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The Gifts of Faith - Seeking Answers - (Ch. 8)

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

Daddy looked great. Faith loved his left-over hippie look.

Daddy looked great. Faith loved his left-over hippie look.

Dinner With Daddy

Daddy arrived in plenty of time to visit before dinner was served. He looked wonderful and allayed Faith’s initial fears that he may be ill. (Why else would Nathaniel have appeared from the mist of long ago?)

“Daddy, I’ve never seen you look so handsome. You must be doing something right!”

Hal Montgomery had aged well. Being one of the most sought-after wood craftsmen in the southeast had kept him in shape. At slightly over six feet, his physique was one any 20-year old would envy, even at the age of 60-something. There was not an ounce of fat on him; his biceps strained through his rolled-up flannel sleeves, supporting a six-pack that only came from hard, honest work. His silver hair was as thick and full as it ever was. It now hung shoulder-length which gave him the appearance of a left-over hippie. Faith loved the look. Her dad had always emanated free spirit coupled with a taking-care-of-business attitude, although he was a quiet man. Daddy was the epitome of creativity and responsibility rolled into one. It was from him that Faith learned how to live in both worlds.

The school desk sample Hal's Grandpappy made. (This is an actual salesman's sample that I own. It dates back to the 1800's)

The school desk sample Hal's Grandpappy made. (This is an actual salesman's sample that I own. It dates back to the 1800's)

Flowery Branch, Ga Really Exists. However, the Characters in This Story are Purely a Figment of my Writer's Imagination.

“Faith, honey, I done brought cha sumthin’.” Despite the fact that Faith was born and raised in Georgia, she always got a kick out of Daddy’s thick drawl; it just made him seem even more real and down to earth.

“Whadja bring me, Daddy?” She was funnin’ him, but not really. Daddy always seemed to bring the Georgia peach out of this tree.

“Ah was goin’ through the attic not too long ago and came acrost sumthin’ my great Grandpappy made. It was a sample of an old school desk. See back in them days, they weren’t no Innanet. If’n ya wanted ta sell sumthin, ya went from door to door. Well, it dint make no sense to haul aroun’ a full-size desk, so Grandpappy made a smaller version that was easy to carreh. Ah plum forgot I had it, but I thought it might be a might pleasin’ sight in your fla’r shop. Hang on, sugah while I go fetch it.”

Faith and Sarah shared giggles while Daddy went out to his truck.

When he returned with the antique treasure, it was Sarah who greeted him at the door.

“Hal, it’s been way too long since I’ve visited with you! My, you are a sight for sore eyes. If I was 40 years older, I swear I’d be giving the lady-folk of Flowery Branch a run for their money!”

Hal blushed, not considering himself much of a ladies man, but loving the attention nonetheless.

“Come ‘ere, you and gimme a hug!” Hal had a soft spot for Sarah. He was grateful that his only living daughter had found such a good friend. “Sumthin smells good in chere. What’s f’dinnah?”

“You’ll find out when it hits your plate, old man.” Sarah loved teasing Hal. It’s just how their relationship went.

“Dinner’s on me tonight. You go on out back with Faith and catch up. She made you a big ole pitcher of sweet tea. I’ll call you when dinner’s ready.”

Faith and Daddy sat out back for a while taking in the sounds of daylight acquiescing to nightfall. The birds’ songs were replaced with those of the night bugs and bats. Lily was in her glory.

Hal and Faith sat holding hands in silence for a while, embracing the moments that preceded this one. Conversation wasn’t necessary; they both knew they were travelling back in time to when they were a family of three.

Faith squeezed Daddy’s hand and put down her glass. She wasn’t sure how to bring the subject up, so she just blurted it out.

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“Daddy, do you know of the Baxters from Oakwood?”

“Ah sho do; Haywood Baxter was one a mah best customahs back in the day. He ran a remodelin’ business; pretty successful one, too. He’d commission me ta make furnichah fuh the fancy projects he took on. Ole Haywood’s retahed now, but he kept me busy for many yeahs. Ah’d hafta say his braggin’ on my work is what keeps me in customahs today.”

“I can’t quite bring him to mind, Daddy. Did he have a family?”

“He had one little boy. Sad ta say, but his wife died birthin’ the young un. Nevah did quite get ovah that. He nevah remarried; just put his heart deep in his work. His boy’s ‘bout yore age, mebbe a little oldah. Poor kid, he was always kind of a lonah.”

Faith took a moment to collect her thoughts. She wanted to know more about Nathaniel, but wasn’t sure how to pry further without raising questions from Daddy. The last thing she wanted right now was to explain why she was so curious about the Baxters – Nathaniel in particular.

“Dinner’s ready you two.” Sarah emerged from the house, linked her arm in Hal’s and motioned for them to come back inside.

Chicken and dumplings is Daddy's favorite meal

Chicken and dumplings is Daddy's favorite meal

Gotta have cornbread with chicken and dumplings!

Gotta have cornbread with chicken and dumplings!

Dinner was a success. Hal was tickled pink over the chicken and dumplings and cornbread. The three of them chit-chatted all through the meal, catching up on each others’ lives. It wasn’t until the clock struck nine that they realized how late it had gotten.

“Shoot, will ya look at the tahm. I best be gittin’ on home now.” Hal eased himself up from the table but didn’t get very far before Sarah stopped him.

“Hold on there, honcho. Let me get together a goody bag for you. We’ve got plenty of chicken and dumplings and ambrosia left over. I made an extra batch of cornbread for you to take with you.”

The two women busied themselves with gathering up the leftovers while Hal cleared the table.

Lily followed underfoot as the girls walked Daddy out to his truck.

With a twinkle in his eye, Hal said, “Sho was a fahn dinnah, gals. Thank ya for havin’ me. Ah dint realize how much Ah miss ya both.”

The girls and Lily waited until they could no longer see the truck’s tail lights before heading in to clean up the kitchen.

Mulling it Over

Faith finished loading the dishwasher, added soap and hit the Start button, while Sarah poured them both a cup of tea. Giving the kitchen one last look to make sure they hadn’t missed anything, they headed to the living room.

“I sure did enjoy spending time with your dad tonight, Faith. He’s always been a second father to me, even more so once my parents moved to Florida. He certainly looks healthy and is in good spirits. I don’t think you need to worry about him being ill.”

“I don’t either, Sarah. I was relieved to see how good he looks. He was even more talkative tonight than he normally is. I need to make it a point to spend more time with him. He’s all alone in that big house; I’m sure he gets lonely.”

As Faith turned on the TV and checked the channel guide, she said, “I asked Daddy about Nathaniel. Well, not about him specifically, but I did get some information about the family.”

“That’s precisely why I offered to make dinner. I wanted to give the two of you some time to talk privately. What did you find out?”

Faith set the remote on “The Big Bang Theory” before responding.

“Not a lot, but I think what I learned has some significance. Daddy’s known Nathaniel’s dad, Haywood, for quite a while. Haywood Baxter owned a remodeling business back when I was little. He commissioned Daddy to build furniture for his larger projects. Anyway, Daddy told me that Nathaniel’s mother died in child birth. There’s no doubt in my mind that that has something to do with Nathaniel’s gift. I just need to figure out the connection. Then maybe I’ll be able to understand why he showed up at the shop last month.”

Sarah paused the TV so they could talk without distraction. She pulled a notebook and pen out of the end table and turned to face Faith.

“Okay, let’s write down what we know first, then maybe we can make sense of this puzzle.” Sarah drew a T on the page, labeling the left side with: ‘What we know’ and the right side with: ‘Why? What does it mean?’

When all was said and done, this is what they came up with:

The T sheet

The T sheet

1. Left: Nathaniel came to the shop. His soul was full of ick and gore.

Right: Why now? What is his intent?

2. Left: Faith mistook him for an evil soul.

Right: ?!

3. Left: He had Lily of the Valley delivered to Faith.

Right: How did he know the significance?

4. Left: Faith is transported to the day of her mother's death. She sees a little boy stroking her.

Right: Why didn't Faith see this on the day she found her mother dead?

5. Left: Faith thinks he's hurting her mother.

Right: no entry

6. Left: Hope appears to Sarah.

Right: We now know why.

7. Left: Hope reveals Nathaniel's purpose for being in Faith's mother's room on the day she died.

Right: Is Nathaniel's gift now compromised by the cancer he absorbed?

8. Left: Hope comes to rest in Sarah's soul.

Right: What part does Sarah play?

9. Left: Faith learns Nathaniel's mother died giving birth to him.

Right: Did her soul leave him with a mission?

10. Left: no entry

Right: Where do we fit in?

It was apparent there were more questions than answers. Faith and Sarah definitely had their work cut out for them.

Shauna L Bowling

Refining, Defining or Rhyming

All Rights Reserved

Who Does it Better Than Willie and Ray Charles?

Quick Links to the First Seven Chapters of This Story

The Gifts of Faith - Ch. 1

The Gifts of Faith - The Rainbow - Ch. 2

The Gifts of Faith - Bouquets and Rainbows - Ch. 3

The Gifts of Faith - The Stranger - Ch. 4

The Gifts of Faith - Revelation - Ch. 5

The Gifts of Faith - What a Day! - Ch. 6

The Gifts of Faith - Message in a Dream - Ch. 7

© 2014 Shauna L Bowling


Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on January 16, 2015:

J, I had an image in mind of what Hal looks like. I searched the Internet and found someone who fit the bill.

The Letter J on January 16, 2015:

Just curious, the image of 'Daddy' (Hal), who actually is this person in real life? Famous author or something? Feel like I've seen him before..

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on June 28, 2014:

Yeah, me and many others! :-) Maybe I'll see him tonight in my dreams!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 28, 2014:

Dream on!!!!!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on June 28, 2014:

Daddy's pretty hot, isn't he Ruby? I'd go after him in a heartbeat! Too bad he's only a figment of my imagination.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on June 28, 2014:

Lordy, i 'shore nuf like Daddy's look. Whooh! Hee. Another episode filled with mystery, although we did learn that Nathaniel's mother died at his birth, amazing story.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on April 27, 2014:

Paula, Daddy is gorgeous and he doesn't even know it. Why can't I find a man like him? :-) I'm so pleased you're falling in love with the characters. That's what I'm aiming for!

Suzie from Carson City on April 27, 2014:

Hel.......ooooooo Daddy! Woo hoo! Handsome and charming. Southern drawl and all. How many of your characters must I fall in love with? BTW...your musical selections are ideal for each story!

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

Epi, he is quite striking, isn't he? I happen to love the beard, but I've always been attracted to men with facial hair.

Thank you for the awesome compliment regarding my writing. I know this isn't your genre of choice, so coming from you I feel I've just been crowned! :-)

epigramman on April 11, 2014:

man oh man that is one good looking dude up there with the beard, just imagine how hot he would be without the beard, perhaps as hot as the Epi-man. lol.

Once again Shauna you amaze me with your unique writing skills and of course your world class presentation.

Your writing is as smooth as a baby's bottom and that's pretty darn smooth I would say, lol.

Thank you for taking me on this literary journey with you - it's been quite a pleasure indeed and I shall return again ...

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 20, 2014:

Crafty, I try to end each chapter with a hanger. I want you to come back for more. Hopefully, when this morphs into a novel, the reader will be turning the pages with anticipation.

Dinner is hit or miss in my house. I tend to eat pretty late compared to some. I'm not a 6:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. person. The beauty of not being married and having no young children is I'm not tied to a schedule.

CraftytotheCore on February 20, 2014:

I like the suspenseful endings you add to keep the readers coming back for more! And what time is dinner? You are making me hungry!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 18, 2014:

Linda, you'll have to fight me for Hal. Sorry girlfriend! :-)

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on February 17, 2014:

Can I just say, "Hubba Hubba Hal." Not only is Hal great looking, he even cleared the dinner table. If you want to write me in as his girlfriend, I wouldn't object. LOL

Your story is amazing Shauna - I love how your developing the character's. Love that you brought Faith's dad into the story. Keep em coming Sha. Can't wait for more...

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

I'm thrilled you're following the story, Rasma. I'll do my best to keep it interesting and have you begging for more!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on February 11, 2014:

Voted up and awesome. Willie and Ray provide a great ending to a story I can't wait to read more of. Fantastic and keeps me wanting to know more and more. Passing this on.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 05, 2014:

Eddy, I'm pleased you're getting involved in the story. The chapters are coming to me more quickly now; hopefully you won't have to wait too long!

Eiddwen from Wales on February 05, 2014:

Oh yes Sha another wonderful chapter ;these characters are so real to me by now and I loved Daddy's drawl. You have the gift of making the reader feel as if they are a part of the story too.. Voting up and hoping I don't have to wait too long for the next chapter.

Again sharing onto A Brand New Dawn.

Enjoy your day Sha and lots of love from Wales.


Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 05, 2014:

Hang on Pearl. There may be some twists and turns coming in this adventure!

Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on February 05, 2014:

Curiouser and curiouser, my friend! What's next? How does Daddy tie in? What about Nathaniel? The adventure continues, and I'm loving the ride ;) Pearl

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 04, 2014:

Thanx, Martie. Now that the story is starting to unfold, I'm getting more involved with the characters. In fact, last night I had a dream. Sarah, Faith and Daddy were all there. I sort of had a date with Hal. What a hottie!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on February 04, 2014:

Shauna, your dialogue and characterization are quite impressive. Reading this story, and I am sure writing it as well, is a pleasant adventure -:)

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 04, 2014:

Ghost, a lot of people think of the meals that way. Perhaps I should have been more Georgian in phrasing the evening meal. In my world, we have breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 04, 2014:

Faith, as long as there are questions, there's a story. I had no idea Daddy would be such a big hit. Stay tuned; there's more to come!

Ghost32 on February 04, 2014:

Interesting...both the Georgia setting (our prison pen pal will be released from a Georgia facility in 2017, completing a 20 year sentence before coming to live with Pam and me) and the "supper" instead of "dinner". Just FYI, Montana ranchers say it that way, too; it's not ONLY a "southern thing". I still think of dinner as 12 noon and supper at 6:00 :)

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 03, 2014:

My, goodness, Sha,

I love how you have written Daddy to be so fit and fine! LOL And any man, especially southern man, would love that supper there, with the chicken and dumplings, cornbread and ambrosia! You did your homework.

This adds a new level of unanswered questions now ...

Thank you for the introduction to Daddy hehehe.

Up and more and sharing.


Faith Reaper

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

Dianna, when I was looking for "Georgia on my Mind", I had Willie in mind. However, the song was first sung by Ray Charles (of which I was unaware). Finding them singing together was a bonus. It just seemed to be the perfect ending to this chapter.

Now that I think about it, the blending of voices fits perfectly with the blending of souls. Thanks for bringing that out in my mind.

Dianna Mendez on February 03, 2014:

Your talent is evident with this story. I had never heard Willie and Ray Charles sing together before, interesting. Keep up the wonderful stories.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

I agree, Becky. I may have to give Daddy a larger role than I originally intended. He's eye candy for sure!

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on February 03, 2014:

Enjoyed this chapter and looking forward to more of the detective 'soul' searching. And yes, Daddy is very HOT.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

DJ, the pictures of the food above are not mine, although I do make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet. I would have loved to have made a pot of chicken and dumplings for this chapter, but my son doesn't eat it. I'd look like a dumpling by the time I finished the leftovers! The difference between my chicken and dumplings and most others, is I use chicken stock to make the dough for the dumplings - not milk. Then I roll the dough out and cut it into strips, dropping them in one at a time so they don't stick together. I sometimes add celery and carrots, but usually keep it simple with just chicken and dumplings.

As far as the drawl, my mom hails from Missouri, so I'm used to a southern type drawl. My neighbor is a Florida cracker whose mother lives in Georgia. True Floridians (at least the ones from my generation) typically have a southern accent. I wanted Hal to come off as a Georgian but I didn't want him to sound like a hick.

I know southerners say supper instead of dinner. I spent many years in Pennsylvania and New Jersey before moving to Florida in 1976. To me, the evening meal is dinner. At least that little nuance lets you know this is a fictional story. :-)

As far as 'supper' with Daddy - you might have to fight me for that one. He's pretty damn hot!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

Randi, that's a little to techy for me. If I miss something on TV, I just wait for the reruns. Plus, I don't subscribe to Netflix.

DJ Anderson on February 03, 2014:

Great inflection of the southern drawl. I speak southern, but am rarely

around it, these days.

Your recipe for chicken and dumplings is the same as my mother's.

Is that Great Northern beans and greens on the plate behind the dumplings?

And, your ambrosia looks identical to my mom's, right down to the cherry on top. I wish I had a dime every time my mother made a 'pone'

of cornbread in a black, cast iron skillet. You are making me hungry!

When can I drop by for "supper" and meet "Daddy"??

True southerners eat "supper". Yankees eat "dinner".

Nice touch with the video. I once lived in Georgia.

Your story is going nicely with just the right amount of intrigue.

A great read and looking forward to the next installment.

Super job, Sha!!


Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on February 03, 2014:

Our you can just download a whole season on Netflix! Lol

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

And I hope to keep you wondering, Flourish!

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 03, 2014:

Well, the daddy is in fine shape. You do have me wondering how it all fits together!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

Randi, I'm glad you caught up with the story. Better late than never, right? That's the beauty of writing. If you miss an episode you don't need to wait for the reruns to air!

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on February 03, 2014:

Wow, Shauna! I have no idea where I've been but I just read chptrs 4-8 in one sitting! This is great! I don't know how I've missed them but I sure am glad I've found them now! UP++ my friend and hoping I won't make myself wait as long for the next one!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

Meg, I never thought of this as a detective story, but if that's what you're getting from it, I'll take it. Yeah, Hal's pretty hot, huh? :-)

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

Sujaya, I'm not sure what your comment means, but thanks for reading.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

Jane, thank you for your awesome comment. I normally don't know how the story is going to go until the next twist pops into my head. I find lately I spend a lot of time thinking about how everything connects and the role each character plays. I want the connection to be intriguing but not off the wall.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

I'm honored you took time away from the game to read this, Bill. Daddy's not really new. He appeared briefly in the beginning of the story. I didn't want Faith to seem incognizant of her father, so brought him back into the picture.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

Anna, you're very kind. Thank you.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on February 03, 2014:

Really enjoying this. It's like a detective story. Great photo of Hal!

sujaya venkatesh on February 03, 2014:

bet a dinner delight bravo!

Jane Arden on February 03, 2014:

ooooohhh. I want to know the answers to the questions. Love the fact that they watch the 'bbt.' Although they did pause it, but working out what it all means is far more important. I wonder if YOU know the answers yet. You really have left it on a cliffhanger, which is brilliant. Means we're all left wanting. You are a tremendously good writer Shauna.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 02, 2014:

Only for you would I read a hub on Super Bowl character so to speak...hope he develops with time. Well done my dear I'm going to go celebrate with some apple cider.

Anna Haven from Scotland on February 02, 2014:

You are interesting and feisty, and a good writer! Well worth the effort.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 02, 2014:

Anna, I didn't know that was an option. Cool! You really went thru some trouble to read my book. You have no idea how much I appreciate that!

Anna Haven from Scotland on February 02, 2014:

I paid a request charge and borrowed it. Sorry I didn't buy it personally, but at the moment, after Christmas, my spending is on hold!

I really did want to read it though and the library bought it in for me. ( so you still got a sale :) ) and I will recommend it to everyone. I will be purchasing my own one to keep later though. :)

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 02, 2014:

Anna, you bought my book? Awesome! When and from which outlet?

As far as my story... when the twists quit coming, the story will end.

Anna Haven from Scotland on February 02, 2014:

Now your teasing. :) I think there is definitely a twist coming.

I am reading your poetry book just now. It is very strong and emotive and I have felt like I am on a journey with you. I am really enjoying it and I feel the strength and positivity coming through it. You are a talented lady.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 02, 2014:

Kim, he's pretty damn fine isn't he? It dawned on me that Faith's father had little mention in the story up until now. I couldn't just let him fall by the wayside. He's still alive and needs to have a say in this story. We'll have to see how strong his role is. Faith (and now Sarah) will let me know.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 02, 2014:

Maria, I think the girls have been so overwhelmed by paranormal events that they are doing whatever they can to make sense of it. Being both in the real world and that of spirits makes for a confusing existence. They'll figure it out. And we'll all travel the path with them.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on February 02, 2014:

Anna, Faith was afraid that Nathaniel showed up because her father has cancer. She discovered that's not the case. So why did he appear after all these years?

I'm not so sure Hal Montgomery is wealthy, but he's not lacking for income - that's for sure. There's a tie to the Baxters. We will have to wait to discover what that is.

இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу from Niagara Region, Canada on February 02, 2014:

I've got a feeling daddy is going to play a bigger part in this...and by the way, I just wanted to say....HELLO DADDY!!! ;)

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on February 02, 2014:

Well, Daddy is certainly in fine form...we have that fact established (LOL)!

I love the way the girls are treating this scientifically in an attempt to figure out what's what...leaving me even more curious to keep reading.

This was a warm and joining installment, dear Sha! Excellent work and voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria

Anna Haven from Scotland on February 02, 2014:

I seen an email for your hub. Well now I am wondering where and how Faith's very healthy and content father slots into the story? He sounds very well, definitely not ill ... so what is really going on?

I am looking forward to finding out. :)

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