spoke formally, like she was addressing a stranger.

“Katherine,” Dad said. He held out his arms, waiting for her to embrace him.

My muscles tensed, and I held my breath. I hadn’t expected this from Dad, and I didn’t think Katherine had either. I let go of her hand, hoping she would go to Dad.

After an eternity of seconds, she slowly put her arm around Dad’s waist. He gently pulled her in, wrapping his other arm around her.

“Katherine,” he whispered. “I’m so proud of you.”

Katherine shut her eyes and laid her head on his shoulder. When she opened them up, tears tumbled down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” she said, her head still on his shoulder facing away from his face. “I’m sorry I never wrote you back.”

Wrote back? I never knew Dad had written to Katherine.

Dad tenderly kissed her forehead. “It’s okay. I forgive you. For everything, I forgive you. You’re my daughter and I love you. I always have, and I always will. Please don’t ever forget that.”

She nodded as she pulled back to wipe the tears from her face. “I’m so glad you came,” she said to Dad and me. “Please give Mom my love.”

“Mom!” I suddenly remembered. I reached into my purse to get my camera. “She wanted us to take plenty of pictures.”

“Do you need me to take a picture?” a soldier who was walking by asked.

“That would be great.” Katherine handed him the camera.

“No problem,” he smiled.

Dad and I got on either side of Katherine and smiled while the camera flashed. I had never felt so happy for her.

 

I tentatively lifted my finger to the picture frame and was relieved to feel that it was dry. Although I had painted several pictures for Katherine’s room, the frame was my favorite piece of art.

I put the photo in the frame and set it on Katherine’s nightstand, smiling at the memory. Katherine’s graduation had been one of the best days in all our lives.

Underneath the picture of Dad, Katherine, and me, I had painted the Scripture verse Matthew 17:20, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Next to it, I had filled a clear jar with tiny mustard seeds and tied a light blue ribbon around the top.

I looked around her room, pleased at my work. I couldn’t wait to see her reaction when she came home for the first time this Saturday.

Each day I prayed for Katherine. I believed that God was working in her life and leading her to a relationship with Him. I knew that if Katherine sought God, she would find Him. I thought of the little faith I had and the miracles that God had already worked in Katherine’s life. I had confidence that He would finish the work that He had begun.

MORE ON RACHEL:

I’m a senior in high school, excited about what the future holds! Although I’m still not quite sure what that is, I’m trusting God to lead me. I love writing and performing. I’m involved in theater, where last year I played the Wicked Witch of the West! But don’t worry, that’s not the usual me. This year I’m going to be the editor of my school’s literary magazine. I love my church and am passionate about spreading the Gospel. My favorite verse is Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”


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