CHAPTER FOUR:

9:59 AM

Kristi placed the flowers on the altar table next to the framed photo of the 13-year-old girl who was smiling big in her braces. She looked back to Luke to see if he approved. He seemed to. He handed her a candle from the bag and took out the second one for himself. They each placed a candle near the photo and Luke struck a match and lit them both.

“I think it’s nice,” said Kristi.

Luke gave a smile so subtle and so imprisoned with pain that probably she only saw it because, by now, she knew his face so well.

It had been hard lately for Kristi with Luke. It had seemed to her that after they decided to get married, he started backing away. But she’d also had to admit to herself that maybe she was the one backing away and that he was only responding to that. Luke’s relationships with the Lord and the Church were more strict than hers. More old school. More like her father’s. She had started to fear whether this was really what God wanted: for them to be together. But it wasn’t just that. Luke really was different lately. Not the man she first met and fell in love with.

But this was nice. Being here with him for his sister’s anniversary. He had held her hand when they left the store with the candles. He was opening up again, letting her in.

Luke went to his bookbag and brought out his Bible. It was peaceful being in the empty church. Just the two of them and this special moment.

He opened his nearly falling-apart Bible, notes stuffed in different pages, his firm block handwriting in many of the margins. She’d bought him a new one, but he didn’t use it. She could tell he was ready to begin. She bowed her head. He spoke:

“‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.’”

Kristi couldn’t help but look up. The quote he’d found was so lovely and his voice so tender, she needed to see his face along with it.

“‘Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. Happy are those who keep His decrees, who seek Him with their whole heart.’”

His voice cracked. She’d never heard that. He took a pause and then—she couldn’t be certain she heard it; it was as subtle as the smile before—but when he continued she thought she heard a hint of anger.

“‘Who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways.’”

He closed his eyes, but she couldn’t do the same. She needed to see this side of him she’d never seen. She remained there with him, silent, until he opened his eyes and looked up. And his eyes were glossy, then so were hers. They stayed like that for some time. She, watching him, having longed for more of his depths. He, eyes unmoved from his sister and all they had lost.


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