Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Blog( 10/20/11)
By Margaret McKinney
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It was a typical night shift at the Starbucks a block from campus, perhaps quieter because of the holiday. Around nine the store was barren, and Mary Jane felt the bitter smell of coffee sifting through her pores. It nauseated her. Shoving her forest-green visor off her forehead, she rolled her eyes and waited for midnight.
Then he entered, carrying a laptop and reusable coffee mug. Mary Jane felt the familiar tumble in her stomach as she mustered a smile at the cash register.
“Hello again,” he said.
Mary Jane could only nod.
As usual, he hummed while waiting for his coffee, and he flashed his customary brilliant smile while taking his change.
Mary Jane sighed as she watched him set up his computer in the corner. They were alone in the store and there was nothing to do. She pretended to wipe tables and pick up trash so she could wander near him. It was hard not to glance his way to see what he was working on – a thesis, no doubt, on splitting atoms or curing cancer. It had to be something important, ground-breaking. It had to be.
When she saw what he was actually working on, Mary Jane paled. Her stomach roiled as she silently took a step backwards.
But he caught her.
“Hey,” he said in a friendly tone. “What’re you up to?”
Mary Jane wrung the wet rag in her hands. “Oh, you know. It’s kind of dead in here. Nothing much to do, so I’m just cleaning up.”
His eyes flicked to his computer. “Am I in your way?”
No, never. He would never be in her way. Mary Jane shook her head quickly. “Not at all. I’m just wondering…what are you working on?”
“This?” He gestured to the open screen. “My blog.”
HIS blog. Why was it HIS blog? “This is your blog? You write it?”
He smiled and nodded. “Yep. It’s about Jesus. Do you want to have a look?”
Mary Jane crept towards him. “You blog about Jesus?”
The slight lift of his shoulder was appealingly shy. “Yes, of course, because Jesus is important, you know?” He eyed her curiously. His eyes were blue, and shaded by enviable black lashes. Mary Jane bit back a gasp at his beauty and the unlucky irony of the situation. She peered over his shoulder at the familiar layout. The telltale chill crept over her as she read the words of the Bible across the top of the screen.
“Don’t you ever get rude comments from people? Because not everybody out there actually believes.”
“That’s true,” he admitted. “And sometimes the comments are difficult to read.”
Mary Jane’s stomach clenched as she dropped the wet rag. “The hateful ones?”
He waved a hand. “Nah. God can handle their anger. It’s the others that weigh on me.”
“I don’t understand.”
The young man beckoned Mary Jane closer and gestured to the screen. “I’ll show you. This person – CM107 – they’re just angry, but I can see through that. The anger’s not directed at me, and often it’s the angry ones that really need a friend. Now, this one – “ he lifted a finger to the screen. “this MJ089, they comment almost daily, and always with deep and troubling questions. This person makes me heartsick.”
Heartsick. Yes, that just about covered it. Mary Jane gulped. “Is that so?”
“Yes. This person is screaming for God, and I just hope they listen when he answers. I‘ve been praying for MJ089 daily for weeks now, whoever he or she may be.”
Mary Jane weighed his words. Odd, his effort to pray daily for strangers that happen to comment on his blog. It made no sense. With a sigh she turned from the beautiful boy and his hopeful blog, and started walking back to the counter.
He stopped her with a parting comment. “It’s worth it, you know.”
“If one person comes to know God through this blog, it’s worth my time. Doesn’t matter if others think it’s a waste.”
When Mary Jane arrived home well into the night, she read the blog. That evening’s entry claimed that God was in the small moments as well as the big.
He was even, the boy said, in conversations with strangers in coffee shops.
MJ089 thought about the encouraging boy and his powerful prayers, and was inclined to agree.
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