Christian Short Stories
The Day Cheryl Became Rachel
By Wayne O. Johnson
Wayne writes: "I've known the Lord for nearly thirty years. I live in California, and enjoy a rich rewarding life with my wife. I enjoy writing short fiction and articles."
Cheryl was fourteen when she was in the church play: “The Sacrifice,” one about the pitfalls of a young believer dating a young nonbeliever, with the subtext covering Pro-Life to Pro-Choice. It was a period piece, with the setting being in ancient Israel when most of the people had fallen into the false worship of Molech; however, there were still those that believed in the true and living God, Jehovah.
Cheryl portrayed a fourteen-year-old Israelite girl, Rachel, who was among those that did believe in Jehovah. Tony, another member of the cast, portrayed a young Israelite man, Jonathan, who was among the majority who had fallen away and worshiped Molech.
The two characters in the play, Rachel and Jonathan, were romantically involved – as Cheryl and Tony were in real life, though secretly. And, like Rachel in the play, Cheryl too found herself pregnant and out of wedlock. The parallels between the staged and the real were, to say the least, uncanny.
In the stage production, Rachel told her parents about the pregnancy. Rachel’s father, though enraged with his daughter, could not bring himself to divulge this to the elders who would condemn her to death. The plan, Rachel’s father said, would be to lie and say that Rachel was raped by an unknown man. After the baby was born, and after an appropriate time of courtship between the unwed parents, Rachel and Jonathan would be married. Rachel’s father proposed this plan to Jonathan, who, not only rejected the proposal, but vehemently denied any copulation with Rachel. The last words on the matter from Jonathan to Rachel’s father were for Rachel to make a burnt sacrifice of the born baby to Molech. The immediate result was devastating, with Rachel’s father dropping dead from a heart attack.
In the real world, Cheryl never shared her pregnancy with her parents, only with Tony. And, though he wasn’t as dramatic as his theatrical counterpart Jonathan, he nonetheless strongly recommended Cheryl have an abortion.
“You’re too young for a baby!” Tony shouted.
“You are too!” retorted Cheryl. “We’re in this together. You know?”
“Maybe I’ll go Jonathan on you. Would you like that, huh?”
Cheryl burst into tears, like her theatrical character Rachel had done when she had heard the news about her father and Jonathan. Leaping forward nine months later, the fictional Rachel gave birth to a healthy, beautiful boy. And now, though Cheryl was just in her first trimester, she and her stage counterpart Rachel faced a dreadful decision to make.
Rachel is told by her mother, a woman in black still mourning her late husband, that Jonathan has promised to court and to eventually marry Rachel. “Provided,” the mother said, “you worship Molech, and sacrifice the child to him.”
At once Rachel is appalled by the horrible contingence a relationship with Jonathan would be based on, but even more so by the absence of any disapproval of that contingence by her mother.
“My child, be reasonable,” the mother implored, “Winter is coming, and neither you nor I will survive without a man in the household.”
Cheryl’s appointment with the abortion clinic was set on a day after school. All the papers for the procedure had been signed already by Cheryl. In nothing more than a paper gown, she sat on the examining table with the stirrups and patiently waited. Outside the window, a tree’s branches, stripped of any leaves and curled like the bony fingers of a specter, began to rap on the window pane.
A nurse with sterile instruments entered the room and saw Cheryl intently staring at the branches. “It’s just the wind,” the nurse said. “The doctor will be in soon and this will all be over with.” The nurse left the room, and Cheryl, though she wanted to, couldn’t stop staring at the branches that incessantly rapped on the window pane.
The branches held by the bystanders whipped the air, a noisy approval of the women carrying their newborn children toward Molech. Rachel was last in line. Cheryl remembered the scene well. The mothers, one by one, came before Molech – a sitting human figure with a bull’s head and outstretched arms, waiting to receive the children for sacrifice. Molech’s image of metal was heated red hot by a fiery pit within. The babies laid upon Molech’s arms rolled off into that fiery pit below. To drown out the cries of the victims, flutes and drums was loudly played. And the branches too, like the ones at the window pane, frantically whipped the air.
When the nurse and the doctor came through the door of the examining room, Cheryl leaped off the table and shot passed them. Nearly knocking them to the floor, all they heard from Cheryl was “No Molech! No!”
Epilogue . . .
Cheryl was now twenty-four years old, still unwed, and with a ten-year-old son Matt. At eighteen, Tony enlisted in the army. They wrote for a while, until the time when Cheryl’s letters stopped being answered.
On a windy night, not so long ago, Matt was suddenly awakened. Frightened, he called for his mom. When Cheryl came into his bedroom, she saw branches of a tree against the window. As the wind blew, they rapped the glass loudly.
Cheryl leaped back ten years in her mind, to playing Rachel on stage, to looking down at the baby doll in her arms, to standing before the outstretched arms of Molech. Cheryl remembered Rachel turning away from Molech and keeping her baby. Cheryl remembered turning away too – running as fast as she could out of the abortion clinic.
Cheryl flips a wall switch and a lamp beside Matt’s bed comes on.“There,” Cheryl smiles, and a tear flows down her cheek. “Have I told you lately how much I love you, my son?”
In the finale, Rachel came to her knees on the stage and quoted an aged King David: “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed. Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore.” – Psalms 37:25-27
The stage curtain came down, and the lights came on.
(Pro-Life organizations, go to – http://www.prolifeamerica.com/Right-to-life_Pro-Life_Organizations.cfm)
(© 2011 Wayne O. Johnson – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)
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