A Visit From Jordan
(Note: if you haven’t read the other parts of this story, you can do so here.)
“When are they coming, Mom? Will they be here to eat lunch with us?” Kris asked for the hundredth time. She was standing at the front window of the little cabin the family was staying in, eagerly watching the street. Snow was gently falling atop the ice that seemed to cover everything.
Mary sat down on the couch and sighed. “They’ll be here in half an hour, Kristina. If you ask every three minutes, it’s going to seem like a lot longer. And yes, they will eat lunch with us.”
“We’re going to have so much fun!!!” Kris said enthusiastically bouncing up and down. “I can’t wait to see Aunt Marisa and Uncle Jack and of course Jordan!”
“I’m sure you all will have fun.” Mary said, glanced at the clock. Ten thirty.
“I haven’t seen Jordan since I was seven!” Kris chattered. “I can’t wait to see her! It’s going to be so much fun!”
The Wild family had chosen to take a little trip. They had decided to spend the weekend at a little camp about an hour from their home. Mary had invited her brother and his family to spend the time with them as well. They had rented two little cabins that were right next to each other. The cabins each had two bed rooms with four bunk beds each. Emily, Mark and Kris shared a room. There was also a tiny living room, bathroom and a kitchen with a microwave and stove.
Emily wandered into the living room. “Are they here yet?” She asked.
“Nope.” Two voices answered unanimously.
Emily joined her sister at the window. “Oh it’ll be wonderful to see our cousin again! How old would she be now? Around fifteen?”
Mary nodded. “Yup.”
Emily smiled. “I’ve always admired her. She’s so brave and…strong.”
“Bravery and strength aren’t everything, you know.” Mary said quietly. “I’ve known some people who were weak in body, but their faith in God was so strong because they were physically weak.”
Emily and Kris looked at each other and then shrugged.
“Well, it doesn’t matter.” Kris said. “Jordan is certainly not weak physically.”
Mark raced into the room. “What are you all doing here? Did they come?”
Three voices answered, “Not yet.”
Mark sighed and joined the girls’ at the window.
“Where is Dad?” Mark asked, after a few minutes of staring out at the cold landscape in front of them.
“Oh, he just ran to the store to get some more bread. Someone didn’t pack the buns like I told him to.” Mary sent a meaningful glance towards Mark. “But he should get here in time to say hi when my brother and sister-in-law come.”
“And Jordan!” Kris added.
“I can’t wait!!!” Mark shouted excitedly. “This is going to be the best weekend ever!”
Just then a car pulled up in front of the cabin.
“They’re here!” Kris screamed and threw open the door. Mark and Emily raced out into the snow, barefoot and stood hopping from foot to foot, vainly trying to keep warm.
The car doors opened and Marisa, Jack and Cousin Jordan jumped out.
“Jordan!!!” Emily screamed. “Hi!”
Jordan hugged Emily and then laughed as she saw Mark and Emily’s unshod feet. “What are you two doing out here in the snow without shoes?”
“We were too excited to see you!” Emily said, trying to ignore the pain as the freezing ice pierced her feet.
“Yeah, putting shoes on takes too long.” Mark added. He bounded over to his uncle and aunt.
Kris pointed to a van that parked behind Jack’s car. “Dad’s back!”
After lunch in the Wild’s cabin, while Mark and Kris were occupied, Emily decided to chat with Jordan.
“Hey Jordan, what are you doing?” Emily looked up at her cousin in secret admiration.
Jordan shrugged. “Eh, I was just sitting here by the window. What do you like to do for fun normally?”
Emily sat down beside Jordan. “Oh, I read or sing with Kris or play outside.”
Jordan snorted. “Really? Is that all you do for fun?”
Feeling self-conscious Emily quickly added, “When it’s warmer we’ll go for walks and hikes. Sometimes we’ll even do some camping! Mom is planning a really fun trip for the spring. We’ll hike and camp and eat lots of trail mix!”
Jordan shook her head. “You poor kid! You don’t know what real fun is.”
“I do too!” Emily said indignity. Out of curiosity she asked, “What do you do for fun?”
A mischievous smile played around Jordan’s lips. “Well, we’re at a camp, right?”
Jordan laughed. “Good. Tonight I’ll show you what real fun is.”
Emily was already feeling uneasy, but not wanting to disappoint her cousin, she silently nodded and waited nervously for night to arrive.
Later that evening, Emily sat on the lower bunk bed, reading her bible, just like she did every night. Jordan popped her head into the room and quickly walked over to Emily and sat down beside her.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
“I’m just reading.” Emily smiled.
Jordan glanced at the book Emily held. “Is that a bible?” She asked with disgust in her voice.
“Well….yeah…” Emily answered slowly, confused by the reaction of her cousin. “I read it every day.”
“And you actually like reading that junk?”
“It’s not junk!” Emily looked in shock at her cousin. “It is the words of God!”
“Whatever.” Jordan shrugged. She stood up and began poking around the room. “I just came in here to talk about our plans for tonight. But if you want to read that, I’ll leave you alone.”
Emily closed her bible and set it down beside her. “What is your plan?”
Jordan smiled. “Now you’re thinking, girl! How can we get out of this cabin?”
“Umm….we just use the front door…?” Emily said, blinking in confusion.
Jordan snorted. “I mean how can we get out of here without being noticed? Can we jump out of the window?” She walked over to the tiny cabin window.
“No way, Jordan. It is way too small to squeeze out of. It doesn’t even open anyway. Mark checked. He likes to know all of the ways to escape danger.” Emily wrinkled her brow in question. “But why would we want to sneak out of the cabin unnoticed?”
“You really aren’t that smart, are you?” Jordan sighed. “We sneak out of here so we can have fun. Our parents would, uh, worry for no reason.”
“Then we shouldn’t do it.” Emily said firmly. “I don’t think it’s right to leave the house without our parents knowing.”
Jordan rolled her eyes. “You really are one of those goody Christians. I shouldn’t have expected you to do anything other than read your bible and go to church. Having fun is too sinful for you, right?”
“No!” Emily cried jumping to her feet with anger. “Christians have lots of fun!”
“Oh really?” Jordan said mockingly. “Prove it. Meet me in front of your cabin at twelve tonight.”
“I don’t know if I should…” Emily hesitated, staring down at her red and white socks.
Jordan stepped towards the door. “I knew you weren’t up to it. You Christians are so weak. You can’t live like the rest of us.”
“That’s not true!” Emily said, clenching her fists and looking up in anger. “I’ll show you that I’m not weak! I’ll see you at twelve.”
Jordan smiled. “Good.” Without another word, she turned and left the room quickly.
Emily, near tears, sat down on her bed. “Why is she so mean?!” She asked aloud. Angry at her cousin for her words and angry with herself for giving in, Emily picked up her pillow and threw it across the room. “What was I supposed to do? Just say no and get teased for being weak?! I’m sure this is no big deal. Whatever Jordan has planned can’t be so bad. I’ll just go along with it to prove to her that Christians aren’t babies.” Try as she might, Emily could not reassure herself. She lay down with a sick feeling and watched the time tick away.
At last the numbers on her alarm clock changed to 11:56. Getting up, Emily silently dressed in warm clothes. She glanced at Mark and Kris who were sleeping peacefully. She tiptoed quietly to the room door and opened it. It creaked slightly, making Emily fear that Mark would hear and awake. Somehow, she made it to the front door without causing any loud noises. She slipped her hand up to the lock and turned it. Then opening the door just wide enough for her to slip out, she stepped into the darkness.
“I’m here, Jordan.” Emily said into the darkness.
“Look you long enough.” A voice snorted. “I thought you’d chickened out.” A tall teenager stepped out of the shadows and smacked the back of Emily’s head.
Emily opened her mouth to respond, but quickly closed it again.
“Follow me, baby cousin.” Jordan said, holding tightly a small brown bag. With long strides, she began to walk into the darkness.
Emily tried to swallow her secret fear of the dark and walked quickly after her cousin. “Umm, Jordan, where are we going?”
“Just follow, okay?”
They walked in silence towards the paths in the woods. Emily, who was not used to being out in the dark, began to panic as they stepped into the trees.
“Jordan, do we have to go here? I mean, why do we have to walk in the dark to the woods?!”
Jordan didn’t answer. Emily bit her lip and tried not to scream as the small branch of a tree came crashing down close to her. Jordan didn’t seem bothered at all.
They walked for what seemed like an eternity for the young girl. “Jordan, at least tell me where we’re going!”
Jordan sighed in frustration. “Fine. I happen to know that if we follow this path that on the other side of these trees, there is a big building there. That’ll serve our purposes well.”
“How could you possibly know that there is a building back here?”
“Duh.” Jordan pushed aside an overhanging bow that blocked their path. “The internet has everything!”
At last they made it to the building. It was a big gymnasium with bright lights around it.
“Jordan, what are we doing here?” Emily moaned, wishing with everything in her that she was back in her bed, asleep.
“Oh seriously?” Jordan kicked a rock towards the building. “Why do they have to have such bright lights? It doesn’t really matter anyway; we’ll just have to be more careful.”
“What is going on?!” Emily nearly screamed.
“Oh stop whining.” Jordan set her bag down on the ground and opened it. “I want to see what you’re made of, girl.”
“What I’m made of?” Emily asked with fear and confusion.
Jordan turned on a headlamp and pulled out two cans of spray paint. She held one out to Emily. “How ‘bout we go do a little redecorating?”
“You mean vandalize?! You want me to go up and damage that building?! What will your parents say?!”
Jordan smirked. “They won’t say anything because they won’t know. Come on, Emily, let’s go have some fun.” A mocking look filled her eyes. “That is, if you aren’t too holy.”
“Are you kidding?!” Emily suddenly forgot her fear of the dark. “Do you have any clue how much trouble I would be in if my parents found out?! I’d be grounded until I’m thirty!”
“Then don’t let them find out. My friends and I have done this a few times and we’ve never been caught.”
Emily hesitated. “It’s still wrong, Jordan.”
Jordan rolled her eyes. “Oh, here we go again. Look, I brought you out here because I thought you were ready for the real world. But it turns out I was wrong. I should have left you back at the house with your Sunday school teachers. You just don’t have what it takes to be cool.”
“I do too!” Emily yelled angrily. “And I won’t vandalize someone else’s property! And you shouldn’t either! I’m going back to the cabin right now and I am going to tell my parents everything.”
Emily turned away and would have started home alone, but Jordan grabbed her arm.
“Oh no, Emily, you won’t tell your parents anything.” Jordan smiled cruelly.
“Why not?” Emily’s momentary bravery was quickly failing.
“If you tell them anything at all, I will make you regret that you ever lived. Is that clear?” Jordan’s eyes flashed.
“Very clear.” Emily gulped.
“I just want to go home now.” Emily said in a low voice with her head hung low.
“Fine, go.” Jordan said, waving her hand towards Emily.
Emily glanced ahead at the long, dark path through the woods. “Aren’t you coming?”
Jordan snickered. “You know what, I think I’ll just stay here. You go walk home alone, kid.”
“Can I at least have the headlamp?”
“You know my answer, scaredy-cat.”
Emily bit her lip and took a step into the darkness. As soon as she was out of Jordan’s sight, Emily began to run as fast as she could towards the cabin. Several times she tripped on roots or wet logs that stood above the layer of wet, slippery snow. She scraped both of her knees and her face several times. But she didn’t care. All she wanted to do was to get back to her bed and forget everything that had happened that night.
After what seemed like an eternity to Emily, she reached the front door of the cabin. Silently, with shaking hands, she turned the handle and stepped inside. As quietly as she could, she crept to the bedroom. Without stopping to take off her wet clothes, she lay down on her bed and silently cried herself to sleep.
Early the next morning, Mary got up to make breakfast. Mark, who was an early riser, met her in the kitchen.
“Hey Mark.” Mary smiled at him.
“Hi Mom.” Mark yawned. “What are we having for breakfast?”
Mary measured out some flour and poured it into a large mixing bowl. “Oh, I thought I’d make something everyone would like. Pancakes!”
“Yes!” Mark yelled happily. His face took on a more serious look as he said, “Hey Mom, something weird happened last night.”
Mary looked quizzically at her son. “What was it?”
Mark wrinkled his brow. “I’m not exactly sure, but I think Emily and Jordan might have snuck out of the cabins.”
Mary stopped mixing the pancake batter. “What makes you think that?”
Mark hopped onto the counter and sighed. “Well, I laid down in bed the same time as everyone else last night, but I couldn’t get to sleep. You know it takes me way longer when we are in strange places.”
“It was around twelve and I was finally starting to drift off to sleep, when Emily got out of bed and left the room….” Mark ran his hand over his face. “Maybe it was just a dream, I don’t know.”
Mary was concerned. “Why would she sneak out? Is she back?”
Mark shrugged. “I fell asleep a couple minutes later so I didn’t hear her come in. But I think she’s back now. I saw a big lump under the blanket on her bed, so I guessed that it was her.”
“Why didn’t you come get your father or I?” Mary demanded. “Never mind, I’m going up to see Emily right now and I’m going to sort this out!”
Mary quickly left the kitchen and to the bedroom. She flung open Emily’s door. There, asleep on her bed, was a pitiful looking Emily. She was covered in mud and her clothes were all wet. She had numerous scratches and dried blood clung to her face. Mary gasped and quickly sat down beside her daughter.
“Emily, honey, are you okay?” Mary asked as gently as her voice would allow.
Emily woke instantly and looked around. “Mom!” She gasped. “What are you doing in here!?”
“And what were you doing sneaking out last night?” Mary demanded angrily.
Terror flashed over Emily’s face. She stuttered, “I – I just – I mean –”
“I want the truth and I want it right this minute, Emily.” Mary said sternly.
Emily began to cry. “I’m sorry, Mom.”
Mary waited until Emily calmed down before repeating her earlier command. Emily turned away from her mom and continued to cry quietly.
“This conversation is not finished, young lady.” Mary said. “We are going to talk about this. And I have to tell your dad. Get some clean clothes on before you catch a cold.” She laid her hand on Emily’s forehead. Emily already had a fever.
“Alright Emily, just get into some dry clothes and then lay down in bed again.” Mary said quietly. “Rest and I’ll bring you breakfast.”
“Thanks Mom.” Emily whispered miserably.
Emily spent the rest of the day in bed and in pure misery. She was sick and, what was worse, her conscience was bothering her terribly. Jordan came to see her once that day and it was not a pleasant conversation.
“Emily, you told!” Jordan said angrily. “This morning my mom came up to me and asked me why you and I had snuck out last night! And now I’ll be grounded for five weeks when we get home! Five weeks! Do you have any idea how long that is?! And it’s all your fault.”
“I didn’t tell!” Emily whispered. Her throat hurt too bad to talk loudly. “Someone must have seen or something, I don’t know. But I promise you, I didn’t tell!”
“Like I’d believe anything you say.” Jordan said. “It’s good for you that we are all leaving this wrenched place tomorrow. Otherwise, you’d be in more trouble than you know.”
“Oh lucky me.” Emily moaned.
“Just remember what I told you, Emily. No one knows about last night.” Jordan turned on her heal and walked out quickly.
Emily lay back on her pillows with a groan. “Why me? Why was I stupid enough to go out last night? Now I have a mortal enemy in Jordan and a guilty conscience! What is worse than that?”
Later that afternoon, while Uncle Jack and Aunt Marissa took Jordan, Mark and Kris out for lunch, Bruce and Mary stayed at the cabin to talk to Emily.
“Emily, why did you sneak out last night?” Bruce asked gently.
“Jordan said Christians were weak and babies. I wanted to prove her wrong.” Emily whispered. Her throat still hurt terribly.
Mary sighed. “What did you do after you left the cabin?”
“Oh, we just walked around in the dark for a while.” Emily forced a careless voice.
“Why don’t I believe that?” Bruce asked.
“But we did walk around in the dark.” Emily insisted, and gave a pitiful smile.
“What else did you do, Emily?” Mary asked sternly.
Emily hesitated. She wanted to tell her parents the truth, but as she opened her mouth to do so, Jordan’s warning came into her mind.
“I promised not to tell.” Emily said quickly.
“Emily, there are times when promises like that shouldn’t be kept.” Bruce said. “Such as, if you knew someone was doing something wrong that was hurting them or someone else. That is a time to speak the truth.”
“Why don’t you ask Jordan?” Emily suggested.
Bruce shook his head. “Her parents already tried. She is one stubborn girl.”
Emily turned her head away from her parents. “I’m sorry. I promised not to tell.” Closing her eyes, she hoped that her parents would go away soon.
Bruce, seeing that they were getting nowhere, said, “Alright Emily, we’ll leave you be for the moment. When you are feeling better, we are going to get to the bottom of this. Is that clear?”
Emily nodded and wished that the events of the last twenty-four hours had never happened. As soon as her parents were gone, Emily struggled out of bed and grabbed the laptop she and her siblings shared.
I need to email Jessica. I wish she was here. She thought. She always knows what to do in times like this.
Emily crawled back in bed and set the laptop on her lap and began her email.
Help. You’ve gotta save me! I am in so much trouble. Can you convince your parents to come and pick me up today? I want to get as far away as possible from my family – especially my parents and my cousin, Jordan.
Let me speak hypothetically for a moment. So I know this girl named, let’s say, Lucy. So Lucy did something that she wasn’t supposed to do, in an effort to prove something to a really nasty person. Lucy knew the thing was wrong and didn’t actively participate in the very wrong part. She threatened to tell her parents but the really mean person told her not to – or else she would regret that she ever lived. (See what I mean by nasty?) Lucy’s parents found out about part of the wrong thing. Lucy wants to tell them everything but she doesn’t want to get killed by her cousin the mean person. What should Lucy do?
Miss you as always and I can’t wait to get back home,
Emily sent the email and then lay down to contemplate her misery. About an hour later, Emily received a response from Jessica.
I am so terribly sorry that you are having such a rough and stressful day! My, it sounds so tragic! I wish I could save you in some way! I tried asking my parents about picking you up, but they immediately said no! So sorry, darling, I wish I could have done that for you!
Oh wow!!! Poor Lucy! Tell me more details about what wrong thing Lucy did and what thing she can’t tell her parents! I would give Lucy the advice to tell her parents everything, even though it might be hard. I know from experience that keeping dark secrets is never good. They eat you up inside and make you soooo miserable. But the truth will set you free, Emily. I mean, Lucy.
Your friend for as long as we both shall live!
Emily chuckled slightly at her friend’s reply. Even her emails sound like her! She sighed. I have to tell my parents the truth – the WHOLE truth. And I will….just as soon as Jordan goes back home. Tomorrow morning can’t get here soon enough.
The rest of that day dragged on and on…and on. Emily, who felt terribly sick, spent the afternoon alone, except for the occasional visits from her parents. Finally night fell and Emily spent a restless night tossing and turning.
The next morning, Jordan and her parents drove away towards their home. Emily, who was feeling a bit better, sighed with relief.
“You look happy, Emily.” Kris noted during lunch as the family ate together.
“I’m happier than I have been for the last couple days. I just want to go home, though.” Emily sighed. “But Mom, Dad, there is something I need to tell you after lunch.”
Mary smiled. “Of course, honey.”
“Can I stay and listen?” Kris asked mischievously.
“No.” Bruce said sternly. “You and Mark can pack your stuff and then watch a movie while we talk to Emily.”
After lunch, Emily, Bruce and Mary gathered in the deserted bedroom for the long awaited talk.
Emily took a deep breath. “Umm…I guess I should explain to you guys everything.” Taking another deep breath, she began her story.
“I’m glad you told us.” Bruce said soberly, when Emily had finished.
Mary nodded. “Yes. We are proud of you for telling the truth – and for not vandalizing, even when Jordan pressured you to.”
“However…” Bruce began. Emily groaned. “There are consequences for your wrong actions. For the next week, you are grounded.”
Emily nodded miserably. “I’m really sorry, Mom, Dad. She just made me so mad!”
“I know, honey.” Mary said. “But we are responsible for our own actions. No matter what others do, we are still held accountable for what we do.”
“I know.” Emily sighed. “I’ll try to do better next time.”
Mary kissed her daughter’s forehead. “Try to rest until it’s time to go. You’re still sick.”
“Your grounding begins now, Emily,” Bruce said, “so no emailing or anything like that.”
A few days later, once they had arrived safely back home, Emily went to the kitchen to get a glass of water. The house phone rang, so she picked it up and answered it.
“This is Emily Wild, how can I help you?”
“HOW COULD YOU DO THAT, EMILY WILD?!” The voice on the other end of the line screamed. “YOU ARE AN AWFUL PERSON! You told your parents about what we did! And now my parents know everything! I should wring your neck! And believe me, if I ever see you again, I WILL.” Jordan hung up.
Emily stood stunned for a moment and then sighed. “Oh boy…well, if that is the worst she can do to me now, I’ll be okay. I just wish that I had never gotten involved in any of this.” Clasping her hands together, Emily closed her eyes. “Oh Lord, help me. Please give me grace to forgive and to love Jordan, like you have done for me. Help her to one day come to the realization that you are God and that you are the only one who can really help us. You alone can bring us hope and comfort in hard times; not destroying stuff or whatever else people use to numb the pain. And….and help me to share this message with the world. Amen.”