A veteran social worker, Linda Rondeau has published more than one hundred short stories, poems, and articles both on-line and in traditional publications, most notably for her denomination’s take-home paper, VISTA, Adams Media Anthologies, and Mark Gilroy Anthologies. She has had several short stories published on the Internet. In addition to her website and critique ministry, Linda maintains a newspaper column, This Daily Grind, similar to her blog with the same title. She writes a second blog, a commentary on popular culture from a Christian World View entitled, My Thoughts to Your Thoughts. Linda has received awards from Writer’s Digest annual contests and from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, including the prestigious Writer of the Year award. In addition to her involvement in local churches and her column, she performs and directs for North Franklin Theater Group and is an avid golfer. Her husband, Steve, is a casework supervisor for Franklin County Department of Social Services. Linda is the mother of three and the grandmother of eight. She considers wife, mother, and grandmother to be the most important of all accomplishments. Linda resides in Malone, New York, just north of the scenic Adirondack Mountains.
He went to see a movie
A sharp jab to the ribs pulled Dave from his fantasy.
“Earth calling Dave. You’ve been staring at that girl for fifteen minutes. Stop ogling and go talk to her,” Sean said. He pulled the popcorn bucket from Dave’s hand.
Maybe he had been staring a little longer than a good soldier should. Anything to take his mind off this lame excuse for a send-off. An original Star Wars Movie Marathon had to be at the bottom of his “How I Want to Spend My Last Night in the USA” list.
Sean meant well. If nothing else, his company always provided a few laughs. Even if he filled the bulk of his conversation with trivia, like why most of the stormtroopers are left-handed. “Because of how the weapons were constructed,” he explained. “Like real weapons. The magazine is on the left side. When they fire, the weapons hit the troopers in the chest. So they had to switch their grip and that makes them look left-handed.” Then Sean had confessed to the oodles of hours spent researching the Internet for Star Wars tidbits.
Better to spend these remaining hours with Sean than alone.
Here Dave sat, a soon to be war hero in Han Solo garb next to a Darth Vader wannabe, ogling perhaps the prettiest girl on the planet, maybe even the cosmos.
Something about her. Amid the fifty or more Princess Leias sprinkled around the theater, only her eyes matched his mother’s birthstone.
He slumped in his seat. “Sean, I think I see my future.”
Could Sean possibly understand Dave’s envy? Sean lived a life Dave only dreamed about. A wife; a baby on the way. Settled. Church every Sunday and in-laws for dinner. Family identified a man.
Dave had volunteered for Iraq—for men like Sean. Let them stay with their babies and let those with no ties fight the terrorists.
Sean rapped Dave with a knuckle-beanie. “You’re drooling. Quit acting like Jaba the Hut and ask her out.”
Dave thrust a fistful of popcorn into his mouth. His knees knocked and a kernel stuck in his throat. At least he stopped drooling. Instead, he would choke to death. He could see the headlines now: Soldier dies from popcorn kernel on eve of Iraqi tour.
She stood, turned, and took off her sweater. Was it merely his vanity, or did she look directly his way when she smiled? But of course, the whole theater stared at the idiot gagging in the back. Sean passed him his soda and the offending kernel finally slid down.
This time Sean shoved the sharp end of his light saber into Dave’s side. “Well, the movie’s about to start. If you’re going to grab your future, better do it now. Here, take the popcorn with you.”
Dave grabbed his jacket just as the lights faded. Somewhere deep in his boots he found the courage to sit next to her. Maybe he could muster up some Han Solo charm and drown out the thump thump of his heart. “So you like science fiction, eh?” Not the best opener, but it would have to do even if the words shrieked like Chewbacca’s wail.
“Yeah. I’m a Trekkie, too.”
Was she the type who saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind a gazillion times, or waited for aliens on top of the Empire State Building? Possibly, but eccentricity seemed inconsequential in her.
“Hi. I’m Dave. Dave Dubruski. Not Russian, though.”
Yikes! Had he really just blubbered like C3PO on uppers. “Popcorn?”
“Thanks!” She took a dainty handful and giggled when some fell to the floor. Her soft staccatos like the call of a loon in his home in the Adirondacks. “My name is Nikita.”
At that moment, his future collapsed into a black hole. His face probably paled whiter than a stormtrooper’s armor.
She stared into his eyes. Was she waiting for him to say something? If so, he’d already used up whatever scraps of clever he came with. Nothing left to do but go back and face the gloating Sean. He pushed his hands against his seat in an effort to stand. “Sorry, I bothered, you.”
“Hey. Relax. I’m joking. My name is really Cherilee Adams. And I’m not Russian, either.” She laughed again.
“Yes, I’d like to have coffee with you after the movie.”
Music roared. He thought the orchestra played from within his heart until he saw the words roll across the screen: . . . in a galaxy far, far away . . .
He smiled back at Sean’s congratulatory thumbs up.
Dave leaned back and offered Cherilee more popcorn.
A sense of completion hovered in the vision. He saw the two of them seated by their fireplace and three little Leias playing at their feet.
By this time tomorrow, he’d be on a plane to the uncertainty of war. No longer a Luke Skywalker seeking revenge against an evil empire. For in these last transcending moments, the Force engulfed him—not that fictitious force of devoted Jedi Knights—but the True Force only God sends—hope and love.