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The Gifts of Faith - The Return (Ch. 13)

Updated on February 23, 2019
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Shauna's imagination became her best friend as a little girl. As an adult and writer, imagination fuels her creative spirit.

Faith collapsed onto the chair of this antique desk and spoke her fears
Faith collapsed onto the chair of this antique desk and spoke her fears | Source

Faith was a nervous wreck. She busied herself by straightening things up around the shop to keep her mind off seeing Nathaniel again.

Today was the day and she was scared shitless.

Sarah has no idea how frightened I am of seeing Nathaniel again. And I need to get a hold of myself. Keep busy, Faith. Keep Busy.

“Faith, you’re going to bore a hole in that desk your dad gave you if you don’t quit it! What’s up with you?” Sarah snatched the polishing rag out of Faith’s hand.

Sarah grabbed Faith by the shoulders and forced her to look her in the eyes. “Tell me what’s wrong, Faith. You didn’t eat breakfast and you barely spoke on the way to work this morning. You’ve spent the last hour straightening up the shop. Who are you expecting, the President?”

Sarah had never seen what she now saw in Faith’s eyes. She saw fear. With all Faith had experienced in her life, fear never came into play. Not that Sarah had ever seen, anyway.

“What is it? What has you so frightened, Faith? And don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes. I see what I see, whether you admit it or not!”

Faith collapsed onto the chair of the antique desk Daddy had gifted to her. “Sarah, when I first met Nathaniel I was terrified of what I saw in his soul. Now I’ve invited him here and I don’t think I have the strength to see him again and not react. It took all I had in me to carry on a normal conversation with him the first time. Now that I know what I know…. Well, I just don’t think I can handle seeing him again.”

Sarah sat next to her friend, took her face in her hands and forced her to look into her eyes. “Sweetie, if Nathaniel was meant to hurt you, he would have when you first met.”

Faith lowered her gaze, contemplating her friend’s words. It wasn’t until Faith regained eye contact that Sarah continued. “Faith, you see souls. I don’t know of anyone else who has that gift. I have no idea what mine looks like, other than what you tell me. Chances are Nathaniel has no idea of what you see. Chances are the infection you see in his soul is through no fault of his own. Did you ever think of that?”

Again, Faith turned away from Sarah. She needed time to think. Sarah put the rag and furniture polish away, allowing her friend time with her thoughts. Let her think about what you just laid on her, Sarah. She forgets that most people don’t see what she sees.


The girls worked in silence while serving several customers that morning.

Finally, Sarah broke the ice. “When do you expect to see Nathanial again?”

“Today at lunchtime.” Faith checked the shelf under the counter as she spoke and avoided looking at Sarah as she did. She didn’t want her to know that’s where she’d stashed Julie’s ring.

“What? Are you kidding me? Honey, that’s in a couple hours! Come here. Sit down. Listen to me.” Sarah pulled Faith to the back room where they put flower arrangements together and literally pushed her into a chair.

Sarah pulled up a chair within inches of Faith’s face and straddled it backwards. She pushed her long blond hair behind her shoulders and rested her arms on the back of the chair.

Faith realized Sarah had something important to say and she had better listen.

Sarah pulled Faith into the back room where they put flower arrangements together
Sarah pulled Faith into the back room where they put flower arrangements together | Source

“First of all, I want to remind you that you’re the strongest person I know. You made it through the ridicule that was thrown your way when you were little. You made it through your mother’s death and you’ll make it through this.”

Faith opened her mouth to say something, but thought better of it. Instead, she waited for Sarah to get to the point.

“Like I said, I don’t think Nathaniel means you any harm. Shoot, from what you told me, it sounds like he’s got eyes for you. Now think back to when you revisited your mom’s room when she was dying. The day Nathaniel’s flowers took you back in time. What did you see?”

Faith lifted her head and stared at the ceiling trying to recall the memory. “I – I saw a little boy rubbing Mama’s arms. I thought he was trying to hurt her. Then I saw some stuff move out of Mama and into the little boy. Then the rainbow. Hope’s rainbow. And mist. Then the little boy was gone and so was Mama.” Tears welled in Faith’s eyes as she remembered how helpless she felt that day.

God, I miss Mama so much!

Sarah went to the mini-fridge they kept in the back room and returned with two bottles of water, offering one to Faith. After taking a long drink, Sarah spoke. “Remember what Hope told us? She said Nathaniel was there to take the cancer away from your mom. That was the day you first met Hope in the meadow. She said had she gotten back to your mom’s room in time, she would have been there to help Nathaniel extract the cancer. He wasn't supposed to absorb it – that’s why Hope needed to be there. But she was too late. I think what you saw in Nathaniel’s soul may be your mama’s cancer and you mistook it for evil. Not that cancer’s not evil – it is – but it could explain what you saw in him that day.”

For the first time since Faith arranged the meeting with Nathaniel, she felt she could breathe.

“Sarah, what would I do without you? You’re a good friend. Now, let’s get back to work!”


Nathaniel's 1952 MG
Nathaniel's 1952 MG
Nathaniel was even more handsome than Faith remembered
Nathaniel was even more handsome than Faith remembered | Source

Shortly after the girls returned to the storefront a red MG pulled up outside of the entrance. Faith found herself nervously smoothing her blouse and fussing with her hair as the all-too-familiar butterflies started their belly dance. “He’s here!”

Sarah looked out the window just as Nathaniel was climbing out of the sports car and closing the door. “Wow, Faith. He’s gorgeous! How on Earth could you ever be afraid of a hottie like that?”

Ting-a-ling rang the bell over the door as Nathaniel made his entrance into Bouquets and Rainbows.

He was even more handsome than Faith remembered. This time it was his sparkling blue eyes that held her attention.

“Hello, Faith. I take it this is your allusive partner?” Nathaniel approached the counter with a confident air and friendly smile.

“Hi, Nathaniel. It’s nice to see you again. Yes, this is my partner Sarah Barnes. Sarah, this is Nathaniel Baxter.”

Sarah stepped out from behind the counter, shook Nathaniel’s hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you, Nathaniel.” She could feel a blush creeping on her face as she spoke.

Faith noticed that Nathaniel’s soul wasn't nearly as scary as it had been on the first meeting. In fact, the ick seemed to fade the closer he got to the counter. She reached underneath, found what she was looking for, and tucked Julie’s ring in her pocket.

Following random chit-chat about the weather, the shop, and the drive over from Oakwood, Nathaniel re-directed the conversation. “Faith, you mentioned you have something that may be of interest to me. Care to fill me in over lunch? My treat. You too, Sarah. I’d love for you to join us. Do you think the shop can do without the two of you for an hour or so?”

Faith was relieved she wouldn't have to be alone with Nathaniel. She shot Sarah a sideways glance that said don’t you dare say no.

“That sounds great. I’m famished. Give me a minute while I get the Out to Lunch sign for the door and grab my purse.” Sarah flipped the plastic hands to 2:00 and hung the sign in the window as Faith locked the door behind them.

“Where to?” Nathaniel situated himself between the women, gently placing a hand on each of their shoulders, looking for guidance.

Sarah and Faith spoke at the same time. “There’s a great diner at the end of the block.” This elicited giggles from the girls.

“Well, I guess it’s unanimous then. The diner it is! Lead the way, ladies.”


Faith and Nathaniel ordered the special: catfish, black-eyed peas, and cornbread
Faith and Nathaniel ordered the special: catfish, black-eyed peas, and cornbread | Source
Faith handed Julie's ring to its rightful heir
Faith handed Julie's ring to its rightful heir | Source

Sarah ordered her usual fried chicken fix. Nathaniel and Faith both opted for the special: catfish, black-eyed peas, and corn bread. The waitress brought their drinks – sweet tea all the way around – and placed their orders.

While they were waiting, Faith pulled the ring from her pocket and presented it to Nathaniel. “I believe this belongs to you.”

Nathaniel raised his right eyebrow as he stared at the tiny jewel. “I don’t understand. This looks like a little girl’s ring. I don’t have any children or even a little sister.” Nevertheless, he took it from Faith, holding it gingerly between his thumb and forefinger, inspecting it as he spoke.

At that moment Faith knew she was right in returning Julie’s ring to the son she would never know. The butterflies stopped doing their dance when she handed it over.

Faith did most of the talking during lunch. She told Nathaniel how she’d found the ring buried in the dirt while she and Sarah were tending to the gardens. Of course, she left out most of the details. After all, he’d probably think she was crazy if she started talking about butterflies, rainbows, and premonitions. She went on to tell him about their online search to find out the history of the property and how, after a lot of digging, they discovered the White family had lived there originally.

“That’s all very interesting, but what does this have to do with the ring and why should it be of interest to me?” Nathaniel spun the tiny ring on the table as he posed the question.

“I’m getting to that. Be patient.” Faith took a bite of her catfish. “The White family had a little girl named Julie who was born in 1956. She was their only child. We wanted to know more about Julie so we did some more digging. We found a newspaper headline dated April 17, 1976 announcing the wedding of Julie White and Haywood Baxter.”

Nathaniel about choked on his sweet tea. “So, Julie White was my mother? But how did you put the pieces together? How did you know Haywood Baxter is my father?”

Faith chose her words carefully. She didn’t want Nathaniel to know how shaken she’d been after their first meeting. “When you came into the shop a couple of months back I was – well, suffice it to say I was a bit curious about you. I asked my father if he new of the Baxters in Oakwood. Turns out your dad hired my dad to build custom furniture for his clients back in the day. In fact, they did business together for years.”

Nathaniel leaned back in the booth and smiled. “You mean Hal Montgomery is your father?”

“He is.” Faith was feeling more at ease as the conversation went on.

“Sometimes, I’d ride along when my dad made a run to pick up the furniture. I don’t ever remember meeting you, though.” Nathaniel put his napkin on the table and signaled for the waitress to bring the check.

“Nor I you, Nathaniel. Most likely I was off playing in the meadow. I did that a lot when I was a little girl.”

As the trio got up to leave, Nathaniel muttered, “It certainly is a small world.”

For the first time since they sat down, Sarah joined in the conversation. “You have no idea.”

Faith turned to give her friend a warning look when she noticed the soft glimmer of Sarah’s rainbow.

What’s more, the frightful ugliness she’d seen in Nathaniel’s soul on that first meeting was all but gone.

Shauna L Bowling

Refining, Defining or Rhyming

All Rights Reserved

© 2014 Shauna L Bowling


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