I’m Buying A House

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Right now I’m in the process of buying a home. It’s not the first time I’ve bought a home, but it’s the first time I’ve done this as a single woman, which has been exciting and unnerving. It makes me feel very adult in the I’m-18-and-I’m-freaking-out-because-this-high-school-gig-is-up kind of way. I didn’t freak out when I was eighteen, but as a high school teacher I’ve seen some high school kids who start to grasp the whole becoming an adult reality prior to graduation. The exciting aspect of buying this home is to be expected; it’s like a physical manifestation of my new phase in life.  I finally get to live in my own space: get a dog, paint, design my back yard, have a little garden, plant rose bushes, redo cabinets, etc. Most importantly, I want my daughter to feel a sense of permanence, instead of upheaval; her life has been chaotic enough in the last couple of years, and my heart breaks for her.

But the unnerving part of home buying has really revealed my deep insecurities. I desire certainty to an unnatural degree. Yes, I’m newly divorced, my former marriage was emotionally traumatizing, and I’ve moved six times in the last seven years (even when I was married). For those familiar with MBTI, I’m an extroverted feeler (No, that doesn’t make me an extrovert). I can read other people’s emotions (often without even realizing it), and I sometimes feel like a mind reader—but I’m not. Despite that, or because of that, I’m incredibly good at detaching from my own emotions; I can describe my personal experiences like a third person narrator without trying. It takes a lot of effort to connect with how I truly feel because I’ve had a lifetime of not allowing myself to go there. I usually don’t know my own feelings until I feel them in my body or talk them out with a friend, and right now my shoulders are stiff like steel. I’ve had daily headaches for over a week, but thankfully today has just been tension, rather than pain. My anxiety has also been my ever-present shadow. Thankfully, I haven’t had any anxiety attacks recently, but my anxiety has another physical side, dizziness. My counselor and naturopath have separately observed that I exhibit symptoms of mild PTSD, which is connected to this dizziness.

In all of this home buying, I desperately want to do the right thing. I want to provide the best environment for my daughter, and I want to make wise financial decisions.  I’ve prayed a lot before and during this process, I’ve had other people pray too, and I’ve seen some answers to prayer. I know that I’m doing the right thing, but as in every experience in my life, I’m scared. What do I do when I’m scared? I pray a lot, although never enough. I read my Bible, but not because I have to—I want to. One fear I have gotten over is the fear that God is ready to hit me or punish me if I screw up. I grasp His love so much more than I used to; I know He’s not ready to punish me because I’m His. He just wants me to know Him and to let Him know me. Talking with Him and remembering His character and promises calms me down. I still have a long way to go though.

~Christine

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Update on Floating to the Ground

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Some of you have only read my personal pieces and don’t know my fictional writing, which was how I named my blog (even though I knew it would feature other genres at times). And some of you are fans of my short story, “Floating to the Ground.” Well, I’ve been working on expanding it into a longer story. I’m far from done, and I decided I won’t post all of my new additions here because someday after I finish it, I’d like to publish it. Maybe there will be a Kickstarter campaign in my future?? (I have a friend who successfully funded his book this way.)

What I’ve added is some preliminary information about the setting, Ethereal, and I labeled this section, “Prelude,” which was originally smaller and located after this. I also took some pre-existing descriptions of Ethereal from other parts of the short story and added them into this new addition. For the expanded version, I’ve re-labeled all of the subsequent sections, but you won’t see that here.  If you’ve never read “Floating to the Ground” in its entirety as a short story, it’s archived on this blog previously revised and updated; just look for the tags that match this post. Enjoy!

Prelude to Floating to the Ground     

Ethereal, a floating city, is a re-creation of an ancient place once known as Eden. Instead of simply existing as a garden, it is surrounded by and interspersed with urban dwellings, business centers, and government buildings. Everything here considered flora was planted because Ethereal is really a livable, hovering craft of sorts, enough to fairly comfortably hold about one-and-a-half million people. The city itself is open air; it kind of reminds me of a giant convertible. There are vines growing on trees, and the trees are everywhere, even inside some of our buildings. It feels tropical, but not excessively hot like a jungle. Gardens of a variety of sizes and small forests were intentionally planted throughout Ethereal, and there is an abundance of lush trees that touch as they line the streets on every avenue. There is a variety of plant-life suitable for the mild climate, some flowering and some only covered with leaves. It seems like nearly every building has life growing on it; there are roof-top gardens and cascading vines descending from balconies. A few people live in what used to be considered traditional homes, detached buildings, sometimes custom-designed, that are situated around parks, giving what land-dwellers consider a more out-in-the-country existence. Many people, however, live in slate or grey-colored high and mid-rise buildings. Each building has its own simple design and a variety of open-work structures for plants and trees to grow in. Condominiums are more ornate than apartments, but all have life on the exterior, making the varying amounts of money invested almost indistinguishable.

The difference between business centers and government buildings is design complexity. Business centers have intricately designed patterns in the building structures themselves, while government buildings have simple lines.  Despite that subtle distinction, the government seems to spare no expense when it comes to their buildings. Ethereal’s main government building, The Tower, is slate-colored with long vertical lines. There is no metal-work art, but there are many slender openings, similar to the Gaudi Cathedral in Spain. Within many of those openings there is dark plant-life growing, perhaps small trees or tall bushes; it’s hard to tell from the ground. The entryway to The Tower is about two stories tall and covered in rectangular metal archways and glass. It feels devoid of life, but yet I know there are hundreds, no thousands, of people who are in there. I don’t recall ever seeing more than one or two people entering or exiting the building.

I hear that a lot of people wish they lived here in Ethereal, but it’s not our choice where we get to live. When or if we ever move is up to officials in The Tower.  The Tower is not a unique name; every metropolis has one. Each city, whether on land or in the air, is connected to a metropolis, and each metropolis has a local government housed in its largest building, always called The Tower.  Each of the floating cities is not a part of any state, but instead they are functions of the larger government called The Confederation. Any land states are also assigned to a Confederation, and the Confederations each answer to Earth’s government, The Dominion. We’re all used to this system because it’s been several generations since The Dominion first came to power and abolished the previous nations and government systems. It was what the people wanted. It seemed to be the perfect solution to all of the conflict in the world at that time. Instead of multiple nations and factions that oftentimes clashed and killed each other, and instead of separate nations fighting against militant terrorist groups, it was thought, Why not have a unified  government and a world- agreed-upon system of laws and law enforcement? It was supposed to bring world peace, eliminate unnecessary national and local spending and redistribute the world’s wealth in an effort to eliminate poverty.

Ethereal is the only place I have known as home, and until recently, it has always felt like my home. Sometimes life gives us a curve ball—and when we want to leave, we can’t.

 

A Little Looking Back to Look Forward

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A Little Looking Back to Look Forward

Today I had an appointment across town, near where I lived when I was married for the first three years. After the appointment was over I drove by my old townhouse. It still looks dilapidated, as do the other properties in that association. The units still have bars on the windows and doors on the first floor. The asphalt is still crumbling around the complex. The exterior wood siding located on the back side of the units by the parking is still falling apart with paint peeled or peeling. The entryways, which no one really uses, are differing shades of cream or tan. The place still exudes hopelessness because of its look of disrepair. I thought to myself, “How did I live like that?” It felt symbolic of my crumbled marriage, which was unknowingly falling apart before it ever began. I didn’t like living that way, but it was what I had. Prior to us purchasing the place, I should have voiced my opinion more strongly, “I don’t like it here. It’s falling apart, it’s ugly, and it feels unsafe.” But I didn’t. Typical of how I usually operated then, I just went along with it, even though I didn’t like it.

It was good to revisit that place. It’s been almost sixteen years since I lived there, and being there reminded me again that, that chapter of my life has closed. I felt both sadness and relief. The sadness was for what was—what I endured, what I battled, and what could have been but never was. The relief was for the reminder that I am no longer imprisoned; it’s good to be free.

After driving through there I even drove past my childhood home. I haven’t driven by it in many years. The neighborhood I grew up in has significantly changed. The houses look a lot older, and some look really run down. My own childhood home looks quite altered as well. The exterior was redone after my parents moved from there when they were divorcing, and sadly the trees in the front yard are gone. I remembered where different friends lived, where the community pool was once located, and wondered how my immediate neighbors’ houses looked inside. (I could have stopped by because I still know them, but I needed to get home before my daughter was ready to come over.)

All of the looking back at my childhood and the majority of my adulthood encouraged me to look forward. I wonder what God has for me? Where will I live? Who will my husband be? What will my life be like? Will I ever get to the place where I don’t have to work so that I can just write and edit? I don’t have the answer to any of those things, but I know that God does and that He loves me deeply. I know He has plans for my good and to restore the years that have been covered with a locust-type of destruction (Jeremiah 29:11-13 and Joel 2:25-27).

My Unexpected Life

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This is the most recent part of my own personal story. I feel more terror in posting this one just as I did with my last post! When I’ve shared it with people, there is either a silent shock and awe, or a companionship of the fellow broken. Lives lived with lessons learned are best shared so that others can benefit too.  I wish I had this to read about 2 1/2 years ago because I felt like the only person going through this when I was living it. It felt like pure hell. I’m not sharing this in order to shame anyone or to get attention. Being vulnerable makes me embarrassed, but the benefits of possibly helping others is worth the emotional cost. Honestly, I feel compelled to tell it. If you get to the end of this and disagree with my conclusions or beliefs, then I’m glad you at least read it to the end. I am not any person’s judge; that’s God’s job, and He didn’t qualify me to be Him.

My Unexpected Life

I originally shared this with Dena Johnson in the summer of 2015. With my permission, she posted it on her blog, Dena Johnson Ministries in October 2015. Since then, I’ve made minor edits and additions. I pray that God gets the credit for any good in this: that it gives hope to those walking in similar or related circumstances, that it strengthens those who need it, and that it encourages others to be vulnerable with “safe people,” to quote Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Be blessed.

That Christian Kid

I was that Christian kid you might have gone to high school with. I often wore the Christian t-shirts, and if you liked to debate Christianity or just ask deep questions about God and life, I was passionately up for it. I remember dreaming in my sophomore year of one day marrying a youth pastor, having at least a couple of kids, and working in ministry. Growing up, my parents argued a lot, so I knew what I didn’t want in a marriage. I even bought Finding the Love of Your Life by Dr. Neil Clark Warren; I devoured it because I didn’t want to make mistakes in  one day finding a husband (once I was old enough to get married).

Implied in my life’s dreams was NEVER be a divorced woman. I didn’t want to be someone who gave God and Christians a bad reputation. I tried to always be happy in spite of a lifelong battle with depression, and deep inside I wanted to help others feel happy because I cared and desired to show people Jesus in me. When I had struggles or temptations, I fought them or subconsciously pretended like they didn’t exist. Along with that, I had a big distrust of my feelings, not that I am advocating letting your feelings be your guide. I just didn’t think my emotions had any good use; they were just a distracting annoyance to me because I’ve always been “too sensitive.”

I got married in my early twenties. My then husband, Marc (not his real name) was not a youth pastor, but he seemed to want to follow and serve Jesus. From the beginning, we had an odd relationship, which I thought stemmed from us being polar opposites in personalities and in backgrounds. He’s an extrovert who is blunt and very sociable. I’m an introvert, opinionated but reserved, and I’m sociable when I’m comfortable (and until it wears me out). Marc came from a nominal Catholic family from another country, and his parents divorced when he was fairly young. He also had a rough past, seemingly trying everything. By contrast, I came from a Christian home with parents who constantly fought (later divorcing when I was in my twenties). I became a Christian when I was eight, and I wanted to follow Jesus–especially from about middle school on. On top of that, I am typically an overly cautious person.

Marc and I were “just friends” for quite a while, and our college pastor teased us because we were “just friends” who always hung out. When I first got to know Marc, I learned he had a crazy past that wasn’t too distant, but what I didn’t know was that he was still harboring secrets. My pastors and I really thought he had a life change because God is very capable of drastically changing people’s hearts, which changes their lives.

What the… (insert Expletive here)!

Marc and I were married just over fourteen years when our divorce was finalized at the beginning of 2015. During the course of our entire marriage I saw in Marc what I now know as signs of a porn addiction. I also later found out Marc was gay. During my marriage, I saw things I didn’t want to see, and no matter how many times I stumbled across the porn or related things, my mind wouldn’t acknowledge that Marc had a serious problem. Like a true co-dependent, I wanted to protect him from getting in trouble. I assumed each incident was a one-time slip up because that was the lie that he fed me, and I didn’t want him to be misperceived; I didn’t want to negatively affect his ministry. Marc was a chaplain, had at one time started studying to become a pastor, led small-group Bible studies, and for a few years together, we were leaders in a couple of college ministries. I took all of Marc’s addictive symptoms on as my responsibility, when it was my husband who had a problem; he was the one who had secrets. I didn’t know what to do with what I saw, so I subconsciously set out on a campaign to bash myself: I was a bad wife who had unfounded trust issues; I was being paranoid. Why couldn’t I just trust him?

My own parents’ divorce emotionally set me off, living in a state of constant anxiety and depression, with an emphasis on anxiety; I had no coping skills for handling issues that felt too hard to deal with. On top of my parents’ divorce, I had a few years’ experience of living in my façade of a marriage. (Remember, I was denying reality 24-7 that my husband had a problem, even though his behavior showed otherwise.)  I ended up seeing a doctor so that I could get on prescription anti-depressants for my anxiety, which I took for several years.  By the spring of 2012, I took myself off of my medication. I lost about twenty pounds, and I slowly became aware of me-–the me I tried hard to ignore. I was struggling with sexual temptation: men started noticing me after my weight loss. My husband had stopped intimacy with me in 2003, so most of our marriage was without intimacy and was therefore very unhealthy. I read in the Bible (1 Corinthians 7:5) that Satan used a lack of intimacy in a marriage as a source of temptation, and I was in a full-on battle that I truly thought I would lose. God provided a way out, just like He promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13. I even told Marc that it wasn’t right and that I was really struggling, but that changed nothing with him. So, life continued. My daughter, whom we adopted in 2010, was my reason to keep going in more ways that I’m probably even aware of.

Not long after my own battle with temptation, I came across the porn that led to my BIG confrontation of Marc. I was standing in our kitchen and happened to see Marc’s phone on the counter. There was a pornographic picture in a sext (sexual text message, if you don’t know what that is). My heart was pounding so hard that I truly thought I would die of a heart attack. My hands were trembling. I felt sick, and I knew what I needed to do. In private, I quietly and firmly confronted him. I told him I didn’t want any excuses or stories this time. He started crying hard and admitted he had a problem. He also told me he was only attracted to men.  I told him I would be willing to work with him because I knew God could do anything, and I knew firsthand that no sexual temptation was too big for God to help us overcome. I really thought he would be willing to fight hard.

During the months that followed, as I waited, hoped, and prayed that he would do WHATEVER it took to fight this, I miraculously met a couple of Christian women whose husbands had previously been much deeper into secret gay sex addictions than Marc (porn, a hidden long-term relationship, one-night stands, etc.). These husbands overcame and chose their marriages over their addiction (not simple or easy battles). I even read Desires in Conflict by Joe Dallas. I also read a lot about sexual addiction and felt shocked and angry that my pre-marital counseling didn’t talk about this. I was willing to go down this road with Marc, and we even went to a Christian marriage counselor who recommended divorce after only four sessions. I was torn up inside. I felt extremely concerned for our daughter, and I wanted to make absolutely sure I did everything I possibly could to save our marriage. I felt so guilty too–I made a promise, a vow, and the divorce was clearly going to be from me. Marc didn’t want to divorce, and he wanted to keep all of this a secret. Aside from a few trusted advisors who were my godly counsel, no one knew until I finally confided in a fellow believer at work. It was SO GOOD to finally tell someone what I had been grappling with, and it was truly the grace of God that my sanity lasted while I lived with all my secrets. It has been a slow process of sharing my story with others.

About nine months after my initial confrontation it became clear that I wanted to save the marriage more than Marc. I came across some movies that were only about drugs and sex that were still being watched. I realized that Marc would never win this battle because he wouldn’t remove everything that fed his addiction. So, I finally asked him to leave and gave him two weeks.  I told him we needed to divorce because we were not both fighting for our marriage; we were going in opposite directions. That was the most gut-wrenching decision of my life because I was so scared for our daughter–that her life would be forever screwed up, and I felt at fault because I was asking for the divorce.

The End is the Beginning

A few months after I asked Marc to leave, which was several months before my divorce finalized, I began seeing another Christian counselor. I felt like a broken mess and a shell of a human being. I remember telling her that I had this image of what my heart was like: it was this glass heart, and my ex had taken a sledgehammer to it and smashed it to bits. All I had to show for myself was this shattered heart, and I felt I had nothing left I could offer God, let alone people. My emotions were raw all.the.time. I’m pretty good at keeping it together, and I could hardly hold back tears on most days; on the days when I couldn’t control my crying, I had to find a place to go cry. Thankfully, I had people who supported me, and through this season of life I have learned that I need supportive people in my life, that my fierce independence is not healthy.

Then there was the emptiness of not having my daughter on days when she went to her dad’s. It was like this huge void. My life wasn’t supposed to be like this! I was supposed to be married to a Christian man who served God with me; we weren’t supposed to be divorced; I was supposed to have an in-tact family—my child should be with me, and we were all supposed to be a family, a healthy family. But it wasn’t like that, and unfortunately, the healthy part was never there. I kept thinking, “This isn’t what I signed up for, God!!” I was raging inside. I was angry at my ex and at God, but I didn’t give up on God (another mercy of His). God wanted my honesty, so I owned it. Counseling helped me to work through my anger with Marc and with God over a period of many months: we prayed about it, I journaled extensively about it, we talked about it, and we even met with my ex-husband so that I could practice some honesty along with forgiveness. And this was just the beginning of my healing. Counseling uncovered more than I initially went in for, but it has been a worthwhile process, although the most difficult of my life.

 

Helpful Resources:

Get the Facts (on porn) from Fight the New Drug

JoeDallas.com (author of Desires in Conflict)

Safe People by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

The Story of Dan and Cathy Davis (I “happened” to meet them because I was local.)

Surviving Adultery and Divorce (various posts from Dena Johnson Ministries)

10 Signs of Porn Addiction from Covenant Eyes

WifeBoat (a website for wives who’ve been betrayed)

 

To the Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused

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I realize this is not a light topic, and I’m terrified to post this. I’d rather just be safe, and not talk about uncomfortable things, but I choose to do the uncomfortable anyway because I want to live differently than I have for my entire life. I want to look at the hard things and speak the stories we’d rather leave unspoken or hidden. I want to acknowledge the darkness, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, and then I want to shine the Light. I wrote this piece a few weeks ago, and it is part of my story.

To the Child Who’s Been/Being Sexually Abused,

You are not alone. I know you need to know that because sexual abuse makes you feel completely alone. How do I know this?  I, like you, was sexually abused as a child. And because of it, I grew up feeling like I had been abandoned. Even as an adult I struggle with feeling that way sometimes.

I want you to know that you are not your body–it’s just a body, but your body isn’t who you are inside. I grew up secretly thinking that all I was good for was my body and that all men wanted was sex. But it’s not like that. You and I are valuable because God made us worth something; our bodies don’t add to it–we have no price tag attached to us because we are truly priceless. Psalm 139:13-18 says, “For you (God) formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you” (ESV Bible).

For a long time I was mad at God. To be honest, I still have moments when I get mad at Him. In my heart I’ve raged, “How could You let me go through that?!” He didn’t yell back; He just listened. One day, after about a year of counseling, I was remembering one of the times I had been abused as a child, and I saw that God was with me. He was protecting me in the middle of the abuse, and He was whispering to me, “I’m here.” That was the first time I was able to look back at my abuse and not feel abandoned by God. I think one of the reasons He let me see that was so that I could encourage you. You are not alone. God is with you. He will bring you through this, and if you trust Him, He promises to use that evil to bring good into Your life. I think some of the good that came from my childhood sexual abuse is to be able to stand on the other side of my abuse, to hold out my hand and tell you, “Hold on. Don’t give up. Trust God, and He will help you get through this. You are not alone. There is HOPE.”

~Christine

Note: The abuse was someone outside my family.

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The Christmas Letter When Life Falls Apart

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          When I was growing up I loved reading the Christmas letters from my extended family. I guess it gave me an escape from my own family and fed my idealistic hopes for the world, for me really. Perfect weather descriptions that felt straight out of Narnia. Children who made the grades or aspired to be something respectable, like a doctor, a missionary, a teacher, or a business leader. Perfectly posed family photos, some with matching clothes. Big, happy smiles. Lots of smiles. Any bumps in the road seemed minor, temporary setbacks. Setbacks weren’t the focus, and the gravity of life seemed a no-no.
         My mom also wrote Christmas letters every year for family and friends, and I sometimes drew my cheesy (cute) Christmas artwork to be featured somewhere in the margins, or at the signature line. It didn’t feel as perfect reading about our lives, probably because I lived it, and I couldn’t wish or dream about life by reading about my own small family. However, everything did have a way of feeling neat, packaged, and you know, not so bad after all.
       But what do you write about when your life falls apart? What’s the purpose of the Christmas letter then? I vaguely remember contemplating this concept when my parents got a divorce. I was an adult by then, but seriously, what do you say?
        I faced these questions again several years later when I finally faced my own marital problems. I had just confronted my then husband a few months prior, I didn’t have an ounce of trust left, we were holding out to see if we could/would make the marriage still work, and I remember wishing I was dead (I wasn’t suicidal; I just didn’t want to live with all that pain and chaos). I didn’t want to write about anything, and I didn’t feel like celebrating the previous year with some charming or witty Christmas letter. Two years later, I still feel roughly the same way about writing a Christmas letter, even though I’ve healed considerably thanks to Jesus, counseling, supportive family, and discovering true friends.
          

             

         I have concluded that for those of us who actually read Christmas letters, we don’t generally expect the content to contain vulnerability or an unpolished life. Christmas letters are like the Instagram photos of the personal, unpublished writing world. But what if one year we would just get honest with our friends and family? What if we let people see the real, mostly unpolished us? I bet people would enjoy the honesty, even if it makes them a little uncomfortable. I also think it would encourage them to show more real honesty too. Something to think about on this Black Friday. When and if I write that Christmas letter again, maybe it will feel more genuine.

Christine

Improved Revision of Prelude in “Floating to the Ground”

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I’m honestly uninspired by and have no likable ideas for my “Toby the Turtle Goes to College” story. I like the idea of it, but everything I have so far is not worth “publishing” here. I also can’t get “Floating to the Ground” out of my mind. I was not happy with my original revision of the Prelude, and this afternoon I revised it when an idea came to me. Now, I feel fully satisfied with it.

I haven’t written here in awhile because of my lack of spark for the turtle story and because I’ve been busier than I anticipated. My work (high school English teacher) has me as busy as I expected, and Wyldlife (middle school YoungLife) started back up last week–but I also just received a lead for a freelance editing job. It’s literally one job, one manuscript, but it’s the start that I was hoping and praying for months ago. We’ll see what happens with that! If you like or are curious about “Floating to the Ground,” then this post is for you! I would love to expand this into a full novel, IF I can think of enough material. For now, it is a short story with potential for inward expansion (sounds very Narnian and Whovian). Enjoy!

“Floating to the Ground”

    by Christine Flower

 

Prelude

I’m stuck here in this city in the sky – it’s my inescapable prison.  I am here, and he’s deploying to land in three days. There’s nothing I can do about it, and it sucks.

Norman Pierce and I met four years ago in high school; we were just seventeen—it feels so long ago. He came to school as a new student on a Friday in April from a place called Nevada, which is on land, nowhere near here. The Tower in his Confederation did what’s called Reassignment, and because his family’s names were on the list, they were forced to move.

I would do anything for Norman. When I talk to him he looks me in the eyes, full of intention. I can tell that he’s thinking about what I’m saying because it’s like his eyes are asking me questions before his mouth even opens.

Our friendship kindled about eight months after we met. My grandma was diagnosed with brain cancer, and I felt like I was barely surviving.  One day when Norman and I were walking down the hallway on our way to our second hour, he said (I’ll never forget this), “You’re talking about T. Rhodes–why his song inspires you so much. You’re talking about your job being great, but what about you? I can tell there’s something more, but you haven’t told me… And then he waited… It didn’t take long, maybe a few seconds, and my voice let out almost a screaming cry; I instantly started sobbing. We went outside quickly because I was so embarrassed to cry in front of others like that. It was only when we were outside that I noticed he was holding my hand. It didn’t feel romantic or anything. Norman was just being my friend. He ran into the guys’ bathroom for some toilet paper because my face was all wet, and my nose was running. I stood up, and he instinctually wrapped his arms around me until I could calm down. Then we hid from the school security guards and just left. We talked for two hours as we drove around Ethereal. Norman, the guy who usually seemed a bit too serious, made me laugh that day more than any other person has. It was after that, that most of my free time was spent with him. And then The Assignment came.

Change feels like punishment when you enjoy your life, but it can also bring an unexpected joy when your new life brings you people you come to love. That’s what happened with us. Our love was kept a secret from us, by us, until The Assignment was delivered about a month ago.

~Marcia Newquest