Meaningful Conversations

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Takes place in 1974. (COLLABORATION BETWEEN CAM AND GRAY.)

Submitted: May 09, 2015

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Submitted: May 09, 2015

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Eva Lasinger was seated at the table, across from the local reverend, Father James Howard. The two of them sat before the meal she had prepared, and the reverend extended his arm, binding his fingers around Eva’s, and ducking his head, preparing to say grace.

It was tradition with their daily Sunday dinner; Eva would prepare the meal, and James would compose a prayer to recite before they ate.

“Most Holy, Righteous and everywhere present God, our Father who art in Heaven, we ask thy blessing upon this food,” James murmured, fully aware that the words of prayer escaping from his lips were not his own, but had been passed down to him from his grandmother. He had had a long Saturday night, and, as a result, the floor of his private bedroom located behind his beloved church was now littered with empty bottles of wine. The hangover that had possessed his mind when he had risen in the morning was too violent, and he could not think clearly enough to weave together words of his own. “Bless the hearts and hands that provide the same. And when it is ours to pass from time to eternity, own us and crown us heirs to Thy kingdom. These favors and blessings we ask in the name of Christ, our Great Redeemer.”

The two released hands and straightened up, staring down at the glistening plates in front of them.

“Eva?” James questioned, a slight grin twitching across his lips, “Have I been granted the permission to compliment you?”

The pupils within Eva’s pale brown eyes flicked upward in a suspicious manner. “You may, Father,” she answered, handing him the fair-sized bowl of peas.

Spooning the beads of green onto his plate, James cleared his throat. “You are a zeldzame bloem, Eva Lasinger.” Silence hovered between them like a heavy blanket of static electricity, and he wondered if he had said the wrong thing.

“I’m not sure what that means,” Eva replied warily, afraid that she was supposed to know the strange words that had escaped from his throat.

“It’s Dutch,” James explained, swallowing a mouthful of pork, “It means ‘rare flower.’”

Eva raised an eyebrow. “Is that a compliment or a criticism?”

James stifled a chuckle. “It’s a compliment, Eva. By your age, most women have found a man and delivered their child. I’m amazed that you haven’t been swept away by a knight in shining armour yet.”

“No,” Eva responded, sipping at her wine glass, “I’ve renounced all aspects of romance. At a young age, I discovered I thrive more on my own.”

James let out a slight grunt. “Are you sure? I’m sure most men would be elated to sit down to one of your meals. I must say, your cooking is quite ambrosial.”

“‘Ambrosial,’” Eva repeated, her gaze locking with James’s, “Is that a subtle deception, Father?”

James shook his head, a grin twitching across his lips like a spark across a circuit. “Oh, you know me better than that, Eva. I always say what I truly mean. And of course, I would appreciate the same from you.”

“As usual, you've once again managed to see right through me, Father,” Eva remarked, “When you put me in charge of the orphanage, I thought your faith in me was based on our mutually shared conception of the modern world surrounding us.”

“Yes,” James replied, splitting a roll in two and covering the surfaces with margarine. “And that statement remains true.”

“I wish to know where you found the orphanage doctor. Doctor Hermann…” she hesitated, looking down at the abundance of food spread out in front of them. “He is not a man of God, Father. He possesses no faith.”

“The Church council approved him,” James announced, “He was sent there by people better equipped to judge his beliefs than you ever will be.”

“Say what you will, Father, but your rare flower becomes uneasy around the irregular.”

“You mustn't be so hesitant to trust new things, Eva,” James insisted, “It was God, after all, who created both science and Heaven. God placed the idea in a doctor's head to create the vaccine that cured polio. These are amazing times, if you could manage look at it in another light.”

“There is no other light out there, Father,” Eva retorted, “This rat race of humanity is at its wit’s end.”

“We’ve literally already set foot on the moon, Eva. The dearly departed John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, was elected President nearly fourteen years ago now. This is a time when anything can happen, if someone can wish for it to happen.”

“But what does humanity truly wish for, if not to save souls?”

“Though I can’t speak for the rest of the population, I want your orphanage to flourish. I want it to blossom so that it turns into the budding pride of New York. We will be praised for our work, Eva,” James admitted.

“We?” Eva countered.

“Wherever I travel, I want you to travel as well. You are my right hand, and I am your left. You will become the superior mother to thousands of children who have lost their parents. And then, with God and you on my side, I see no reason why I couldn't ascend to the office of the pope. You’d like to visit German society alongside me, wouldn’t you, Eva?”

Eva’s small cheeks flushed a pale pink, resembling the petals of a delicate rose. “I’ve already told you, James, I have no desire to fall companion to a man.”

“I am just asking for you to be on my side, Eva,” James urged, “The doctor needs full oversight of his domain. Your only job at the moment is to look after your orphans.”

“I wish you would respect my wishes,” Eva sighed, her gaze flitting towards her lap. “James, I think it’s best that you return to your church.”

James nodded solemnly and arose from his chair. “I understand. God bless you, Eva Lasinger, and thank you for the wonderful meal.” He tightened his robe and let himself out. As he stepped into the bitter November air, he cursed himself for not being able to restrain his cravings. The wind turned the tips of his hair into miniature daggers, piercing the skin of his face, and for the first time since his mother had passed on, Reverend James Howard began to cry.


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