“Uncle, you said that your favorite meal was BBQ chicken, so I made you some! I mean, the sauce kind of ran out before they were all covered, so I used mustard instead….”
Bernie took a bite of one. “They’re still raw!”
“I didn’t want to burn them!”
“Hey, Nate, let me carry that milk can for you.”
“No, I got it, Mark.”
“No! Let me help!”
The boys wrestled over the milk. It flew out of their hands and landed in the grass with a dull thud. Milk splashed over both of them.
“Thanks a lot, Cuz.”
“Nate, you’ve often said how tired you are after a long day’s work.”
Nate watched Kris suspiciously. She was holding two candles and attempting to talk and hum at the same time.
“So, I want you to sit down on that chair there and just relax. I’ll be your entertainment.”
Nate dropped into the chair. “Kid, you’re just spinning around with candles….I don’t think that’s exactly safe –”
“It’s perfectly sa-”
Kris tripped on a dirty plate that lay on the floor and the candles flew into the air. One hit the window and was extinguished. The other landed right on Nate’s head.
“KRIS WILD, YOU ARE DEAD!”
“SAVE ME, UNCELY BERNIE!”
“Uncle, try this cornbread I made!”
Bernie took a very small bite of the crumbled substance that Emily held out to him. He cracked half a smile and said, “Hey, this ain’t half bad, kid.”
“Besides being mostly burnt, it’s okay.”
“Sorry about that….”
“I’ll finish the chores, Nate. You go do….whatever it is you do to relax.”
Nate watched Mark suspiciously, but didn’t protest.
The official log of Marcus James Wild: Day Fourteen of life in the Farmland Prison
I thought it was all over when Aunty left. Turns out, things aren’t as bad as I thought. Nate still pulls stunts all the time and is generally really annoying, but I’m starting to see him more as a person than just a nuisance.
Emily, Kris and I have been working hard at honoring God. Uncle makes fun of me anytime I mention God, but Nate isn’t so quick to react. I think – and I really dread saying this for fear that I’ll be wrong – but I think that maybe my cousin is actually warming up to me.
I have to say, cooking for three hungry men, and Kris isn’t easy work. My hands are all burnt and I have numerous cuts and bruises from accidents in de kitchen. I have a whole new respect for Aunt – and Mom….and anyone who is in the kitchen at all.
My cooking has improved a lot. Kris and I pour through cookbooks at night (and talk to Mom on the phone). I’m finally not burning/undercooking everything! This is great!
I miss Mom and Dad terribly, but somehow I don’t hate it here as much as I did when we first came.
Well what can I say? I’m in love with chickens – and not just RooRoo, my stuffed rooster. Every morning I gather the eggs and feed the birds. They are darling! I never knew how cute they could be! Of course, there is one meanie. His name is Grey, ‘cause he’s all grey. He’s a big rooster with huge claws and a very big beak. He doesn’t like me. I try to stay clear of him. One day, he was attacking me. I thought I’d be eaten alive, but Nate came and actually saved me! My cousin is a hero….
Can’t wait for Aunty to get back! Even though Emily tries, her food can’t compare to Aunt Miriam’s famous peach pie.
“You know, Emily, when you first told me about your plan to be nice to Nate and Uncle, I thought you were crazy. But it looks like it’s turning out pretty well.”
“Yeah.” Emily smiled. “I think the rest of the time here’s going to be a breeze.”
“Famous last words.” Kris muttered, looking up from her crossword puzzle.
“What’d you say, Kris?”
“That’s what Dad always says after Mom says that something is going really well. He looks so cynical when he squints his eyes like that.”
Emily laughed. “Let’s get some rest, sis. We’ve got a big day of cookin’ and cleanin’ tomorrow.”
At breakfast the next day, Nate surprised everyone by saying, “Hey, Mark, I’m gonna go fishing later today. You wanna come?”
“Me? Go fishing with you?” Mark smiled slightly. “Sure.” My cousin is really warming up to me after all!
Nate smiled, his yellow teeth flashing. “Hey, why don’t you girls come, too?”
“No, thanks.” Emily said. “I’m not a fan of sitting in a boat, doing nothing for hours.”
“You two could have a picnic or something. It’d be fun. What’d you say, hu?”
Emily sighed and nodded to Kris. “Yeah, I guess.” Well this is strange….
A few hours later, the four of them were relaxing around a picnic blanket, sheltered from the hot sun by the swaying leaves of tall trees.
“This is nice.” Kris sighed contentedly and lay back in the grass.
Nate coughed and squirmed around, looking very uncomfortable. He kept his eyes downcast and twirled blades of grass between his thick fingers.
“You okay, Nate?”
“Hey, there’s something I’ve been meanin’ to talk to you about…”
“What is it?” Emily asked with curiosity.
“It’s about your faith.”
“Yeah….you believe in Jesus, right? You say that – that he died to take away your sins?”
Mark nodded. “Yes, Nate. He died but the story doesn’t end there. He rose again and now He’s alive forever.”
“That’s….interesting.” Nate said, his face creasing in deep thought. “My grandma was a Christian. She was okay. She always seemed so goody-two-shoes, though. Too holy to have fun. It’s gotta be boring. And there are all of those rules…”
“No, it’s not.” Kris said, loudly. “Being a Christian is a lot of fun! And whenever I’m tired of trying to be nice to mean people or trying to obey God, Mom reminds me that all good things take work. And that God gave us rules to keep us safe and to set us on the path to eternal life.”
Mark, Emily and Kris shared the gospel with Nate who, surprisingly, listened intently, asking questions and engaging in the conversation.
A smile crossed Nate’s face and he said, “I…could you…I mean, what do I need to do to…you know, become a – a Christian.”
Mark and Emily gasped in unison and Kris stared.
“You just have to – whoa, I mean, whoa.” Emily gasped.
Mark smiled warmly at his cousin. “When I wanted to give my life to Christ, my dad helped me. He told me that I should pray and ask Jesus to come into my heart and to surrender my life to him.”
Nate knelt down and prayed quietly. “Jesus, I – uh, I was wondering if you could….I mean, please come into my heart and become master of my life. Amen.”
Tears sprang to Emily’s eyes as she hugged Nate tightly. “Wow. I can’t believe what just happened.”
Nate grinned. “Thanks, kid. I have a feeling that a lot of good is going to come from this choice.”
“Congrats, Bro!” Kris held out a hand. “You’ve made a great choice! Let’s go back home and celebrate with some chocolate dipped candy corn!”
“We just finished lunch, Kris.”
“Besides, we haven’t even started fishing!”
When everyone else was ready for bed, Emily crept into Nate’s room and held out something wrapped in a napkin.
“Nate, I wanted to give you this.”
He took it, surprise in his eyes, and smiled slightly when he saw a bible.
“It was mine. My parents gave it to me when I became a Christian, a few years ago. It’s yours now. Read it and find out who you are in Christ.”
“Thanks, Cuz.” Nate ran his hand over the leather cover. “I will.”
For the first time since they’d left their home, Emily went to bed with a smile on her face and her heart singing.
Thank you, God. Thank you so much for sending us here. I can’t believe what happened today. THANK YOU!
“Emily, you’ve gotta see this.”
Emily, still exuberant from the events of the previous day, sailed into the living room, where Mark was standing nervously shuffling from foot to foot. He held something in his hand.
“What’s wrong –”
Emily gasped when she saw what he was holding. “Mark, is that…..”
Mark nodded. “I found it outside, in the mud.”
Emily took the dirty, torn bible in her hands and let her tears fall on it. “Why….”
“It might have been an accident.” Mark suggested. “But we should talk to Nate after lunch.”
Emily nodded numbly, feeling suddenly confused and unsure of herself.
After lunch was over and the dishes done and put away, Mark, Kris and Emily stopped Nate before he went back out to work.
“Nate, we found your bible laying out in the mud.” Mark said. “Now, we think it was probably an accident, but –”
A wide grin spread over Nate’s face and he threw back his head and laughed until tears ran down his cheeks. The kids stood in silence, surprised and unsure of what was happening.
“You – you really though that I was interested in your stupid religion?!” Nate roared, between fits of laughed.
Emily’s face paled and Mark clenched his fists. Tears formed in Kris’s eyes.
“Nate, what are you –”
“I was just seeing if I could get you to fall for it!” Nate slapped his thighs. “You three are just as dumb as I thought you were!”
“You – you – you!” Mark sputtered.
Kris laid a hand on Mark’s arm. “Why, Nate, why?”
Nate didn’t answer, he just continued to laugh as he followed Bernie back to work. Mark turned to his sisters, his face red with anger. Kris burst into tears. Emily banged a hand against her forehead.
“I can’t believe we were so ridiculous.” She sighed. “We let him trick us.”
“We couldn’t have known.” Kris sobbed. “He seemed so sincere. I think we did the right thing.”
“People like him just make me so mad!” Mark kicked the doorframe. “He mocks us, mocks our faith and agr! He’s just so infuriating!”
“I have bent over backwards for him this past week, Mark. I have tried to be kind to him. I’ve ignored his teasing, his pranks, his annoyances and jokes. I’ve tried my best to be a good cousin to him, and this is how he repays me – us?!” Emily yelled. “I’m sorry, it’s just too much. This was the last straw. I’m done.”
“Yeah.” Emily’s face took on a look of resolve. “I’m done staying here.”
“I’m going home.”
“WHAT?! Hold on, we need to talk about this.”
“I’m packing right now.” Emily stormed towards her room. “Tonight, we’ll sneak out of the house and walk until we get to the highway. Then maybe we can hitch a ride or something.”
“Whoa, wait a minute, Em.” Mark blocked her way. “I know you’re mad but don’t do anything you’ll regret!”
“I’m not. Move.”
“Hitch hiking is extremely dangerous! Do you know what some people do to lost kids like us?!”
Mark shrugged. “I dunno, but Mom always said it was bad. Point is, we have to just make the best of the situation. It’s less than two weeks until we go home.”
“I will not spend another day with that – that monster! Or Uncle Bernie. I’m tired and I want to go home.”
Emily shoved past Mark and began stuffing her things into her bag. Kris stood beside her, quietly packing her own suitcase.
“You’ll have to leave most of your stuff, Kris, we can’t drag that thing all the way home.”
And part three will be ready next time! 😉 (It ended up being longer than I’d planned. XD)
Which character is your favorite? Who do you relate to most? What do you think’ll happen next?