Christian Short Stories
By Patrick Sipperly
Patrick writes: "I'm a writer and video producer from Chandler, Arizona."
I sat a row behind the family in the church building where the thick air was filled with the scent of furniture polish and grief. Monica gave me a teary eyed smile and a hug. Her husband, and my sweet Sam had been stolen from us, taken away in a blink where busy highways unexpectedly intersect eternity. I sat back in the hardwood pew watching others deal with our mutual loss. Under the hazy amber light pouring through stained glass windows overhead, I let the memories of my best friend wash over me.
I was the awkward neighbor girl looking for a friend my age. He was the new boy next door. We were peanut butter and jelly from day one. We played and rode our bikes under the tall, leafy trees lining our quiet neighborhood. We lived in each others houses, graduated from high school together, went our separate ways for a while, but returned. His shoulder was mine to cry on, and I returned the favor.
I laughed when he said he'd given his heart to the Lord.
"C'mon Sam," I said. "Why'd you go and do that? We were having so much fun!"
But he was for real. And soon I was too. I serve God today because of Sam. Which makes this day all the more painful.
Monica's tears flowed as hard as mine. I was always a welcome guest, but she was a little jealous of our friendship. We could talk about anything. Anything.
I wonder if he ever told her about Rebecca. I'm probably the only one here who knows. I hope I'm the only one.
I met her at the corner coffee house...
"Hey, what's your take on this?" Sam asked, sliding a couple of sheets of paper in front of me.
"What is it?"
"Just read it. I'll be right back."
He left for the rest room while I held something entitled, After Hours By Rebecca Hill. The short story about a budding office romance began humorously, but a few paragraphs later, the coworkers descended down a sensual staircase of R-rated desires and beyond. I adjusted in my chair hoping no one could read over my shoulder. Sam returned just as I finished the last sentence. He searched my face for a response.
"What'd you think?" he asked.
After clearing my throat, I said, "It's been a while since I read porn, Sam. What are you doing with this?"
He laughed with a reddening face. "It's not porn, Jill. It's just a story. Just words."
"Reads like porn to me and you didn't answer my question. What are you doing with it? Who's Rebecca Hill?"
He sipped his coffee and looked up to me with those mischievous eyes. "I'm Rebecca Hill."
My mouth fell open. "Please, don't tell me you have a dress hidden away in your closet!"
"No, silly. I wrote it under the name of Rebecca Hill and posted it online. Got a thousand views in less than twenty-four hours."
He went on about how easily these twisted, steamy scenes just come to him, while I sat perplexed.
"How does a Christian man write this stuff and think it's okay, Sam? Aren't we supposed to be children of light?"
"You don't understand," he said, irritated.
I made a futile attempt to be his conscience, but my sermon fell on deaf ears.
I'd left our coffee time together over the years with many emotions; happy, content, angry, and even jealous. That day I left concerned. My friend was hooked by something, some hidden need, and that something had him by the heart. I saw less of him after that.
Another one of Sam's friends stood and addressed the grieving congregation. He said something that sent me back down a wintry stretch of Memory Lane. A very pleasant episode of us together at Ellie's house for a New Year's eve party long before our marriages.
Ellie and I vowed to lose those extra holiday pounds and we did. We both looked very good, if I say so myself. Sam and I talked out on the deck. When midnight came, he held me close and gave me a long, slow kiss that I felt all the way down to my toes. His warm, gentle hands moved up my back. I held on to him listening to the sound of snowflakes landing on my hair. I sigh every time I remember that night.
A month ago, during a moment of weakness, I surfed around online to see if Rebecca Hill was still around. She'd been busy. Fourteen stories to her credit on some erotica website. I read one called Love Me. I knew Sam was a creative writer, but this was haunting. Hypnotic. I was on fire, completely mesmerized by Rebecca's salacious prose. When the main character said "Love Me," it was both a plea and a command, and twenty-five thousand hungry, adoring readers all clamored the same word: More!
What made you step out into this slippery pool of darkness, Sam? What approval did you crave so terribly that you weren't getting at home or from friends, or God? How much of your soul did you trade away for the fickle attention of strangers?
I was in a fog for days after the funeral, going through the motions of work and being a wife and mother. I thought of my Sam and how he could have used his gift to uplift rather than to fuel the dangerous burning embers of lust. But it doesn't matter now. I tried to focus on better days when he lived his faith.
This morning I went to print out a recipe after my moody fifteen-year-old Naomi was done printing something. I picked up a page she'd dropped and froze when I read the first lines...
by Rebecca Hill
(© 2012 Patrick Sipperly – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)
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