Saturday, November 17, 2012

It Begins

Kate got dressed that morning, thinking of the dream.  She knew now that the dream from last night was directly tied to the other dreams she’d had over the last 8 days.  She also knew what it meant.  She was being called to fight the dark king, to join in the war, and to participate in his defeat.  The fear she felt gave way to resolve, to a sudden certainty that not only could she fight but she must fight.  She couldn't wait to tell Kevin about the dream, about the things she’d read on the thumb drive, and about her decision.
“You sleep well?” her mom asked her as she headed to the kitchen to grab some breakfast. 
“Very well, thank you. How about you?” she asked her mom.
“Well enough, I suppose.  I still feel pretty tired, though,” her mom replied, sipping on coffee.
“The boys up yet?” Kate asked.
 They've already left for work, if you can believe it,” her mother said, grinning. 
“That’s great news.  Now they’ll finally be able to get a place of their own, right?” Kate said, unable to hide her eagerness.
“They should be able to soon, yes, if they can hold on to the job.” Her mom reminded her.
Kate nodded her head as she grabbed a pop-tart out of the pantry and washed it down with a glass of milk before heading out the door.  “Later, Mom,” she hollered on her way.
“I love you, sweetheart,” she heard as she closed the door behind her.
Kate couldn't wait to get to school.  She couldn't wait to talk to Kevin.  She hoped they would hang out at lunch again today. She really wanted to talk to him about everything somewhere there weren't going to be a bunch of other people around.
She arrived a little early, and paced as she waited for him, thinking things over.  She wasn't sure what would come next, wasn't sure what would be expected of her.  She wondered if there would be some ritual she would have to go through or perform.  Visions of people hovered around an open fire in dark colored robes popped to mind, but she was pretty sure based on her first meeting that wasn't how things went with Kevin and his friends.  She had so many questions for him, so many things she wanted to know.  She felt energized in a way that she never had before. 
With less than 10 minutes till the first bell rang, she finally spotted Kevin heading up the sidewalk.  He looked different somehow, and not in a good way. Kate’s initial enthusiasm waned slightly as her focus shifted to Kevin’s needs.
“Hey, Kevin,” she said, “what’s wrong?”
Kevin tried to smile but it never touched his eyes.  “Would you like to go out to lunch, Kate?” he asked, completely evading the question.
“Sure, lunch sounds great,” Kate said.  She wanted to talk things over with him anyway and maybe this was the way to get it done.
“Great, I’ll meet you here after orchestra,” he said, his eyes looking around as if he were searching for someone. Kate couldn't understand his behavior. It was so uncharacteristic of him.
He looked her in the eyes finally and Kate could see something there, something she didn't like. “ I've got to go take care of something, Kate.  I’ll see you at lunch.”  He took her hand and gave it a comforting squeeze and then hurried off in the opposite direction.
“See you, then,” she said, watching as he turned to leave.  She was even more confused than she had been before, and the strength of her resolution was beginning to fade now that she had other things to worry about.  She wondered what was wrong.
Kevin’s behavior stuck with her all through the next five periods.  Even during orchestra, when she was supposed to be focusing on learning a new section of Toreador, she found her concentration slipping.  There was just so much stuff swirling around in her head that it made it difficult to focus.  She was relieved when the bell finally rang and took off like a shot for the door as soon as she’d finished putting away her violin.
Kevin was there, waiting.  He seemed eager to get out of there.  She grabbed his hand and they took off.  This time he didn't even ask her what she wanted, he just headed off.  They were three blocks from the campus before he spoke.
“Kate, they took my father last night,” he said.  “They just came and took him.  We don’t know where he is or what’s happening to him.  He’s just gone.”
“Who? Who took him?” she asked.
“I don’t know. They were dressed in uniforms I haven’t seen before. They said he was under arrest, but they wouldn't tell my mother why he was being arrested or where he was being taken,” he said. 
“Kevin, what are you guys going to do?” she asked, worried for him.
Kevin shook his head. “I don’t know, Kate. I don’t know.”
They walked in silence for a bit longer.  “I want you to know, Kevin. I’m in,” she told him.
“In?” he asked.  He sounded confused.  Kate felt a bit let down.  She thought he’d be excited.
“You know? The Warriors of Light? I’m in. I’ve decided,” she repeated.
Kevin stopped walking and turned to look straight at her.  “Are you sure you know what you’re getting into?” he asked, “Are you ready for something like this to happen to your mom? To you?”
“Kevin, I know what I’m doing. I know what I have to do, and I know that I’m the only one who can,” she said without a hint of hesitation.
Kevin really looked at her for the first time that day.  She could feel his eyes assessing her, trying to gauge her intentions. “Why, Kate?” he asked.  “Tell me why.”
He sounded skeptical, and while there was a part of Kate that could understand, there was also a part of her that was disappointed with his reaction.  She thought he would be happy.
“Kevin, it’s a combination of factors.  First, I looked at the material on that thumb drive you gave me.  You are right. There is a battle going on, and I don’t want to be part of it – but I know that I will be whether I want to be or not. The only real question is which side I’m going to fight on.  Second, I’ve been having these dreams ever since I first got the invitation.  I didn't know for sure what they meant, but when I woke up this morning I knew for sure what it meant. I knew it was God telling me to fight.  I am not telling you that I’m not afraid. I am afraid, but I also know that joining this battle is the right thing to do,” she finished.
Kevin nodded, “Tell me more about the dreams.”
They resumed walking and Kate told him about the dreams, about being on a wide open field of grass.  She told him about being with Kevin and the other men, about the instructions she’d been given to stay with the group. She also told him about losing sight of the other members of the group as they pushed through, and about spotting the little girl up ahead.  She told him about the sudden transformation to being the girl, and then making her way up the front.  She told him about the false king and the crown he held, about the confrontation with the king, and then about the battle to return the crown to him at the end of the dream. 
He said nothing as she spoke and when she was done he replied, “Interesting.  Good enough.  I’ll let Father know tonight, after school.”
She looked at him, completely surprised at his reaction. “That’s it? Just ‘Interesting?’”
Kevin looked at her in surprise, “Were you expecting more?”
“Well, yeah, I guess I was.  I thought you’d be happy!” she said.
“Is that why you did this, Kate? To make me happy?” he asked.
“No, Kevin. I did it because I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing,” she said, getting angry.
“Then why does it matter whether or not it makes me happy?” he asked.
“Because I thought you wanted me to join,” she said.
“Will you do this even if I don’t care? Will you do it even if I tell you not to?” he asked.
“Are you crazy? You’re the one who introduced me to this whole thing,” she said, upset.
“Answer the question, Kate.  If I were to tell you to drop the whole thing and forget about it, would you?” he asked.  He sounded serious, and for a moment Kate felt very confused.  Why would he ask her this? Had his dad’s disappearance changed his mind?
“This isn't about you, Kevin.  So, no, I wouldn't change my mind even if you did tell me not to do it. I told you already, I’m doing this because I know it’s the right thing to do,” she said finally.
Kevin visibly relaxed at this point, and for the first time all day gave her a smile that was genuine and whole, even if it didn't erase the concern from his face.   “I had to be sure, Kate. Things are getting more dangerous by the day, and we can’t afford to take some of the risks we used to take anymore,” he said.
“Fair enough,” Kate said.  They finally arrived at McDonald's and ordered their food to go.  Several kids tried to get Kevin’s attention, but he seemed oblivious to them.  He was focused on two things that day: Kate and the food they ordered. 
As they walked back to the high school, Kevin held her hand.  “I am really happy, Kate, that you’re going to be fighting on our side.  But part of me is afraid for you, too.  I don’t want you to get hurt because of me,” he said.
“That’s sweet, Kevin, but you can’t keep me safe no matter which side I’m on.  The only thing you can do is put the right weapons in my hand and teach me how to use them so I can defend myself,” Kate replied sagely.  As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Kate knew what she needed to ask him about.
“Kevin, I need you to teach me about the rosary,” she said.
Kevin’s eyebrows shot up until they disappeared under his hairline. “The rosary? Really? Why?”
“Because the Virgin Mary said it was our battering ram that would allow us to reach hardened hearts and beat back the darkness,” she said, recalling all the things she had read last night.
Kevin laughed, “My God, Kate, you really are serious, aren't you? Where did you hear this stuff?”  He sounded amazed.
“I told you, I spent some time researching last night. I was reading about the Marian Apparitions.  I read what she said, what she told people to do.  What I don’t understand is why people aren't listening. Why aren't they praying the rosary?” she asked, upset. “All this could have been avoided if they had.”
Kevin nodded, “I agree, Kate, but people have forgotten about the rosary and stopped praying it. I promise I’ll get a rosary into your hands and teach you how to pray it.  Our Blessed Mother is the best defense we have.”
Lunch ended too soon, and Kate still didn't have all the answers she wanted.  She was glad, though, to see that Kevin seemed to be in better spirits.  She wasn't totally surprised to find an envelope with her name on it in her locker as she was leaving school.  She was even less surprised to find a rosary and a pamphlet instructing her how to pray it inside.  The rosary was beautiful and looked a lot like a necklace.  She wondered if she was supposed to wear it. That night, before bed, she took out the rosary and the pamphlet and began to pray it for the first time in her life.  

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