OCFW Christmas serial story
this chapter by Sharon Srock
Copyright © OKC Christian Fiction Writers
“Watch Tad, I bet I can get some serious air on this jump.” Eleven-year-old Robbie lined his bike up with the homemade ramp and pedaled hard for his target. His bike sailed across the rickety piece of plywood, soaring into the air, coming down neatly on the opposite ramp ten feet away. Robbie applied his brakes, skidding his back wheel in a gravel-showering arc before coming to a triumphant stop. “Yes!”
“Awesome.”Tad stopped next to his best friend and offered a high five in recognition of the flawless stunt.
“Are you two morons trying to kill yourselves?”
Robbie smiled at his twin sister. “Hey, Ellie.”
Ellie sent an answering smile to Robbie and frowned at Tad. “Those ramps don’t look very safe.”
Tad snorted. “That’s cause you’re a girl and this is a guy thing. Go play with your dolls.”
Ellie raised a clearly sarcastic eyebrow. Without a word she wheeled her own bike to spot Robbie had started from and prepared to make Tad eat his words.
“Ellie…” Robbie’s voice carried a warning.
Tad stood back, arms crossed, ready to watch the show. “We aren’t going for bandages when you break something,” he scoffed.
Nice, Tad thought when Ellie took the ramp in solid form. His approval was short lived as the opposing ramp crumbled under her landing, sending her barreling into a tree.
The scream of her impact seemed to echo across the years and through the snow-covered night.
Tad paused beside the tree, his gloved hand resting on the trunk. No wonder she hated him.
In the end Robbie had run for help. Not Tad.
Eleanor hurried past the scene of the accident, her memories of that day broken and bittersweet. She remembered the teasing and the giddy feel of nothing but air under her wheels. The next thing she could recall with any clarity was waking up with her head in Tad’s lap and unbearable pain.
“Shhh. Don’t move. Robbie went for help.”
“I know.” Tad brushed the long dark hair from her face. The fear she saw reflected in his twelve-year-old eyes frightened her more than the pain. He must have realized that.
“That was amazing.”
Ellie closed her eyes against the pain in her leg and the tears she couldn’t control.
“I mean that, Ellie, totally amazing. You could probably be a stunt woman or something.”
She thought she felt his lips brush her forehead in a touch of tenderness she would never forget.
Later, in the hospital, she couldn’t figure out if the kiss had been real or not. It had never been repeated.
Eleanor stopped walking when she didn’t hear Tad following. When she turned around, she saw him leaning against the tree. Anger over his remarks, hurt over Robbie’s death, and the cold of the storm all receded.
“That summer changed things for all of us, didn’t it?”
Tad nodded. “Did I ever apologize?”
Tad blinked in obvious confusion. “For what? How about for daring you to keep up with Robbie and me? If I’d kept my mouth shut, you probably wouldn’t have spent the summer in a body cast.”
“You think I blame you for that?”
“I think you hate me for that.”
Eleanor shook her head. Men. She looked behind her and could just see the Christmas lights from home blinking through the dark. It was comforting.
“I don’t blame you and I don’t hate you. We were kids. All three of us should have had a T in our name somewhere for trouble. I don’t remember a lot that about that day, but I do remember the blond haired, freckle faced boy who brought me flowers and chocolate once a week for eight weeks. A friend who kept Robbie from being bored while I recuperated.
“Daises are still my favorite flower, and Robbie loved you.” Eleanor shivered, bunched her coat a little tighter around her frame. “I’ll admit my love affair with chocolate has caused me some grief over the years, but I’m working on that as well.”
He started down the hill toward her, eyes lighter now. “So the weight loss is intentional? Not a product of grief?”
“You did notice. I was afraid of that.” She sighed.
Eleanor rolled her head back to look at the sky, still dropping snow on them. Since they were clearing the air, she might as well go for the whole truth. “I had a weight loss procedure six months ago. I decided it was time to take control of my life. Robbie was the only one who knew.”
“That’s amazing,” he said as he drew abreast of her and took her arm so they could keep moving.
She couldn’t look at him as she asked. “You don’t think it’s dumb? “
“How can it be dumb to take control of something that could destroy you?”
Eleanor glanced at him from the corner of her eye. “I don’t want to start another argument, but maybe you should follow my example. The Bible says we should worry less about the things that can kill our bodies and more about the things that can kill our souls.
“My weight might have sent me to an early grave, but I know where I’m going. Where are you going, Tad?” She shivered again, then tried to make a joke of it. “Sometimes my loss of insulation is a bad thing. Let’s get to the house. Everyone will be worried.”
Tad tugged Ellie’s elbow, bringing her even closer. Close enough so he could brush his lips across her forehead. “You make me think, Ellie Clark. I’m not sure that’s always a good thing.”
One more chapter to go. Check back Wednesday to read the end and find out what happens with Tad and Ellie!