Hey guys! I’ve got some good news for you: I’m almost done with Rivals & Runaways (I’m actually working on the last chapter!!) and will start posting it here soon. To buy me some time, though, I decided to post this 3-part series I wrote a while ago called “Highway Hero.” The drawing above is a portrait I drew of the main character, Veronica.
Suggestions and constructive criticism are always welcome, and I’ll try my best to answer your questions as long as the answer won’t spoil any of the story. Thank you, and enjoy!
Part 1 of 3: Praying for Adventure
“These are the girls’ dorms,” Mrs. Carver, the principal of the Adventist boarding academy, explained to us eighth graders from the tiny middle-of-nowhere church school. We nodded mechanically and peered into room after room until even Mrs. Carver seemed bored.
“Justin, please show them the cafeteria,” she finally ordered.
“Yes, Mrs. Carver,” responded the sophomore, leading us to the large brick building at the center of the campus. “This is the most important building you will find on our premises,” Justin grinned genially, mockingly talking like a tour guide. He pushed open the battered metal doors.
“The most important building for the most important class,” I commented as I walked through the doors with the rest of my class of six.
“Exactly.” Justin nodded as though it were a serious matter.
We wandered around in the cafeteria for a while, but there wasn’t much to see. Hard metal tables and chairs were lined side by side on the yellowing linoleum floor. We walked by table after table until it felt the way it had in the dorms: room after room after room.
“Well,” Mrs. Carver smiled when she joined us at the cafeteria. “Thank you for taking this tour of our academy. I hope to see you all next year.”
Although the tour had been less than interesting, I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait for ninth grade. The students at the academy were so nice, as well as the teachers, and there was a neat track on campus too. I loved running and making new friends, and I knew this was just the place for me. Jesus, please give me a more adventurous life, I prayed. I didn’t want to spend my life in the same monochromatic way. Fortunately for me, ninth grade promised to solve just that.
“OK, kiddos,” Pastor Kevin, senior pastor of our church and chaplain of our school, grinned as we headed towards the van. “Mr. Miller has an announcement for you guys.”
Mr. Miller, who was in his sixties, was the principal of our school, and he was always telling stories and laughing. Everyone loved him. He loved us back and was sad that we eighth graders were going to graduate in a week. Earlier, on our way to the academy, he’d told us he had a surprise for us.
“So what great idea have you come up with, Mr. Miller?” asked Oliver.
“Are we going skiing like the eighth graders did last year?” I wondered aloud.
Mr. Miller smiled his usual broad smile that reminded me of Santa Claus, although he didn’t have a white beard. “Well, no, Veronica, but we are going to an amusement park!”
“Awesome!” cheered Leslie into my ear with a voice that sounded like our basketball coach’s whistle. I winced before cheering along with the rest.
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Pastor Kevin asked us, motioning towards the van. “Hop on in!”
I crawled in between Josh and Amalie, and Oliver, Leslie, and Terrence sat at the very back. Mr. Miller settled in the passenger seat as Pastor Kevin backed out of our parking spot, barely missing a lamppost. “Sorry about that, guys,” Pastor Kevin apologized. “I don’t drive a stick-shift too often, you know.”
We teased Pastor Kevin for a while even though we all knew that we’d be in a similar if not worse situation than he when we started to learn how to drive. After that, Amalie suggested we sing for a while.
“I just wanna be a sheep, bah, bah, bah, bah,” we warbled off-key as Pastor Kevin conquered lurching bends on the mountain highway. “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me… We are soldiers, in the army…
“Veronica was a soldier, she had her hands on the gospel plow. But one day she got old, she couldn’t fight anymore, she said –”
I got to my feet, ignoring how the seatbelt was restraining me like a leash on an energetic puppy. “Stand up and fight anyhow!” I shouted.
“Hang on, kids!” Pastor Kevin instructed us firmly. Our laughter faded. Pastor Kevin sounded worried about something – something serious. Still standing up, I paused.
“Sit down!” Pastor Kevin yelled. That’s when it happened.
And suddenly everything went dark.