Monday, September 29, 2008

Charity's Shadow -- Part I

Hello! I have a new story for you to enjoy. This one is a little longer than most, so I have to break it up into small pieces. I originally intended for this to be a play, and I might yet convert it, but once I started developing the story, it took an unexpected turn and is no longer a practical play. Mostly because I wrote into the story a scene at the beach--and I would not be comfortable sitting in a play with a beach scene, for obvious reasons. I originally intended for this story to be set entirely in a flower shop, but I got distracted and my story got out of hand! Well, if I convert it, it will be returned to the flower shop in it's entirety. I now present to you the first part of Charity's Shadow:

Charity’s Shadow
A young lady glided among the plants and balloons lining the walls of the flower shop. Her fingers tenderly brushed along the petals of a rose and paused while she leaned forward and sniffed gently,savoring the fragrance. Though she looked at the flowers in the case, she saw romance and love. She smiled warmly and almost seemed to curtsy as she regretfully made her way to the door and into the street.

The elderly woman sweeping the sidewalk glanced at her and frowned. “Charity, you’ll be late for work again if you don’t mind the time.”

“Oh, Edna, you’re so sweet to worry about me.”

“Nonsense, child. Now run along. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

With that, Charity turned and made her way down the sidewalk and around the corner. Edna, long familiar with this ritual, now turned to witness the final act of the play. A young man, unaware of Edna’s gaze, was staring wistfully after Charity’s shadow as she walked into the sunrise around the corner. For months, the young man watched Charity, but never developed the courage to chance meeting her. So he watched from the safety of his window, secure in knowing that he would never have to face this unnamed beauty.

While the boy watched the girl, Edna watched the boy with an understanding in her heart. She herself had once walked through fields of flowers in search of the very thing that surrounded her. But, Edna decided, this time it will be different.

The young man straightened himself from the window and grabbed his jacket. “I’m going to leave now, Mom.”

A tight faced, narrow eyed woman leaned through the bathroom door and spoke over her cigarette. “Benny, don’t you leave without kissing your mother.”

Ben sighed and walked across the room. “It’s Ben, Mom. My name is Ben.”
“But you’ll always be Little Benny to me.”

Ben resigned, pecked his mother’s cheek, and disappeared through the door. “Don’t be late, Benny!” She shouted after him. “Dinner is at six."  She blew smoke into the air.  "Sharp.”

“Bye Mom,” he shouted over his shoulder as the door shut behind him.

Once out in the street, Ben stopped and breathed deeply, as if the air outside was more meaningful than the air in his apartment. He crossed the street and stepped over the broom lying in front of the flower shop. Thinking it odd that Edna would leave her broom on the sidewalk, he retrieved it and leaned it against the window. He glanced through the large glass window and saw that Edna lay on the floor just inside the door. He hesitated, unsure of what to do, and then cautiously opened the door. “Ma’am?” he called. “Miss Edna? Are you okay?”

Edna stirred on the floor and glanced at Ben as he reached a hand toward her. She grasped his hand firmly and sat up. “Oh my. I must have fallen.”

He was fighting to restrain panic. “Well? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, really. Could you help me to my feet?”

He nodded kindly and lifted her by her hands. “My, you’re a strong one,” she said.

“Well, I, uh…” Ben had no idea how to respond. “Thank you. Are you okay?” he repeated and let go of her firm grip. Edna seemed to wobble for a moment and then started to lean forward.

Ben steadied her. “Why don’t you sit down for a moment?”

“You’re nice,” she observed. “And caring, also.”

“I’d better call an ambulance,” Ben offered.

“That won’t be necessary, I only tripped.” Then her face squirmed in pain. “I think I twisted my ankle.”

“It’s a good thing you’re sitting down. Does it hurt?”

“And compassionate,” she noted.

“I beg your pardon?”

“And polite.”

Ben looked confused.

Edna smiled warmly. “Don’t mind me. I’m only an old woman who talks to herself. What is your name?”

“Ben Greene.”

“Oh, yes. I knew Beulah Greene, who lived just a block down the street.”

“That’s my mother, Ma'am.”

“Please call me Edna.”

“Okay.” He hesitated. “Hi, Edna.” He glanced out the window. “If you’re okay, then I’ll be on my way.”

“Oh? Where are you off to?”

“I have to go to the pharmacy. Then I need to go by the Workforce Commission.”

She put her hand on his arm. “Dear boy, did you get fired?”

His face turned red. “No, nothing like that. But, I did get laid off from my last job. I have a job coming in a few weeks at the museum, but it won’t start and I need something to tide me over for a few days.”

Her eyes brightened. “So, you’re looking for work?”

He glanced at the floor. “Yes, ma’am. Sort of. Well, temporary work.”

“What a stroke of luck. I need to hire some help. How about it?”

His eyes narrowed in thought. “In a flower shop?”

“Is there something wrong with a flower shop?”

His face flushed crimson. “No!” He responded, too quickly. “It’s just that I don’t know anything about plants or flowers or…” he glanced around. “Balloons.”

“Well, I’ll teach you.”

He hesitated. “About flowers?”

She nodded. “Of course about flowers. But what I really need, is someone to make deliveries for me.” She looked at her legs. “I’m getting too old to run all over the block and make my deliveries. My old feet swell and I shouldn’t get too far from the shop.”

“Oh.” He didn’t know what to say. Finally, he settled on, “So, how much does the job pay?”

Now Edna frowned. “I haven’t thought of that.” She shook her head as if disagreeing with herself. “Never mind. How much should I pay?”

“Well, my last job was for twelve dollars an hour.”

Her eyes grew large. “Twelve dollars?” Again she shook her head. “And there are some things that are worth more than money. It’s a deal. You’ll just have to get it done quickly.”

“Get what done?”

“What you have to do.” She pressed imaginary wrinkles from her apron. “Do you have a girlfriend?”

He was startled. “Does it matter?”

“Of course not.” A silly laugh escaped her while she watched his quizzical expression. “Well?”

“Well, what?”

“Don’t be coy with me. Do you have a girlfriend?”

He gazed out the window as if he could still see Charity’s shadow. “No, I’m afraid not.”

“Good! Now, can you start in the morning?”

He shrugged. “I suppose I can.”

“Great. I’ll see you at seven o’clock.”

He frowned. “But I can’t be here until eight.”

“Eight?” Now Edna was frowning. “That won’t do at all. You must be here before eight for it to work.”

His eyes narrowed and his forehead wrinkled. “For what to work?”

She smirked. “For work to work. What else could I mean?”

“I’m not certain.”

“Then you must be here earlier than eight.”

He hesitated. “Well, it’s just that I—can’t leave my mother before eight. She needs me to help with the house.”

“Oh! You also wash windows?”

His lips pursed together. “I can, if you need me to.”

“What? These windows?” She pointed. “Don’t worry about these windows. I’ll take care of them. What about dishes?”


“You said you helped your mother with the house. Do you wash dishes?”

“Uh…” He glanced at his watch. “I have an appointment with the Workforce Commission for my scheduled job search. I need to be going.”

“You don’t need to go there. You have a job, right here with me.”

Ben frowned. “Well, I… I don’t know much about washing dishes at a flower shop.”

“Whatever are you talking about, Ben? We don’t wash dishes here.”

“But you said…”

“I said nothing about such things. You’re the one who said you washed dishes.”

“But I didn’t say that. I said I helped my mom with the house.”

“Of course that’s what you said."  She smiled and placed a gentle hand on his cheek.  "You will work out just fine.”

He was concerned. “Miss Edna, are you certain you’re feeling well? Did you hit your head when you fell?”

“Now don’t worry about me. You just be here before eight o’clock in the morning.”

He gazed wantonly toward the long gone shadow. “It’s just that… I can’t leave before eight. I have to meet a friend.”

“Oh, I know!”

“You do?”

“Never mind that. You just show up before eight and I promise that everything will work out.” When he hesitated she responded. “Trust an old lady. I know what I’m doing.”

“Well, I don’t know…”

“Listen to me, Ben. I need you to be here at seven o'clock. For things to work out, you must be here early.”

“What needs to work out?”

“Dear me. You worry about the details, don’t you?”

“I’m confused. I thought you said something about…”

Edna stopped him short. “Ben, I need you here early. We have stems to cut and leaves to pull, and it all must be done before eight. If we get it done early, then you can take a break around eight and go tend to your mother.”

“Tend to my mother?”

“I’m beginning to think you’re a scatter brained boy. You said your mother needs your help in the morning.”

“I did? I did, didn’t I? Well, if you need me here at seven, then I’ll be here at seven. Good bye, now.”

Tune in later for the next installment!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Jacob's Meadow

The other day I was so inspired by a magnificent sunrise that I had to create a story that would compliment it. If you are aware of how incredible West Texas Sunrises can be, then you might understand just how extra-ordinary this particular sunrise was. Well, in a flash, I imagined a story that was too grand to tell in a short story format, and I don't have time to make an entire novel. So, I wrote a short, short story that might encapsulate what I envisioned. I love struggles within story lines, and this story is nothing but struggle. However, I think you will appreciate this snapshot of a bigger picture....
Jacob’s Meadow
In the still, dark moments of dawn, a man wearily emerged from the heavy forest canopy and provocatively scanned the meadow that lay before him. Heavy with exhaustion, he forced his feet to move, advancing into the grass that grew along the edge of the tree line. Once fully within the meadow, his fingers stroked the heads of the grass which grew knee deep the entire length of the long, gentle slope before him. As he gazed the horizon for the signs of life, others began to stumble from the tree line and formed an awkward line alongside him.

“This is it,” he said with satisfaction.

“We made it.” Janet looked at him with pride while a slow smile transformed her face. “We made it!”

“This is it?” Tito asked, anticipating the answer.

Jacob nodded. “Yes. We make our stand here.” His finger caressed the grass a moment longer as his eyes continued to roam the opposite side of the meadow. “Today we stop running.” He paused a moment for effect. “Wait for it.” His eyes were now on the eastern horizon.

His entourage, too cautious to jump to conclusions, held their peace. This was not their first day on the run. They had been badgered and harassed for more than a week, now, and when the needed hope the most, they were afraid to believe. In silence they regarded each other in the dim light of morning, barely able to make out the silhouette of the men and women on their sides. Only when the sun’s light began to reflect on the cloud cover in the east did they begin to smile in unison.

Jacob inhaled deeply. “There. We made it through the night. The morning sun is breaking through the clouds.”

Tyler sourly remarked, “Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”

Jacob nodded. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” he finished the age old wisdom. “Look how gorgeous those colors are this morning. Have you ever seen such brilliance in the clouds before?”

Janet stood close to him. “It’s beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sunrise before this moment.”

“I wonder,” Jacob mused. “What is the name of this meadow?”

“Maybe it’s unknown,” Tyler remarked. “Doesn’t look name worthy to me.”

Jacob never lifted his eyes from the crimson sunrise. “Neither was Waterloo. Nor was the high grass meadow along the San Jacinto River. This is where we change the course of the future. History will record this unnamed meadow as the single most important piece of real estate in this war.”

As he spoke, the people drew near him, revitalized by his confident words. They were hard pressed and desperate for relief. Drawing from his fascination with the early struggles of pioneering America, he poured his heart before them.

“When we were first attacked, fear was our primary focus. We stared in shock as our homes and towns were destroyed, burned beyond recognition. The great cities still smolder in ruins—but we stand strong.” He turned his eyes from the sunrise and turned to face his followers. “Fear was our companion in those days—all of us desperate to live, desperate to preserve our lives and our children. Now we are through running.” He lifted his hands in defiance. “Now we fight back!”

The men and women surrounding him burst into cheer as they clapped and yelled in approval of Jacob’s proclamation.

“Before, you were afraid to engage the enemy, but now we seek him out. We are too weary to cater to fear. Our situation is too desperate to regard our terror. We will now turn our dread into rage, and we will stand and fight.”

“Just as fear had overwhelmed you so few days ago, hope has revived you as we reach for our destiny. We will now meet our enemy on the battlefield, and we will rally to freedom—or we will perish. The enemy must be driven from our soil or desolation will be our companion. We shall never surrender or retreat. It ends here!” Applause forced him to stop speaking. “I don’t know about you, but I am determined to sustain myself until the end, or I will die like a soldier who never forgets about his honor and his country. Now who is with me?”

He was drowned in a chorus of shouting and whistling. These people were ready to meet their fate.

“Now take your rest. We have come far and we have farther to go. Prepare yourself for battle by lying in this tall grass for a moment of peace. I will meet with my war council and we will determine our course of action.”

A man wearing a hip length leather coat and a felt hat with a large rip through the brim approached Jacob from the cover of the trees and silently nodded to him. Together, the men turned and retreated to the woods.

“Did you find them?” Jacob asked.

He nodded. “Right where we hoped they would be. They are just beyond this meadow in the trees on the opposite side.”

“How did they look, Peary?”

Peary frowned. “As good as I’ve ever seen them. I don’t think anything ever sets them back.” He leaned against a tree, adjusting the pistol on his belt to a more comfortable position. “Man, I’m tired.”

Jacob nodded. “Me too. We can’t take any more. It has to end here or it’s all over.”

“Yup.” He spat. “I was able to burn that one bridge behind us. We are trapped between the enemy and the river, which is swollen and overflowing.”

Jacob smiled. “We have no choice. We aren’t trapped; we just don’t have many options.”

Peary leaned forward and cleared a spot on the ground. “Alright. This meadow runs at least two miles long, and it’s about a half-mile wide. The deepest portion is about a quarter of a mile down to the right.” As he spoke, a branch traced in the dirt drawing his words. “They are concentrated just on the opposite side from us. They have at least 500 soldiers along this creek, which provides a modest covering, but nothing significant. Another 300 to 400 are in the tree line just out of sight. They will have to leave the trees in order to attack, or they will have to build a defense where they stand. Now, off to the extreme left, is a reserve of 500 soldiers. It would take them all of an hour to get into position to either attack or re-enforce, provided they stay where they were when I saw them.”

“Is that the group we encountered last night?”

“Yup.” He spat again. “They have to be as worn out as we are. In fact, they marched further than we did, ‘cause they crossed the meadow sometime around three or four this morning.”

“So, they were just ahead of us?”

“Yup. Most likely, they intend to box us into these woods. They probably figure on us being trapped against the open meadow, where they can flank us from the tree line, forcing us into the open.” He stopped talking, his report complete.

Jacob thought a moment before looking up. “Jimmy?” In a flash, a young man was at his side. “Gather the council and have them meet me here.”

A few minutes later, Jacob and Peary were surrounded by the cadre of officers who would put feet to the war. After Peary repeated his observations to the group, Jacob stood and dusted himself off. “Now, I think Peary is right on when he says they intend to press us into the meadow where we have little cover. What they least expect we will do. We will take the battle to them. For the first time ever, we will attack.” As he spoke, his eyes scanned their faces for clues to what they were thinking. The prospect of an attack was overwhelming in that they had little experience conducting such a maneuver. They were always ducking for cover and running for their lives. This would be their first unified assault, and they were cautiously optimistic.

“I ordered Peary to burn the bridge behind us. We have no where to run.” He allowed that to sink in before continuing. “So, here’s my plan. I want Captain Conn to weave his way with the cavalry around the edge of the meadow and wait at the far end of the narrowest edge, right here.” He marked the spot by pressing a branch into the dirt and leaving it. “How many do you have left?”

Conn ground his teeth in thought. “My count this morning showed I had 61 cavalry. I lost another 10 last night.”

Jacob nodded. “That will be enough.” He turned to Janet. “How about you? What was your last count?”

She glared, causing her daring brown eyes to catch a reflection in the fire just beyond them. “According to my officers, we have just over 500 people left. That doesn’t include any children under the age of 12. Everyone else is numbered in the army.”

“That will be enough.” He smiled warmly. “Janet, I want you to form up the Regulars along our far left line. I personally will lead the 2nd Volunteers in the center. Sam, you take what’s left of the 1st and 3rd Volunteers on my right wing. I will start the advance in a wedge formation, where it appears we are simply trying to cross the meadow. Then, when we are two thirds of the way across, I want Janet and Sam to advance so quickly that you almost overtake us. Once we actually engage the enemy, I want Conn’s Cavalry to break through the opposite trees and flank them from the extreme right. Their reserves are out of the picture right now because it will take them an hour to get into position. I plan to be victorious before they can get on line. Any questions?”

His officers considered the plan for a moment. Finally, Tyler asked. “What do we do about prisoners?”

Peary spat. “There won’t be any prisoners. They aren’t that kind of enemy. They will fight to the end. You better tell your people to kill them all.”

Jacob ran his fingers through his hair. “If they surrender, we will grant them their lives. If they run, we will chase them. If we corner them, we will bayonet them if we’ve run out of ammunition. Most of all, we will annihilate the enemy. Our oppression ends now or we will die with our teeth barred.”

A man stepped from the woods and beckoned to Peary, who obliged him. In a moment he returned with a smug smile. “They aren’t expecting anything. My latest scout to return says they are laid up in the trees waiting for night so they can attack us, just like before.”

“Anything else?”

He spat again. “Yup. They’re drinking and sleeping. They haven’t a clue that we’re going to take the war to them.”

Jacob’s smile brightened his face. “Why should they? We’ve never been able to take a stand because we’re always running away. This time it will be different. We will meet them in the field of battle and we will be remembered.”

They dismissed the council and formed their lines at exactly 11:00. Jacob took a moment to walk among the ranks for the entire length of his battered army. Where he once saw desperation, he now saw determination. They had been harassed by the enemy so long that they were no longer afraid of him. They desperately wanted relief, and they were willing to fight to receive it. He turned to address the soldiers one final time.

“We stand united against our enemy. We will now march against him to victory or death. If death is our lot, then we embrace it with courage. If victory be our destiny, then we will live as free men and women once again. Either way, we will be free from oppression within the hour. The enemy is slothful, sleeping and drinking, waiting until nightfall to attack us and destroy us. We will take advantage of that weakness and kill them all. The bridge behind us has burned, so we have no where to run but forward. That also means the enemy can’t retreat either. It ends here. It ends now.

“Sons and daughters of freedom, who will follow me to victory? Who will stand with me as I drink from the stream that awaits us on the other side? We will advance silently until you hear my battle cry, which is, ‘remember America!’

I call on you in the name of liberty, of patriotism, and of everything dear to the American character to join me in battle. On the behalf of a bleeding people, who will follow me?”

With a silent dignity, they stepped out in pursuit of their destiny, their weapons prepped for war, their hearts set on victory.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Last Night I Dreamt of Mexico

Today, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to post about the dreams I had last night. Well, actually, I’m only posting about one of them, but they ran in sequence. The other two were simply gibberish that don’t need to be pressed onto paper. In my dream, I was in Mexico….

I was driving an older style Land Rover type of vehicle which I clearly knew was my own. I also knew it was a long story on how I acquired it. As I was driving along—apparently without a particular destination, I rounded a bend and suddenly I realized where I was, for I’d been to this place before. It was a semi-arid dessert environment. The road wound its way through foothills and small canyons. As I drove into a narrow canyon, I knew what I would find on the other side…and I was excited by it.

When I saw the simple Mexican village, I recognized a particular hotel. It was very old, at least from the mid 1880’s, and was large—too large for the village. The walls were whitewashed adobe, but not the familiar Santa Fe style construction.

I was so familiar with this little village that I knew where to park and exactly where the registration desk was in the hotel. I made a beeline to the counter and waited my turn to check in. However, I knew I wasn’t going to stay there. While I waited for the Anglo couple in front of me to finish reregistering, I returned to my previous memories of this hotel. I recognized the familiar lobby, and the large, comfortable sitting area which was reminiscent of an outdoor patio. It was very pleasant to be back in this hotel. I remembered staying there with a friend of mine from my seminary days, Kyle. Yet when I tried to pin that memory down, it became elusive, as if I was trying to keep dandelions from escaping on a windy day.

Now, I realized I was dreaming. I kept repeating the name of the village over and again so I could remember to Google it. I even envisioned Googling the name and I can still see a scramble of letters as I typed them into the search engine. Finally, my turn at the counter. The kind, older gentleman spoke to me in English. I told him I wanted to know if he had any rooms available. Even while I was asking him, I knew I wasn’t going to stay there that day. I was only asking so I could come back with my family and we could enjoy a weekend together. He fumbled through the register book and told me he thought the place was full. I then explained to him it wasn’t a big deal, because I still had two hours of day light to keep driving, and that I didn’t think I was going to stay the night. Then I repeated the name of the village so I could remember it when I woke. At that point, I knew my dream was ending, so I asked the clerk to tell me how much the rooms were, so I could budget my return trip, but the dream faded and I was in a different dream entirely.

Well, now that I’m awake, I know that I never set foot in that hotel—but, at the same time, I am absolutely certain that I’ve been there before in my dreams. I can no longer remember the name of that village, but I can see letters that don’t make sense. Remembering those letters is something like trying to drive using your peripheral vision. I am absolutely certain that Kyle and I never stayed at that hotel. So then, how do I account for such a vivid familiarization with that place in Mexico? Now, I’m not even certain I was in Mexico, because it could have been from some of my other adventures in Argentina.
I wish hypnotism wasn’t so dangerous, because I’d seek out the location of that village. I know it’s there. I know it exists somewhere. But, how do I know it? What’s most frustrating about this dream is that I have suffered memory loss as a result of some surgery I’ve had in the past. I can’t account for what memories I have lost. I simply know I used to know something, but that memory no longer exists. Perhaps the village is a memory I’ve lost; but somehow that doesn’t seem right, either. Aurgh!
Well, thanks for letting me waste a perfectly good post on absolutely nothing. I promise I won’t do this again anytime soon. I have another short story to share with you one day next week. Until then, thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Letter Home -- A Short Story

This week marks the 7th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on our country. Please endure my conjecture of what possibly happened in the air that fateful day so few years ago. May God bless and protect those that serve our country now as they nobly attempt to honor us with their service.

A Letter Home

September 11, 2001

My Dearest Caroline,
My heart was heavy as we left you and the kids this morning. Somehow I felt a special connection with you as we warmly embraced and tenderly kissed goodbye. Oh, how I hate saying goodbye to you. My only consolation is that I will get to see you again soon, to feel your gentle arms surround me in welcoming me home. Even though I will only be gone a few days, I will miss you tremendously, for I am incomplete when I am separated from those who fill my heart with love.

James whispered in my ear to tell you hello, then proceeded to make fun of me for writing such emotional words. Sometimes I think that he belittles me for my expressions of love. He is a man's man and doesn't seem to find much time for love in his life. I can only imagine how lonely his wife and kids must be. Yet, despite his brash criticism of me and my ways, I still find an appreciation for him. He is James, and can be nothing else.

I know that you hesitated to let me take Little Charles with me on this trip, but he will soon be a man and must learn how to function in this world as a man. Sometimes I find it hard to remember that he is only 10, for he is so confident and mature. I smiled this morning as we boarded the plane. He held open the door in the terminal for an elderly couple, and then he looked at me to see if I noticed. I pretended not to, for I don't want him to act unselfishly just to win my approval. Instead, I want him to do what is right because it is the right thing to do. Right now he is sleeping, his poor little head is dangling awkwardly, but he seems content for the moment. As soon as we land, I will call and let you know that we made it safely. Then I will email this letter to you at home. I marvel at our new technologies that allow me to communicate with you in so many fashions. Hold on a minute, some one is trying to tell us something...

Dear, I have bad news. One of the passengers was talking on the phone and was telling us that a plane just flew into the World Trade Center in New York. If that is so, we may not be able to return for several more days. They think that it was a terrorist act, but that seems impossible. Nothing like that would happen here in the United States. Well, that passenger just told us that a second plane has hit the towers. Oh my, I guess that we are under attack... I must take a few minutes and explain to Charles what is happening. Some of the other passengers are afraid that something might happen to us. I doubt that. It would be way too hard to orchestrate. Imagine that, in only a few minutes, our whole world changed. May God have mercy on us all...
Well, I'm back. Charles is sitting wide eyed next to me, trying not to be afraid. I told him that it’s okay to be afraid, but not to let his fear control him. He asked if we were going to die. I almost told him yes, as we are all going to die. We all know that. There is appointed a day for all of us to die, and few us know when that day is coming. But I told him that we would land safely. Now I wonder if I lied to him just to make him comfortable. Why am I unwilling to tell him of the distant threat that we might all be in as we fly through the sky? I guess that I just want to protect him, but he will be a man someday and he must know how to deal with the truth. Charles has now asked me what we would do if we knew that our plane was going to be flown into the World Trade Center. I told him that I didn't know. Then he became fearful of dying. A natural reaction, I suppose. But we have guided him to live a life where he would be ready to die if God called his name. He said that he wanted to make sure, so he closed his eyes and appeared to be praying. We then talked about those people on the planes and why they didn't stop the terrorists. I told him that we need to have the courage to do what is right, even if it meant our own deaths. We seldom hear of people unselfishly sacrificing themselves for their brothers any more. But it was a good opportunity for me to talk to Charles about being a hero. To me, if we were to be taken over by terrorists, then I would find a way to stop them or die trying. Not that being a hero is a great reward, but I could not face my family if I dishonored them by cowering down behind my seat. After all, how many lives could have been spared if the people on those planes had of stopped the terrorists?

Wow. I have something to tell you. A group of Arabs just stood up and started to take over this plane. Oh my gosh... this is real. I have so much to tell you, but I am out of time. When the hijackers weren't looking, a guy named Todd just came past my chair and we are organizing a resistance. Baby, I may die, and Charles with me, but I have to do what is right. We can't let this group kill any innocent lives, we have to stop them. Imagine the odds of me talking about this exact topic with Charles and then me having an opportunity to actually instruct him for real! Sweetheart, these are probably my final words to you. Know that I love you with all my heart. I am sorry that I couldn't have loved you more and I am sorry for all the times that I chose to be selfish instead of giving to you. I deeply cherish all that we are.... I don't regret one minute of what we shared. Oh, how I love the kids. Tell them to serve God with all their hearts and strength. Tell them that I love them and that I am proud of them. Tell them that I was given an opportunity to choose between being a victim and a hero. Tell them that I chose not to die an ordinary death, but I died defending my family and my country. Is there a greater honor? I have to go, its time.

I love you and I hope that you receive this letter. See you at the East Gate!
Your loving husband,