Are You There? Part 10 (I think…?)

Guys, I’m super sorry I haven’t updated in so long. I can’t even begin to explain… I am so busy lately I have absolutely no time for myself anymore. Plus I’m currently writing three other novels. Plus school, babysitting, tennis, harp, trying to have a social life, chores, trying to earn money for a mission trip, etc.
So just understand that I’m super sorry, but I can’t promise this won’t happen again.
But don’t think for a moment I’ve forgotten about you guys!
Ok, ok, you want the story. Here it is! (and it’s really long cause you deserve it)
Hailey nervously walked up to the large, double wooden doors of the Chester SDA church, her black heels clicking on the sidewalk. Her brown braid thumped gently against her back with each step, and she smoothed out imaginary wrinkles in her yellow skirt. She wasn’t sure what someone was supposed to wear to church, so she just tried wearing something similar to what Hannah had on the previous night at Friday night vespers. Fancy shoes, a skirt, and a pretty shirt. She finally worked up the courage to open the door and walk in, and was greeted by a short, old man in a suit and tie.
“Welcome, I’m so glad you’re here!” He said cheerfully and with a broad smile. Not a cheesy and fake one, but a real one, like he actually knew her and he really was happy to see her. It made Hailey smile back.
“Thank you.” She took his waiting hand and shook it gently before he handed her a small white paper.
“Have a blessed Sabbath.” He then turned around to greet a mother with two young boys walking in. Hailey looked around. There was a desk, a couch, and a grandfather clock. She guessed she was in the lobby. To her right was a long hallway, and to her left was the…San…Sanitarium….San Francisco…the place where they had church. Hailey had been to church only once before, but that was back in the first grade. She barely remembered singing a song in Sabbath school. Maybe they have Sabbath school for older kids, too… She headed down the long hallway and saw a bunch of doors.
“Cradle Roll…Kindergarten…Primary 1…Primary 2…Juniors…Earliteens…” Earliteens stopped at age 14. Hailey was 16. She spotted one last door, past the bathrooms. “Youth. I guess I’m supposed to go in here.” She looked through the little window and saw a few couches, where some boys and girls about her age were listening to a man saying something. “Where’s Hannah?” Hailey looked through the window for her friend, but she didn’t see her. “It would be a lot easier if I actually knew someone here.” She mumbled to herself. She lingered by the door, not sure if she should go in or leave.
She decided to go in, even if it was for just a few minutes.
As soon as she did, she felt uncomfortable. Out of place. Judged. In the spotlight. Everyone turned around and stared at her, and her eyes couldn’t find an empty seat. The preacher dude stopped preaching. Hailey wasn’t sure what to do. She just stood there.
The preacher dude smiled. “Hey there. I’m Pastor James. What’s your name?” His eyes looked familiar.
“I, uh…I’m…Hailey.” She just wanted to bolt out of the room. She could feel her face turn pink. She was never comfortable around a big group of new people like this. Why, oh why did I ever think about coming to church?
Suddenly, there was a cheerful voice that broke the silence. “Hailey?” Hannah’s face popped into view, and Hailey almost cried with relief. Finally someone she knew. Hannah nudged an Asian girl in a yellow dress, and the small group made room for just one more person. Hailey awkwardly walked over and sat down, only slightly squished. But it was a friendly sort of squished. She giggled before the man started talking again.
“As I was saying,” Pastor James continued, “Romans 8:28 says that God works all things for good for those who love Him.”
A million questions popped into Hailey’s head at once. She blurted out, “What about those who don’t love Him?”
Pastor James stopped, his mouth open and ready to say his next words. He paused a minute. “Well, those who don’t love Him have decided to give satan’s way a try instead of God’s way. And satan’s way doesn’t work out all things for good.”
That added another question. “But what about those people who don’t even know God exists?” She remembered before Jaime came to her town, when she was learning about evolution.
“Good point. But God will judge those fairly.”
“Hm. Well, what about when things don’t work out for good? And you love Him?”
Pastor James smiled. “That’s exactly what we’re talking about today. See, when it says all things work out for good, it’s not saying that good things will happen to those people all the time. It’s saying that even though things aren’t looking so great right now, it’ll all turn out for good in the end.”
“But what about when things work out for good for those who don’t love Him?” Haley tried to shut up. She was interrupting Sabbath school. But the questions just kept coming. Some of the other kids were looking at her weird.
Pastor James looked around. “You know, that takes slightly longer to explain. There are a couple different answers. One is simply natural cause and effect. You work hard, you more than likely end up reaching your goal. You save up enough money, you can buy that new car, whether or not you love God. You eat a bunch of donuts, you’ll probably get sick.” Hailey nodded. That made sense. “The other is that things aren’t actually working all that great for them. It looks fun, and innocent, and perfectly fine right now. But check back on them a few years, months, maybe even days into the future, and how are they doing then?”
Hailey wrinkled her nose. “I don’t understand.”
Pastor James thought for a minute. “I went to this public high school for my junior year, and I had a really good friend named Daniel. He wasn’t a Christian, but usually he would respect my decisions and we didn’t really talk about religious stuff. We were friends, we did dude things. But one day, I got invited to a party.” Pastor James cleared his throat. “Daniel invited me over to his house, along with some other guys, while his parents weren’t home. He said he knew where his dad kept his stash of alcohol. I told him I didn’t believe in drinking, and that I wouldn’t be able to come. And he told me, ‘James, you miss out on everything. You believe in this God of yours, and you won’t come to games and parties on Friday nights. You won’t come to any meetings or clubs held on Saturdays. You don’t smoke, you don’t listen to cool music, and now that I invite you to my house you won’t come, because of a certain beverage on the menu. What’s all these rules got to do with a loving God?'” He looked around the room, pausing.
Hailey’s eyes wandered around the room, and landed on a brown-haired, green-eyed boy, about her age. He seemed pretty tall, and he was wearing black pants and a purple button down shirt with a white tie. And for some reason, Hailey thought his nose was cute. His green eyes met with her grey eyes, and although Hailey could feel red prickle up her neck and through her cheeks, she couldn’t look away. His hair was the color of a Hershey’s chocolate bar. His eyes reminded her of a dark green Christmas tree, and they had a twinkle that made her think of the star on top of a Christmas tree. But then he smiled.
Hailey looked away like she saw a ghost.
That was Rian’s smile.
He smiled exactly the same way as Rian. The kind of smile that’s sorta sideways, but it shows all your teeth. It raises your eyebrows just a little bit, and it shows your dimples.
How could he have Rian’s smile? Hailey thought. It almost made her sick.
Pastor James began talking again, and Hailey forced herself to look at him to be polite. “On the outside, it looked like good things were happening to people who didn’t love God, and bad things were happening to those who did. But you know what? I stayed home and played checkers with my dad, and Daniel and his friends got drunk in his basement. Neighbors called the police because of the loud music, his parents found out and grounded him for two weeks, and he continued his drinking habits. In fact, not too long ago he was drunk driving, and died in a car crash. One of the kids in the car he hit died, and the other two were badly injured.” Hailey bit her lip. One kid died, two injured… “Looks like me staying home and ‘not having fun’ because I loved God was a good thing.”
Hailey spoke. “Did Daniel drive a red convertible?”
Paster James thought a minute. “Yes, I think he did.”
“And was the car he hit a green truck?”
He scratched his head. “I’m not too sure…I think so. They told me it was a truck. Why?”
Shaking like a leaf in the wind, Hailey whispered, “Nothing.” She got up and stumbled out the door and into the hallway, then ran into the bathroom. She put her hands on the sink and bent her head down.
“Why, God?” She said softly. “No, I’m done saying things softly.” Hailey punched a wall. It hurt. Bad. But it helped. “Why? Why! I don’t understand!” She punched the wall again. She felt a tickle on her cheek, and tasted salt. “God, if this is some stupid ‘plan’ of yours, then…then…What kind of God are you?!” Hailey didn’t hear the bathroom door open and footsteps come towards her. “Do You care? I know You love me, You died for me, I accepted you. I know what You did. But You know what? My brother is…Rian…he’s still…” Hailey felt a couple of arms – Hannah – wrap around her shoulders and hug her. She melted and sobbed into Hannah’s dress. “He’s gone. Why is he gone? I don’t understand. Why did God take him from me?”
Hannah sighed. “Only God knows. God hates it as much as you do. God’s looking down and saying, ‘I really, really wish Rian was still here. Hailey needs him. I tried to keep Daniel from drinking, but he didn’t listen, and now other people are suffering.'”
“But it’s not FAIR!” Hailey pounded her fist weakly onto Hannah’s shoulder.
“And that’s the thing. God is giving people time to see satan’s way vs. God’s way. Satan is telling everyone, ‘God’s not fair. He has rules. I have fun. I’m fair. God’s a liar.’ And you know what? Daniel followed satan’s way. Was he breaking some of God’s rules? Yes. Was he having fun? At first. But in the end, both he, his friends, and some innocent boy died. So was satan’s way fair? No. Who’s the liar? The devil. And that’s the point of all this. And soon, God is gonna come back. He’ll destroy evil, and take his followers and the dead in Him up to heaven to live forever. So you see, it has a point to it.”
“I…I think I get it.” Hailey wiped her eyes. Her breathing slowed. She hung on to Hannah for a moment before pulling away. “Thank you so much.” She took a breath from her inhaler she had in her purse.
Hannah smiled. “No problem. I’m here anytime you need anything.” She took Hailey’s hand. “Do you feel ok enough to go back?”
Hailey nodded. “I want to hear what else Pastor James has to say.” They went out the door and back to the youth room. Just before going inside, the door opened and the boy with the Christmas tree eyes walked out.
“Oh, sorry…” Hailey trailed off. She had almost stepped on his foot.
“It’s ok.” He said, then did that smile again. Hailey looked down. “Are you alright?”
“I…I’m fine.” Hailey forced herself to look up and offer a weak smile.
Hannah stepped forward. “Hailey, this is Preston. He’s one of my guy friends. Preston, this is Hailey. She’s one of Jaime’s friends.” Hannah looked at Hailey. “We’ve all been praying for Jaime. Have you heard anything?”
Hailey looked down again and bit her lip. To be honest, she had almost forgotten about her friend for a bit. “She’s dying. She needs a bone marrow transplant or something, and they can’t find a match.” Hailey’s hands started shaking. She bit the inside of her cheek hard to keep from crying in front of Hannah and Christmas tree- er, Preston.
Hannah’s smile fell. “Oh my goodness. I’ll tell Pastor James, and he can pray about it during church service.” Hailey nodded, not sure what to say.
After a few seconds of silence, Preston spoke up. “So Hailey…is this your first time here?”
Hailey shrugged. “I was here once, a looong time ago, but this is my first time since then.”
Preston nodded. “Well, the youth Sabbath school is doing a social thing tomorrow. There’s gonna be a bonfire, food, hot chocolate, some games, and a small Bible study. You wanna come?”
Hailey thought a moment. Tomorrow…that’s Sunday…was she doing anything Sunday? Nope. “Sure, I’ll come. What time?”
Preston bit his lip in thought. “Um…I’m pretty sure it’s from 6-8.” Hannah nodded in agreement.
“Where is it?” Hailey wondered where there would be a bonfire. The church didn’t have a backyard or anything.
“It’s at Pastor James’s house. You know where it is?” Hailey shook her head. Preston thought a minute. “Well… Sheesh, I’m bad at giving directions. Maybe I can just pick you up?”
Hailey smiled. A real smile. “Sure.”
Preston did his special smile. “Ok, great. I’ll sorta need your address to put into my GPS, cause I’m bad at remembering directions, too.”
Hailey laughed. Preston handed her his iPhone, and she wrote in her address and phone number. Preston put his number in Hailey’s phone. Hailey handed her phone to Hannah. “Can I have your number, too?”
Hannah smiled. “Yeah, sure.”
After Hailey made sure on the time, she stepped back inside the Sabbath school room. Pastor James was taking prayer requests. Hailey held up her hand. “I think you all know Jaime, right?” Everyone nodded. “She’s my best friend. And…she’s not doing good. They can’t find a match for her blood type, and if she doesn’t get a bone marrow transplant soon…” Hailey trailed off. She couldn’t say it. It stuck in her throat like peanut butter. She couldn’t say it.
A third person she loved would be gone.
After prayer, Hailey followed Hannah, Preston, and Rose (the Asian girl in the yellow dress) to the Sanctuary (so that’s what it’s called!) for church service. The pastor said some interesting things about Paul, and there was nice music and a long prayer before it was over and people started to go home. Hailey, Hannah, Preston, and Rose gathered in the lobby to wait on their parents and chat.
“I love your skirt!” Rose commented, and pointed at Hailey’s yellow skirt.
“Thank you.” Hailey smiled. Again, it was a real smile. These people were really friendly! She felt like she should compliment back. “Um, I like your flower.” Rose’s black hair was in a bun, and she had put in a white rose hair clip.
“Thanks! I made it myself.” Rose touched the hair clip, as if she had forgotten it was there.
“Rose is super crafty. She can make anything.” Hannah said.
Preston played with his white tie. “Well Hannah’s the musical one. Give her her violin, and she’ll play so well Johann Sebastian Bach would be jealous.”
Hannah blushed. “I’m not all that great.”
“Yes you are!” Rose looked at Hailey. “Hannah is amazing, but she hates to perform.”
“I don’t hate to perform,” Hannah contradicted. “I just hate to be in front of a million people who are all staring at me!”
A buzz from Hailey’s phone interrupted the conversation. She took it out of her purse and saw it was her mom calling. She pressed ‘Accept Call’. “Hello? Mom?”
“Hailey, you have to come right now.” Mom sounded super…scared…worried…something.
“Why? Come where?” Hailey was really nervous. Was mom alright?
“The hospital. I think you’ll want to be here. Jaime…she’s not…”
Hailey’s heart began to race. She didn’t even notice Preston, Hannah, and Rose gathered around anxiously. “She’s not dead, is she?”
Mom coughed. “No, but she’s not going to last very long. She needs that transplant. The doctor said she probably won’t even last a week. I thought you might want to spend her last few days at the hospital with her.”
Hailey began to hyperventilate. “I’m coming, I’m coming.” Hailey hung up and threw her phone into her purse. She ran out the door, but her ankle twisted funny because of the high heels. She took off her shoes and ran outside barefoot.
“Hailey, wait up!” Preston and Hannah were running after her. But she didn’t stop. What if Jaime died before she got to the hospital? She wouldn’t be able to say goodbye. Hailey reached her car, but just before she opened the door she felt a firm, but gentle, hand grasp her shoulder. She whirled around and came face to face with Preston. Hannah was right behind him. Both were breathing heavy. “Hailey, what’s going on?”
Hailey’s shoulders shook. Tears made little round wet spots on her black and white striped shirt. Her chin quivered, and her knees buckled. Preston caught her by the arms so she didn’t fall to the ground, and Hannah opened the car door. Preston helped Hailey sit in the seat.
Hailey interrupted him. “Jaime…is…” Peanut butter was in her throat again. The word wouldn’t come. It was stuck. She tried again. “Jaime’s…she is…” She coughed. Say it! You have to say it! With a cry, she burst out, “Jaime is going to die!”
Hannah gasped. Hailey couldn’t see through the tears, but she could feel Preston stiffen. “Can I do anything?” He asked.
Hailey shook her head. “I need to get there. I need to tell her. I need to go!”
“Hailey, you can’t drive like this!” Hannah placed a reassuring hand on Hailey’s shoulder. “Let me take you. Or Preston. Then we can come back later for your car.”
Hailey nodded. Hannah helped her back to the church. Hannah’s parents agreed to go to the hospital to see her friend, but they didn’t have room in their car. Preston had his own car and volunteered to take her there. Hailey agreed. She climbed in his black mustang, and they drove off.
“Which hospital is it?” Preston asked.
“M-memorial.” Hailey stuttered over her sobs.
Preston nodded. “So…Hailey. Tell me a bit about yourself.” He looked over at her. “I mean, I’d like to get to know you a little better.”
“W-well,” Hailey wiped her eyes. “Um…I live with my mom. I used to have a dad, but he got shot during a break-in at my house two years ago. I used to have a brother, but he died in a car accident a while back. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was the same one Pastor James was talking about.” Preston opened his mouth, but Hailey kept talking. “And I used to have a best friend, but now she’s going to die of cancer. I used to be happy, but now…now I…”  I wonder if I can tell him something like this… “…but now I want to die.” She looked over at him to see his reaction. His eyes flickered her way, but went back to the road. His lips formed a straight line. “In fact, I probably will die. So will my mom. Because somehow, satan is probably targeting my family, and he wants to kill everyone I know and love and tear me apart. And I don’t want to live to see my mom die.” She thought a second. “But I guess my mom would be torn apart if she found out I died, too. I already tried to drive off a cliff, and that was probably a bad idea…” She trailed off. Maybe she had told him too much.
Preston was silent for a minute. “You know, you’re probably right. You said satan was probably targeting you and your family. You know what I think? I think you’re strong, and I think satan knows you’re strong. He knows that you’re gonna become a big warrior for God. He knows that if he doesn’t try to ruin your life and make you give up, you’re gonna stay strong and love God. He doesn’t want that. So he’s trying to tear you up by the roots, trying to make you weak, trying to confuse you, trying to make you hate God. But you know what? You are strong. You’ve made it this far, you can make it another day. Just one more day. Then another day after that. And another, and another. You can keep going. Because not only are you strong, you have God on your side. And with God on your side, you have the potential to look at satan’s attempts to weaken you, step on it with your heel, and twist your foot until you grind it into nothing. So you have to keep going and you have to stay strong, and you have to keep trusting God.” Preston looked over at Hailey, who had quieted down. “You can do it, Hailey. I know you can, and satan knows it too, and it scares him to death.”
The corners of Hailey’s lips couldn’t help but turn up a little. “Thanks, Preston. That really helps.”
Preston gave his sideways smile and parked the car. He opened the door for Hailey, and they both went into the hospital. Just before they reached the door to Jaime’s room, Hailey stopped. “Preston, I can’t.”
He looked at her. “What do you mean, you can’t?”
Hailey’s head throbbed from all the crying, but she couldn’t stop another tear from trickling down her cheek. “I just can’t bear another person I love leaving me. I need Jaime. She’s the whole reason I came to church today, the whole reason I found out about God. She doesn’t deserve any of this. She doesn’t deserve seasonal allergies, let alone cancer…and death.” She shook her head and backed away. “I can’t do this. I thought I wanted to, but I don’t.” Hailey heard the ding of the elevator, and heard Hannah and her parents walk down the hall.
Preston put his hand on her shoulder. “You can do this. I’m here for you.” He glanced at Hannah, who had just come up behind him. “We’re all here for you.”
Hailey nodded, then placed her hand on the door knob. One thing at a time. She twisted the door knob. She pushed the door open. She stepped inside.
God, I need You more than I’ve ever needed anything before. Please. Help me. Help Jaime.
-Author’s Note-
Y’all can clap if you want, for me FINALLY putting this story up here. Like I said earlier…I’m sowwy. And remember how I said to pray for me? I assume you’ve been praying, and thank you! I don’t feel comfortable doing details, but thanks. Do me a favor and keep praying?
I’m almost done with this series. Just a few more parts to go! ^_^ Yay!
Thoughts? Suggestions? Constructive criticism? Prayer requests? Favorite lollipop flavor? Go to the little comment box below and tell me!
BTW I know I keep saying I’ll do that prize thing for 2nd and 3rd place winners in my contest, and I still didn’t get to that! This chapter turned out a lot longer than I expected. I PROMISE PROMISE PROMISE PINKIE PROMISE CROSS MY HEART PROMISE that I’ll do it next chapter!! I will!
Also, there’s a little button at the top of the page that says ‘like’. Could you press that? It just takes a swift move of the mouse, a tap of the finger, and a little click! It’s really fun to do, actually. I like pressing the like button. I like clicking it. It’s fun to click. Click, click, click.
Click, click, click, click, click, click.
lol luv ya guys! <3

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Are You There? Part 10 (I think…?)

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