The Storm Spirits

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Chapter Ten

The next morning, Nana and I went to the beach before lunch. I headed right for the water, which was admittedly a little chilly, but nice nonetheless. Then I read while sitting beside her for a bit. Around noon, we packed up and headed back to the apartment, where I showered and changed while Nana heated up the rest of the Shepherd’s Pie for lunch. At about a quarter to one, I started walking toward downtown, arriving at the coffee shop right at one p.m. Zack was already there, sitting at a table, but he rose when he saw me. “Hey, Char!”

I walked over to him, a smile on my face. “Hey, Zack!” I glanced at the empty table. “Did you order yet?”

He shook his head. “No, I was waiting for you.”

“Well, I’m here now, and just so you know, today is on me.” I walked over to the counter and he followed me. “What do you want?”

“What’s good?”

“I love their iced mochas, and since it’s so hot, they’ll taste really amazing. I always get mine with coconut milk; adds to the beachy atmosphere.”

Zack nodded. “I’ll go with that, then.”

I turned to the girl behind the register, who was waiting to take our order. “Two large iced mochas made with coconut milk, please.”

She typed the codes in. “That all?”

“Yep.”

“Name on the order?”

“Char.” She nodded, then stated the total, and I paid her. “Let’s sit back down while we wait.”

We returned to the table. “How’s your nana today?” he asked. Sirens blared outside suddenly, but we paid them no attention.

“She’s fine, thanks for asking. We were at the beach this morning, so that was nice. I finished the book I started yesterday.”

He shook his head. “How many books did you bring with you?”

“I don’t know … seven?”

“How many have you read?”

“I think I’m on the fourth or fifth, I can’t remember.”

He laughed. “You read really quickly!”

“Hey, don’t knock it until you try it!”

“I won’t, I won’t.” He shook his head again, still chuckling. “Did you really have fun with me last night? Even with the mini-golf thrown in there?”

“Zack, I could never get tired of mini-golf! I love the game!”

“Well, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.”

I cocked my head to one side. “You know, I realized something last night; I never asked you what your hobbies are. Like, what do you do for fun? What interests you?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know … I really like animals.”

“Yeah?” I smiled and leaned forward a little. “Animals are cool. Random question: can you juggle?”

He paused for a moment, a slightly confused look crossing his face, quickly replaced by a look of understanding. “Ah, no, I’m afraid I can’t. I’ve never really tried, though, to be completely honest.”

“Order for Char!” a girl called from the counter.

Zack jumped up. “I’ll get them!” I smiled and waited while he retrieved our drinks. “Here.” He handed me one of them, in addition to a straw. “Do you need anything else?”

I unwrapped the straw and stuck it in my drink. “Nope, I’m good.”

He sat back down and copied my movements. “You know, another thing I like is learning more about God.”

“Are you a Christian?”

He nodded. “Absolutely. Are you?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know … maybe? Kind of? I mean, I used to go to church with Nana and Papa, but then I hit nineteen and decided it wasn’t for me.”

“Do you believe there’s a God?”

“I guess.” I shrugged. “The ideas behind Christianity are good, but the actions of people who call themselves Christians are sometimes … less than encouraging, we’ll just say. I feel like I don’t even want to be associated with them.”

He cocked his head. “Like what?”

“Well … the way a lot of Christians get into politics and hate on people in the opposite party. Jesus said to love everyone, right? If that’s the case, then why do they feel what they’re doing is OK?” I paused, waiting for him to respond, but he didn’t, so I went ahead. “Same thing about war and how they think about people of other nations; I’m just talking about American Christians here! Christ apparently loved everyone, no matter where they were from, and died for them on the cross. I don’t get how that’s not good enough for some people!” I shrugged again. “Those are just a few of my thoughts, but I don’t really want to get into it much further.”

He had a deep, thoughtful look on his face as he nodded. “I can see where you’re coming from, but it’s so much more complicated than people simply doing things that Jesus himself wouldn’t do. It’s about being a community, being there for others, showing His Love to everyone, regardless of their race or nationality. The only way you can fight hate is with love.”

I sighed. “Yeah. I guess you’re right. I mean, another thing that people get all upset over is denomination.”

He cocked his head. “Denomination?”

“Yeah. You know, Catholic, Mennonite, Baptist, Evangelical, stuff like that?”

“Right.”

“Why can’t we all just agree on the basic facts, then agree to disagree on the rest? How hard would that be?”

“Apparently pretty hard from what you’re saying.”

“Apparently. So many Christians I know are hypocrites.” I sipped my drink. “Sorry about that; I hope you don’t feel like I was attacking you, because I wasn’t trying to.”

He shook his head. “No, not at all! You were just expressing yourself, and that’s something you’re free to do.”

I snorted. “Apparently not, because often if you say something out loud, you get pounced on immediately for not considering other people’s beliefs. All due respect, but I am entitled to my opinion, just like everyone else is.”

Someone burst into the coffee shop, dressed head-to-toe in black, his long, dark, stringy hair in his face. “Zack!” he shouted, stopping right at our table; my date quickly stood up. “What did you do?”

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