Chapter Ten, "Summer's Changes", of A Love From Above - Free Christian E-Novel


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Chapter 10

Jon assisted Denise out of his car. They had just finished a wild game of tennis at the Country Club, and of course, he had won. Denise smiled, thinking he might not have if she hadn't slacked off a few times deliberately, but he was so handsome when he felt proud of himself, a little cocky she thought, but handsome!

They walked up to the porch and Jon held the door open for her.

"Surprise!" shouted the group of her friends and family.

Caught off guard, Denise just stood there looking around as everyone was talking, laughing, blowing party whistles, and acting silly!

A surprise birthday party! She had not expected this as her birthday was not until Monday, but she was very excited. How had they pulled this off without her getting suspicious? But, it was a wonderful treat to have all her friends over for the fun! Jon had returned from college for the weekend and now Denise realized that, of course, Mom would have planned the party so he could be here.

She had missed Jon so much. It seemed months since he had been home last, but actually it had only been two weeks. It sounded simple enough, when Jon had told her he would be home from school every weekend, but, it hadn't panned out that way. He had so much homework, so many tests, and he just couldn't study at home, he had told her, not knowing she was just next door. He had been very sweet about it all, and came home every chance he got, but, of course, he had to make good in school. His whole future depended on it!

The cake and punch were delicious, as well as beautiful, and Denise lavished praise on her mom and Vickie, Jon's mother, for a job well done!

But of all the surprises, Denise was most shocked when Dad walked in the room and handed her a set of car keys.

"Now that you're sixteen and can get your unrestricted drivers license we figured you might could use a car! Besides your Mother is tired of accompanying you back and forth to the hospital." Dad laughed as he hugged his ecstatic daughter.

Denise had signed up as volunteer at the local hospital to avoid idle time while Jon was away, after she returned from cheer- leading camp. She had learned to feel kind of "at home" at the hospital when Dad was there, and at Nancy's suggestion that they do volunteer work together, Denise had jumped at the chance.

Running out the front door, followed by a procession of laughing, shouting friends and family, Denise spotted a metallic lavender Volkswagon convertible with a large white bow on the hood. It was just darling!

"It's second-hand, but it's as good as new. and it'll get good gas mileage too." Dad pointed out.

Denise hugged him hard as tears filled her eyes, then went to Mom and gave her a big hug and kissed her cheek.

"Oh, thank you Mom, Dad! I love it!" Denise shouted as she walked around her new car, gently touching the shiny finish. She was so proud of it. Her folks were absolutely the greatest, she thought to herself.

Jon was standing nearby and she reached for him, giving him a big hug too. She was so happy! All was right with her world. But the best part was looking into those big, brown eyes of Jon's, and seeing her joy reflected in them. But late Sunday afternoon, she again was saying goodbye to Jon.

"I'll call you tonight when I get back to the campus, OK? And I'll be back Friday night, if I possibly can. I miss you so much when I'm gone." Jon was saying with much emotion. He took her in his arms, kissed her tenderly, then released her, got in his car and drove off, waving to her, and his family.

Denise stood, as she had each time he had left, trying to restrain her tears, waving, and throwing kisses in his direction. All she could do now was wait for his call.

But that night after supper. Dad approached Denise and Todd with an unexpected proposal. "Your Mom and I have been talking about taking a trip. an extended vacation, before I go back to work at the office. We're thinking about touring Europe. There's a discount available now through a travel agency, and we'd be gone about a month. What do you two think about it? Do you want to go?"

"Gosh, Dad," Todd said. "What about Little League? I made it to the All Star playoffs! I can't miss my games!"

"Yeah, and I'm doing volunteer work at the hospital. Of course, I guess I could get out of it if I tried," Denise said thoughtfully. "But I really enjoy doing it. It really seems to make some of the patients feel better!"

"Well, if you want to go, either of you or both. you can," Doris spoke up. "But the doctor suggested that Dad have a vacation, a good, long, relaxing one, before he returns to the stress of daily work. And I'm all for it! I can use the rest too! "

"We're planning on leaving the last week in July, so we'd be back just before school starts. Its up to you whether or not you want to go along." Tom explained.

He looked at Denise, then at Todd. "Just think about it and make up your own minds. That's only a couple of weeks off, you know. You can stay with your grandparents, I'm sure, if you decide not to go.

Just then the phone rang, and Denise jumped to get it, sure it would be Jon's call. "OK, Dad, I'll see what I can come up with."

"Hello. Oh, Jon, I've been waiting for you to call. What took you so long?" Denise quizzed, jokingly.

The next morning Denise drove her new car to the hospital, elated at no longer having to be accompanied by an adult driver. Of course, she would have to go take her driving test to make it all legal. But, she could go right after work. She was so proud to have her own car!

Denise met Nancy and some of the other volunteers and nurses in the locker room at the hospital . Everybody was full of excitement, as the night nurses were telling the day crew about a new patient that had been admitted to ICU early this morning, a victim of an apparent one car accident. It appeared that the young woman had been traveling alone when the wreck happened. No one knew how long she had been injured before being spotted by another traveler, as the car was almost under a large culvert near a seldom traveled highway. The rescuer had called the ambulance. But, no one had found any identification, so she was admitted to ICU as Jane Doe, suffering from blood loss, head injuries and a fractured leg. She continued to remain unconscious.

"Bet she went to sleep while she was driving," Nancy surmised.

"Do they think she'll pull through?" Denise asked curiously.

"Well, Sheila, the aide on the second floor, was saying earlier that the nurse on duty told her it could be pretty serious, but they're hopeful.

"Its awful that they can't let her family know about the accident!" Denise said, remembering the anxiety her family had experienced when Dad was sick, but, not to know would be much worse.

"They said the car was so badly smashed front and back, they couldn't find a trace of identification, no wallet, license plates, nothing! But. I'm sure they'll keep looking."

"Yeah, well, maybe she'll come to and tell us who she is." Denise said, feeling deep sympathy for the woman and her unknowing fami1y.

As the elevator came to a halt on the fourth floor of the old hospial. Nancy and Denise began making their way to the nurses' station to check the patient list. (With some patients, you could go in, visit briefly, offer a magazine and run errands, but some were not to be disturbed.)

They spoke cordially to the nurses, aides and housekeepers as they passed them in the hall. Everyone was always so busy, especially in the mornings.

"Guess what!" Denises* mind returned to last night's discussion.

"What?" Nancy replied, seeing Denise was being dramatic.

"I have a chance to tour Europe this summer if I want to go. Think I should?"

"Do I think you should go to Europe? Are you crazy? You'd have to be out of your mind to pass up a chance like that! Who's going? Give me the details! Can I go, too?" Nancy said excitedly.

"Well, the doctor suggested Dad take a long vacation before returning to work so Mom and Dad decided to go to Europe. They got some kind of special deal through a local travel agency, and they'll be gone about a month and get back just before school starts. But Todd's in Little League with All Star playoffs coming up soon, and I'm doing the volunteer work and--"

"And you can't stand to think about being away from Jon for a whole month! That's what's bothering you, isn't it?" asked Nancy, knowingly.

"Well, yeah, that's a big part of it! But I think I'd really miss my volunteer work, too. I'll have to quit when school starts anyway, but I haven't decided yet what I'm gonna do. I do think it'll be good for Mom and Dad to get away. Of course, I can stay with either of my grandparents if I decide not to go. I don't know. I just haven't decided yet. I'll talk to Jon about it this weekend, though."

They were waiting at the nurses* station for the lists, but everyone was busy right now.

"So", Nancy began, "did you ever find out anything more about that red-head with the beige pumps?"

Denise laughed. They had talked that scene over and over and had discussed every possible angle, still knowing no more than they did at the first! But, Denise had avoided the subject of what had happened graduation night. She couldn't confide in anybody about that. Besides, she had forgiven Jon, anyway. "No, not yet! Guess I'll just have to ask Jon about it sometime. Of course, there's no absolute quarantee I'd get the truth, but I don't know any better way. But, I'm not really even concerned about it anymore. Jon has been a perfect angel."

"Yeah, but you haven't seen much of him since he went off to college, and he went pretty soon after graduation." Nancy reminded her.

"Well, I'm sure that he cares about me! Everytime we're together he proves it to me!" Denise said smuggly.

"I know, I just love that necklace he gave you for your birthday. Expensive, I'll bet."

"You better believe it! I looked in an exclusive catalog from the store where they do a lot of shopping the other day, not that it would matter if it wasn't, you know. I'd still love it, because Jon gave it to me. I was just curious because I know he can't really afford much on his allowance and with all his college expenses, and everything. But the necklace was in there, all right, and it's worth a pretty penny!"

A nurse appeared in front of them, handed them a list each and they went separate directions, leaving the magazine cart in the hall, pushed out of the way.

Time to get my mind back on these poor, sick people, Denise thought, as she walked down the hall to #1 on the list.

The hours passed quickly and Denise gathered her things to leave. She still had to take that drivers' test, drat it! But, at least she could do it in her new car. Her heart swelled with pride, and thankfulness that Mom and Dad had given her a car, and that particular car, too! She didn't know of another person in town who had one like it. That made it really special!

Oh! Denise remembered the early morning accident victim. She wanted to find out about her condition before she left. She walked back to the elevator on her way to the ICU nurses' station. "Can you give me any information about the woman brought in early this morning? I feel so sorry for her, being just a Jane Doe, and not having her family here or anything." Denise explained.

"I understand," the nurse said, "I can tell you that she is still listed in serious condition, but no longer is critical. She hasn't yet regained consciousness, but she hasn't worsened."

"Thanks, I really appreciate it!" Denise could go her way now. It sounded like there was just the slightest improvement in the poor lady's condition.

Denise headed home a little while later in her little car, joyful that she had passed the driving test without difficulty. She thought about Jon. He would probably be in his room right now studying for a test or preparing a thesis, poor guy! Boy, did she miss him!

Doris was just finishing preparations for supper as Denise walked in. "Need me for anything. Mom?" "Well, you could finish setting the table if you're not too tired. How was your day at the hospital?" Doris asked with interest. Denise told her Mom all about the Jane Doe accident with deep feeling. Doris understood and voiced similiar feelings of sympathy for the woman. Doris explained to Denise how proud she was of her, and that she was so pleased at how she was growing into a fine, caring young lady. Denise glowed from the inside out.

She really did love to please people, especially the people she was close to. Some of her friends counted that a fault. They said you shouldn't care what people thought, but she just couldn't feel right about that way of thinking. Of course, you couldn't please everybody all the time, but it just felt good when it happened.

"You know. Mom, I've been doing a lot of thinking about that trip to Europe. If I go, I'd have to get my school clothes and supplies all ready before I left, because there probably wouldn't be time when I got back, and I'll have cheerleading practices just as soon as school starts back, and I can just imagine how tired I'd be, only having a week or less before starting back to school! And I know I'd miss Jon terribly while I was gone, besides having to give up the work at the hospital a month early. I've only been there a short time anyway," Denise explained.

"So, have you decided not to go?" Mom queried.

"Not for sure, but I'm thinking it's been a long time since I visited Nana and Papa, you know. We haven't seen much of them in quite a while, and I always loved visiting out at the farm. Now that I have my car, it wouldn't be any problem to get in to the hospital. I thought I might go out and visit them after supper tonight just to feel it out. What do you think?"

"Well, I know they'd love to see you! They've always been very fond of you and Todd, since you're their only grandchildren. But you know how Mother and Dad are so set in their ways. I miss them a lot myself, but everytime we got together the last few years they always started preaching to me. You know how fanatical they are!" Doris replied. "Maybe you can handle it, but I can't."

"Mom, there are some things about that I don't understand. Do you believe the Bible is true?" Denise asked hesitantly. She didn't want to open any old wounds, but if you couldn't ask your own Mom, who could you ask?

"Well, the Bible is a very, very old book, Denise, and there are a lot of really wise sayings in there, you know. But, I have a lot of problems with some of the things in there, like prophecies. Who could understand it all! What kind of God would threaten you with burning in hell, if he was really a loving God? Look at all the misery in the world today! If God really loved the world as the Bible says, looks to me like he'd make some drastic changes. I don't know that I'm right about it Denise, I was certainly raised to believe the Bible was true, "every jot and tittle" of it, as Mom used to say. Now, I have alot of questions. What made you ask about this anyway?"

"Oh, just something Roger, I mean, Mr. Thompson, said in Sunday School. He told us that the Bible says, well, actually, we read the verse together, that says the Bible is the inspired Word of God, you know, written by men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit or something like that. He believes that you have to believe all of it, or none of it. He says if any of it isn't true, then God's a liar, and if he lies, then the whole book is a lie! Anyway, its' not important. I was just wondering." Denise trailed off, trying to figure it all out.

The table was all set, and supper was ready. Todd and Dad should be back from their little shopping trip any minute. Denise thought as she looked out the dining room window. What was keeping them?

She ran up to change clothes while she was waiting, still thinking about their discussion. How could one know what was right? Denise changed into a pair of comfortable shorts with a loose-fitting knit shirt, put on some jogging shoes and slouch socks. Now, that feels better! She smiled to herself. Better give Nana a call and see for sure if it was all right to come out right after supper. She might just spend the night, she thought, knowing Mom and Dad wouldn't mind. Why haven't I done this before, Denise wondered? Just hadn't thought about it before, she concluded.

Rose Petals