“The hardest choice she ever had to make was between true religion and true love.”
Rose Gluck thought she had everything in life. Just out of high school, she spent her days working as a pioneer minister of her Jehovah’s Witness faith, going door-to-door teaching others about the Bible and the happifying future God had planned. She thought she knew what it meant to be happy, but things would change when Wyatt True shows up.
Drawn to the dashing young brother, Rose experiences feelings that she never knew existed. Meanwhile, despite his vow of singleness, Wyatt can’t but help to fall for the beautiful young sister. But the Presiding Overseer of the congregation has his own plans for Rose. Will Rose find eternal happiness?
Wyatt was coming over for lunch and Rose was eagerly waiting for him trying not to make it look like she was eagerly waiting. Rose’s ears perked up as she heard the sound of wyatt’s car driving down the winding rock driveway. As the car approached, nervousness crept up and overshadowed her excitement. Rose still hadn’t told Wyatt she couldn’t help him with his meeting part as Clinton demanded and she had run out of time. The meeting was coming up that Thursday and he would have to find a replacement. Rose hoped that he would understand and that it wouldn’t ruin their friendship.
When Wyatt knocked on the door, Rose answered welcoming him in. He was wearing blue jeans and a white collared shirt. Rose smiled with excitement as she saw that he had a bouquet of yellow flowers and a large package. She never had a guy bring her flowers before!
Wyatt pressed the flowers into her hand. “These are for your grandmother.”
“Welcome! Welcome, Brother True!” said the old woman coming out of the kitchen, dusting flower off of her pale blue apron.
“Hello Sister Gluck! Whatever you are cooking smells delightful,” said Wyatt, inhaling deeply. The smell of beef, carrots and onions simmering in the slow cooker and fresh bread baking in the oven filled the air of the house.
“Oh, it’s just a pot roast,” said her grandmother. “Nothing fancy.”
“I’m sure it’s wonderful,” Wyatt replied. “And a thousand times better than the frozen pizza, I normally eat.”
“Wyatt brought these for you.” Rose handed the flowers to her grandmother trying not to let the dejection show in her voice.
“Oh how lovely and just perfect for the table setting.” Her grandmother took the flowers, placing them in a glass vase, and carrying the arrangement over to the dining room table.
Wyatt handed Rose his package.
“What’s this?” Rose asked, hoping it wasn’t something else intended for her grandmother
She eagerly opened the bag and smiled to see four records: Janis Ian’s Between the Lines, Gordon Lightfoot’s Don Quixote, and the Carpenter’s A Song For You.
“Just some stuff that I picked up at the yard sales yesterday.” Wyatt pointed to the Carpenter’s record. “I know you like them.”
Even though Rose already had a copy of A Song For You she was thrilled that Wyatt would take such an interest in her.
“I’m not sure about the other ones, I didn’t check them out to see if they were any good, or if they had demons,” Wyatt joked. “You might have to leave them outside overnight in quarantine.”
“Thank you.” Rose wanted to hug him for his kindness, but held back. Why did he have to make it so hard for her. She took a deep breath. “There’s something I need to talk to you about.“
“Come to the table!” Rose’s grandmother interrupted.
The two walked over to the dining room and Rose’s grandmother invited Wyatt to sit at the head of the table. Rose took the seat at his right with her grandmother across the table to his left.
“Would you like to give thanks food Brother True?” Rose’s grandmother asked.
“Sure,” Wyatt said bowing his head as the grandmother reached over to take his hand. Wyatt reached over for Rose’s hand, which she timidly accepted, not quite believing that they were actually holding hands — well sort of.
Touching his firm hand was like an electroshock causing her mind to spin into orbit. How would she be able to even concentrate on the prayer while holding his hand. She tried to focus in order to savor the moment.
“Let’s pray,” said Wyatt. “Heavenly Father. Thank you for this meal and be with this household. In Jesus’s name. Amen.”
“Amen,” the other two replied. As quickly as the final word was spoken to make the prayer official, Wyatt pulled his hand away from Rose’s longing grasp. Why did his prayer have to be so brief?
The meal was spirited with Wyatt sharing stories from his childhood that even had her grandmother laughing.
The food was tasty, the meat tender from cooking all morning while they were at the Sunday morning meeting. Rose took care to cut her meat and vegetables into tiny pieces, that would be easier to eat without having to worry about being sloppy or gnawing on chunks of meat. On the other hand, Wyatt enjoyed large bites and unashamed had seconds, complimenting Rose and her grandmother on their home cooking.
“Who wants chocolate cake and blueberry pie?” the grandmother asked, just as Wyatt was polishing off his seconds. The elderly woman never hesitated to stuff her guests with food.
Wyatt stretched out his arms, rocking backward slightly on the wooden chair. “I would love some, but first I think I would like a walk if you two would feel up to it.”
“I couldn’t; I should get things cleaned up,” the grandmother declined. “Rose would you mind showing Wyatt around?”
“Are you sure you don’t want our help clearing the table?” Wyatt asked.
“No, go enjoy yourself,” the grandmother said. “I won’t trouble you with a woman’s work.” It didn’t seem to occur to her that Wyatt, as a bachelor, was responsible for his own housework and should be quite used to it.
“Okay, let me just go change really quick.” Rose jumped up, leaving a great deal of finely cut food on her plate. She was still hungry, but there was plenty of roast still in the slow cooker that she could enjoy after Wyatt left. As she excitedly hurried upstairs to her bedroom, Rose could think of nothing but how wonderful it would be to spend some alone time with Wyatt. She changed from her Sunday meeting dress into a pair of white pants, a white t-shirt with a short white jacket over it, an outfit that she picked up at a resale shop in town in anticipation of the next time she got to see him. She wanted to have at least one outfit that was adult.
When Rose came back downstairs, Wyatt was busy helping her grandmother clear the table despite the woman’s protests. The grandmother shooed Wyatt away when he grabbed a dishtowel intending to help with the dishes.
“I’d hate to get on your bad side Sister Gluck,” Wyatt said relenting. He looked over at Rose with a sly smile.
“The backyard is filled with the corpses of people that crossed Grams,” joked Rose.
“Ooh lets go see,” said Wyatt enthusiastically.
The two walked out of the kitchen through the back screen door onto the open porch that wrapped around the house. Wyatt smiled spotting three brightly colored hummingbirds darting around the hanging bird feeders.
“Sometimes Grams and I just sit out on the porch swing and watch them for hours,” she said. “It’s not as exciting as television I’m sure.”
“I think admiring Jehovah’s creation is a better activity.” Wyatt walked to the edge of the porch as a tiny bird darted around his head. “Did you know that hummingbirds can beat their wings up to seventy-five times a second?”
“Yes,” said Rose. “I read it in the Awake!”
“I guess you read the same article then,” said Wyatt with a small laugh. “Shall we go see the dead bodies?” Wyatt hopped down off of the porch.
“Well I hate to disappoint you, but the closest I’ve got is my dead guinea pig, John. He’s over by that tree.” Rose pointed to a large white oak tree in the middle of the expansive grass yard.
“I’m sure you’ll look forward to seeing him again in the paradise,” said Wyatt.
“Do you think Jehovah will resurrect our pets?” Rose wondered.
“He’s a loving god isn’t he?” Wyatt said, as if not even doubting it.
“He was a good pet,” mused Rose as they passed the tree.
Rose lead Wyatt through the grass clearing, over to where the surrounding woods sectioned off their land.
“Such beautiful country,” admired Wyatt looking around.
“Is it pretty where you come from?” Rose asked.
“In a different way. The ocean is amazing.”
“I’d like to live by the ocean.”
“Maybe you will one of these days,” said Wyatt optimistically.
“I doubt it,” Rose said with resignation. “I can’t imagine Clinton ever wanting to leave Kent Springs and well, I also have Grams to think about.” The two of them walked through the dense trees until they reached a bubbling creek.
“I don’t know where I’ll end up,” said Wyatt. “I have this assignment of course, but after that …” He trailed off as he stooped low placing his hand into the creek. He casually sifted through the brown, grey, and white stones on the creek bed. The thought of Wyatt leaving made her sad, as much joy as he brought not just her, but the entire congregation. Rose hoped that he would find something to love about Kent Springs and decide to stay.
Standing up, Wyatt skipped a stone across the creek. “That’s five skips. Beat that!” he challenged.
Rose wasn’t going to let a city guy best her at skipping rocks, an activity she had engaged in her entire childhood. She looked through the rocks at her feet, finding one that was smooth and flat. Holding the stone securely between her thumb and index finger, she reared back and flung it at a twenty degree angle, so that when it hit the surface of the water it bounced up, skirting across in little leaps. The little rock hopped eighteen times before going completely across, landing on the oppopsite bank.
Wyatt applauded and said, “Well if I can’t beat you at stone skipping, I’ll best you at creek jumping.” He took a couple of steps back and then charged at full speed toward the creek, using some of the larger rocks sticking out of the water as stepping stones as he hopped across, making it to the other side without so much as a splash on him.
Wyatt implored Rose to follow. She hesitated momentarily, judging her path, and then went for it laughing. Running forward, she leaped out, catching her balance as she hit the first rock and then sprung forward to the next. When she reached the third rock in the middle of the creek, she stumbled, tumbling back into the foot deep water with a pronounced splash.
On the other bank Wyatt gasped. “Are you okay?” he called out.
Rose quickly bolted up from the cold water and waded across to the other side. Seeing that she was okay Wyatt didn’t hold back his laughter. “I win that one he said.”
When Rose got to the bank she was horrified to look down and see her yellow underwear showing through her wet, white pants. She screeched and ran straight through the trees into a field with waste high wild grass to provide some semblance of covering and save her from further embarrassment.
“Wait for me,” Wyatt said charging into the field after her. “I didn’t mean to laugh at you.” Even though Rose had a head-start, Wyatt quickly overtook her. “So you want a race?” He sped off past her further into the field.
With her pants wet and her underwear showing through, Rose wasn’t eager to catch up to him, and so didn’t put up a pursuit. Instead she hung back, tying her jacket around her waste. Despite being mortified by her unexpected peep show, she couldn’t remember when she had so much fun with someone else. She thought back to her previous service day with Clinton and his family. It depressed her to look at that as a picture of her eternal future. Shouldn’t a relationship be more than just having the same religion as someone else? Shouldn’t she be happy as well?
At that moment Rose made the decision to go ahead and help Wyatt with his part despite Clinton’s demands. She had made a commitment and she had to go through with it. That was that and Clinton would just have to accept it.
Rose looked up across the tall grass and could no longer see the young brother. “Wyatt!” she called out, her voice echoing. There was no answer. She scanned the clearing looking for him, but the only living things she saw were the buzzards circling overhead and the grasshoppers that sprung out from the tall grass with every step. Where was he? Rose let out a shriek as something grabbed at her legs below the grass pulling her down. She fell forward, tackled by Wyatt, who rolled over on his back laughing hysterically.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I couldn’t resist.”
Laughing too, Rose flung her arm down hard on his chest making him exhale forcefully.
After he finished coughing, Wyatt set up along with Rose on the matted grass. He looked up at the bright blue sky and then over toward the tall bluffs. “Do you like living here?”
“It’s okay,” said Rose. “I mean it is home. How is it for you?”
“It’s a change for me; that’s for certain,” said Wyatt. “You come from here so it can’t be that bad.”
Rose blushed shyly at his compliment.
“Do you think you would like a big city?” Wyatt asked.
“The only big city I have ever been to is St. Louis.”
“St. Louis isn’t a big city.” Wyatt laughed.
Rose felt silly, of course it wasn’t to Wyatt, but she had never left the state. How could he understand her?
“I would love for you to go to New York and let me know what you think of it.”
“I always did want to go visit Brooklyn Bethel,” Rose mused looking up to the sky.
Wyatt brightened. “You know there is a Witness bus tour going there in a couple of weeks. You should go. I’d bet you’d love it.”
“Someday,” Rose sighed, looking down. “Those trips are usually pretty expensive and we don’t have the money for luxuries.”
Wyatt nodded and looked outward for a second. “There might be a way for you to go. There is this sort of grant thing that a brother puts up to send a pioneer of limited means to Bethel. If you want I could put your name in — no promises, but we could see what happens.” He turned to her with a smile.
“That would be wonderful, but I’m not sure that my grandmother would let me go. She won’t even let me go out to get ice at our hotel alone.”
“I knew she looked out for you, but I didn’t know it was that bad.” Wyatt smiled warmly as he stood up. Reaching down he took Rose by the hand, helping her to her feet. Rose allowed her hand to linger in his as they stood for a moment looking out to the horizon.
Wyatt gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “We’d better get back. I wouldn’t want to end up with your dearly beloved guinea pig buried out back.”
When they returned to the house, Rose’s grandmother was swinging gently on the porch swing, enjoying a cup of coffee. “I was just about to send a search party out after you,” she said as they approached.
“I was giving Wyatt the extended tour,” said Rose, smiling.
“Rose showed me lots of beautiful things,” Wyatt said.
“Rose you’re wet!” her grandmother exclaimed looking at her slacks.
Rose blushed. “I had a run-in with a creek.”
“It was really my fault,” Wyatt interjected. “I wanted to cross and look at the field.”
“It’s okay. I’m sure it won’t be the last time she falls in,” her grandmother said. “It’s a habit of hers.”
It was growing late and Wyatt excused himself. Rose was looking forward to eating some leftovers, but her grandmother handed Wyatt a large whipped topping container of the remaining roast and vegetables and two others filled with chocolate cake and blueberry pie. He thanked the two ladies profusely for the hospitality, saying he would see them in field service the following week and then drove off.
“Did you have a good time today?” Her grandmother asked as Rose sat down next to her on the swing.
“I had a wonderful time.” Rose glowed as she pushed her feet out rocking the swing. “But, do we have any cake left?”
“Of course dear, I saved you a piece,” said her grandmother placing her arm at the girl’s back.
Rose smiled as she followed Wyatt’s car until it disappeared down the end of the driveway. The rich chocolate cake would be the perfect ending to a perfect day.