Thursday, May 6, 2010

Friday Fiction for May 7, 2010

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Karlene, on her blog, Homespun Expressions. We’ve had some really good stories lately, so be sure to visit Karlene’s blog, read her story, and then use the Linky tool to read more terrific fiction. You’re welcome to submit your own story link, too.

I realized this week that I should probably explain that this story is NOT intended to be any kind of political commentary on the current Administration, nor am I speculating on what might happen if our Government follows a given path. Instead, this story is more just a look at a few days in the lives of some people living beneath a “guardian” that isn’t exactly welcomed.

To start the story from the beginning, just click on Part 1.

Maelstrom’s Eye

Part 4

And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. ~ Revelation 8:8-9

Maelstrom’s full capabilities are classified, but suffice it to say, the rock dropped on the Separatists was only large enough to accomplish the mission. Should the need arise, it is within Maelstrom’s design capacity to boost something much, much larger at any given target. The Keseechewun Crater is small compared to the damage we could inflict on a foreign enemy, which simply makes it a foolish move to attack us. ~ Colonel Ichabod Lastin, Alpha Rotation Commander, Maelstrom Crew.

***

The dinner conversation remained muted – mostly small talk that never quite led into deeper interaction. Celia took a sip of her tea, stealing glances at the two men. Papa’s expression was guarded and suspicious, while Carl was subdued and downcast. Her father wasn’t ready to restore any level of trust to their neighbor, and from his expression, Carl seemed to feel unworthy of it anyway.

Catalina, on the other hand, wore a slight smile of amusement, as though the tension between the men was somehow entertaining.

Give him a chance, Papa. I don’t think he has any more love for Maelstrom than you do. What was it Pastor John said a few weeks ago? ‘Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?’

She took a tomato from the bowl and sliced it into quarters. The flesh was firm with a wonderful color, and the aroma seemed stronger than the flavor from the store-bought tomatoes they’d had recently. The first bite was almost as though she’d never tasted a tomato before, and she finished the quarter in three bites. She extended her hand with another quarter towards Papa. “You have to try this, Papa. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better tomato.”

“Maybe later,” he said.

“Then just smell it, Papa.”

He reluctantly leaned forward and gave a quick sniff. His expression immediately changed, with the evident struggle between his pride and his appetite.

Celia smiled as the appetite won. Tomatoes have always been your weakness, Papa.

He took the tomato wedge and popped the entire thing into his mouth. He chewed it slowly with a look of intense satisfaction on his face. Before he’d even swallowed and asked, she was handing him a whole tomato from the bowl. He didn’t bother to slice it, instead biting into it like most people would an apple. “I don’t remember the last time I had a tomato this good,” he commented between bites, as a trickle of juice made its way down his chin.

“I’m glad you like it,” Carl said, without lifting his face. “I could send you more with Celia. It’s a good crop this year, and there’s no way I’ll ever eat them all myself.”

“Have you ever canned them?” Celia asked.

He shook his head. “My grandmother knows how, but I don’t.”

“I could teach you to can produce,” she offered. Papa shot her a look, and she tried to discern whether he was trying to discourage her from possibly diminishing a ready supply of fresh tomatoes, or that he didn’t like the idea of her spending any extra time with the man. “With your own canned tomatoes, you could use them for sauces and stews year ‘round. Home-made sauces are always so much better than store-bought.”

He took a drink of his water, and shrugged. “I’ll think about it.”

The walls are back up, almost like they were when I first came to work for you. You were finally starting to open up to me; are you going to shut me out again?

Carl returned his attention to the remainder of the food on his plate, and finished his dinner without any further comment.

When they withdrew to the living room after dinner, things didn’t improve much. Everyone sat around in an awkward silence, and even Jimmy’s fascination with the prosthetic legs didn’t lighten the mood any. It was almost a relief when Carl stood to leave.

“I really should get home,” he said. “Thank you for dinner; the food was wonderful.”

Papa stood and walked him to the door. “Thank you for the tomatoes; they are the best I’ve had in years – maybe ever.” His tone was still reserved.

“We should have you over more often,” Celia said, and on impulse, embraced him the way her church hugged each other.

His right hand gave a tentative return of the embrace, with only the lightest touch on her upper back. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” he asked.

“Of course,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you see me tomorrow?”

He gave a weak smile, as if the answer should be obvious. “Good night. Thank you again for having me over.” He stepped out into the night.

“Good night,” Papa said, and closed the door. He took a deep breath, and released it slowly. “Thank heavens that’s over.”

Celia’s hands went to her hips. “Heaven had nothing to do with that, Papa. I cannot believe the way you treated Mr. Anders tonight. What would Mama have said?”

He gave her a shocked look. “You heard what he said. He helped build that thing.”

“You heard his words, Papa, but did you hear his pain? He did not need your condemnation – he has enough of his own.”

“He should feel pain. How many innocent lives has that thing taken?”

“Was everything your company built always used for good, Papa?”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “My company did not specialize in death machines.”

“No, but you know as well as I do, that some of what you made was used on Maelstrom, too. Shouldn’t you feel pain, too?”

“Our products were designed for other purposes. That they were appropriated for an evil application doesn’t negate their positive applications.” He pulled one arm out and pointed at her. “Besides which, I had a wife and daughters to provide for.”

“You don’t know what he had to provide for, do you? If he’d had a wife and children to provide for, would you have been more accepting of what he had to do?”

He gave her only a stern look in reply.

She lowered her head and closed her eyes, feeling the surge of emotion welling up in her. Abba, I prayed once that You would let me see people as You see them. Is this hurt what You feel when You look at Mr. Anders? “Papa, how will he ever know that God will accept him, if we cannot?”

To be continued…

3 comments:

Bear said...

Bear continues to enjoy this story, and especially likes the way you are weaving in truths about love and forgiveness. I've eaten a few garden tomatoes whole myself, like apples. Yum!

Karlene said...

Your ability to take the eating of tomatoes and create an entire scene and weave in truth with compassion is awesome. I'm going to have to get back and read parts 1-3... for sure!

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Oooh, another good installment....and now I want to go eat a tomato. Oh boy. Onto part 5 fist! (Snack later... :P)