Friday, February 18, 2005

Finding Faith: A Short Story

Art came home from work to his quiet and lonely efficiency apartment. As he started frying and egg he noticed the light blinking on his 80’s style answering machine. He hit the button to listen to the messages.

“Message one,” said the answering machine in a mechanical voice, then his mother's voice sounded, “Hey son, this is mom. I guess I missed you. I love you. Talk to you later.”

Art smiled. He knew his mother loved him. In fact, she never let him forget it – which he didn’t mind one bit.

“Message two: Oh gosh,” a familiar voice spoke, “I can’t believe I’m calling…uhm Art, this is Faith. Say, I know it’s been a long time and all, but I thought, you know, maybe we could talk. Maybe you could give me a call? Bye.”

Art stood silent and motionless. It was the smell of burning egg that snapped him out if it. He pulled the pan off the burner. He looked down at the overly fried egg and laughed. “This is your brain on drugs” just popped into his head. Then he hit the rewind button on the answering machine and played the message from Faith again.

Memories and emotions flooded him mind and heart.

“No, no,” Art said to himself, “Nope. No good.” He erased the message.

Art came home from work and began to fry and egg for dinner. Again the light on the answering machine was blinking. He hit the play button.

“Message one: Art, it’s your mother again. Just calling to say I love you. Good-bye.”

Art gave his usual smile and mumbled, “You can always count on mom.”

“Message two: Hey Art, it’s me, Faith. I hope you got my message yesterday. Uhm…look, Art, I’ve been thinking – hoping really, that well, even though we didn’t part on such good terms, maybe we could talk. Call me, if you want to. Bye.”

“Not the best of terms?” Art mumbled to himself lifting the egg onto a plate, “That’s an understatement.”

He sat down at his table and ate his egg.

Art came home from work wondering if there was another message from Faith. He hit the button on the answering machine and looked in the refrigerator – no eggs. He poured a glass of milk and put a couple slices of bread in the toaster.

“Message one: Arty, this is mom. I have some sad news. The cat died. I’m so sorry, Arty. Rubicon is gone. I know you loved her so much. Call me if you need to talk. I love you. Good-bye.”

Art frowned, thinking about the cat. He really did love the cat. Then he started thinking how old Rubicon must have been, especially in cat years. It was time to get past Rubicon.

“Message two: Hi Art, it’s Faith again. I know it’s probably hard to hear my voice and I don’t blame you if you just erase these messages when you know it’s me. But, if you are still listening, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. (long pause) Art, I was wrong about you. Gosh, well, there, I said it. Well, what do you say after that? You can call me if you want to. Bye.”

Art stood frozen with surprise – eyes wide and eye brows up. The toast popped up and brought him back to dinner. Art spread some peanut butter across the toast and turn on his favorite CD, Handel’s Messiah.

Art came home from work thinking about what Faith had said the yesterday. Her confession confronted his skepticism and he was forced to wonder if Faith was for real. The light on the answering machine was blinking. He hit the button and poured a glass of wine and put some bread in the toaster.

“Message one: Art, it’s mom. I’ve been thinking about Rubicon all day. I buried her in the back yard today, right next to Hatchet the cat. I feel like it’s too early to think about getting another cat. At the same time, I know I need to move on. I love you.”

“Message two: Art, it’s Faith. I read through one of my old journals today. Remember how much fun we used to have? Remember how everyone thought we were the perfect couple? Gosh Art, what was I thinking? How was it that I ever thought I could get along without you? I am wondering if you will call me. Bye”

Art sat down with his wine and toast in his most comfortable chair. He sat there to think about Faith.


Art came home from work early, anticipating a phone message from Faith. The blinking light on the answering machine was a welcome sign. Art stood over the machine.

“Message 1: Art, it’s mom. I saw a commercial on the television put on the by the local human society. Tomorrow is adopt-a-pet day. I know it feels too early to get another cat, but they’re waiving the fees for shots and getting them fixed, so I'm thinking about taking a risk before my heart’s ready. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think I’m going to do it. I love you.”

“Message two: Art, it’s Faith. I’m sitting here all alone thinking, �what good is Faith without Art?’ I’m really wanting to know what you’re thinking. Bye.”

Art went outside to take a walk. He knew that if he stayed in his apartment, he would pick up the phone. So he walked the downtown sidewalks and pondered what good Art was without Faith.

Art slept in on Saturdays with the ringer off. He woke up at noon and made his way to the kitchen. The light on the answering machine was blinking. He pushed the button.

“Message one: Art, it’s Faith again. Look, I want to talk with you, but I kind of feel like I’m bothering you. So, I just want you to know that the door is open. If you want to walk though it, I’ll be in church tomorrow. I’d love to meet you there. Bye”

“Message two: Arty, I got me a new cat this morning. Yeah, my heart’s not totally ready, but I figured, �what the heck? Go for it!’ I need a cat and the little furry guy needs me. I named him Guts. I figured you would like that name. I love you. Good-bye”

Art went to the athletic club to work out, feling the need for strength.

Art woke up early on Sunday for the first time in ten years. He showered, got dressed, dusted off his Bible and took a deep breath. Then he walked out his apartment door. He walked to church because he wanted to find Faith.


Keith Brenton said...

There she was, sitting in a pew near the front flanked by her sisters Hope and Charity. Art sat down by Charity, ended up asking her out for lunch and married her six months later.

She was the greatest.

don said...

Everybody, please ignore Keith. He can't help it.

Now, what was the story about...?

Clarissa said...

Yes, yes! Faith and Art needn't be mutually exclusive. God wants a voice in Art!!! God wants to use Faith to bolster Art and Art to build up Faith. I'm with you, yes?

Keith Brenton said...

Hey, don, I CAN help it. I just don't choose to!

Art usually doesn't either. He spends his nine-to-five creating "classics" featuring Charity, and has no particular use for Hope and Faith.

Charity's more marketable. She has a sweeter face. Hope is always doing her thing in the future and Faith seems like she's always looking back to the past. Hope can leave you. Faith can be demanding.

Charity's now; she's hip; she sells.

Art's done pretty well by her for a long time now. No wonder he's still diggin' on her.

Brandon Moore said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brandon Moore said...

Art was digging on Charity for quite a while till one day he was in a tragic car accident. He was trapped inside and Charity was to busy doing important things to help. He cried out for Hope and Faith but they were no where to be found. Then out of no where an incredibly beautiful woman pulled him out of the car and led him to safety. He has been with this new girl since then. I guess thats what happens when Art is saved by Grace.

Joe James said...

This is good Chris. I sent it to my cousin and he enjoyed it to. If I were creative I'd write something profound about Charity or Hope or Grace, but I'll leave the Art stuff to you. (Don't overanalyze that or you'll label me fundamentalist).

Keith Brenton said...

Despite my pointless and mean-spirited sarcasm, I'm actually a sucker for happy endings.

I would love for the protagonist's first words after the closing prayer to be: "Well, I've been thinking ... What good is Art without Faith?"

(This would actually have been an outstanding article for the New Wineskins issue Corner of Hollywood & Divine, Fajita!)

TCS said...

Just went backwards and read this post. Very good! I really like "is Faith for real" and the hatchet buried in the back yard.

I am not sure if Art would walk back in... Faith will have to be very persistant in pursuing Art.

But most the Arts that I know have tender hearts.