A Short Story for Armistice Day 2020
Jordan and Taylor sat huddled and hidden behind a stack of fold-up tables in the church fellowship hall. Just a few minutes ago, their Sunday school teacher had told the class that all the elementary-age kids needed to go outside right after church service while the teens and adults gathered in the fellowship hall for a special time with a guest of honor, who would then visit with the younger kids outside after finishing inside.
Upon hearing the announcement that they’d be left out of this “special time,” Taylor had leaned over to Jordan and whispered, “Hell with that. Let’s check out the adult gathering.”
Jordan nodded, then gave Taylor a little smile.
While the rest of the kids had followed the teacher outside, Jordan and Taylor crept off to their current hiding spot, slumped down with their backs to the stack of tables so no one could see them. So far, all they’d heard were the adults and teens from youth group yakking it up while stuffing their faces full of some cake called “Death by Chocolate” and no doubt washing it down with Miss Winston’s famous pink lemonade—famous for its nine parts sugar, one part actual pink lemonade.
Then the room went dead quiet. Jordan looked over at Taylor, who shrugged.
A moment later, they heard Pastor Morgan’s voice: “Ah, our guest of honor. Thank you so much for going out of your way to stop by today.”
As a few others chimed in to welcome the mysterious guest of honor, Taylor pointed up toward the top of the stack of tables, then started turning around, clearly intent on rising up and taking a peek. But Jordan’s hand shot out and caught Taylor.
“No!” Jordan hissed. “Just listen first.”
Taylor sighed, but then nodded and sat back down.
“I know you’ve heard it plenty before,” Pastor Morgan went on, “but I don’t know how we can say ‘thank you’ enough for all you’ve done for us.”
“I’ll say. The commitment and dedication you show to serve so many,” came a woman’s voice that sounded like Miss Winston.
“And the sacrifice.” That was Jordan’s mom. Wait, did she actually sound like she was going to cry? “Pouring out your life like that …” she finished, her voice catching at the end.
“You give us peace.” And that was Taylor’s dad, who likewise sounded all choked up.
“And freedom,” sounded a croaky old woman’s voice.
Jordan’s eyes popped wide open, and he looked over at Taylor.
“What?” Taylor whispered.
Jordan jerked a thumb in the direction of the gathering. “I think it’s—”
But Jordan went quiet when everyone continued gushing, including several of the teens from youth group:
“Thank you so much for being our defender.”
“Yes, our protector!”
“You keep us safe.”
“Amen! And you bring hope and light to this bleak, dark world.”
“A true deliverer!”
“A rock for these young people and for all of us.”
“We’re just so thankful to you!”
At that, a quiet masculine voice offered thanks for the kind words spoken, and then everyone went to chattering amongst themselves or heading for more cake and liquid sugar.
Taylor smacked Jordan on the arm and leaned closer to whisper, “Who? Who do you think it is?”
Jordan swallowed. “Didn’t you hear what they called him?”
“It’s all right out of the Bible,” Jordan whispered.
“Huh?” Taylor said.
“The Bible! Those are all ways the Bible talks about Jesus—you know, God in the flesh!”
Taylor’s eyes rolled up and then back down. “Are you kiddin’ me?”
“I mean it!” Jordan said. “It ain’t like we haven’t heard stories of people saying they’ve seen Jesus, right? Those visions or whatever …”
“Mmm … I guess. Seems pretty weird, though.”
“Yeah, maybe—but c’mon, think about it!” Jordan said, gesturing with her hands. “Peace … freedom … sacrifice … protector … and, um, oh—defender. Uh, let’s see, what else did they say? A light in the darkness … and … umm …”
“And a rock.”
“Right! And a deliverer too. It’s gotta be Jesus!”
Taylor said nothing and only stared down at the lime-green carpet, deep in thought. “Yeah … God in the flesh,” she finally said, giving another shrug. “Who else could it be? Not like they’d say that stuff about anyone else. That would be … indol … indola—”
The gathering seemed to go quiet, and a moment later, Taylor and Jordan heard Pastor Morgan say, “The kids outside are going to love seeing you. Miss Winston here will take you out. Thank you again for coming!”
Multiple voices joined in, and now Jordan and Taylor had their chance for a peek. Both girls turned around and, inch by inch, raised their heads until their eyes finally crested the top of the stack.
A man in a camouflage army uniform gave a wave to everyone and then walked out the door behind Miss Winston.