I lay in the bed that the kind woman and her son had given me that night. I stared up at the dark, trying to find the ceiling.
So his name was Finn.
How did Mrs. Silverton and Edison know his name?
And who was Adam?
Overheated, I rolled over onto my side and kicked off my covers.
I hadn’t been able to meet Pastor Silverton yet. I had forgotten the reason Mrs. Silverton had given for his absence. I had not been listening when she told me, I was so overwhelmed at her kindness.
I wondered if the pastor had ever seen a glimpse of what I could see.
“Crystal,” I whispered in the darkness, seeing her despite it, “Could you tell me more. About Nadia?”
Crystal sat down at my bedside. “I thought you had forgotten.” She said. Those five words rang like crystal through my head, seeming almost to cleanse my brain of any weariness it might have felt.
I sat up to look at her more fully.
“What happened to her, Crystal? Did she die? Did someone murder her? Did she go insane?”
Crystal gave the barest shake of her head, humor finding its way onto her expression. “Oh, Meredith. You and your imagination. No. Nadia… She…she forgot.”
“She forgot what love is. You see, Meredith, her story is very similar to yours. Nearly identical. Only thing was…she fell in love. And he wasn’t in love with Jesus. And that it was a very, very bad thing.”
“How old was she?”
“Fifteen.” The word was more sound than word.
I sucked in a sharp breath.
Crystal looked at me. “You’re not far from fifteen yourself, Meredith. I wondered…before I pledged to be your angel…if Nadia’s story would repeat itself in you.”
“Do you still think it might?”
Crystal’s eyes shifted to mine. With her gaze she plumbed my soul.
She sought its merits, its faults.
She breathed out a little breath and raised a hand to touch my cheek. “You’re so much like her.” I was surprised when I felt her touch. It was physical and…and so real.
She smiled at my surprise as she rubbed her thumb across my cheek before withdrawing her hand.
Without warning, a cold breeze blasted across the room making the fine hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention. I heard and feltsomething approaching.
I burst off the bed and tripped toward the window. Peering through the wooden blinds, I saw a car come up the driveway. The headlights blinded me for the space of a second.
I could not find anything breathable as I watched a man got out of the car and walked toward the other side of it.
He opened the passenger door.
I saw the demons before I saw the girl.
Seven of them. I could smell their stink, see their influence over her.
“Put on the armor of God, Meredith.” Rade said, now at my side. I turned to look at him. He looked so strong. So able. His armor was silver and shone in the dark. At his side he wore a sword.
Though I had never seen wield it I knew he could use it.
I squeezed my eyes shut. My hands clenched the windowsill, making my fingers go white.
“Finally, my brethren,” I whispered to myself. Slowly, I released the windowsill. “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the whiles of the devil.” I lifted my head, looking toward the door. I shuddered. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood. But against principalities,” I took a step toward the door. “Against powers,” Another step. “Against the rulers of the darkness of this world,” I took two more steps, opened the door. “Against spiritual wickedness in high places.” I stepped out of the safety of the room I had been given. I began to run. “Wherefore take unto the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” I pounded down the steps, the cold wood that made them up like ice against my bare feet.
I heard voices below.
Mrs. Silverton had waited up for her husband.
I reached the bottom of the stairs just as Pastor Silverton entered the house. The girl was just a step behind him. I hurdled myself toward her and stopped her from crossing the threshold of the Silverton’s house.
Could they not see what possessed this girl?
I didn’t turn to look at the pastor’s wife.
I stared into the girl’s dark brown eyes, searching the depths, desperate for wanting to make her understand what was about to happen.
“Do you want to be free?” I asked. “And do you want to be filled with something other than emptiness and depression?”
She seemed taken aback at first, but I held her gaze, didn’t let her go.
Her demons began to scream around her, from within her.
She looked away from me, her expression hardening.
“Don’t you dare listen to those voices in your head!” I nearly shouted.
Her expression softened. “Can you…can you help me?”
“Are you willing to let me?”
The demons began to scream, their whispering voices corrosive.
“Don’t listen to them.” I said. “Your name. What is your name?”
“Iana.” She said hesitantly.
“My name is Meredith, Iana. And I can see things that you cannot. I can help you if you will let me. Will you let me?”
Her eyes flickered. For an interminable time we stood, staring into one another’s eyes. I saw her measuring me. Weighing the worth of my words. Then, something like a sigh escaped her lips along with one word. “Yes.”
I stepped forward, put my hands on either side of her head. “Do not be afraid, Iana.” I said. “Do not be afraid.”
Be with me now, Jesus! My soul cried.
I closed my eyes, raised my face to heaven. “Jesus, king of heaven, of earth, of all creation, give me power now. Demons of depression haunt this poor soul. Of disappointment and disillusionment. You did not make us for these things, Lord. You made us for joy and for peace. You made us for Yourself. So…in Your name…in the name of Jesus I bind these demons! I cast them back to where they came from! In Jesus’ name!”
I heard my angels fight against Iana’s demons. I sensed more angels arriving to help.
I opened my eyes, met Iana’s, and said, “For we struggle not against flesh and blood but against powers, against principalities, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.”
Tears filled up her dark eyes. Then something happened. Her face contorted and she clenched her chest with one hand, her head with the other. She gave a short scream. I looked over her shoulder at the battle. The demons were winning.
I grabbed her shoulders. “Jesus, give me power.” I said, my voice pleading and frantic. I placed my hands over hers and began praying. My words were fast, slurred with desperation. “Give her strength to fight. Give me the power to help her. Give your angels power over the demons.” I felt the pastor put his hands on me. Then his wife. I heard their prayers intermingle with mine. I felt power leave my body, entering hers. It left me feeling drained, but still I prayed.
The battle got louder and louder. Our praying grew more and more fervent.
Iana trembled beneath my touch. A cold sweat had broken out over her body.
Then everything stopped at once.
The demons halted their screams.
The clash of the angel’s swords grew still in the air.
The couple who prayed with me quieted.
And my voice grew still as well.
I opened my eyes, saw the angels behind Iana.
Blood on their swords and yet not a demon in sight. I nodded my thanks before I turned toward Iana.
She was very, very pale. She swayed on her feet before finally falling forward.
I caught her but had not the strength to hold her myself.
I collapsed beneath her weight.
Pastor Silverton lifted her off of me almost immediately and turned to his wife.
“Who is this child, Nellie? Where did you find her?”
“I could say the same to you.” Mrs. Silverton said, eyeing Iana. She reached out to stroke the girl’s black hair from her forehead. “Poor dear. After witnessing and being part of…that…whatever that was, I’m certain she has had a hard life.”
I leaned my head back, resting against the door frame. I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to get up.
“Go put Iana on the couch, Smithy. I’ll take care of Meredith.”
He raised his eyebrows and shifted Iana’s weight in his arms. “Perhaps we could take care of Meredith together?” He looked at me as his wife gave him a small shove toward the living room. He reluctantly followed her order.
“My dear, can you get up?”
She stretched out her hand.
I reached up to take it, fighting against a weariness that I had experienced but rarely to do so.
Standing with her help, I leaned my whole body against the frame once I was entirely on my feet.
“Did you see them?” I whispered, my weakness influencing my mind.”
“See what, Meredith?”
“The battle. Did you see it? It was like nothing I’ve ever known.”
“The battle…Meredith…can you…oh, never mind. You need rest right now. I don’t know exactly what you did, but I know that you were fighting a battle.”
I held out a hand, palm up, and stared at it. She didn’t see it. I thought, disappointment mixing with the wonder and gratefulness I felt.
I closed my eyes. But not everybody would be able to handle it.Certainly, I was overwhelmed enough at times.
Or a million other times.
Mrs. Silverton put her kind, warm hand on my arm. “I’m going to make some tea for all of us. The pastor is going to want you to explain some things, you realize. I’ll make sure he doesn’t tonight since you’re clearly exhausted. But you will have to talk to him. ”
“Yes. I know.” I said as I heard her walk toward the kitchen. Always. Always they want me to explain.
I let out a small breath through my nose at the thought. And once I did, they always thought I was insane or a little girl who was afraid to grow up.
Yes, well, I grew up a long, long time ago.
I pushed myself from the doorway and reached out to shut the door.
That’s when I looked up and saw him.
Standing in the light of a street lamp, his hair glowing gold beneath it.
And though he wore no shaded glasses he was too far away for me to see his eyes.
But I could feel his stare.
“Finn.” I whispered. Edison had called him Finn. He flinched when I said that one word, that one syllable.
Surely…surely he could not…hear me.
I took a step forward. Mrs. Silverton called my name.
I tore my eyes away from him long enough to answer.
When I looked back he was not there.
I tried to go back to sleep but merely tossed and turned. At around 6:30 I got up and made my way toward the appealing smell of coffee.
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and squinted against the light as I entered the kitchen.
Mrs. Silverton and Pastor Silverton sat at the table, the carafe of coffee between them, talking quietly.
My presence halted any conversation they were having.
When I finally managed to open my eyes all the way, I found Pastor Silverton staring at me.
His smile was kind. “Meredith, welcome to my home.”
Home. I hadn’t had a place to call home for nearly four years.
“Thank you.” I managed.
I sat down and accepted a cup of coffee at their urging. I hadn’t even stirred the milk and sugar in when the pastor asked the first question.
“Are things like…last night…normal for you, Meredith?”
“Ummm…last night was the first time I had done that. How is Iana, by the way?”
“Still sleeping.” He answered, staring at me in a way I found discomfiting.
I took a bracing gulp of coffee before I set it on the table and took in a deep, deep breath.
“Sir, if I tell you…everything…will you promise to at least try to believe me?”
“Meredith…I’ve been a pastor thirty years. And I’ve never seen anything like last night.”
“You saw them?” I asked.
“Saw them? Meredith…what did you see?”
“I saw the battle…I saw the blood. I saw angels and demons striving for a soul.” I lowered my eyes to my hands, which were soaking in the warmth of the coffee. “Poor Iana. But I’m glad…she made the right decision. She let us help her. She had…she had seven demons. I’ve…I’ve rarely seen that many on one person.”
The pastor leaned back in his chair. “So let me get this right. You can actually see angels and demons? What else have you seen?”
“I haven’t...haven’t met Him if that is what you are wondering.” I said quietly, meeting his eyes. “I’ve only seen the glory of God in his angels and in their eyes. But I’ve never seen Jesus in person.” I’ve seen Him a dream, though. A very, very real dream…
All was silent for a moment before a question filled my mind. “Pastor Silverton…who is Iana and why is she here with you?”
“Well, you see, Meredith, we’re foster parents. I was bringing Iana home to live with us for an indefinable period.” He reached out and patted my hand. “Now, if I may turn that around and ask who are you and why areyou here?”
I smiled a little. “Why, sir, I’m exactly what you see. And I’m here for a purpose. God whispered it to my soul. And I could not ignore it.”
He smiled. “Clever answer, evasive as it is.”
“Well, sir, I don’t exactly want to go back where I came from yet. I have work to do here, I believe.”
He nodded and seemed to ponder something for a moment. Then his face cleared and he slapped his knees as he stood. “Well, then, time to be off to my church. Meredith, perhaps you and I could discuss all of this later this evening.”
“Certainly, sir.” I replied.
After he was gone, his wife turned to me, a smile upon her lips. “How do you like him?”
I thought about it for a moment. Pastor Smith Silverton had a full head of silver and brown hair and steady blue eyes. He was of average height and at first glance most would pass over him.
But it was the way he carried himself that gave me pause.
He held an aura of strength. Of confidence.
Not in himself. For I sensed his humility as well.
No. The pastor knew his strength and confidence was from the Lord.
“I like him very well.” Was all I said to Mrs. Silverton.
After all, it would be a bit too much to express how very much I did like him.
After last night, it was a strange thing to be doing anything remotely normal as Iana, Edison, and I did. Iana and I had taken Edison to a nearby ice cream parlor while Mrs. Silverton ran an errand. Afterwards, we had walked to a park that Edison had begged to play at.
Iana and I sat beneath the shade of a nearby tree, watching him swing while he tried to eat his ice cream simultaneously. I hoped he wouldn’t drop it.
I took a lick of my chocolate overload ice cream scoop. “Hm.”
“I just…thank you. I woke up last night I think a few hours after I had fainted. And…I felt this inexpressible longing to just…just pray. So I did. And…you know…did the whole…salvation thing.”
I smiled, then giggled. “The whole salvation thing, huh? You mean you asked for Jesus to be with you for forever?”
She took a lick of her cone. “Mm hm. Forever.”
I reached out with my free arm to hug her. She hugged me back. We sat like that for a moment. Two teenage girls establishing a friendship based on Christ. When we finally broke apart she was sniffling and I couldn’t help but rub at my eyes at well.
“It’s a beautiful time in your life, Iana. Being newly saved.”
She giggled, though it seemed a little nervous. “Meredith…could you help me? I mean…with all this Jesus stuff. I don’t know anything. What should I do first?”
I took a major lick of my ice cream and savored the flavor against my cone. “Are you at peace, Iana?”
A sweet smile lit up her face. “Yes. Oh, yes. For the first time in my life. I am.”
I studied her. “Well…first of all…do you always wear black? I think you would look pretty in pink.”
She shuddered. “No. I hate pink. But…you’re right. Maybe I should wear some other color than black. It’s not…who I am anymore.”
“I’m glad.” I said.
She nodded. “Me too. I really am.”
I crunched into my cone.
Edison ran up to me, face covered in chocolate, crunching furiously.
He held out a dirty, scrunched up napkin. I swallowed and pointed behind him. “Trash can.” I said.
He cast a glance behind him. “Oh. Okay.” He said, throwing me a sheepish glance before running in that direction.
“Is he really a prodigy?” Iana asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve known him only a couple hours longer than you have.”
“He just seems so…normal.”
I leaned back on my forearm. “Nobody’s normal.” I replied. “There are just people who think they are and those who think they aren’t.” I surveyed the park, stared at Edison. Falling deep into my thoughts I said, without thinking of who was listening. “I haven’t done anything this…normal…in a long, long time. I don’t remember the last time I even had ice cream.”
Iana was silent for a moment. “Meredith?”
“How old are you?”
“Fourteen.” I sighed. “But I feel so much older.”
Iana gaped at me. “You’re that young? But I’m—I’m seventeen.” She spluttered.
“Are you?” I said, tilting my head. “How did you end up with Pastor and Mrs. Silverton, anyway?”
She shook her head. “I’m a foster child. Are you?”
I wasn’t sure how to reply to that. “I’m…I’m an orphan.” I said at last. “And it was time for me to leave the orphanage where I was living.”
“You ran away?”
I nodded once. “It was…complicated.”
Iana gave a dramatic sigh. “Seems like everything’s complicated. Especially when you’re an orphan or foster child.”
I opened my mouth to reply but was cut short by Edison’s loud squeal. Both Iana and I stood up when we saw Edison in the arms of an unknown stranger.
We ran toward the boy together.
“Edison,” Iana called out. “Who is—”
The man placed Edison on the ground and turned to face us, a wide grin on his face.
“Iana, Meredith, this is my brother.” Edison said, smiling, looking at the man with eyes of adoration.
“Adam Silverton at your service, my ladies. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
He wore sunglasses that didn’t allow me to see his eyes.
What was it with me and men and sunglasses lately?
I felt him looking at me. “Are you Meredith?” He questioned.
“Mm. Fascinating.” He murmured.
An eerie shiver went up my spine. My father used to say that exact same word that exact same way all the time.
“Are you coming to dinner tonight, Adam?” Edison asked.
“I always come to dinner on Friday nights, you goofball.” Adam said, fondly ruffling Edison’s riotous red curls.
“Not last week.” Edison pouted. “I haven’t seen you for forever!”
“You see me at church.” Adam said. “And besides I was…needed somewhere else last week.”
“Will you bring Finn with you to dinner tonight?”
I froze. Finn…
Adam shook his head. “No. Finn didn’t want to come tonight. Which I don’t know why. All the man does is work.”
Edison snorted. “So do you.”
“Oh…yeah. Guess I do. But I took off early today so I could see you. Don’t you feel honored, Edison?”
Edison scrunched his nose up in an adorable little-boy gesture. “Who me? The prodigy?”
Adam turned to Iana and me. “He’s no prodigy,” He stage whispered. “He’s just a kid who loves to play various instruments.”
“And happens to be really good at doing it.” Edison finished. He poked his brother and took off running.
Adam bolted after him.
Iana looked toward me and shrugged. “Boys will be boys and all that, I guess.”
I nodded, as if my heart were not pounding, my adrenaline not rushing.
Who exactly is Finn?
I stared after Adam and Edison.
And why does Adam seem so familiar to me?
If you enjoyed this chapter and want to know who Finn is then subscribe to my blog. I really need more subscribers. You wouldn't want to miss next week's chapter. Things are going to get very, very interesting. Who is Adam? Well, if you've read my Meredith Windsor chapters since the beginning he's not who you think he's going to be. Believe me...