THE SEVENTH CROSS

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JANICE IS BACK

It seems the best medicine is always the simplest. They fed Janice a steady diet of her mom’s chicken soup, her favourite tea, and a whole bunch of loving. Her parents slipped into the next room to pray since Janice was anything but open to this God who would let this happen to her. How dare He? She had served him her entire life and He let her marry a serial killer? If that’s what God was all about, then they were done!

Janice had never questioned her Christianity before. She never really had to. Her life had always been good, even when she’d gotten pregnant out of wedlock, her parents, as well as her church, were there for her the entire time. It wasn’t easy, but she remembered thanking God for all the blessings in her life, and especially for the birth of her little girl, Joline. But that was then.

A loving God would not have let her marry a serial killer! My God, she had pursued Jason until he finally got it and asked her to marry him! What did that make her?

Thoughts after thoughts exploded in her fragile mind. That last night of their honeymoon when he’d acted so weird came rushing back. Those other times when she’d sensed something but couldn’t put her finger on it. His “too perfect” everything. The perfect husband, the perfect dresser, the perfect organizer, and so on. Even their wonderful trip to La Push and the unforgettable night spent on the beach was called into question. How many times had he thought about killing me? And she would collapse exhausted yet again, and again, and again.

There would be no relief for Janice these days. But she was a fighter, and she would confront this monster called Jason. She needed to face him. And it would be soon!

Her parents, Joline, and Claire would spend countless hours in consultation with the private nurse they had hired to monitor Janice. All agreed that her condition was fragile, at best. If this went on much longer, she would need to be hospitalized.

Especially concerning was Janice’s insistence that she see Jason. It was going to happen one way or the other. They knew it, and either they would help her or she’d do it on her own. What choice did they have? Obvious answer. So they stepped up.

Janice knew how scared her family was for her. She, the strong, determined one, reduced to a pile of mush. But never had she been faced with such pain! She had trusted him fully. When she committed she was all in, body, mind, and soul. And she had brought her parents along for the ride. They loved Jason! Had, anyway. And he’d betrayed them all. He’d killed people! My God!

God! I thought you were real. What a joke! And she began to sob once again. I can’t believe this is happening! Why, God, why? And once again she had to catch herself. She’d been ingrained believing in God her entire life, and now she didn’t know what to believe. How could a loving God allow this to happen? In fact, how could he allow all the terrible things going on in the world to happen?

And then, on the fifth day of her isolation, she awoke, slipped into the bathroom, and proceeded to ready herself for the day’s events. Everyone else was still sleeping so she slipped into the kitchen for a long overdue cup of coffee. She perched on the stool at the end of the island and slowly began to unravel the events of the past few days.

And that’s when her Dad joined her. She didn’t notice him at first. He’d been up for the better part of an hour already, settled into the lazy boy just off the kitchen. He’d always risen early. He called this his God time. This was his time to really listen to God; he’d built it up to over half an hour every morning. Then it’d be his turn to ask God for whatever was on his heart. Right now, he and God were spending all sorts of time praying for Janice. Father, cover her with the blood of Jesus! And of course, he always had time for all the significant people in his life, and whoever else he could squeeze in before the events of the day forced their way into his thoughts.

He’d heard her rise, and in fact, darn near asked her to make him a coffee, but he thought better of it. He’d continue what he was doing while keeping an eye on her. She was a strong girl, this one. He knew that at some point, she’d gather herself together, and when that happened, he wanted to be close by. And now was the time.

“Hon.” And Janice jumped. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” Her Dad, ever the gentleman.

“Hi pops, did I wake you?” She knew the answer; he’d been doing this for as long as she could remember.

“No, I was up. That coffee sure smells good!”

“I’ll make you one.” She’d done this more than a time or two over the years.

“Dad, I’m sorry that I scared you so much, all of you. I lost it. I completely lost it Dad. I’ve never felt so broken, ever. I thought I was going to die!”

“I know honey. You had us pretty scared there for awhile. Thank God Claire was here. And that daughter of yours, wow, you raised her right, I can tell you that!”

“Dad, I don’t understand,” and as composed as she was trying to be, he could see her trembling as the tears gently made their way down her cheeks onto the tip of her chin. He quickly rose and held his baby girl as tightly as he could. “I know, baby, I know. None of us do.”

“I have to see Jason.”

“I know you do. I’ve talked to everyone here. I told them that we’d know when you’re ready. And not to try and talk you out of it. They understand.”

He continued “Claire has been in contact with the authorities so they are aware that you’ll be requesting a meeting fairly soon. Jason also requested a meeting with you. In fact, he won’t talk to anyone else until he talks to you, apparently. Would I love to get my hands on him!” She’d never heard her Dad even raise his voice, let along talk like that!

She, on the other hand, actually, she didn’t know what she’d do. This wasn’t her world. My God, everything she’d ever written was about the good in people, not the bad! I mean, she’d alluded to it obviously, but good always triumphed evil in all of her novels, and especially in her children’s series.

How would anyone ever take her seriously again? She, the award winning, best selling author who wrote about everyone else, was the wife of a serial killer. And she didn’t know? Give me a break! She had to know something was off! Come on! Do you think we’re stupid or something?

Because, that’s how she thought. How was it possible that she didn’t know at least something? She’d asked herself that a thousand times these past four days. And no answer was forthcoming.

By this time the rest of the gang was stirring to life. Seeing Janice sitting there composed, brought them all back to life in quick order. “Hey Mom”. And there was her baby girl just waiting for her turn to hug her. “Mommy, I was so scared.” And then there was Claire. They studied each other awkwardly, and then Janice slipped off her stool, approached Claire and hugged her, and they both began to cry. Both of their bodies shook from the uncontrollable sobbing and that’s when the rest of them joined in. For the longest time, not a word was spoken, and then as if on command, they all began talking at once. And that’s when it happened. Janice began to giggle, then Claire, then Joline, and soon they were all laughing so hard that one could have sworn there was a party going on! But this was a party that no one here wanted to attend!

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