Weeks, months, years passed by but there was no news of Chester. Where had he been taken? Why? When would he come back?
Was he ever coming home?
Suzanna continued to raise John in the way Chester would have envisaged.
She wished for John to have all the best qualities of his father.
They often sat and talked about Chester. John would have so many questions that Suzanna would happily answer. She often compared Chester to St. Christopher. For like St. Christopher, she told John, his father would always try to serve the greatest possible cause. ‘Do you know what Chester’s greatest cause was?’ she would peer into the face that so resembled her husband’s.
‘You, John! It was you!’’
John always looked like he was bursting with pride when her mother told him of his father.
The story of St. Christopher and the river always featured in their conversations.
St. Christopher was extremely tall. In fact, he was so tall and strong that he could carry other fully grown men on his shoulders.
One day, St. Christopher met a hermit who taught him the Christian faith. After learning all about the Christian faith, Christopher asked how he could best serve Christ.
When the hermit suggested fasting and praying, Christopher found that this didn’t best suit him. He needed something else.
The hermit then suggested that he could serve Christ by helping people cross a very dangerous river by carrying them on his back.
A lot of people were perishing in the river trying to cross it, and this would be a great service to the community.
The hermit promised this would be a great service to Christ.
Christopher happily agreed and performed this service. He helped many, many people to cross the river, saving their lives.
One day, a little child asked him if he could take him across the river.
St. Christopher obliged, and the little boy jumped upon his shoulders.
The task was perilous, however. The river was swollen, and the water was flowing rapidly. The little boy also became tremendously heavy, as if his whole body had turned to lead and it was pushing St. Christopher down into the swirling waters.
St. Christopher struggled as the water reached up to his neck. He could hardly carry the boy, and his legs were buckling.
When he finally managed to reach the other side, he said to the child ‘You put me in the greatest danger. I do not think if someone put the whole world on my shoulders it would have been as heavy as you!’
The small child replied, ‘Well, this is true as not only did you have the whole world on your shoulders but also Him who made it. I am the Christ, your King, whom you are serving by this great work you are doing.’
The child then vanished. St. Christopher later visited the city of Lycia and comforted Christians who were being martyred.
Brought before the local King, he refused to sacrifice to the Pagan Gods. The King tried to win him over with riches and by sending him two beautiful women to tempt him.
However, St. Christopher converted the women to Christianity just as he had done with thousands of others in the city.
Suzanna taught John how his father had fought against all that was in his way to ensure that John grew into the sort of person who would make a difference in the world.
Chester saw himself as performing a duty to John and those he taught; it was his duty to ensure that the world learned.
This story, often narrated before bedtime, would fill John with immense pride. He believed he was the chosen one. With each telling, the story changed slightly, more passion and detail being added each time.
It true that Chester thought that John was the chosen one and that, one day, he would tell a story so powerful that its message would broaden even the narrowest of minds.
Suzanna told John this story, not as if his father had gone, but just to fulfil her need to ensure her son would realise how great he was and understand his own potential.
After a few years, the hope of Chester’s return inevitably started diminishing. It was the not knowing that was the worst part for them.
The two had restarted their little family as best they could. The world had also changed immensely since Chester was taken. They often wondered what he would make of it now.
The Imperia had been in charge for around 5 years now; the world had become a very bleak place.
Man’s status as a victim of nature had never before felt as real since they had very little control over their destiny. It was like a large waiting room in which every aspect of your life was controlled by the state. Every decision was made for you until you died. The situation was completely and utterly mind numbing.
Suzanna was trying to cope as best she could, tidying the house and ensuring that there were always nice flowers everywhere – although it was grim picking them in these times when everyone was controlled and colours just seemed a little less vibrant.
Outside the family home, people would walk around lifeless, no smiles, no laughs and certainly no sparkle in their eyes.
Fear was spreading and words were flying around about the extreme control methods of the Imperia; everyone lived in complete fear of them.
People just did as they were told. Where were the individuals now? Looking from one to the next, it was hard to imagine the difference in their minds.
These were the same people, nonetheless. Just less than they were before, limited.
Suzanna and John were increasingly lost in this world; any visionary thoughts were meaningless. They realised more than ever the futility of their words.
And so it went on...