Posted in Life

Started My New Job Yesterday

I’ve been trained for the day-to-day parts of reference for subbing purposes for a long time. So I just… walked in and did that. No one has given me any instructions on what my actual responsibilities are now. Guess I’ll have to ask for that (though it’s slightly tempting to wait and see how long it takes for someone to realize I need it). The website where we clock in and out hadn’t even been changed to schedule me as reference instead of circ.

It’s a good thing I’m responsible and competent.

Can’t say I’ve gotten myself excited yet, especially after the lack of any helpful acknowledgement or information, and I might have gotten teary walking past the teen section yesterday. But I did buy myself a pretty, refillable planner since I’ll have to actually keep track of program dates and the like now. Seeing it pleases me.

Posted in Christianity, Writings

Crosses

Clouds lie low over a field, thick and dark and rolling. Though they leech all color from the grass, rain never falls.

Spread across that grass: crosses. They lie flat, in ever-widening circles, every direction I turn, ready for victims.

An impossible task. But I try again.

The condemned squirm. They howl. They reason. I kneel on skin, try to pin them down, but they twist away or the hammer slips or they fight me off or I slide to the grass in defeat and let them go. I’ve never gotten one to stay.

But this time surer hands encircle mine. Another more solid than I adds his weight. The nails drive true, and when I glance back at our work, they remain on their crosses.

At last we stop. Sweat coats my hair, slides down my back. My hands ache. As I catch my breath, the crosses around me begin to lift, dropping into waiting holes in the ground, a jarring thunk thunk thunk thunk thunk.

The ground quivers, stills.

I spin slowly.

They hang there, bare and exposed, and I know them so well. I recognize their jealousies and greeds and longings and idols and a hundred other impurities.

They look like me.

And still they squirm and howl and reason and it’s awful and tears drip down my face but he is merciful. He breaks legs, sparing me the hours this could take. Slowly they fall limp, lifeless limbs hanging from nails as his once did.

And I am new. I stand taller. I smile as he takes my hand to lead me away. His clothes shine as they always have, and I reflect his light, dressed now in blood-cleansed white.

I don’t look back.

Sunlight breaks through heavy clouds.

 

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Galatians 5:24

Posted in College, Life

10 Years of High School Reunions

If you’re not aware, I was homeschooled, which means I had a graduating class of one. Back in my first year of college, on a spring day when I needed a break, I decided to have a high school reunion. I’ve done it every year since. Generally they involve food and movies and just relaxing.

Last year was the tenth one, and I intended to put together this post then. You can see how that went. But I’m planning to have one this week, and that reminded me to collect these posts.

 

Posted in Christianity, Life

Life in Bible Times Projects

This summer at church, we have put all the kids together to learn some things about life in Bible times. I was put in charge of writing and language related topics and used this as an excuse to get around to some projects I’ve wanted to do for a while.


First, the failed project. Deep in a box in the shed was buried a kit for making papyrus I received as a gift probably more than a decade ago. How cool is that? Why did I wait so long to make use of it?

You soak the papyrus, and roll it flat, and soak the papyrus, and roll it flat, several times. Then layer the pieces and stack heavy things on them and let them dry.

It was really interesting to see it change texture during the process, but by the time it completely dried…

Yeah.

I can see how it would work. It’s very thin now, and in places the pieces do stick together. But obviously this is not right. Perhaps it was too old to work properly. Perhaps I did something wrong. Who knows. But I’m glad I finally tried it anyway.


Also while learning about writing, I smashed up some pottery to let the kids write on potsherds. It was more fun than you might expect.


And the project I’m very pleased with:

Is this completely historically accurate? Absolutely not. Do I still love it? Yes.

I made the prayer shawl, which was pretty simple, the main part is one big rectangle. Then embroidered the letters on the blue part. This was a little harder; I can’t write Hebrew. So I printed it out and pinned the paper to my fabric then embroidered right through it. The tedious part was getting the paper off. I recommend wetting it and letting it dry, then tearing it away gently. And having something with a small point like a seam ripper nearby to pull at the pieces that get stuck.

I purchased the tassels for the corners, as well as a leather strap and 3D printed tefillin/phylacteries. Watched some Youtube videos to figure out how to tie the straps and put them on. And then became a VERY HAPPY NERD.

We certainly could have looked at pictures of these things. But as I said, I’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while anyway, so the class gave me motivation to make it happen. I loved putting this on and getting an idea of how Jesus might have felt doing so.

For the kids, I gave them small foldable boxes and let them decorate them, then we put in slips of paper with one of the verses that go in tefillin printed on it (I used Deuteronomy 6:4-9). At Walmart I found a roll of two-sided velcro for organizing cables, and it worked great to cut a piece sized to each person’s arm, and cutting small slits for the velcro at the bottom of the boxes let everyone wear their phylacteries.

Resources I used:
Printable Hebrew phrase for the prayer shawl: https://www.judaiquilt.com/How_To_Make_A_Tallit.html?fbclid=IwAR3WKo7KcRCwHex0BYG342fIY4vZg79jhSmYuH0t4ksmOPzkP89p623uWbE
Tassels: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1121250170/tzitzits-4pc-thin-wool-threads-choose?ref=yr_purchases
Long leather strip: https://www.etsy.com/listing/643735514/cow-leather-lace-super-soft-and-supple-3?ref=yr_purchases
The 3D printed tefillin were also from Etsy, but unfortunately they are no longer available and neither is the shop. I guess I got them just in time.
Videos for tying tefillin knots: https://www.youtube.com/user/danrabbi/videos
Putting on tefillin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvmRQimCtn4

Posted in Life

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, 2022

I’m bringing this back from a couple years ago. It’s just time to talk about books. Again, I’m mostly limiting this to fiction.

1. Best book you’ve read so far this year and 2. Best sequel you’ve read so far this year
Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire is the sequel to Middlegame, one of my favorite books from last year. When I finished Middlegame, I didn’t want to read the sequel, because I liked where it ended and didn’t want to mess that up. But it turned out Seasonal Fears focused on different characters, so I changed my mind. It follows two teenagers who have been best friends/in love their whole lives, who get drawn into a competition to become the next incarnations of summer and winter. The characters from the first book are involved a little bit, but not so much it messed up the end of their story. I found some of the ending a bit anticlimactic, but there was plenty of great stuff along the way, so I didn’t mind too much.

3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to
56890307. sy475 New might be a strong word; David’s Crown: Sounding the Psalms by Malcolm Guite came out in 2021. But I haven’t read it yet. This is a collection of sonnets inspired by the psalms, with one sonnet for each psalm. Each one begins with the last line of the previous poem. I heard the author talking about it in an interview, and he said he had to start at the end of Psalms, because the last poem ends with the first line of the first poem. I think this is so cool, and I love Malcolm Guite’s work. A copy is sitting on my shelves at home, and I’m planning to read it soon.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of 2022
61156253To my knowledge, none of the authors I follow have anything coming out in the second half of 2022. But I went looking around, and I’m interested in Dream Small: The Secret Power of the Ordinary Christian Life by Seth Lewis. All I know about it is the publisher’s description, so here:
“We are all looking for significance and meaning in our lives. The world tells us that this comes from dreaming big, achieving personal success, and making a big impact. But the Bible says that self-worth is found in knowing our Creator, and contentment is found in discovering his purpose for our lives.
This book reminds us that when we know Jesus, we are free from the world’s definition of success. We can listen to God’s word and direct our dreams towards the things that he says matter most, even if they are small and unimpressive in the world’s eyes.
Celebrate the dreams God has for us: serving others, investing in individuals, and living faithfully. Although these things seem small, their impact will be bigger, and their rewards will be better, than anything we could dream for ourselves.”

5. Biggest disappointment
57184818. sy475 In the 1960s, an adoption agency in New York City purposely placed identical twins in separate homes without telling the families and then studied them. Which is, of course, horrible, no one should do that, but I think what they learned from it is probably fascinating. Unfortunately, Deliberately Divided: Inside the Controversial Study of Twins and Triplets Adopted Apart by Nancy Segal does not go inside the study at all. The people who conducted the study had the records sealed in a university library until 2065. Not at all indicative that they knew they were doing something sketchy and didn’t want to deal with the fallout… But this means there’s no inside information to be had. Most of this is interviews with the twins and families who were involved and how upset they are about it. Which, sure, that’s an important thing to do, and you can’t wait until the records are unsealed to do it because they’ll likely be dead by then, but I don’t think it’s what the book promised. It was also very repetitive. It was 400 slow pages and could have been much more concise and interesting.

6. Biggest surprise
51166217I talked about The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard in my post Great Books I’ve Read in 2022 – Part 1. I think I really needed something to read when I found it on Hoopla, and I didn’t anticipate how much I would like it. It’s a different sort of thriller, and I stayed up way too late finishing it because I needed to know what happened.

7. Favorite new author
Malcolm Guite, mentioned above.

8. Newest fictional crush and 9. Newest favorite character
57189884. sx318
My brother recommended the series He Who Fights With Monsters by Shirtaloon to me, and I’ve been listening to the audiobooks. The reader is fantastic. The main character, Jason, unexpectedly wakes up in a whole different world, one with magic and monsters and his own personal video game interface. Jason quickly becomes an official adventurer and picks up lots of friends. My favorite combination so far is:
– Jason, in his early 20s, New To This but getting quite competent with his odd and threatening abilities (keeps getting asked if he’s the guy with evil powers, insists they’re not evil), cheerful smart-aleck who makes friends with pretty much everyone and is excessively prepared.
– Humphry, teenager who just became an official adventurer, from an old and wealthy family, has trained for this his whole life but is kind of clueless about normal people, rather preppy.
– Clive, who I think is closer to middle age, worked in a civil servant-type job for quite a while and has been getting reluctantly dragged into actual adventuring by Jason, keeps revealing that he has surprisingly powerful abilities, very much a nerd who gets excited about learning weird things.
I love Clive. Clive can get the newest favorite character slot. If I were picking one for crushing, that can be Humphry. Clive has a girl I think is becoming his love interest, and I support them.

10. Book that made you cry
57593991The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman is the last (at least for now) in The Invisible Library series, which I love and have been eagerly following for several years. Overall I didn’t think it was the best book in the series – there was a lot of information gathering and not a lot happening for most of the book – but I still enjoyed it, and the ending made me emotional.

11. Book that made you happy
54911057. sx318 I loved Fangs by Sarah Anderson, a tiny little collection of comics about a vampire and werewolf falling in love. It’s SO CUTE. There’s not really a storyline, just illustrated little moments, and I think it works well that way. It’s very short, and I read the whole thing in one sitting. Took it back to the library the next day and recommended it to my boss, and she also read the whole thing in one sitting. Occasional inappropriate humor, so fair warning, but overall this was a delight. I would be happy to get more.

12. Favorite book to movie adaptation you saw this year
The only one I can think of is Death on the Nile. I have not read the book, so I can’t compare, but I enjoyed the movie. It was very pretty. I loved the Egyptian scenery. To be honest, I thought the solution to the murder was a little obvious, but that’s all right.

13. Favorite review you’ve written this year
I don’t think I’ve written any particularly stunning reviews this year.

14. Most beautiful book you bought this year
57311791. sx318
Perhaps Every Moment Holy Volume II: Death, Grief, and Hope by Douglas McKelvey. It’s perhaps not stunningly beautiful, but I don’t actually buy many books (that’s what libraries are for), and in person it has a lovely texture and feel. And it has a ribbon bookmark! Always special.
Also, I highly recommend both this book and the first volume (simply titled Every Moment Holy). They are collections of prayers for both normal and difficult moments in everyday life, and they are excellent.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I am ever-so-slowly working my way through The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien when I hit lulls in library books. It’s excellent, I love it, but it’s very slow going. I certainly hope I finish it before the end of the year!
I want to read Waiting on the Word by Malcolm Guite during Advent.

Posted in Life

An Update at Last,

but I didn’t get the job. My boss was very nice and let me cry in her office and assured me my interview was fine and she thinks I’m perfectly capable, but someone with a master’s degree also applied and was technically more qualified. So.

They have offered me instead the reference job they’re hiring for, still at my current branch, and the same sort of pay raise as the teen job. I’ll probably take it. And will probably come around and appreciate it. But at the moment it’s disappointing.

Posted in Christianity

“You Have Permission to Not be Anxious”

I wish I could remember where I read this, but that knowledge is long gone. But though the source has not, the idea has stuck with me.

I think our world contains a lot of pressure to be stressed. There seems to be the implicit message that if you’re not upset about every single bad thing in the world and constantly worried about all the worst outcomes, you’re probably stupid, or you don’t care about anyone else. Or maybe both!

But that’s not what God says.

God says, over and over and over and over and over and over and over (and over), “Be anxious for nothing.” We can take this as an order we should never break, becoming extra anxious with guilt every time we get anxious, but I think there’s plenty of evidence in the Bible that grief and stress are reasonable in our broken world, and God wants to comfort and encourage when they get to us, not chalk it up to, “Well, that’s one more sin I’m forgiving.”

But he doesn’t ask you to feel that way.

It doesn’t always help. But sometimes remembering to look at things this way is exactly what I need to feel better.

Doesn’t it kind of sound too good to be true? It’s not! You are allowed to go about your day calm and content while everyone around you worries about everything. You really, really are.

Posted in Writings

Fight for Us Together

A few years ago, I shared one of my short stories about some siblings growing up at their dad’s questionable military school, Hold as Long as You Like, but I realized I never shared the sequel. They’re all grown up now. Ash has a job as security for a wealthy businessman. Maggie is their dog, and I think that’s the only unexplained thing you need to know.

 

With his backpack looped over both shoulders, Blaze moseyed across his college campus. His last class let out early, so he didn’t have to hurry to the next one today.

His route took him through the lobby of the main building, where a larger-than-usual crowd clustered around the TV that constantly played there. Glancing at the screen curiously, Blaze stopped in surprise at a picture of Gavin on the news. He edged closer to hear.

“…less than an hour ago,” the newscaster was saying, her tone concerned but business. “Local millionaire Gavin Reid was visiting Chicago on business when it happened.”

The screen cut to footage of Gavin on the front steps of a building, shaking someone’s hand, with Ash beside him, alert, watching. Ash’s eyes caught something, and he tensed, already moving. Then the crack of a gunshot and Ash shielding Gavin and Blaze was 14 again, watching his unshakable older brother crumple to the ground.

Back to the newscaster and the picture of Gavin.

“We have no information yet on the assailant. Ash Harker, part of Mr. Reid’s security team, has been hospitalized-”

Class forgotten, Blaze ran.

 

He stopped first at the room where Kai typically waited when he drove Blaze to school. Kai jumped to his feet the moment Blaze burst in. “What’s wrong?” he demanded.

“Ash,” Blaze choked out. “It was on the news. Someone shot at Gavin, and Ash… All I heard was that he’s in the hospital.”

Kai’s friend Alex was already shoving Kai’s books and phone into his bag. He held it out to Kai, who took it and said numbly, “Star. We need to get Star.”

Blaze nodded. “She’s next. You were closer.”

“Anything I can do?” Alex asked. Kai looked at him and shrugged helplessly, so Alex gave him a shove toward the door. “Go get your sister.”

Blaze rushed toward the car, Kai’s footsteps echoing behind his, not slowing when Kai said his name. But then Kai grabbed him in a tight hug and Blaze had to stop, had to turn and hold on and hide from the video clip playing on loop behind his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Kai said.

Blaze couldn’t reply. He didn’t need to.

A moment later, they were running again.

 

“I’ll drive,” said Blaze.

“You sure?”

“I can’t sit still anyway.”

Kai handed over the keys.

But Blaze also had to call Star, and even as he started the engine, he was dialing the pet store where she worked, phone pressed to his ear, whipping out of the parking space.

“Pet Supplies Plus.”

“Hi, can I talk to Star? This is Blaze.”

“Sure, just a minute.”

The minute felt like forever, but he didn’t even get off campus before Star answered, ending the hold music. “Hey, Blaze, what’s up?”

He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t. He could feel Kai’s eyes on him and almost handed over the phone, but instead he swallowed and forced words out. “Hey, Star… sweetie… have you seen the news?”

“No?” He could hear the spike of panic in her voice.

“Don’t look. You don’t want to. But… Ash is in the hospital. Someone shot at Gavin, and Ash got hurt getting him out of the way. That’s all we know.”

Silence.

“Kai and I are on our way over there to pick you up.”

“Yeah. Okay.”

“I love you.”

“Love you.”

Then Blaze did hand his phone to Kai. “Let me know if there’s anything from Gavin.”

 

When they pulled up to the pet store, Star was already outside and talking on her phone. She flung herself into the backseat, and Blaze stomped on the gas. “It’s Gavin,” she whispered, sliding to the middle and leaning forward between the front seats. Listening to Star’s tense side of the conversation, which told him nothing, Blaze drove, heading toward home, more from habit than decision.

Finally Star hung up. Kai turned. Blaze kept his eyes on the road.

“Ash is alive, but not awake,” Star said, and Blaze’s hands clenched tighter around the steering wheel. “Gavin’s okay. They caught the shooter but haven’t told Gavin anything about him yet.”

“Why didn’t he call us?” Blaze demanded, his anger pulsing in his fingertips and jaw.

“This was the first chance he had. I’d already tried to call him three times before he called me. It really hasn’t been that long since it happened.”

For Star’s sake, if nothing else, he didn’t want to be angry with Gavin, so Blaze shoved that away to think about later, hopefully more objectively. “We need to get out there,” he said.

“Gavin is working on plane tickets. He’s going to send me the information as soon as he has it.”

The airport was a ways away, and they were low on gas. Blaze turned right at the next stop sign to head to the nearest station.

“What about Maggie?” Kai asked.

Blaze swore and bit his lip. Who did they know who would take care of the dog?

Anything I can do?

“Text Alex.”

Kai nodded and reached for his phone.

“Has anyone called Milla?” Star asked.

“Not that I know of,” said Blaze.

She sighed heavily. “I will.” But her phone vibrated before she could dial, and she took a minute to read the message. “Next flight to Chicago leaves in two hours,” she announced. Blaze whipped into the gas station and leaped out. They were going to make that plane.

 

It took two miserable plane rides, one miserable layover, and one miserable taxi ride to reach the hospital. Gavin, surrounded by multiple police officers, met them at the entrance, and Star ran to him, hugging him fiercely. Relief over his safety had been battling with fear for Ash since Blaze’s phone call, and for this moment, relief overwhelmed everything.

But before she even let go of him, Gavin brought the fear crashing back, saying loud enough for them all to hear, “He’s still in surgery. No news since I last texted you.”

Star sagged a little since Gavin could hold her up. All this rushing just to wait more. She’d known this would happen, but she desperately wanted her brother, just to see him breathing for herself.

“Did you hear anything about the shooter?” she asked as she stepped back.

Gavin shrugged. “Someone high and ranting on and on about the horrors of capitalism and wealth.”

Star rubbed his arm.

Gavin and the police officers led them to a small waiting room, one with locked doors, not open to the public. Two couches in an unfortunate green, a silent TV mounted on the wall, no windows. Kai curled up in the corner of one couch. Gavin collapsed on the other. Blaze paced.

They all needed her attention. Kai hadn’t spoken since asking about Maggie. Blaze had to be reliving the last time he’d waited in a hospital for Ash. But Star had been with them the whole long trip, and she didn’t know what else to do for them right now, so she sat beside Gavin.

“I’m so sorry,” he told her. “I know this is why I hired him, but nothing like this was actually supposed to happen. I was supposed to just be paranoid and ridiculous and…”

When he choked over his words, crying, to Star’s horror, she cupped her hands around his face. “This is not your fault. I’m not upset with you. Whatever happens, I won’t be upset with you.” Star gently traced her thumbs across Gavin’s skin. “Ash protected you because he cares about you, not because it’s his job. It’s okay to be grateful.”

Gavin didn’t say anything else, just put his arms around her, and Star was glad, because she had run out of words.

 

Blaze hadn’t paced in the tiny waiting room long before he escaped to pace the hallways instead. This was not a day to be still, and he’d forced it long enough on planes. It killed him that he could do nothing helpful. He at least had to walk.

But when he found himself staring out windows at Chicago but seeing the city around the hospital where he’d done this before, he made himself go back, stopping at a vending machine along the way and collecting a whole horde of candy bars.

Back in the waiting room, Star and Gavin talked in low voices, intent enough on each other to make Blaze more jealous than he wanted to be. He worked hard to be okay with sharing his sister. Usually he managed it. Today was not usually.

Sitting beside Kai, Blaze silently offered his candy selection. Kai took a Snickers. Blaze opened one, too, but he didn’t eat it, just stared at it. Stared until he whispered, “I’m really glad I’m not alone this time.”

Kai looked over and then put an arm around him, gripping tight, and Blaze closed his eyes and took a bite of his Snickers.

 

Kai expected Ash to look a mess. That didn’t mean he was prepared for it.

Ash tried to be himself. Kai could see the pained, exhausting efforts. He insisted on careful hugs. He said encouraging things. He told Gavin it wasn’t his fault before Gavin said a word.

But his words slurred, came too slowly. A few sentences seemed to do him in.

There weren’t enough chairs in the room. Gavin fixed that. Kai curled up in one and left it as little as possible over the next few days.

Blaze ran errands, and sometimes he made Star go with him, fetching food from the cafeteria, finding nearby stores for toothbrushes and clothes and anything else someone decided they needed. The two of them coaxed Gavin into attending a few of the scheduled meetings that brought him to Chicago in the first place. They met Milla at the airport, took her back when she had to leave. They didn’t get Kai farther than a few short walks up and down the hall. He didn’t want to be in that room with Ash a shadow of himself, but he didn’t want to be anywhere else either.

There were new cuts down his arms.

He knew he worried everyone. He tried to care. He couldn’t quite manage it.

For the first couple days, Ash mostly slept. He would wake up for a little while when the pain meds started to wear off, groggy and hurting, until the next dose knocked him out again. Kai knew Ash hated it, he could tell in Ash’s short bursts of awareness, but he’d also listened to the doctor’s list of important organs the bullet hit, and he knew Ash’s body needed the relief.

But wounds began to heal, and the doctors began to ease up on the drugs, and Ash began to look alert when he was awake.

One of the first times it happened, Kai was alone in the room, on his phone, scrolling through his texts from Alex. His friend kept sending him pictures of Maggie, and someday he would have to figure out how to tell Alex how much he appreciated it.

“Hey, Kai,” said Ash.

The phone clattered to the floor as Kai sprang to Ash’s side. “You’re awake.”

“Yeah, I think so.” Ash reached toward Kai and caught his wrist, and Kai let his own fingers curl around Ash’s wrist, suddenly grateful for the new hoodie Blaze had bought him because the hospital was freezing. Ash didn’t need to see his arms right now. “You look as bad as I do,” Ash told him, trying to smile.

Kai had seen a mirror lately; Ash had not. “I definitely don’t.”

“Are you okay?” Ash asked.

“Not really.” Kai sat on the edge of the bed. “But you’re more important right now.”

Squeezing Kai’s wrist, Ash said, “I love you.”

Kai didn’t try very hard to fight the tears that formed at that.

He stayed where he was, holding on to his brother, not talking much, until a nurse arrived with another dose of painkillers. And then he still stayed while Ash lost his fight to stay awake. And a while longer, because he could.

 

Ash wanted to go home.

He wanted to sleep when he chose to.

He wanted to see Milla. Technically he had, and he’d supposedly talked to her multiple times, but he only remembered smelling her perfume and her soft lips pressed lightly to his.

He wanted his siblings to look less traumatized.

Even before any doctor told him what was going on, he had known this was worse than last time just from seeing Blaze’s face. Star later told him Blaze saw the footage of the shooting, alone and unprepared, and Ash still needed to get Blaze to talk about that.

Right now none of them were around. With Ash awake and able to add his encouragement, Star and Blaze finally talked Kai into leaving the hospital for some fresh air. But they left Gavin so Ash wouldn’t be alone.

With the lap desk that went most places he did, Gavin was plowing through some of his endless important paperwork. But the pinched lines between his eyebrows and the white knuckles clenched around his pen weren’t things Ash saw often. He didn’t think they came from the paperwork.

“Gavin?” he said.

Gavin started and his head shot up. “You need anything?” he asked.

Ash shook his head. “I just wanted to tell you… I’m so glad you’re not hurt.” He’d been trying not to think about the moment of the shooting, because even now, remembering the rush of fear for Gavin when he spotted that gun made him nauseous.

Gavin’s eyes went wide. “You’re… You’re glad I’m not hurt? When you almost died?”

“It’s worth it,” said Ash simply.

“It’s not. Your family is-”

“Important,” Ash interrupted. “And you’re important, too. You’re my best friend and I love you.” He didn’t know exactly when the short list of people he would get in the way of a bullet for had started to grow, but Gavin had made the list even before Milla. Ash had known that long before this incident. Apparently he hadn’t filled Gavin in.

Gavin stared, mouth agape, eyes suspiciously wet. Putting his paperwork aside, he stood, paced closer, away, closer again. At last he reached to take Ash’s hand, awkward but determined. “Thank you,” he said hoarsely. “I hoped I might be finding a friend that day I emailed you, but I never could have expected such a great one. I… love you, too.”

Ash smiled and squeezed Gavin’s hand before letting go. “For the record,” he said, “I am also relieved that I didn’t die,” and Gavin laughed.

 

Home felt good, and Blaze could tell he was starting to relax. Maggie had attacked all of them with love and was now glued to Kai’s side. Milla had come by before they arrived to make sure they had food and things were relatively clean. She stayed to greet Ash with hugs and tears before she left to let them rest.

Ash collapsed into bed the moment Milla was gone, exhausted even though he’d slept through most of the flight home. He would still need a million doctor appointments, but all the doctors in Chicago said he was recovering well, and Blaze hadn’t seen any reason not to believe them.

Star said they should leave Ash alone. Blaze listened for a while. But he needed a nap, too. Besides, if Ash really wanted left alone, he could have used one of the extra bedrooms.

They still had bunk beds. They could have spread out in the other rooms, and occasionally it happened, but mostly Blaze didn’t see the point. He felt safer with his siblings close by, and obviously he was not the only one.

Ash usually slept on a top bunk, so right now he was asleep in Star’s spot. Blaze didn’t make any particular effort to be quiet as he entered the room, and Ash stirred and woke. Blaze felt a little guilty, but mostly relieved; one of the worst parts of the hospital stay had been watching his brother who heard everything sleep through so much noise.

“Blaze?” Ash mumbled.

“Sorry,” said Blaze. “Go back to sleep.”

“You okay?”

He knew better than to try to lie to Ash about that. But right now, as he climbed into his bunk and hugged a pillow, it didn’t feel like a lie to say, “Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.”

“I’m glad,” said Ash, and Blaze smiled as he settled in to sleep.

Posted in Life

Pictures from Last Week

I spent last week watching this cute and snuggly puppy, Lady.

Very unimpressed that I wouldn’t let her eat the cat’s food.

Pretty turtle. I did my best to not let the dogs eat it.

And Saturday I went to a Bastille concert! We ended up with a great view of the stage. The concert was great. I loved the creative lighting. I don’t know their newer stuff as well, but I was at least familiar with about half the songs they performed. I got most excited by Good Grief and Things We Lost in the Fire. My phone camera isn’t cut out for this sort of thing, but this one came out okay.

If you don’t know Bastille, Overjoyed and Warmth are my favorites, though sadly neither of them came up at the concert.

Posted in Life

Today…

I have an interview for a new job. It’s at the library where I currently work, but they’re creating a teen librarian position, and I applied.

Prayers appreciated! I’m not (yet) as nervous as I could be, but I’m still somewhat nervous.

I shall provide an update next week or whenever I have one,