by Sarah Kourkoulis

She walked through the cafe, looking for a free table, or perhaps her friend who she was supposed to be meeting here. Finding neither, she went back toward the front door to wait. There was a large window there, looking out to the city street, and she stood, watching the rain scare the pedestrians into running on the sidewalk. Her mind grew bored with the scene, however, and she began thinking again of the troubles that had started just this morning.

She worked as a paralegal in one of the largest firms in the city. She had her own desk, with a name plate that read Emilia J. Kendall, Paralegal, and she held the respect of nearly everyone in the office. Her absolute honesty and intensity about hard work were part of the reputation that went along with every resume she’d ever typed up. She was not a woman to get entangled in office romances. She knew when to concede her point and when to fight to the death for it. All in all, she was considered by her employers to be the perfect employee, and they made sure she knew it, granting her certain priveleges as incentives to stay on with them for a long time.

She had attained everything that she’d ever dreamed of, everything that she’d ever planned for. She was good, and that was all she’d ever wanted.

And then came the letter in the mail.

The stationary was from a firm out in Dallas. When she’d seen that, her stomach tightened. And after she’d read what was written on it, she was nearly sick. Memories came rushing back unexpectedly, and she had no defenses up against them. She’d called Sam right after that, to meet him at lunch, and here she was.

A table was cleared in the corner, and she made her way to it, inching past chairs and briefcases. She took off her trench coat, draping it over one of the chairs. She sat in the corner, the wall to her back, and waited for Sam to come in.

The waiter had just left with her order for tea when Sam waved to her from the front door. He came in and took the seat across from her, asking, “Well, Millie, how are you?”

She shook her head. “Not very well Sam.”

“That’s what I figured. You didn’t sound good on the phone. How bad is it?”

The waiter came then with her tea, and they managed to order two sandwiches quickly. He left them again.

It took her awhile to answer, but Sam was patient. Finally, she pulled out the letter from her coat pocket. “I got this in the mail today. They actually sent it to the office. I couldn’t believe his audacity.”

Sam read it in silence, all the while grieving for her. He laid it down on the table when he was finished.

“So he died a month ago. Millie, I’m so sorry.”

“I’m glad somebody is, because I’m sure not. Isn’t that terrible? I’m glad he’s dead. He was my father, and I’m supposed to love him and feel sorry that he’s gone, but I hated him, and I’m glad he’s dead. And I hate him for that too.”

He watched her face tighten in anger, knowing that she wouldn’t hear him if he tried to say something right now, with all that she was feeling.

She contnued, her voice growing colder. “I have become everything he always told me I couldn’t be. I am respectable, I am educated. I am not poor, I am not married to a slob, I am not the mother of brats. I never went running back to him for anything, not once. And now, when everything is going right, he does this!”

They got their sandwiches then, and it was a slight distraction, which was good. Sam needed it. He’d known this girl from the day she’d stepped into town, and they’d been friends ever since. Over time, she’d told him some about her childhood, and at the beginning, he’d tried to help her. He’d say something about forgiveness, only to be brushed off. Soon, it became clear that when she brought up her home life, which was very rare, she was letting off steam. She didn’t need or want any advice.

But now, he wasn’t at all sure. Why call him, just to vent? She didn’t call attention to her own problems that way. This was a unique situation.

It took a few minutes before he found the words to ask her. “Millie, why did you call me?”

She tilted her head to the side. “You’re the only one who has ever called me Millie. To everyone else in this city, I am either Emilia, or Ms. Kendall. I’m amazed I let you give me a nickname. That’s so unlike me.”


She shook her head. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” She wiped her hands on her napkin, then folded it neatly and put it by her plate. “I needed to talk to you Sam. And I needed to ask you...”

His whole body went on alert. She was going to ask him something. Emilia J. Kendall did not ask anyone for anything. It was one thing that he had never seen her do. But in the interest of allowing her all the space she needed, he continued to eat in silence, waiting for her to finish.

Eventually, it came.

“Sam, I did it. I left everything I grew up with. I mean, I really left it. I am just the opposite of who I was. But why...why do I feel just the same? Why does one letter make me feel like I’m a kid again? I don’t get it Sam, and I really need to.”

It was Sam’s turn to take it slowly. He pushed his plate to the side, and folded up his hands on the table.

“For as long as I have known you, you’ve strived to be good, Millie. And you’ve done a decent job at it. You’re right, you’ve become pretty much everything you ever wanted to be, except free. You have never been free from your memories, from your anger and hatred, from even your dad. And if you want to know how to be free, Emilia, I will tell you.”

She sat across from him at that table for a long time. She needed to weigh this all carefully. She had lived with the memories and the anger for so long that she really had to decide if they were worth keeping. For some reason, she found a degree of comfort in them, and the possibility of letting them go caused her to quake a little.

Finally, she answered, “I think I do want to know. I don’t think I can take anymore of this. I carry him with me everywhere, whether I’m trying to forget him, or trying to show him that he was wrong, or just trying to stop hurting. I want him gone, Sam. I want to live and breathe and be free of it all.”

He nodded. “There is only one way that I know of to get that, Millie. And that is by trusting in Jesus, the Son of God. He died for you, Emilia. He was born on this Earth, and died as a thief, without ever doing anything wrong. You have tried all your life to not do anything wrong, and yet you hate your father. Jesus never hated anyone. He was perfect, but He chose to die so that we all could be friends of God. We can become that when we recognize our own sin, ask Jesus to forgive us, and then give Him the rest of our lives to change us so that we don’t sin anymore. And part of that, is forgiving the ones who have hurt us, so that we no longer carry that hatred inside of us. You see, Millie, God is love. We can’t be friends of God if we hate those around us.”

Emilia didn’t have anything to say for awhile. He’d given her a lot to think about, especially when it came to this God stuff. She ended up thanking him for seeing her on such short notice, and telling him that she’d think over all that he’d said. They said good-bye, and she went back to work.

For the rest of the day, she was distracted. Her coworkers didn’t know what to make of it. No one had ever seen her so flighty, unable to keep her attention focused on one thing for long. A few were concerned enough to ask if something was wrong, but she had never really built any strong relationships with the people she worked with, so they didn’t pursue it far.

When she got back to her apartment that night, she was still mulling over everything Sam had said, weighing it all. He had said that she would have to give up the rest of her life to God so that He could change her. That part made her pause long and hard over this. Was the pain she felt worth getting rid of if the price was that she would have to give up the rest of her life?

She took her shoes off, and padded down the hall toward her bedroom. She changed into her pyjamas, and then spent thirty minutes rummaging through her hall closet in search of some old remnants from her college days. Oh, there it was. On the bottom of the last box, of course. She dusted off the old leather cover, tracing the gold embossed letters with her finger. The Holy Bible. A roommate her freshman year had given this to her, saying that it held all the answers to her questions. In her youthful arrogance, she had laughingly made some comment about the uselessness of college then. But now, with these questions in her heart, she wondered if that girl could possibly have been right.

Before she opened it, she felt as though some sort of prayer were in order. She had vague memories of going to church with her mother when she was small and some priest or something praying before reading out of the Bible, so she tried that now. “I need some answers, please,” she whispered. Not a very good prayer, but it was the best she could do.

She started at the beginning. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” She stopped. Her head was starting to spin with the implications that this one sentence carried. There was a lot of certainty in that. Anytime she had ever heard science try to answer the question of where the universe had come from, they were mostly guesses. “We think...Evidence seems to point...We believe...” But this.

She sat on the floor in her living room, and leaned against the wall. If God had created the world, then He must have had a purpose. Sam had said that Jesus was God’s Son, and that He had chosen to be born and die on Earth so that everyone could be friends of God. It sounded like God’s purpose was that he wanted her to be His friend.

She closed her eyes tightly, trying not to cry. “God, is that why you created everything? Why you created me? So that I could be your friend? I could really use a friend like you, God. But, I’m so bad. I didn’t think I was, not until I found out my dad died. But then I knew. God, I hate him so much. He hurt me so badly. And I don’t want to hate him anymore, God. I’m so sorry for hating him. Sam said that you never hated anyone Jesus. He said that...” She started to cry then. With the tears streaming down her face, she knew that Someone was listening to her, and it felt so good to have Him listen. “Jesus, I’m so sorry. I don’t want to hate him. Please help me- I want to be free. And I’ll let you have the rest of my life to change me.”

She couldn’t say anymore, only cry for a long time. She remembered her childhood, those things her father had said, and each time she remembered something, she knew she had a choice. I’m so sorry for hating him, she kept whispering. Please forgive me.

She woke up hours later, and there was something so different inside that she felt like she were floating. For the first time ever, she could think of her father without any anger at all. Her entire heart seemed as though it were lighter than air, like she were floating on a cloud. She’d experimented with drugs in college, but there was nothing that had ever made her feel like this.

She picked up her Bible, and curled up on her sofa in the living room. It had fallen open to Matthew, and she began reading there, watching as Jesus fed thousands and healed the masses, and then was killed on a cross. She cried again when she read that, thanking Him over and over for what He had chosen to do for her, so that she could be God’s friend.

Copyright 2014