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As a small town struggles to cope with their grief over the loss of sixteen year old Missy Haynie…Rori Covington arrives as the church’s new landscapist with a painful past of her own. But when she meets handsome high school teacher Christopher McIntyre, she’s drawn to the sadness and remorse that fills his days and haunts his nights. Meanwhile, high school senior, Kyle Hunter has a big secret about the night his best friend Missy tragically died and only one other person knows the truth…or so he thinks. Can these lost souls discover that truth and compassion have the power to restore their faith in both love and life or will they allow their past to finally catch up with them?
Just a little further.
I can make it. Soon I’ll be home in my warm bed and everything will be fine. Nothing that happened tonight will matter. We’ll both be okay and our parents never have to know.
The road seemed to swim before me. A little out of focus now. I shook my head to clear my line of sight. I should have stayed home but blowing off a little steam seemed like a good idea at the time.
Now, I feel scared. The car feels so heavy or something. Like I have to force it to drive by sheer will.
I know I shouldn’t be drinking and driving. How many times have I heard that on television, at school, from my parents? I know better and yet I’ve let us get into this mess.
I should have called Mr. Mac. He would have come and driven us home. He might not have even told our parents. He was cool like that.
The car began to swerve, heavier still to control. I righted it and then looked over at my best friend in the world. That was when I lost control.
No images in my mind now, only sounds. Tires screeching, glass breaking, the crunch of metal.
The young girl’s body sprawled on the side of the road haunted his dreams at night and tore at his heart all day long. He simply couldn’t get the image out of his mind. It had been over a month since the accident yet Christopher McInytre felt as if it had happened only last night.
As he sat in the office of Pastor Squires and waited, he replayed the images of that night and his stomach rolled with anxiety. A young, brilliant girl like that should have been home with her parents. She should have been preparing for a bright future in college. Now, her parents would have to live with only her memories. They would all have to live without her.
“How are you today, Chris?” Pastor Squire’s voice sounded from the doorway and Chris turned from the window to greet him.
“About the same,” he reluctantly admitted as he shook the man’s hand.
“Let’s sit.” Pastor Squires motioned to the now familiar straight-backed chair Chris routinely occupied at least twice per week.
They sat in silence for a few moments. Something that Chris appreciated about these visits with his pastor. They could sit in silence and there was no pressure to speak. There were never any feelings of time ticking by or of wasting the pastor’s time. It was peaceful and safe. Sometimes Chris had to fight the urge to hang out in this office all the time.
“So, are you ready for school to begin next week?” Pastor Squires broke the silence.
Chris shook his head slowly. The images of his students’ faces flashed before his eyes and he shuddered at the thought of facing them again.
“No, I was seriously considering not going back.”
At this admission, Pastor Squires sat up and leaned forward.
“Chris, I don’t usually put my opinion out there so clearly, but I have to say I think that would be a huge mistake.”
Chris turned his head and looked out the window. The day was beautiful but still hot under the late summer sun. The sun shone brightly and illuminated the colored stained glass panes that bordered the church office window.
As if on cue, he could hear the distant voices of the church choir practicing a hymn somewhere in the building.
This is the day…the Lord hath made…
Chris tuned out the voices.
“I don’t think I can look at their faces. All I’ll see is Missy Haynie.” Chris heard the tremble in his own voice and his emotional weakness irritated him even more.
“I have a suggestion.” Pastor Squires stood up and walked to his desk. He began to retrieve something from one of his desk drawers.
Chris watched and waited.
“I think you should host a back to school activity for the church youth. You’ll see a lot of your students there and it will give you a chance to interact with them in a setting besides school.”
His heart raced with trepidation at the mere idea of seeing the students. He wondered if they would still feel melancholy like himself or if they’d already moved on…forgotten. Kids were like that, they could sometimes move past things by simply putting them out of their mind. Perhaps it was denial, but they seemed to be masters at it. An inexplicable jealousy surged through Chris at the thought of having the ability to put something like this out of your mind.
“What do you think?” the pastor asked as he moved around towards Chris and handed him a sheet of paper.
Chris looked down at a list of familiar names. It was a list of all the church youth along with their phone numbers and addresses. As his eyes scrolled down the page, one name stood out in particular. He swallowed and looked back up at the pastor.
“I don’t think I can do this,” Chris said, reluctantly.
“Look, I’ll get my secretary to help make the calls and we’ll get the ball rolling. All you have to do is set up the Youth Center and plan the refreshments and music. It will be a back to school social event. Good for the kids and even better for you.”
Chris stood and walked towards the door.
“Chris, think of it as a test for yourself. If you can make it through this then you can seriously consider returning to teaching. If you can’t make it through this then we’ll talk about what your other options will be. I don’t think you can let your own grief get in the way of helping these kids. Only you can really help and this will be your first opportunity.”
Chris turned to look at the pastor once again.
“Okay, I’ll try.”
The words came out of his mouth, but Chris couldn’t believe he’d spoken them.
He hadn’t seen these kids in weeks. He’d gone so far as to avoid attending regular church services and his pastor had understood about it thus far. Now, it seemed the pastor was pushing him forward. Maybe that’s what he needed. A good push forward…he only wished he didn’t feel like he’d fall off the edge.
“Chris, I’ll pray for you. You need to do the same,” Pastor Squires reminded him as he stepped out the door and moved quietly down the hallway.
Chris stepped into the morning sunlight and the warmth engulfed him. He turned and began his walk to the parking lot. It was so quiet out here…no traffic…no hustle and bustle. He turned down the side of the church building to make his way back to his car. Thoughts of the pastor’s words and the youth event preparations were swirling through his mind.
Saying a prayer should sound like a comforting suggestion to him. He’d been brought up in a huge family with devout Christian parents. Prayer was an everyday occurrence for them. So, why did it seem so foreign to him now?
As he turned the corner of the church, his foot caught on something and he began to stumble forward. As he tried to catch his balance, he heard a groaning sound beneath him and too late he realized he was tripping over a person.
His hand flailed out, but there was nothing for him to grab onto. As his body tumbled forward he caught sight of long, dark hair and gloved hands.
Book Publisher: Class Act Books
No. of Pages: 86