The Gifts of Faith - Putting the Pieces Together (Ch 12)
When Faith and Sarah awakened the next morning, both were silent. Faith fed Lily while Sarah pulled eggs and sausage from the fridge. After Lily’s bowl was put in place, Faith went about gathering the fixings for biscuits. It wasn’t until she was plopping the dough in spoonfuls onto a baking sheet that the silence was broken.
“How ya feelin’ this mornin’, Sarah?”
Sarah nonchalantly placed the sausage in a cast iron skillet and chopped it with a slotted spoon before answering.
“I can’t nail it, Faith. For the first time in weeks I had no dreams. My sleep wasn’t interrupted, yet I don’t feel rested. I’m exhausted, to tell you the truth.”
Faith scooted Sarah out of the way to put the baking sheet into the oven as Sarah continued with her thoughts.
“There’s some connection between Julie’s ring, your ability to see souls and Hope passing her gift on to me. I don’t know what it is and I’m sure you don’t either, but Julie’s ring is the key. I feel it with all my being – and Hope’s.”
Sarah put the spoon down and turned to face her friend.
“I’m really frazzled, Faith. I’ve never in my life experienced soul talk, let alone the extreme weirdness that happened last night. I’m exhilarated, exhausted, mesmerized, and petrified all at the same time.”
“Faith? Hello? Faith!”
Sarah walked over to where Faith was standing, staring out the kitchen window. She seemed to have gone to a different plane, led by her thoughts. Sarah knew better than to touch Faith when she was in this state or she’d jump right out of her skin. Instead, Sarah planted herself between her best friend and whatever it was she was gazing at through the window.
That got Faith’s attention. They were now standing eye to eye.
“Did you hear a word I said?”
“I’m sorry, honey. I was thinking. Oh shoot! The biscuits!” Faith broke Sarah’s gaze and headed for the oven.
Over breakfast the girls didn’t say much. Faith was deep in thought. Sarah knew she’d clue her in when she was good and ready. Besides she was thoroughly enjoying her scrambled eggs with biscuits and sausage gravy.
“Sarah, when’s your lease up?” Up to this point Faith had barely touched her breakfast and was now going at it as if she hadn’t eaten in days.
“It’s up at the end of June. Why do you ask?”
“I’ve been thinking tha… “
Sarah cut her off despite having a mouth full of eggs. “Yeah, I kinda gathered.”
“I’ve been thinking that you should move in here – at least for a while. The cottage is more than big enough for the two of us. You can use the barn for storage and bring in whatever you want.”
“I guess it makes sense. I haven’t been back to the apartment in weeks.”
Faith finished her eggs and the last of her biscuits and gravy before continuing. “We have a lot to figure out. Julie’s ring has stirred up tons of questions, not to mention weirdness. Besides, we still have a lot of work to do in the garden so we can stock the shop. If you give your landlady notice now, that gives her two months to find a new tenant and we can take our time moving your stuff.”
“Sounds like a plan my friend. I’ll call her at lunchtime today. Right now, we’d better do the dishes and get ready for work. Just because you’re the boss-lady doesn’t mean we can saunter in whenever we feel like it!”
“What do you mean I’m the boss-lady? We’re partners, remember?”
“Geez, nothing like a delayed reaction; that conversation was hours ago! Guess that hearty breakfast slowed you down some, girl.” Sarah loved teasing her friend. Their friendship was bound by what each gave the other. Sarah’s lightheartedness offset Faith’s serious nature. Yin and yang.
Faith couldn’t help but chuckle. That’s what she loved about her best friend and business partner. Sarah could draw Faith out of herself in a heartbeat.
“It’s just about lunchtime. I’m going to call my landlady then pick up something from the diner. What do you feel like having for lunch, Faith?”
“After that slow-me-down breakfast, I’d better just have a salad.” Faith winked at Sarah as she poked fun at her friend. “Actually, I’d like an egg salad sandwich and iced tea.”
“You got it. Be back in a few.” Sarah punched the landlady’s number into her cell phone as she walked out the door.
When Sarah was out of sight, Faith reached into her purse to retrieve the phone number she’d looked up several weeks back. She drew a deep breath as she dialed 770-555-9368.
Faith was on the phone when Sarah returned 30 minutes later. She placed lunch on the counter and couldn’t help but overhear the conversation.
“…Yes, they were lovely. I apologize for not calling sooner. I meant to call you weeks ago. Business is good. Thank you for asking.” There was silence on this end of the phone as the person on the other end spoke.
A minute or so later, Faith continued, “Mm hm. Thank you. I appreciate that. Listen, I have something that may be of interest to you. If you’d care to stop by the next time you’re in town… Okay, great! I’ll see you then. Bye!”
Sarah’s blue eyes looked like they were about to pop out of her head as she spoke. “Holy cow! Was that Nathaniel Baxter you were talking to?”
“It was.” Faith’s hands were shaking as she returned the phone to its cradle. “Let’s have lunch and I’ll tell you all about it.”
Faith unwrapped her egg salad sandwich as Sarah attacked her fried chicken and butter beans. How does she eat like that all the time and not gain an ounce? Faith wondered to herself. Even as a born and bred Georgia peach, Faith found she couldn’t eat the rich fried foods that Georgia is famous for; at least not as a steady diet.
“So, spill it. You’re killing me! Did Nathaniel call you or did you call him?”
Faith finished chewing and took a drink of her iced tea before responding. “I called him. I looked up his number when I found the ring, even before we discovered it belonged to his mother. Weird, huh?”
“Honey, weird is no longer in my vocabulary. Weird has become normal in this journey we’re sharing.” Sarah licked her fingers and scooped up a forkful of butter beans.
“This is the way I see it. We know the ring was Nathaniel’s mother’s when she was a little girl. I believe her spirit – or a part of it – still lives in that ring. It’s the only explanation for what happened to you last night. Julie died in childbirth. Last night you appeared to be going through the pains of labor.”
Sarah interrupted, “Yeah. That was too much. That’s why I asked you to take the ring off.”
“Exactly.” Faith took another bite of sandwich while she thought of the right words to convey her reasoning. “The ring has an unmistakable vibe to it. When it’s in our hands – or on my finger, anyway – it’s not a good vibe. That’s because it doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to Nathaniel.”
“But if you didn’t find it, Faith, we’d never have known it belongs to him.”
“You’re right. I was meant to find it. Just as I was meant to buy the property that once was Nathaniel’s mother’s childhood home. We’re all connected. We have been all along. In the beginning, when my mother was dying it was me, Hope and Nathaniel. I was too young to really know what my gifts were and didn’t see it then. Shoot, I didn’t even know Nathaniel was at Mama’s deathbed until I had a flashback brought on by the Lily of the Valley he sent a few weeks ago.”
Faith paused to take a long drink of her tea. Sarah was silent, waiting for her to continue.
“Hope’s soul became tired and took residence in yours. Obviously, her purpose needed your strength in order to keep the circle in tact. That circle is our three souls working together. Yours, (which has been fortified by Hope’s), mine, and Nathaniel’s. I don’t yet know what our job is, but I’m convinced we must close the circle in order for the purpose to be met. And it begins with Julie’s ring. It must be given to Nathaniel. He’s the bloodline – the connection.”
Just then, the bell over the door signaled a patron had entered Bouquets and Rainbows. The girls were so immersed in conversation that they wouldn’t have noticed had it not been for the tinkling of the bell.
After arranging a spring bouquet for an obviously smitten teenage boy and sending him on his way, the conversation continued. By this time Sarah had time to let Faith’s words sink in.
“It’s starting to make sense now, Faith. Not completely, but I’m beginning to see it. The only thing that baffles me is what you saw in Nathaniel’s soul when you first met. How does a putrid, disease infested soul fit in with the gifts of Faith and Hope?”
“I don’t know, Sarah. I simply don’t know.”
“Are you scared to see him again?”
Shauna L Bowling
Refining, Defining or Rhyming
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