An Open Letter to Bishop Perez

Standard

Updated with Bishop Perez’s response to the Open Letter.

1st May 2019

Dear Bishop Perez,

Re: Your letter to the faithful dated March 15, 2019.

Peace be with you and may Our Lord fill you with His wisdom, grace, and blessings.

We, the faithful, encourage you to relax your position on the Communion Rite posture policy, first promulgated in 2003, which enforces the policy of standing after receiving Holy Communion. Since the Diocesan Bishop may adapt actions and postures to the customs of the people, we further encourage you to reinstate the policy from the General Instruction to the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal (2002): “…The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei…” We are aware that the right to kneel has been secured by the Holy See, but we would very much like to have the encouragement and support of our bishop. Let the posture of kneeling bring uniformity.

We believe this posture of reverence best gives glory to God, deepens the faith of the believer, moves the heart of the unbeliever toward the truth of the True Presence, and can foster unity in posture during the Mass. Ironically, some parishes received your letter on the same day we heard this for the Second Reading: “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth…” (Philippians 2:10).

To many of us, kneeling resonates in our souls as the proper posture for these parts of the Mass, and we don’t understand the logic behind standing. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope emeritus Benedict XVI), in The Spirit of the Liturgy, laments that “There are groups, of no small influence, who are trying to talk us out of kneeling” (pg 184). He further explains how the Scriptures show the importance of kneeling. In them, we read about the night Jesus gave us the Eucharist and how he entered into His Passion by praying on his knees, giving us an example of the right disposition and posture one should have both in preparing to receive Holy Communion and after reception.

The book of Revelation gives us a peek at the heavenly worship, which faith tells us we participate in through the Mass. In this heavenly worship, the elders fall down before Our Lord whenever glory, honor, and thanks are given. Using this heavenly worship as a model, we see how appropriate the posture of kneeling would be when the priest, in persona Christi, lifts up our Eucharistic Lord and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

We also read how the leper in Mark 1:40 falls to his knees before the Lord, saying, “If you will, you can make me clean.” His prayer is strikingly similar to ours. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.” Like the leper, we long for Christ to answer our prayer. Like the leper, we trust in His power. The leper, however, did not know the Divine nature of Jesus, like we do. Therefore, we have even more reason to be on our knees for this prayer.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger ends this section on kneeling with this: “It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture — insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself.”

Dear Bishop, let us kneel. First, the altar rails were removed and we were told to stand to receive Communion. Next, we were told to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Then we had to stand after the Lamb of God. Now we are told we shouldn’t kneel after we receive Him.

Belief in the True Presence dwindles. Let us kneel. Do not encourage us to stand at these parts of the Mass where our hearts beg us to kneel, but rather let us worship Our Lord, who we truly believe is present in the Eucharist. As it is, very little quiet time is given for the faithful to offer prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and love to the Lord their God who has humbled Himself to become their food. To discourage kneeling after the reception of Holy Communion will reduce the amount of time for such prayer even more.

We are in a spiritual battle that grows more volatile every day. Notre Dame went up in flames. Hundreds of other Catholic Churches have been recently vandalized too, including St. James Catholic Church in Lakewood. The persecution of the Church intensifies–Christians tortured and murdered in record numbers in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The faithful in Sri Lanka can no longer attend Mass. Here in the US, the faithful are labeled “haters” and laws are being created to punish those who stand for Catholic moral teaching. The priest sex-abuse scandals continue to rip apart the Church from within, increasing the already large numbers of Catholics leaving the Church. And studies show that the faith has been watered down so much that over half of the Catholics in the pews no longer believe all the Church’s beautiful, transformational, and saving teachings. Many no longer believe in the True Presence.

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. As we worship, so we believe. In this dark culture, we need signs, symbols and reverent postures. We need solid and unwavering faith, intense devotion, and courageous witness. Let us kneel before our Eucharistic Lord so that the lukewarm may have their hearts set on fire and the believer may grow in deeper faith, and so that the unbeliever’s heart might be touched, and all the world will know: Jesus Christ is Lord.

Respectfully yours,

The faithful from several parishes in the Cleveland Diocese

Note: this letter has gone out to all priests of the Cleveland Diocese


If you share these sentiments, you are welcome to sign the letter here:
https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/allow-kneeling-during-the-communion-rite


I appreciate that Bishop Perez took the time to answer my letter and respond to the Open Letter and petition, even though I am discouraged with his decision.

A Financial Planning Book with a Catholic Perspective

Standard

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Dan Gallagher’s book, The Secrets of Successful Financial Planning: Inside Tips from an Expert (SSFP).” It is a CWG Seal of Approval recipientFrom a retired (i.e., no-bias or client acquisition agenda) nationally recognized, thirty-year expert, this comprehensive, yet easy to understand, personal financial planning book is for users, old and young, seeking to DIY or better understand/choose advisors.

Secrets of Successful Financial Planning

Summary:

Catholic:  The only financial planning book with a Catholic perspective, yet appropriate for users of all and no faith. As noted in Catholic News-Herald, SSFP provides 30 true tales of client tragedy and triumph” rather than boring case studies. Experience the “moral and relationships dimensions of money decisions.” SSFP Discloses secrets kept from the public and poorly knowns even among professionals.

Secular:  30 true tales of client tragedy and triumph, rather than boring case studies. Excellent reviews, including “…everyday language for practical use. SSFP can help almost anyone bring efficiency to their financial planning….  SSFP is strongly recommended.”  – Arthur B. Laffer, Ph.D., Father of Supply-side Economics, Economic Advisor to two presidents.  SSFP  discloses secrets kept from the public and poorly knowns even among professionals.

Excerpt:

Page 28, regarding asset allocation and income draw:

The old technique still used, a reasonable rate of withdrawal below an average rate of return is assumed [to result in never exhausting income-producing assets]. But those were always a known numbers. Anything wrong with that picture? Right! The future is not known at all. Not only were rates of return not correctly known, no market losses were assumed (merely some conservatively assumed rate of return). Worse, no early losses were assumed, and early losses are the worst because they reduce what is actually available to grow. The picture was always better than reality. Inevitable result: exhausted assets for retirees, failure to adequately save for those working. …math dangerously flawed.


Where can you get a copy?

This book is available through any bookseller, online or physical, but signed and personalized copies are available at DanDirect.AuthorDan.com


Want to know more about the author?

Dan retired from financial services in December 2017 to work professionally as a writer, freelancer, speaker and educator. During his practice, Dan’s professional designations included: Chartered Financial Consultant & Chartered Life Underwriter (1989), Certified Financial Planner® (1992) and Certified Business Intermediary (2002). Dan’s thirty-year financial practice encompassed group andindividual benefits, money management, financial plans, business valuation & brokerage, commercial realty and – often very personal – counseling. He now writes fiction and nonfiction and also offers speaking/training services. Dan was recently (June 2018) accepted and registered as an “expert witness” with The Expert Institute, New York.

Website: AuthorDan.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDanLovesReaders
Personal Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/dan.gallagher81


Know someone who might enjoy this book? Please share this tweet!

Want to learn ACTUAL secrets & poorly knowns of financial planning from a Catholic POV? Want it by a zero-bias expert? Want true tales of client “tragedy & triumph”? Feel the responsibility to be efficient with your gifts? AuthorDan.com

Love Hurts: A Book Review of Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within by Michael Voris

Standard

young-woman-2622725_1920She laughs as she runs with her diamond-shaped kite. Her long auburn tresses fly across her face and bounce down her back as she peers at the sky. She is beautiful, maddeningly beautiful. So carefree. So competent. So real.

He runs along after her, watching her, loving her.

With one hand held aloft, holding the kite string, she runs. Faster and faster, she sprints over the rocky terrain. Her kite spins and rolls in the air. She can’t get the height she wants. But then, she’s made the kite herself and it has no tail, nothing to make it stable.

He doesn’t dare correct her. It would dampen her delight, her pride of accomplishment. Maybe hurt her feelings. She hates when he criticizes her. And he can’t bear her rejection, her anger.

Catching a wind current, the kite shoots up. “Oh, look! There it goes!” She runs faster, her eyes on the kite and not on the ground.

A cliff lay ahead, hidden from view. Should he tell her? Though she didn’t look inclined to slow down, she likely knew. If he brought it up, it would spoil her fun. She would think he doubted her. He couldn’t bear to hurt her feelings, to risk making her mad at him.

Look how she smiles. How she laughs. How she runs like there is no cliff. In a few short steps she’ll reach it. Should he say something?

Five, four, three…

Two…

One…


Love Hurts: A Book Review of Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within by Michael Voris

The short story is preposterous, of course. No one would let another, much less one they love, race off a cliff to avoid hurting his or her feelings. Or would they?

resistanceMichael Voris’s Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within drove home to me the fact that true love does not remain silent in the face of danger, especially the danger that matters most: spiritual danger.

Michael shares a lot of tough stuff in this book, including the influence of Liberation Theology, Sexual Liberation, Homoheresy, and the media on many in high places in the Church, and the dismal statistics that show the decline of authentic faith in the Western world.

These are hard topics to read about, write about, research, and discuss. In reading this book and from following Michael over the years, I’ve come to realize: Michael Voris loves Holy Mother Church. If he didn’t, he would not expose himself to the anger, hostility, misunderstanding, and rejection of so many brothers and sisters in Christ. But he knows, as any good parent, friend, or spouse knows, that sometimes love hurts.

Real love desires the good of the other and not just the affection of the beloved.

Through his ministry, a labor of true love, Michael seeks to warn the wayward and motivate the faithful. Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within gives a clear warning about the fate of the Catholic Church in the West and in the world. This book reveals the evil that has been attacking the Church in modern times. Michael calls on faithful Catholics to “adopt an attitude of resistance to the corruption of the faith.”

While I’ve heard and read about the disturbing modern-day attacks against the Catholic Church from without and within, Resistance shows the cause and effect, which explains how we got where we are today. Because these things are so ugly, diabolical even, it is hard to look at them. And a part of me would rather not know. But not knowing doesn’t make the problem go away. As with any successful marriage, company, or organization, productive and sometimes painful self-evaluation is necessary. It is not enough to just recognize the bad fruit, we must also look at the tree and all the way down to the roots.

Resistance does not stop there. This book makes clear that to effect change, we need to begin with ourselves. And so Part II of this book provides concrete steps for self-evaluation and spiritual growth through an examination of the Beatitudes. I know that I will read Part II many times, especially the mediation on Peter. Peter’s story is told in the meditation of “Blessed are those who Mourn.”

“There is no man in Scripture who so impulsively and radically loved Our Lord as did Peter. And then in one horrible succession of events, he cursed and threw it all away. All that was left now was a lone, direct look from Jesus penetrating Peter’s spirit to its core…” ~Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within

We’ve all been there. At least I have. We’ve denied Our Lord. We’ve failed the test. We’ve chosen the easy way and not the right way. But Peter repented, and Our Lord forgave him. Then Peter got back up and lived his life boldly, fearlessly, selflessly in love with Christ and His Church. He loved to the point of death, also on a cross but upside down because he felt “unworthy to die in the same fashion as Our Lord.”

We need to get up too and live in this love. I love the Catholic Church. It is the church that Jesus built. Thus, it provides all that one needs to know God and to grow in holiness. It is the Bride of Christ.

For my love to be real, it needs to be selfless and purified. I need to look at the ways in which I seek to compromise with the truth or fail to follow the teachings of the Church, the ways in which I’ve shied away from correcting another or speaking the truth to avoid hurting feelings or coming across as being judgmental. Does this sound hard? Impossible?

As so many saints have proven over the years, unflinching faithfulness is possible.

And isn’t that what we all want? Faithfulness. You want it from your spouse, your children, your family, and friends. God wants it too. He wants me to be faithful because He wants me to open my heart to His transformational love. And whether we like it or not, sometimes love isn’t that heart-tingling feeling that has you walking on clouds. Sometimes the beloved has to say, “No, that’s not good for you.” “You’re on the wrong path.” “This is going to be hard.”

Because—let’s face it—when love is real, sometimes love hurts.

When writing my dystopian trilogy, which is a supposition of our world if we don’t change course, I struggled with the final book. I couldn’t fathom an ending because, at times, it seems evil has won and falsehood is so enmeshed in our culture that it would be impossible for a new, holy culture to emerge. Like in the Battle at Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings, the odds are ridiculously overwhelming. Evil stretches out aminis tiriths far as the eye can see. The good are few and most are ill-prepared. Evil goes on the offense while the good tuck themselves away and struggle at defense. Walls that have stood forever crumble, lives are lost, and the enemy has just unveiled Grond.

You know what I’m talking about, right? That one-hundred-foot long battering ram shaped like a ravening wolf with fire burning in its jaws.

But I am a Christian. And I’ve read the last page of the book. (Not referring to the Lord of the Rings, though of course I’ve read that.) I’m referring to the Holy Scriptures. We win. Jesus Christ has already claimed the victory. And in Him, we win too. Love win—true love, that is.

So I realized how the third book in my dystopian trilogy needed to go. The answer is with you and me. It is in pursuing holiness right here and right now. It is loving despite the cost. It is that sacrificial love that makes me willing to lose a friend today because I am unwilling to lose that friend for all eternity. Not on my watch.

Resistance: Fighting the Devil Within gives a clear idea of what the spiritual battle looks like for the Church in our times. It is a clarion call to all the faithful to get our boots on the ground.

Whether you are Catholic or not, I recommend that you read this book. It will offend you and startle you and maybe even open your eyes to the attacks that have been going on for years against the Catholic Church. And hopefully, this book will shake you to the core and motivate you to get on your feet and enter the fray. Fight for true love! Fight for Christ!

Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!

Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

~Theoden’s rallying cry in The Lord of the Rings

 

New Book Release by Carolyn Astfalk: Rightfully Ours

Standard

 

A coming-of-age story of first love, buried treasure, and discovering some things are worth the wait.

Rightfully Ours Front (002)Title: Rightfully Ours

Publisher: Full Quiver Publishing

Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Paul Porter’s relocation to Pennsylvania is a temporary move during his dad’s deployment. Or so he and his brother think, until devastating news lands on their doorstep.

Paul’s new home with the Muellers provides solace, especially in the form of Rachel, his friend and confidante. Their abiding friendship deepens as they work side by side to uncover what could be lost treasure.

Will they acquire the strength of character and virtue to take only what rightfully belongs to them or are they in way over their heads, with more than a few lost artifacts at stake?

Excerpt:

An unexpected detour left them lost in the dark. Paul had been certain they were heading the right way, but the two-lane country roads they had traveled the last half hour had few markers, and his older brother questioned whether they had missed a junction sign. Paul’s grip tightened on the clumsily-folded map as he peered out window. Maybe Sean should drag his knuckles out of the Stone Age and get a GPS.

Paul had been anxious about this move more than the others, even though it would only be temporary. The claw-like limbs of the barren trees whizzing by his window made the whole ordeal seem even more foreboding. He’d never been through North Central Pennsylvania, but in the daylight, the mountains would probably be beautiful, if a little desolate.

 Its only for a few months. By spring, Dad would be home, and things would go back to normal. Normal for them anyway. Besides, maybe he’d like it here.

Read more by clicking here!

Goodreads listing: Check out the Goodreads Giveaway!

Amazon Pre-Order/Buy Link  (Kindle only; paperback coming Easter week)

Check out the Book Trailer!

Extras: http://www.carolynastfalk.com/category/extras/

About the author:carolyn

Carolyn Astfalk resides with her husband and four children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where it smells like either chocolate or manure, depending on wind direction. She is the author of the inspirational romances Stay With Me and Ornamental Graces and the coming-of-age story Rightfully Ours. Carolyn is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and Pennwriters and a CatholicMom.com contributor. Formerly, she served as the communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops. True to her Pittsburgh roots, she still says “pop” instead of “soda,” although her beverage of choice is tea. You can find her online at www.carolynastfalk.com.

Social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CarolynMAstfalk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CMAstfalk

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/castfalk/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CarolynAstfalk

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/CarolynAstfalk

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolynastfalk

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3428010-carolyn

Instagram: https://instagram.com/cmastfalk/

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1FyiK1v

Facebook Launch Party: Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. DST

Tour Schedule:

Monday, April 3         Virginia Lieto http://virginialieto.com
Tuesday, April 4        Bird Face Wendy https://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com
Wednesday, April 5  Plot Line and Sinker https://ellengable.wordpress.com
Thursday, April 6     Sarah Damm http://sarahdamm.com and Our Hearts are Restless heartsarerestless.blogspot.com
Friday, April 7           FranciscanMom.com http://franciscanmom.com
Saturday, April 8      Olivia Folmar Ard http://www.oliviafolmarard.com
Sunday, April 9         Things Visible & Invisible https://catholicbooksblog.wordpress.com/
Monday, April 10     Terry’s Thoughts www.thouchin.com and Erin McCole Cupp  http://erinmccolecupp.com
Thursday, April 11    Peace to All Who Enter Here dmulcare.wordpress.com
Wednesday, April 12 Plot Line and Sinker https://ellengable.wordpress.com

 

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter G ~ Guam

Standard

G.jpg

“G” is for Guam

When I accepted the blogging from A to Z challenge, I intended to post about writing and books. What does Guam have to do with it? Every writer began their journey as a writer somewhere and mine began on Guam.

My father entered the Coast Guard at a young age. He was a radioman.

So our family moved around often. While my earliest memories are from my preschool years in California, I have a thorough recollection of my time in Guam. Living on an island was fun! Although, I admit I had no idea just how tiny Guam is.

My sister and brother and I loved exploring the woods behind our house and playing with strange bugs and with our friends. We did the same things any kid does, playing on playgrounds and riding bikes.

But my sister and I also played games that led to me becoming a writer. We played roll-playing games, using our favorite characters from movies and TV shows.

1978 TV programming: The Hardy Boys Mysteries, Battlestar Galactica, Welcome Back Kotter, Little House on the Prairie, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman…  And of course our favorite movie was Star Wars (A New Hope), which came out in 1977.

These games developed over the years. We created many of our own characters, and we started writing our stories down and illustrating them. I wish I had all our old stories and pictures! But I still have some of the characters that we developed in those early years. Modified versions of them are in all of my stories!

Faith was a natural and joyful part of my life back then. I believed everyone in the world was good and knew Christ. We attended Santa Barbara Catholic School with the sweetest sisters I’ve ever met. Several Chomorro women used to teach us how to make treats with coconut and how to weave baskets and mats from palm fronds.  It seemed to me that everyone on the island participated in our celebrations and processions and gatherings.

Life was exciting and fun and good back then. And I hold those memories dear and close to my heart. But I also want to share elements of it, if I can. So in all of my stories, I try to capture something of the joy of adventure, faith, and goodness.

So Guam is where the inspiration began for me. Where did it all begin for you? What inspired you to become a writer?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter D ~ Dystopia

Standard

D

D is for Dystopia!

A dystopia is an imaginary society that is undesirable or frightening.

Who wants to read a novel about such depressing stuff and why would anyone write about it?

I wrote my Chasing Liberty dystopian trilogy as a way to consider where certain ideologies might lead. We all believe in caring for the earth, but some very influential elitists believe that the earth is more important than people, population numbers need drastically reduced, and humans should be corralled into contained cities.

So…if the earth was elevated above man, what does that look like?

These highly influential special interest groups also believe that faith in God and the traditional family stand in the way. Let’s face it: when you have faith and family, you care about the world around you and everyone in it. You think about right and wrong. Stuff matters. Crush faith and family, and a government can rule without opposition.

So…what does a society look like when faith and the traditional family have been suppressed?

Perhaps all dystopians are written to warn people about current ideologies or trends that could lead to a frightening future.

Here are a few modern dystopians, including my own:

erincupp

This is a reboot of a classic! Born not in a past of corsets and bonnets but into a future of cloning and bioterror, could Jane Eyre survive? This Jane is an “unclaimed embryo,” the living mistake of a reproductive rights center–or so her foster family tells her. At age ten she is sold into slavery as a data mule, and she must fight for freedom and identity in a world mired between bioscientific progress and the religions that fear it. What will happen to a girl without even a name of her own? (available on Amazon)

The third one is hot off the press! Cadain’s Watch: Michelle and Jason escaped the wreckage of their beloved hometown and are determined to live free. Though they are hunted by the totalitarian bureaucracy, they vow to resist oppression no matter the cost. But insidious evil still threatens. Once proud Americans are hopeless and unwilling to fight, making it that much harder for the rebels in their quest for Liberty. And so, God intervenes, and the angel-warrior Cadáin is sent to watch over those whose spirits are unbroken. (available on Amazon)

Chasing Liberty dytopian trilogy – This novel explores the loss the individual faces when government is allowed to grow too big and reach too far. The traditional family is nonexistent. Human life loses value. The earth is elevated above man. It shows the importance of faith, family, and freedom through a story about a society devoid of all three.  Available in paperback and ebook on Amazon or through your local bookseller.

Do you enjoy reading dystopians? What are your favorites and why?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: Letter C ~ Creating Compelling Characters

Standard

2017 BadgeToday I will focus on an important element of good fiction writing: creating compelling characters!

In order to hold a readers attention, writers need strong, interesting characters. Ablue-boy-1514731 well-developed character has strengths, weaknesses, secrets, fears, goals, dreams, hobbies, obsessions, and even little quirks. This can be accomplished in so many ways! One of my favorite ways to develop a character is to write a character interview. I’ve done that for a character in Roland West, Loner, Peter Brandt, Roland’s new friend. You can read it here.

And I’ve interviewed Caitlyn Summer in Life-Changing Love:

Character interview of soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Caitlyn Summer, conducted by author Theresa Linden. This interview took place at Caitlyn’s house before the camping trip. (You can read the interview below or on my website)

 Smiling and giddy, Caitlyn hangs up the old phone on the kitchen wall. Her big green photo-1445295029071-5151176738d0eyes swivel to the dining room and latch onto me. Her smile shrinks a bit, but the news she received from the phone call must’ve really made her day because it seems like she can’t stop smiling.

I smile back. Mrs. Summer has been kind enough to invite me into her home for this interview, so I’m sipping hot Constant Comment tea at the dining room table. Stacks of laundry sit on one end of the table. A plate of chocolate chip cookies sits before me, but the long red hair sticking out of the cookie on top keeps me from taking one.

Mrs. Summer carries baby Andy and an armful of fresh laundry as she cruises through the little house, heading toward the bedrooms. A spring-fresh scent trails behind her. As she passes Caitlyn, she says, “Oh, Caitlyn, you have a guest. Mrs. Linden would like to speak with you for a moment.” Mrs. Summer glances at me and smiles. Then she rounds the corner and disappears, leaving Caitlyn and me alone.

“Oh.” Caitlyn gives me a sort of deer-in-the headlights look. Her eyes are so round and sparkling green, a nice contrast to her long red tresses. I wonder if I’ve captured them right in my stories.

“Care to join me at the table?” I say. “I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“Oh,” she says again, glancing to either side. The house is relatively quiet, but her younger sisters and brother are laughing and talking in the backyard.

Caitlyn runs a hand through her hair, wipes the front of her skirt then approaches with slow steps. “Are you from River Run High? I was supposed to meet with a counselor sometime this year. To talk about my future plans, I guess.” She tugs a chair back and eases herself into it. “Is that who you are, a counselor?”

“Um, no.” I wonder if it will freak her out to hear the truth. “I’m an author. And I just wanted to ask you a few questions.”

“Oh.” She’s studying me now, making me feel like I should’ve put on something a bit nicer than sweatpants and my favorite ratty jacket with the burn hole in the sleeve. “So, what do you write?”

“Different things. I wrote a dystopian trilogy, and I also write Christian fiction for teens.”

“That sounds interesting.” She grabs a cookie, takes a bite, and makes a face. Now she’s pulling a hair from her mouth. “What did you want to talk to me about?” she says with her mouth full. She shoves the rest of her cookie under the edge of the plate.

“Well, I wanted my readers to get to know you a little better. So if you don’t mind . . .” I’m talking quickly now, hoping she won’t get paranoid like Peter had done when I’d interviewed him. “I have just a few questions. First of all, I noticed that you seemed very happy after getting off the phone. Care to share why?”

Her smile returns and her eyes light up like two emeralds under a jeweler’s lamp.

I briefly wonder if my mental description of her eyes is too flowery.

“Oh,” she says, “that was my friend Peter. He finally got back to me about a camping trip we’re going on.” She dips her head and a tangle of red curls falls in her face. “I was hoping that Roland . . . a, uh, a new friend of ours was coming.”

“So, I guess he is then? Roland’s going camping?”

Still smiling, she pushes the hair from her face, twirls a red curl around her finger, and nods.

“Would you tell me a bit about Roland?”

“He’s new to River Run High, and we recently became friends.” Her smile wavers. “I really like him, but he’s very shy.”

“Is that a problem? That he’s shy? I think that’s great that you’re willing to reach out to a shy kid, especially someone new to your school.”

“No, I like that he’s shy.” Caitlyn glances over her shoulder in the direction of the hallway that leads to the bedrooms. “It’s just that, well, he’s so different from everyone else, and I really like him.” She stresses the word ‘really’ and gives me a serious look.

“Oh.” I nod. “Like a boyfriend.”

Her eyes pop open and she spins her head to peer over her shoulder. Then she faces me again and whispers, “No, I can’t have a boyfriend. When I’m older, my parents want me to practice courtship.”

“Oh, so what about now? You can’t see boys?”

She shrugs. “I can see them in groups. Which is why I’m glad he’s going camping.” Her smile comes back and she reaches absentmindedly for a stack of t-shirts, part of the folded laundry Mrs. Summer had left on the end of the table. “You see, we’re friends already. So I was hoping we . . .”

The stack of t-shirts slips off the table. Caitlyn twists and whisks both arms out, trying to catch them, but it’s too late. Mumbling, she leans and ducks under the table. Something bangs and she says, “Ouch.” A few seconds later she pops up with a sloppy pile of shirts and a weak smile.

“I just was hoping we could get to know each other better, you know, get closer without actually dating.” She stands and carries the shirts to the kitchen bar counter. “Though, I don’t know what I’d do if he really liked me, too.” She places the messy pile onto the cluttered countertop and folds one of the shirts. “I mean, I don’t know why he would, but . . .” She sets the folded shirt next to the messy pile and grabs another shirt.

“Why wouldn’t he like you too?”

“I don’t know. Some girls seem to have it all. They’re pretty and comfortable around boys . . .” She’s not even looking at me now. She’s folding shirt after shirt and putting them in a new stack, but the stack keeps inching back. “My best friend tells me I’m cute, but I don’t feel cute. And I’m certainly not pretty. Or hot.”

I find that I’m gripping my teacup, worried about that moving stack of folded shirts. It seems too close to a pretty glass pitcher—

The crashing sound of glass on a tile floor shudders through me. Caitlyn shrieks then stands frozen.

I get up to help.

Before I get around the table, Caitlyn shoves her hands into her tangled red hair and groans. “Oh, who am I kidding? The new rules won’t matter. I’m not even girlfriend material. I’m a clumsy mess!”

I’m not sure whether to clean up the broken glass or to comfort Caitlyn first. “I think every girl your age—”

“What was that?” Mrs. Summer flies onto the scene. She no longer carries Andy. Her round eyes shift this way and that, her gaze darting all over the kitchen and dining room. “Are you okay? What broke?” She looks at me. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Liden . . .”

“Linden,” I correct. But I understand what the look and tone of voice mean. The interview is over, and it’s time for me to go.

 

If you’ve read to the end, thanks! I hope you enjoyed the interview!