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 Twelve: New Neighbor
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
You can find Part 8 HERE
You can find Part 9 HERE
You can find Part 10 HERE
You can find Part 11 HERE
Marcus relaxed in his bed, pretending to be asleep while waiting for a waking household to discover what he already knew. Snow had been falling thick and fast over Milton County since shortly after midnight. A foretaste of winter at the end of October.
Slow tread on the stairs. The beep of the coffee maker. His foster father’s low voice. Scuffing slippers. The faint burnt smell that meant Brenna had cranked the toaster settings to char. Muffled exclamations. Light laughter. Television noises. And finally, Landon’s crow of delight.
Marcus rolled over to hide a smirk in his pillow. Yeah, he was an angel, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy snow days.
Feet thudded up the stairs, and Marcus’s bedroom door burst open. Landon crashed onto his bed and shook him. “No school today!”
“So you woke me up to tell me I can sleep in?”
Landon grinned broadly. “Mom says we can have cartoons with breakfast, but then we gotta shovel.”
“Sounds good, runt.”
His little brother hurtled away, and his little sister shuffled in, hugging a stuffed giraffe. “Marcus, do you want breakfast in bed?”
“Bring it on, Flopsy.”
She beamed and reversed course.
Marcus lay back and stared at the ceiling. He might not need sleep, but he was tired. Jedrick’s and Taweel’s storm maneuvers had lasted all night long. Flying through snow sorta tickles. His eyes settled shut, and he let his thoughts drift heavenward. Limp and lazy, he hummed snatches of a song he’d always known and would sing forever.
A titter. The tinkle of ice. A tap.
“Only orange, because Mom said,” Flopsy announced with a trace of wistfulness.
“Thanks, runt.” He could handle that much, though he’d probably have to see Abner about a haircut later. Oranges always went straight to his follicles.
Brenna set the tray across his lap. Toaster waffles, apple slices, and a steaming mug. She whispered, “The juice is safe, but I can’t vouch for the ‘cocoa.’”
Marcus took a closer look at the brown liquid that showed under floating pink and green marshmallows.
His older sister winked. “Be brave.”
Taking a cautious sip, Marcus struggled to keep a straight face. The color was right, but the flavor was badly off. He cleared his throat. “New recipe, Flopsy?”
“Do you remember what you used?”
“Chocolate milk and coffee. Plus special nourishments.”
Marcus cleared his throat. “And that’d be … what exactly?”
For an answer, the girl fished a wrapper out of her pocket—shiny red foil with multiple creases that meant it had been folded around something square-ish. Oh.
Brenna’s lips twitched. “Bouillon cube?”
He was spared from finishing everything on his tray by Ransom’s phone call.
“Wanna get outside?”
Marcus said, “I have to shovel the driveway first, but I’m free after that.”
“I’ll come help.”
“Want me to save you some breakfast?”
There was a lengthy pause on Ransom’s end. “Did Flopsy make it?”
“How’d you guess?”
“I’ll eat here, thanks. Safer.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” There’d been some close calls in skill level. “Recent catastrophes call your superiority into question.”
“Okay, yeah. But Flopsy’s food fusion technique is truly disturbing. I’m standing my ground. See you in a few.”
Dressing warmly, Marcus carried his tray to the kitchen.
Susan Turnquist took one look at the remaining food and frowned. “You don’t eat enough.”
“Not a big breakfast person.”
“You hardly touch your dinner either.” Mrs. Turnquist sighed. “Are you sure you’re getting enough to eat? You’re a growing boy. Just look at those ankles.”
Marcus glanced down. This is new. He’d never once outgrown his clothes during his years as a Graft, but his jeans were definitely too short. “Sorry.”
His foster mom shook her head. “Don’t apologize. It’s only natural. Be sure to tell me if your shoes start pinching.”
Shrugging into his jacket—which still fit perfectly—Marcus slid his feet into sneakers. To his surprise, his toes were more crowded. Had this happened overnight, or had he simply overlooked the change because it was so gradual? “I really am growing,” he mumbled.
“This much since we met.”
Marcus turned to find Ardon leaning against the corner of the house.
Measuring a scant inch between thumb and forefinger, the Guardian belatedly added, “Peace, friend.”
Bike brakes squeaked, and Ransom slid to a stop beside the mailbox. “Is this awesome, or what? Got an extra shovel?”
“Want to make it a race?”
Amidst the slow drift of fresh flakes, they cleared both driveways in record time. Landon immediately dragged two sleds out of the garage—one red, one blue. “Pull us!”
Flopsy bounced up and down in her pink snowsuit. “Rides!”
Hitched with twine, the teens became sled dogs, and the ride became another race.
“Mush!” yelled Landon while Flopsy shrieked with laughter.
Marcus dug in, out-distancing Ransom as they reached the neighborhood playground and careening to a halt beside the jungle gym. While his younger siblings did their level best to leave footprints on every inch of the previously flawless blanket of white, Marcus flopped backward and made a snow angel.
Still puffing from the final stretch of their race, Ransom bent double and grinned at him. “Think Brock and Joey would go for a snowball fight?”
Ransom collapsed next to him and shut his eyes. “Give me a sec. Then I’ll go knock on some doors.”
Marcus hummed, but his attention switched to the ring of battle. Ardon stood over them, sword drawn and wings astir as ranks of cherubim swung through the sky. Battle raged in earnest, and it made his blood sing.
He was a cherub, an angelic warrior, made for war. Part of him really wanted to grab a weapon and join the formations wheeling overhead. To make a difference. Yet he’d spend the rest of the morning tossing snowballs at children.
At times like this, Marcus
wondered at God’s plans for him.
The following weekend, the weather’s mood had swung back to autumn. Sunny days made snow a distant memory as afternoons took on the mellowness of Indian summer. Marcus took advantage of a sibling-free Saturday morning to go over his bike. Ransom wanted to fit in one more trek up to Sunderland State Park before they were snowed in for real.
Familiar melodies trickled from the direction of Russ’s workshop—old hymns on one of the Christian stations. Maybe he and Russ were due for some fellowship.
He’d just decided to hang out with the man until lunchtime when Jedrick arrived. His mentor settled in the middle of Russ’s lawn with a swish of emerald wings.
“What are you doing here?” Marcus scanned the vicinity.
Jedrick looked between the neighboring properties. “Actually, I am here, not there.”
“No, but something is stirring.”
Just then, a pickup pulled into the Russ’s driveway. Crisscrossing ropes secured an odd assortment of furniture—mismatched armchairs, a desk, a battered dresser. But half the load looked to be speakers, amps, and black instrument cases.
A red minivan rolled to a stop on the street in front, closely followed by a baby blue VW Bug.
“Looks like moving day,” said Marcus.
Jedrick folded his arms over his chest. “This should prove interesting.”
Marcus looked sharply at his mentor. What’s going on here?
The passenger door on the Bug opened, and a familiar redhead bounded out. Flinging his arms wide, Baird exclaimed, “It’s all … suburbs!”
Levi emerged from the driver’s seat and tossed a wave in Marcus’s direction before joining the pickup’s driver. That young man flicked lank blond hair out of his eyes before tackling the ropes. His passenger, a young woman with her hair arranged in dozens of tight braids, strode purposefully toward the red minivan. “Come on, boys! Let’s do this!” she sang out.
Marcus stood transfixed. My teammates. Why are Baird and Levi here?
And then Baird was in front of him, hand outthrust. “Howdy, neighbor! The name’s Baird.”
“I don’t understand.” Marcus shook his head while the Worshiper pumped his hand. “You and Levi live down in Harper.”
“We do.” Leaning close, Baird whispered, “We’re not the ones in need of new digs, though we’ll probably turn up from time to time. As it happens, a good friend of mine’s moving in.”
Marcus knew about Baird’s bandmates. Their names often came up during evensong, and he recognized them without any trouble. Rick, who played guitar. Mickie, the percussionist. And the young man Levi was nudging their way. “Baird’s already meeting the neighbors!”
“Why am I not surprised?”
Baird grinned. “Neighbor nothin’! Me and Marcus have skipped straight to friends!”
“Marcus is it?” Baird’s bass-player extended a hand. “I’m Sheldon.”
Next Month: Angel Unaware, Part Thirteen: “Nice Guy”