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The Gifts of Faith - Questions (Ch. 14)

Shauna's imagination became her best friend as a little girl. As an adult and writer, imagination fuels her creative spirit.

Nathaniel took the back roads home

Nathaniel took the back roads home

Nathaniel walked the girls back to Bouquets & Rainbows lost in thought. A quiet walk was in order as Faith and Sarah seemed to be drifting in their own thoughts as well.

They spent a few moments exchanging obligatory pleasantries then Nathaniel hopped in his car and headed out.

He took the back roads home, allowing the meanderings of his mind to be guided by the countryside.

I don’t know anything about my mother. Why didn’t Dad ever talk about her? And how – or why – is it I’m first learning about her from Hal Montgomery’s daughter? And why don’t I remember Faith? What force has brought us together? I was just out for a lazy drive the day I walked into her shop. What does it all mean?

Nathaniel’s questions were rapidly firing in his mind. He didn’t have answers to any of them. In an attempt to quiet his mind he turned on the radio.

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Nathaniel Sang to the Radio

“Well, that was some lunch, huh? And I’m not talking about the food.” Sarah applied a fresh coat of lipstick while she waited for Faith to respond.

“That it was, my friend. I wonder what’s going through Nathaniel’s mind right about now.”

“I think it’s more like what isn’t going through his mind. You laid quite a bit on him, Faith. I found it odd that he didn’t know his mother’s maiden name. Didn’t you tell me Nathaniel’s mom died in childbirth?”

“She did. That’s what Daddy told me. Why wouldn’t Nathaniel’s dad have told him about her? Surely he had questions when he was little.” Faith finished with the flowers she was arranging for a customer who was due any minute to pick them up.

“You know what’s strange, Sarah? When I handed Julie’s ring over to Nathaniel, the ugliness I saw swirling in his soul began to fade. By the time we left the diner it was gone. And your rainbow was aglow. It was so peaceful and I was no longer afraid. In fact, I’m convinced I was meant to meet Nathaniel. I was meant to find the ring. Hell, I think I was meant to buy Julie’s childhood home for the sole purpose of finding that ring and unlocking… something. I’m not sure what, but we’ll find out. Of that I have no doubt.”

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The barn preceded the house

The barn preceded the house

Modest house. Good place to have a cold beer.

Modest house. Good place to have a cold beer.

It was a good day for a leisurely drive to clear his head. The sky was pale blue with billowy white clouds, the fresh air was fragrant with wild flowers, and the breeze was soothing. Nathaniel found himself singing to the radio as he turned the MG into a long dirt driveway. Why, he had no idea, but the path seemed familiar and beckoned to him.

A little farther down the driveway a large barn and modest farmhouse came into view. He recognized it immediately. As he pulled up to the barn, a tall good looking man came out to see who had pulled up into his drive, wiping his hands on a towel that hung from the carpenter’s loop of his overalls.

Shielding his eyes from the sun, the man walked up to Nathaniel’s car and stopped. A smile spread on his face as he greeted the man he hadn’t seen since he was just a boy.

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“Well, all dee swuz. Is that you, Nathaniel?”

Nathaniel closed the car door and extended his hand in greeting. “It is, Mr. Montgomery. How are you, sir?”

“Oh, please call me Hal. You ole enough now, son!” Hal shook Nathaniel’s hand then wrapped him in a ‘big ole’ bear hug. “How’s ya Paw? I ain’t seen him in quite a while. He doin’ good?”

“He’s just fine Mr. – uh, Hal. He’s thinking of retiring early and maybe doing some travelling.” Nathaniel broke himself from the bear hug but couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. He felt like he’d come home.

“Well, shoot boy. Mo’ powuh to ‘im. I’m due fo’ a break. Come on inside. We’ll have a beeuh an’ catch up.” With that, the two headed for the house.

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The rest of the afternoon went by quickly. Bouquets & Rainbows saw more walk-in traffic than it had in months. The girls were busy with customers and phone-in orders. It crossed Faith’s mind that they’d better get busy in the gardens if they expected to keep up with the sudden burst in business.

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The scent of Lily of the Valley filled the room

The scent of Lily of the Valley filled the room

Nathaniel found himself once again standing by this bed

Nathaniel found himself once again standing by this bed

A sampling of Hal's craftsmanship

A sampling of Hal's craftsmanship

As soon as they entered the kitchen, Nathaniel was overwhelmed with the scent of Lily of the Valley. Along with it came a long-forgotten memory that made him dizzy. He pulled out one of the kitchen chairs and sat down; afraid he’d fall down if he remained standing.

Nathaniel was in a state of déjà vu. He saw a little boy standing by the bedside of a dying woman. A rainbow hovered above the headboard and spoke: “Nathaniel, I’ll be right back. I have someone I need to see. Mama needs you. With my help, we can pull the cancer from her and Faith won’t loose her Mama. I’ll be right back. Promise.”

He saw the little boy stroke the woman’s face, hair, and arms. He wanted to bring relief to her. He didn’t want her to die. Before he knew it, he was engulfed in a swirling, smelly substance. He couldn’t breathe. Where was the rainbow woman? Where was Hope? He couldn’t stop it. The disease kept coming and coming. The room filled with mist and the scent of Lily of the Valley. He saw a little girl at the doorway, frozen by what she was seeing. She screamed for him to stop hurting her mama. Didn’t she know he was trying to save her mother’s life? Then the rainbow came back, but it was too late. The woman had taken her last breath.

“Nathaniel? Nathaniel! Ah you akay? You look pretty peekid, son. D’ya need somethin’ t’eat?”

Nathaniel was back in the kitchen with Hal Montgomery 20 years after what he’d just relived. He took a moment to regain his whereabouts before answering. “No, Hal. I’m fine. Just a bit too much sun I guess. In fact, I just had lunch with Faith and Sarah.”

“Well, I’ll be durned! How are my girls? Did they talk y’ear off?” Hal grinned as he handed a beer to his guest.

Nathaniel took a much-needed swig of his beer before responding. “Conversation certainly flowed and made for a very interesting lunch, for sure, Hal.” Oh, if you only knew! And what just happened? Was that me in that room so long ago? Why don’t I remember any of it?

Thankfully, the next hour of conversation got Nathaniel’s mind off the questions in his head that only led to more questions. After a couple of beers, Hal took him to the barn to show him what he’d been working on. He still had a few customers, but mostly Hal’s time was spent creating hand-crafted furniture to leave to his daughter when the day came. He was quite talented. Without his woodworking, he’d not know what to do with himself now that he lived alone.

Nathaniel spotted a large structure in the barn that was covered with a tarp. When he walked closer Hal stopped him. It wasn't a piece for sale nor was Hal able to look at it, let alone show it to anyone else. It was a four-poster bed he’d made years ago to replace the one his beloved wife died in. But he just couldn't bring himself to do it. To this day he slept in the bed they shared, the bed in which she died. He wouldn't let go of her. He just couldn't. That and his memories were all he had left of Naomi.

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Nathaniel opened the front door to his father's home and bellowed, "Why have you never talked about my mother?"

Nathaniel opened the front door to his father's home and bellowed, "Why have you never talked about my mother?"

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The ride home on the back roads was a God-send for Nathaniel. Today had been one hell of a day. He had so many questions. And what was up with the vision he had when he entered Hal Montgomery’s home? The ring. There was definitely significance to the ring. Faith. Her Mom. And who was Hope? Too many questions and a whole lot of weirdness. Coincidence? Nathaniel didn’t believe in coincidence. He believed in reason and cause. It was time to find the answers. He was not only confused but a little angry at the same time.

Before he went home he had one more stop to make.

Good. He’s home.

Nathaniel opened the front door to his father’s home and bellowed, “Dad? Dad! Why have you never talked about my mother?”




This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Shauna L Bowling

Comments

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 31, 2014:

Mary, I hope you can go back to the beginning. It'll make more sense if you do. Faith and Hope have come a long way since the beginning.

Thanx for the votes. Too cool!

Mary Craig from New York on October 31, 2014:

Oh I'm so glad I came back to read this wonderful story. You weave so much into your stories from dialogue to intrigue. I wasn't going to read a lot today but you've captured me again. I love your characters and there intertwining. Can't wait to read more.

Voted up, awesome, beautiful, and interesting.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on October 17, 2014:

Anna, a writer couldn't ask for a better comment!

Please don't ever apologize for having a life, my friend. Your kids come first. Always.

I'm pleased that you agree with how/when I've brought Nathaniel into the mix. I'll stop there because I don't want to give anything away.

Anna Haven from Scotland on October 17, 2014:

Looks like I have a few chapters to catch up on. Apologises for the delay, I was busy with the referendum, and between work and kids I am finding myself time poor.

I am really liking the fact that Nathaniel is going to speak to his father. It opens up a whole new facet of the mystery, and as you gradually open up Nathaniel to us, and we delve deeper into his psyche, it is spawning a myriad of questions. He is a really interesting character and you have cleverly maintained that element of mystery right through all these chapters.

I am going to see what happens next...

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on September 17, 2014:

Awesome! Thanx, Deb. I'll try to finish chapter 15 soon and post it as well.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on September 16, 2014:

Ohhhhh, this is going to be powerful. I like it already.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on September 11, 2014:

Smart move, Shyron. I'll let you get caught up rather than give you any hints.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on September 11, 2014:

Shauna, I am enjoying this very much. I did not vote in your poll, but would like to read a few more chapters before deciding if I would like to know why his father did not tell him about his mother and how she died.

Voted up, ABI and shared.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on September 10, 2014:

You know where to find me if you feel the need to vent, my friend.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on September 10, 2014:

Thanks - I'm trying to.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on September 09, 2014:

Nellieanna, I know you've had a lot on your plate lately. It means a lot to me that you found the time to read the latest chapter of The Gifts of Faith.

God bless you and hang in there!

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on September 09, 2014:

You’re so kind and sweet, Shauna. No need to feel at all guilty! You’ve your own full life and sets of multiple challenges. I guess it’s what keeps us vital and aware. Much preferable to the alternatives of sitting around bored, helpless and hopeless, waiting for the end to arrive. It will have to catch me 'on the run'! ;-)