She was born in the Valley. She grew up in the Valley. She was destined to die in the Valley. There were no exceptions. But it wasn’t supposed to be today.
“Are you going to meet me at the gym?”
“You’re going to be late again?” Kelsey chewed her left index finger then picked at a chunk of sleep still imbedded in her eye.
“Just a little late. Throw my stuff in a bag and meet me there.”
“Fine, only don’t make me wait too long.” She cradled the phone in its stand.
The Valley. The only entertainment in town was the bowling alley or the new gym refurbished from the defunct A&W. Most residents ended up staying home sitting on their front porches watching the occasional car roll by.
Kelsey poked at her face while pulling her faded hair back in a ponytail. She popped a zit enjoying the impact the puss made exploding on the hallway mirror.
Every woman in the Valley boasted of their status as a Daughter of the American Revolution. If you were born in the Valley, you died in the Valley. Today was no exception; only she wasn’t supposed to die today.
Her car choked so she led it idle the way her dealer Joe advised. She squinted at the mileage. 100,000 and counting. Time to test drive another Buick. She checked her teeth in the rearview mirror.
There were two churches in the Valley. The one on Cherry Street was run by the same pastor for forty years. He used the same hymnals; the same organist and the same sermons…just rotated the sermons every six months. Everyone who lived in the Valley went there at least once and stayed. Except for a few.
Kelsey drove past the second church. Three sides were painted a fresh white and the fourth still showcased a teenager’s art work. Today something besides the new young pastor was different. There was a sign posted in the front lawn decorated with balloons. It stuck out like a cool breeze on a dog day in August.
Kelsey’s foot tapped the brake. She twisted her neck in both directions. Easing the car to the side entryway, she parked and hopped out before anyone in the Valley noticed.
Everyone in the Valley lived there until the day they died. This was the way it was supposed to be for Kelsey.
She was helpless to the force that pulled her into the building …up the stairs and into the orange painted sanctuary. Her eyes widened in surprise and fear.
Turn Kelsey. Run for your life. You shouldn’t be here.
“Can I help you?” She jumped. “I’m the pastor here. Did you come in to help?” He raised an eyebrow.
Kelsey tried to focus on the poster board he cradled in front of him. She shook her head.
“Aren’t you Kelsey Mayer? I think my wife and I met you at the gym last week.” He smiled and set the half painted sign down, stretching out a speckled hand. She remembered the brief exchange.
“I saw your sign and wondered what you meant by it?” She nodded toward the open doorway.
The pastor’s smile warmed his entire face. He turned to a woman stacking forms on a nearby table. “Cathy, would you mind meeting with Mrs. Mayer and me for a few minutes?” He motioned towards an open office door. She lacked the willpower to turn away and followed him into the room despite the shrill warnings echoing off the inside of her head.
“We are planning a Bible study on Wednesday afternoons - hence the balloons and signs.” He sat across from her at a desk that must have been trucked in from another county. It was solid oak and covered with fingerprints of past owners.
Everyone in the Valley went only to Sunday morning services. Afterwards, they took turns passing the pastor around their homes for pot roast and gravy. Her turn was this Sunday. She wondered if he would have to eat elsewhere.
The pastor reached for a booklet and laid it in front of her. “Now if we died with Christ, we also believe that we live with Him.” * Kelsey fingered the words with her chewed off nails.
“Tell me more.”
Everyone who was born in the Valley lived in a valley. Kelsey wasn’t supposed to die today but she did. She climbed a mountaintop afterwards.
*Romans 6:8 NIV
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