The Quartet

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Kortney's family performs as a quartet that travels the country singing religious songs at different churches. Kortney does not like her life though. And there is definitely something wrong with her. That is making performing very difficult.

Submitted: November 13, 2014

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Submitted: November 13, 2014

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Chapter 1

 

As we finished our final song, the audience burst into applause. We all took several bows before exiting the stage. I immediately went back to the RV, slipped on my sweatshirt, and laid down on my bed. I was glad that that concert was over.

“Why could you not stay and greet the audience?” my mom asked me when she and the rest of my family returned to the RV awhile later.

I shrugged. Why could they not just leave me alone? Could they not see how much I hated this?

“You had better change, Kortney,” my mom said to me. “We want to be on the road in less than an hour.

“Where are we going this time?” I asked, trying to keep the disdain out of my voice.

“We are going to do several concerts in this area. We are traveling to a place about two hours away.

That did not make me feel any happier. It looked like I would not be having much free time in the immediate future.

See, my family is actually a quartet that travels around the country singing Christian music. We are known as the Johnson Quartet. I sing soprano, my mom sings alto, my brother, Mark, sings tenor, and my dad sings bass.

Mark and I are homeschooled because we are very busy with rehearsals and performances.

I have hated performing ever since we got started, back when I was ten years old. I am now seventeen. I hate how we are never home. I hate how busy we are. I hate how I cannot go to school. I hate how I cannot live a normal life. I just hate it all.

The minute I turn eighteen, I am so out of here. Unfortunately, that is not for another ten months.

“Are you ready to go?” my mom called out.

“Just a minute,” I replied. There was something I needed to do.

I grabbed my shower bag and slipped into the restroom in our RV. I pulled out my razor and then rolled up the sleeve of my sweatshirt before making several marks on my wrist. Once I was done, I covered the cuts with bandages and then rolled down my sleeve.

“Let’s go!” I said with false cheerfulness.

 

Chapter 2

 

“It is time to get up for church, Kortney!” my dad said as he shook me awake.

I rolled over and groaned. It was too early. Even though my parents insist that Mark and I go to bed at a decent time, I had not slept very well. I kept tossing and turning. My brain just did not want to turn off and get some sleep. It is like that almost every night.

“Can’t I skip?” I begged. “I hardly got any sleep last night.”

“Absolutely not!” my mom exclaimed. We are a family that never misses church. Even though we are always on the road, we still find a church to visit.

“We are performing at New Hope tonight,” my dad said. “How would it look if one of the quartet members did not show up at church?”
“If they knew how tired she was, they might make an exception,” I said. “They would want the performers to be well rested.”

“You can take a nap this afternoon,” my mom said as she tossed me some church clothes to wear.

I knew I would not be able to sleep this afternoon. My parents would insist on me helping to set up the sound equipment at the church and then have a dress rehearsal.

“Let’s go, Kortney!” my mom yelled. “Get dressed!”

I looked down at the clothes my mom had thrown at me. She had given me a sleeveless top. I could not wear that or everyone would see my cuts.

I got out of bed and started rummaging around for something to wear.

“What are you doing, Kortney?” my mom asked. “We are running late.”

“I want to wear something different.”

“What is wrong with what I gave you?”

I did not answer. I pulled out a long sleeved black top and went into the bathroom to change. A few minutes later, I was ready to go. My hair was still a mess and I had not showered but I figured that I was up and dressed and that is all that mattered.

“It is supposed to be a warm day, Kortney,” Mark said on our way out the door. “You are going to be very warm today.”

“She is unfortunately going to have to leave that on since we are running late,” my mom said as ushered us to the car.

We were not late getting to church. We were about one minute early. But that meant that we had to instantly take our seats. We could not talk to anyone before the service. I was ok with that. I was not in the mood to smile and meet people at the church.

I used the pastor’s sermon as an opportunity to rest my eyes. I really did not care about what he had to say.

Even though I am a member of a Christian quartet, I could care less about religion. See, there is a lot of cruelty in the world. People are hungry, sick, or dying. And even though I have everything I could ever possibly need and more, I am still unhappy. I cannot see why God who is said to be loving would allow so much unhappiness in the world.

Religion is something that is important to my parents and maybe to Mark (I am not really sure) and that is fine but it is not really for me. I just wish my parents would let go of their reign on me and let me live my own life.

 

Chapter 3

 

“Are you paying attention, Kortney?” my mom asked as she waved her hand in my face.

I looked around with a start. “I guess I must have been daydreaming,” I told my mom.

“Get back to work,” she ordered. “We are leaving for rehearsal soon and I want your math assignment done before we leave.”

I glumly looked down at my calculus book. It was going to take a miracle to get the assignment done before the concert.

I looked out the window. It was a beautiful sunny day. A girl about my age and her family were outside their RV playing a game of catch. I wish I could be like that girl and have the freedom to have fun. Instead, my life was filled with concerts and school.

“Kortney!” my mom barked. “Pay attention!”

“How about giving me until tomorrow to get this finished? I just cannot seem to concentrate.”

“You seem to have that problem a lot lately and you have gotten kind of far behind. You still owe me an English essay too.”

“What is the point of all this school work anyway? Do you ever use calculus in your life? Do you frequently write long essays?”

“You need those skills in everyday life, Kortney. If you ever master the concept, you will see how you use those skills.”

I highly doubted there was much of a point when it came to calculus. Not unless a person was choosing a career that involved complex math, which I was not.

I did not know what I wanted to do with my life after I turned eighteen. I just knew I did not want to sing. I really did not think I would amount to much of anything. I had no real skills outside of singing.

“Kortney, let’s go!” my mom said again.

Why did I keep on getting distracted?

“What is going on?” my dad asked as he entered the RV.

“Kortney is having trouble concentrating on her work again,” my mom explained. “She has been having this problem a lot lately. She has gotten very far behind on her studies.”

“Now, Kortney,” my dad said, “getting an education is very important. I expect more from you.”

I wanted to argue but I did not feel like I had any more energy to argue. I just nodded and scribbled a bunch of random numbers on my paper so it looked like I was working.

After awhile, it was time to leave to go to the church for dress rehearsal.

“I guess you will have to finish the assignment after the concert tonight,” my mom said.

I knew that was not going to happen. I go to bed right after concerts because the sooner I can get to sleep, the sooner I no longer have to deal with the world around me.

 

Chapter 4

 

We did not have a concert today. My parents insist that we always have one day a week so that we can get some rest. Of course, today, my mom thought I should get caught up on my homework.

“Time for lunch,” my mom called out.

I eagerly slammed my calculus book shut and went to the table.

“Lord,” my dad prayed out loud, “I thank You for the delicious meal You have provided us. I thank You for my wonderful family and for giving us the opportunity to sing for You. Thanks also for providing us with a day of rest. Amen.”

“Amen,” I mumbled.

Mashed potatoes and meatloaf were passed around the small table in the RV. Ordinarily, this is one of my favorite meals. But today, I was just not hungry. I took a small serving and then attempted to force it down.

“Are you not hungry, Kortney?” my mom asked as she watched me play with my food.

“I guess not,” I said.

“The Lord has given us this food,” my dad said. “Others are not as lucky. Let’s not waste this food.”

“The less fortunate can have this,” I said as I pushed my plate away.

“Kortney!” my dad exclaimed. “That was very rude.”

I wanted to tell my dad that this had nothing to do with my mom’s cooking. I was just not very hungry.

“So where are we going after tomorrow’s concert?” Mark asked. I could tell that he was trying to change the subject.

“We have several concerts close to home so we will be going to the house for awhile.”

I really did not care where we were staying. It was not like I would have a personal life at home either.

“Would you excuse me?” I asked as I stood up.

I went to my bunk where I kept all my stuff. I grabbed my shower bag and went into the small restroom.

“Why are you showering in the middle of the day?” Mark called through the door.

I really was not going to shower. But I did need to cut. I turned the water on to fool my family and then got out my razor.

 

Chapter 5

 

“Let’s go for a walk, Kortney,” Mark suggested after dinner.

I eyed him suspiciously. We never did anything together outside of singing and traveling the country. And none of that was voluntarily. Pretty much we just ignored each other.

“Come on,” Mark begged.

I really just wanted to go to bed but I knew that was not going to be an option. Mom would want me to work on my homework. But she would possibly let me go on a walk with Mark. She always wants us to hang out more.

“I am going on a walk with Mark,” I told my mom.

“Ok. Just do not stay out too long. You have homework to do.”

“Mom is always getting on me about homework,” I complained to Mark as we headed down the gravel road that circled the RV park.

“Well, it does seem like you have gotten far behind,” Mark said. “You are very smart but now you are having trouble focusing on your work. Everyone just wants the best for you so that you will have a good future.”

“And what kind of future does everyone want for me?” I asked bitterly.

“It is your future. You get to decide what to do with it.”

“I am sure Mom and Dad want me to stay with them so that we can continue singing.”

“Of course that is what they want. But they will also support you if you decide to go to college.”

“And what if I want something else? How will they feel then?”

“What exactly are you thinking you want to do with your future, Kortney?”

“I know I do not want to sing!” I said firmly.

“What is wrong with singing? We get to travel the country and hang out with our family.”

“We also have no personal life,” I replied.

“What do you want to do that you cannot do here?”

“I want friends and time to live like everyone else.”

“Is that why you have been so bitter lately?” Mark asked. “Is that why you are so unenthusiastic during concerts?”

“Maybe. But you cannot tell me that you enjoy doing this all the time?”

“Of course I do. I am using my gift of singing for God. You know how many people dream about being professional performers. We actually get to do that. We have an awesome life.”

“That is your opinion,” I mumbled so Mark could not hear me.

“Whatever you problem is, Kortney, you need to let it go. You are affecting all of us.”

“Whatever,” I muttered and turned around to walk in the other direction.

“Kortney!” Mark ran after me.

I ran into the public restroom so that he could not follow me. Then, I locked myself in the handicap stall and sat down in the corner against the wall while the tears fell.

 

Chapter 6

 

“It is time to get up, Kortney,” my mom said early in the morning.

I looked at my alarm clock and saw that it was only eight o’clock in the morning. We had gotten home late that night and I had planned on getting several more hours of sleep. Our concert tonight was just over in the next town after all.

“Why?” I asked with a groan.

“We all have checkups scheduled for this morning.”

“I feel perfectly fine,” I said as I rolled over to go back to sleep.

“Come on, Kortney,” my mom said before leaving the room.

Both my parents are very strict and I know that if I ever disobey them, there will be serious consequences. That is why I reluctantly got out of bed and looked for some clothes to wear.

That is when I remembered the cutting I had done the evening before. There was no way that I could hide it from the doctor. And he would tell my parents and then they would overreact.

“Let’s go, Kortney!” my dad called irritably up the stairs.

I pulled on a sweatshirt and joined my family in the car.

“Why are you wearing the sweatshirt?” my mom asked. “It is supposed to be really nice again today.”

“I just really like the sweatshirt,” I lied.

Once we arrived at the clinic, we were all given some papers to fill out. I was having trouble concentrating on mine though. My impending doom was on my mind.

“Are you ok, Kortney?” Mark asked. “You are really sweating.”

“Maybe you should take off the sweatshirt, Kortney,” my mom suggested.

“I am fine!” I said just as the nurse called my name.

I gratefully left my family and followed the nurse to the exam room. She asked me some simple questions and then wondered if there was anything I would like to discuss with the doctor. When I said no, she left me alone.

After a little wait, there was a knock on the door and Dr. Woods entered.

“How is it going?” she asked with a smile.

“Fine,” I squeaked. My heart felt like it was beating a mile a minute and I was still sweating. I was just so nervous.

“You can relax, Kortney,” she said with a little laugh. “This is not going to hurt.”

I just nodded. I did not trust myself to speak.

“Can I have you take a seat on the table?” Dr. Woods asked. “And it will be easier to exam you if you take off your sweatshirt.”

While Dr. Woods was writing something on my file, I took off my sweatshirt and then keep my wrists pressed to my side so that she could not look at them closely.

Of course, the first thing Dr. Woods wanted to do was take my blood pressure. When she grabbed my arm right where I had cut, I cried out in pain.

“What is wrong?” she asked in concern as she turned my arm to get a good look.

I waited patiently for her to say something. I knew I was in trouble but I just was not sure how much.

“How long has this been going on?” she finally asked.

“A few months.”

“Have you felt depressed?”

“I guess.” I had not really thought about my behavior as depression.

She asked me more questions about how I was feeling like had my eating and sleeping habits changed and whether I had lost interest in ordinary activities. I answered yes to almost all of her questions.

“Kortney, I am going to talk to your parents about putting you on an antidepressant,” Dr. Woods said when she was done with the interrogation.

“No, you can’t!” I exclaimed. “They take their faith very seriously. They do not believe in mental illness.”

“Kortney, your problems are not your fault. You have a chemical imbalance in your brain. We have got to act or there could be serious consequences.” I knew she was talking about suicide.

Dr. Woods called both my parents into the room and explained the situation.

“So you really think this medicine will cure her?” my mom asked.

“Not cure her,” Dr. Woods said. “But if it is successful, Kortney will be able to live an ordinary life.”

“Kortney is a teenager,” my dad told Dr. Woods. “All teenagers act like her.”

“Cutting, thoughts of suicide, and depression are not normal, sir,” Dr. Woods said. “We need to act before it gets worse.”

“As long as nothing interferes with our performances, I am willing to do something so our daughter will quit cutting,” my mom told my dad.

“I think we will pass,” my dad said. “Kortney just needs to accept the life she has been given and trust Jesus to give her the fulfillment she needs.”

“Are you sure?” Dr. Woods asked.

“Thanks for your concern, but Kortney is fine,” my dad said before walking out of the exam room with my mom.

“I cannot treat you without their permission, Kortney,” Dr. Woods said. “But do not be afraid to reach out for help. Find someone to talk to and do not do anything stupid.”

Find someone to talk to? That should be easy considering the number of friends I had? I laughed at the very thought.

Chapter 7

 

When we got home, my parents gave Mark some money to go get groceries. That is when I knew I was in trouble. My parents wanted him out of the house so that they could talk to me.

“What were you thinking?” my mom asked angrily. “What could possibly possess you to purposely hurt yourself?”

I shrugged. I did not know much about cutting or depression but I figured there had to be a link somewhere.

“What if someone in the audience had seen your cuts, Kortney?” my dad asked. “We would have been ruined.”

“You are going to be ruined in ten months when I turn eighteen,” I told my parents angrily.

“And what is that supposed to mean?” my mom asked.

“Maybe I just don’t enjoy traveling around the country singing. Maybe I would just rather live a normal life.”

“So you are really going to quit when you turn eighteen?” my dad asked. I was honestly surprised that he had not seen this coming. I have always been far from enthusiastic.

“Yeah, it looks like you are about to become the Johnson Trio,” I said sarcastically.

“I do not know what has gotten into you, Kortney,” my mom said sadly. “You are cutting and acting depressed. You want to quit the quartet. None of that is Christian behavior.”

“I am pretty sure being a Christian and having depression have nothing to do with each other,” I replied.

“Of course they do,” my dad responded. “Christians do not get depression. They have Jesus in their lives and they know that is all they need. They have a positive attitude and do not ever feel depressed. You would not be depressed either if you just had a positive attitude.”

“I will get right on that,” I said sarcastically as I rolled my eyes. I could not pull myself out of my depression. I had tried to snap out of the behavior but it was impossible. Besides, nobody wishes to be unhappy.

“We are going to be inspecting your arms every night,” my dad said. “We are also going to have to baby proof the house so that you will not be able to cut.”

I did not see how hiding all the sharp objects would stop me. I have read about girls that have cut using pen caps, keys, or even their own fingernails. And even if they were going to inspect my arms, I would just move on to my legs.

“Fine!” I retorted.

“Now, go change for the concert. We are going to be leaving soon.”

I could not believe they were still making me go to the performance after everything that had happened today. Hadn’t we all been through enough? We all just needed time to relax.

 

Chapter 8

 

As I finished my solo song, the audience burst into applause. I knew I should smile and nod, just like my parents had taught me years ago, but my heart was just not into it. All I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball, fall asleep, and never wake up.

“We will now take a fifteen minute intermission,” I announced like I always do after the applause had died down. I immediately rushed backstage.

“You need to start faking some enthusiasm,” my dad told me the minute I shut off my microphone. “Depression is no excuse for a substandard performance.”

“I will get to work reprogramming my brain,” I said sarcastically.

“I am serious, Kortney,” my dad said firmly. “People paid good money to come hear us sing. We do not want to disappoint them because our soprano has problems.”

“Oh, so that is what I have?” I shouted. “I have ‘problems’?” I said as I used my fingers to make air quotes. “You know, you are lucky enough that I am able to get onstage and sing with you at all. There are other places I would rather be; things I would like to do instead.”

“Are you still going on about living a normal life because there is no such thing as normal?”

I did not let my dad know that what I really wanted to do was die. I did not know how he would react to that.

“You know what; I have had it! You can finish the concert as a trio!”

I angrily stalked off and locked myself into the closest room, which turned out to be a church office.

I sat down on the floor and hugged my knees while the tears began to flow.

 

Chapter 9

 

I was done with life. I decided I was done with the misery that seemed to accompany my life. I was done with the quartet. I was done with the cutting and depression.

Sure, my family would miss me but only because they would either need to find another member for the quartet or switch to a trio. They would probably be happy that I was gone though because than they would not have to deal with an unenthusiastic, depressed concert performer.

I found a piece of paper in the trash and pulled a book off the shelf to put behind the paper to write my note.

Dear Dad, Mom, and Mark,

I am sorry it has to be this way, but I am done with my life. I am not going to point fingers or place blame though. I am just very unhappy and feel I would be better off dead.

Sincerely,

Kortney Johnson

 

I put the letter on the copier where someone would be sure to find it. Then, I rummaged through the office supplies, looking for something sharp to slit my wrists or something poisonous to drink.

While I was searching through the cupboards, I knocked the book I had been using as a desk to the floor. I bent down to pick it up and was drawn to the cover. There was a picture of Jesus on the front with His arms open and welcoming. The title was Heaven Guaranteed.

I do not know how anyone could ever be guaranteed of their eternal future. I mean, I have tried to be generally good but I sometimes mess us. My depression has not exactly helped either. And who knows, maybe suicide might be enough to get me thrown out of Heaven.

I sat back down in the corner and opened the book to the first page.

Did you know that the answer to your eternal future question is an easy one? Many people think that they will go to Heaven if they are generally good people or try to do good works. That is a very common misconception. Let’s begin with a very famous verse though so you can know right away where you will be spending eternity.

 

John 3:16-For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Using verses from the book of Romans can tell you how you can guarantee your eternal future.

 

Romans Road

 

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

We have all done things that are disappointing to God. There is no one that is perfect and innocent.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The consequence of sin is eternal death (in other words, we are not going to Heaven; we are going to the devil).

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for all sins.

Romans 10:9 That is you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

If you believe in Jesus and make Him Lord of your life, you will be saved.

Romans 10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Jesus died to forgive our sins and save us from eternal death. Anyone can have this forgiveness if they trust in Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus died for us so we will never be condemned for our sins.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So all this time I was just kidding myself when I thought I was a Christian. I knew God did not hold a very important place in my life. I really did not care though because I blamed God for all my problems. It is a good thing I found this book otherwise I would not be spending eternity in Heaven.

Suddenly, I heard a key in the door and an unfamiliar man burst into the room.

“Praise the Lord; she is all right!” he exclaimed.

“We will take it from here, Pastor Reuben,” my dad said. “Thanks for your help.”

My mom and dad entered the office and sat down on the floor beside me. My mom was crying as she hugged me.

“We thought you were dead,” my dad said slowly.

“I nearly was,” I said as I handed him my suicide note.

“Oh, Kortney, please do not ever think suicide is the answer. Everything is going to be all right. Maybe not today, but someday.”

“What stopped you?” my mom asked through her tears.

I showed her the book I was reading. “It turns out I would not be spending entirety in Heaven because I did not have a relationship with Jesus.”

“It is not too late to have one,” my dad said.

“I am ready,” I said.

“Let’s pray,” my mom suggested.

“Lord,” I prayed out loud, “I come before You today very broken but alive. I am ready to accept the forgiveness You gave for all sins through the death of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray for Your help in moving on through my depression and living my life for You. Amen.”

Both my mom and dad were crying now.

“Kortney, I am very sorry we ever doubted your depression,” my dad said. “I guess we just did not understand it. But I realize now that a person should never have thoughts of suicide. We will help you through this.”

“Thanks, Mom and Dad,” I said as I hugged them.

 

Epilogue

 

My life changed dramatically over the next few weeks. My mom and dad decided that we could still serve God while living at home so that is where we are right now. We still do concerts on the weekend but the rest of the week we stay at home because Mark and I are attending public school.

I am also getting help for my depression. I am seeing a therapist twice a week and I am happy to report that I have not cut in over three weeks.

I am also finding my own way to serve God. I am writing a book that talks about God and the mental illness. I also go into detail about becoming a Christian. I am even sharing my story in between songs at our weekend concerts.

I am able to report that I am pretty happy but I contribute that to God. Yeah, I still have depression and am messed up but God has a purpose for me and I am ready to live my life for Him. How thankful I am that I am alive to do so!

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Kimberly Adams. All rights reserved.

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