Head in the clouds. Feet on the ground. Heart in the story. Christa Kinde is a cheerful homebody whose imagination takes her new places with every passing day. Making her home between misty mornings and brimming bookshelves in Southern California, she’s been writing for more than a decade, but the Threshold Series is her first foray into fiction. Learn about Christa’s books, Bible studies, short stories, weekdaily serials, and more at ChristaKinde.com.
Part Eight: Pushover
You can find Part 1 HERE
You can find Part 2 HERE
You can find Part 3 HERE
You can find Part 4 HERE
You can find Part 5 HERE
You can find Part 6 HERE
You can find Part 7 HERE
On the bus the next morning, Ransom and Marcus critiqued their way through a bag of baked goods. “What’s the stuff in this icing?” asked Ransom. “It’s kinda cherry-ish. Sorta?”
Marcus shrugged. “You’re in with the TV chefs. You tell me.”
“I only know what I’ve seen. I can’t taste or smell the stuff on television.”
“Go to the source. Ask the baker.”
Ransom crammed the rest of the pastry in his mouth and mumbled, “Gesh sho.” He swallowed and licked his fingers clean. “Whatever it is, it’s good.”
Suddenly, a kid in the row behind them leaned over their seat. “I’ll tell you if you gimme a doughnut.”
“Yeah?” Ransom glanced between the remains of his convenience store haul and an older boy with blond hair, blue eyes, and a confident grin. He lifted the bag. “Deal.”
They guy nabbed a fat doughnut covered in cinnamon and sugar. Shaking it at Ransom, he said, “Almond’s the stuff you’re tasting. Almond paste in the filling. Almond extract in the icing.”
“I’ve heard of that.” Frowning a little, Ransom asked, “How’d you know?”
“The same way I know that this is an apple cider doughnut.” He took a huge bite and rolled his eyes appreciatively. “Love ’em.”
“Seriously,” Ransom protested. “How’d you know?”
“Mostly because almond’s one of my favorites. I always pick those when I’m at the bakery.”
“You’ve been to the one in town?”
Ransom hooked an arm over the seat. “Is it a good place?”
“The best. I’d live there if my dad let me.” He shoved the last bite of doughnut into one cheek. “I’m Neil, by the way.”
“I’m Ransom. And this is Marcus.”
“Nicetameetcha. And thanks for second breakfast.”
Marcus noticed that the guy sitting next to Neil was one of the teens always playing football in their park. Lifting a hand, Marcus offered a casual, “Yo.”
Ransom followed up by holding out his bag. “Doughnut?”
“Any time. Any day.” Cracking a smile, he added, “The name’s Brock.”
The whole rest of the way to school, the four of them talked about food, football, and the best places to ride once Marcus got his bike.
After school, Marcus was halfway up his driveway when he caught the crackling strains of an old hymn. The door to Russ McIntey’s garage was standing open, and every now and again, he’d sing a line or two along with the radio. Can’t walk away from an invitation like that. Marcus angled over and rapped on the doorjamb.
“Marcus! Is school already out?” Glancing at the clock, Russ muttered, “Where does the time go?”
“I hear it flies when fun stuff’s happening.” Marcus circled the table, studying the pattern traced out on a big sheet of paper. “New project?”
“For my daughter’s daughter, who bought her first house.” Love and pride shone in Russ’s eyes. “I asked her to pick a gift, and she wanted a window. She’s liked this design since she was tiny.”
The repeating pattern of scallops didn’t look too complicated. Like fish scales or close-fitting feathers. Marcus picked up one of the curved pieces and eyed the layout. “Does it matter what order they go in?”
“No, no. It’s all random.” Waving to the waiting piles of cut pieces, Russ said, “You’re welcome to help. Just fill in the empty spaces.”
“Yeah, sure.” Ditching his backpack, Marcus chose a short stack and started dropping colored panes into place. The window was like a puzzle, except all the pieces were the same shape. They’ll fit no matter what I do. But Marcus hesitated. Probably shouldn’t put two blues right next to each other.
Reaching for another pile, he checked his choices—emerald, cobalt, orange, lime. In a third stack he found rich purple and a handful of opaque pieces. Marcus reclaimed a few scallops so he could scatter the new colors more strategically.
“While you do that, I’ll cut some more pieces,” said Russ. “I think we’ll come up shy.”
“Yep. Wait. A new color?”
“No, no. More of the same. Which do you want?”
Marcus picked up a bottle green piece. “Is there more of this?”
With an approving nod, Russ ambled to the corner and searched through his stock. Marcus was soon engrossed in finding pleasing alignments. Russ watched without remark as Marcus held up pieces to the light, then gently dropped the pieces into place. He didn’t realize he was humming along with the radio until Russ spoke up.
“You know this old song?”
“Do you know the words?”
Where’s the harm? Marcus shrugged and sang along.
Russ didn’t do a very good job hiding his surprise. Or his delight. So Marcus stuck around later than he intended, all the way until the evening news put an end to songs.
A wistful smile creased Russ’s face when Marcus was called home for supper. The old man said, “You’re welcome any time.”
Giving a last poke to one vivid scallop, Marcus promised, “I’ll come over more.”
“For the glass or for the radio?” Russ asked jokingly.
Marcus shook his head and spoke the truth. “For the fellowship.”
Marcus was still humming hymns when he entered the glade that night. After the warm-up with Russ, he was primed for praise. But his steps slowed at the sight of the angel flanked by Jedrick and Tamaes. Ransom’s guardian angel stood with eyes downcast, but then Jedrick gripped his shoulder. When Ardon lifted his eyes, and Tamaes gave him a little push forward.
“Hear him out,” said Jedrick.
A smile tugged at Tamaes’s lips. “All will be well.”
Marcus’s tension ebbed away at the hangdog expression on Ardon’s face. There’s no threat here. The guy’s in no more danger of Falling than I am. Marcus stepped forward and said, “Yo.”
Dropping to one knee, Ardon offered his palm. “I owe you several apologies.”
“Guess I got you into trouble.” Marcus’s hand was small against the Guardian’s callused one.
“Your Flightmates have been kind in their correction.” Ardon’s pale eyes begged for understanding. “I listened to hope rather than sense when you took a place at Ransom’s side. I disrupted your concentration in the classroom. I gave your mentor and Flightmates cause for concern. And … I believe I frightened you.”
“Red flags were flying.”
Ardon rested his other hand atop Marcus’s. “Fear not, child of light. I may be a fool, but I am Faithful.”
“Yep. We’re good.”
“And my charge …?”
“Ransom.” Marcus tugged free and sat in the grass at Ardon’s side. “He’s supposed to be my best friend.”
Tamaes said, “You do not sound certain.”
“M’not.” Marcus fiddled with the cuff of his pants, which sported a wide border of sea-green embroidery. “If he was a believer, this would make more sense. But whatever. It’s too late.”
Ardon bristled. “Ransom may yet learn that he is loved.”
“Huh? Oh, yeah.” Marcus shook his head and explained, “I meant it’s too late for me..”
Tamaes chuckled. “Cherubim are such pushovers.”
Jedrick’s eyebrows shot up. “We are Protectors.”
“Does that mean …?” Ardon’s bafflement lent a childlike innocence to his expression. “Can you clarify …?”
“Ransom is loved by God. And by his Guardian,” said Tamaes, whose tone held a teasing lilt. “And by his best friend.”
With a small shrug, Marcus admitted, “I got attached.”
Ardon whispered, “Thank you.”
Marcus shook his head and gruffly said, “Save your thanks for God. Or for Ransom. Neither of them is giving me much choice.”
Early Saturday morning, two boys sat on the curb in front of the Turnquists’ place. As usual, Ransom was doing all the talking. Marcus was grateful for the distraction because his stomach was in knots. What’ll he say? What’ll he do?
“Have you been to Sunderland Park yet?”
“Dad took me once. Sorta. There was a company picnic, but it was good. You can rent kayaks and hike in the woods and stuff.” Ransom eagerly added, “According to Mr. Ranger, there’s a bike trail all the way from here to there.”
Marcus blinked. “You talked to a park ranger?”
“Yeah, in the nature center. But here’s the important part. Since we can get there without being on the highway, my dad doesn’t care if we ride out that way. Assuming you can get a bike.” Ransom stretched his legs out into the road, knocking his sneakers together. “If not, we could probably still make it. Do you run?”
Thinking back to a recent training session that proved just how much shorter his legs were than every other warrior in the Flight, Marcus snorted. “Yep, given sufficient incentive.”
Ransom laughed. “I meant for fun.”
“Might be fun.” Marcus caught the distant rumble of an engine and leaned forward.
“Hey, is that him?” Ransom jumped up.
“Maybe.” A motorcycle rounded the corner a few blocks down. Scrambling to his feet, Marcus shoved his hands in his jacket pockets so he could press them against his giddy stomach. “Make that definitely.”
Ransom was already waving. Marcus hunched his shoulders and held his breath as the bike gently rolled to a stop at the end of the driveway. Throat closed, eyes stinging, he flung a silent greeting at the angel who’d raised him. You came.
Aleff’s answer came swift and sure. You called.
Next Month: Angel Unaware, Part Nine: “Favorite Nephew”