1. The Beginning

Azaliah sat in her bay window looking out over the city. Bean, her Himalayan cat, lay on her lap as she absentmindedly stroked his fur. It had been 1 year since she and Mekhi broke off their four-year relationship and the sting of it had only grown dull.

     “Where did it go wrong Bean?” asks Azaliah. “We were so happy then all of a sudden we weren’t. How could me accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior be what tore us apart? Jesus is love and that is what we had. So why did Mekhi push him away? Why did he push me away?”   Azaliah’s mind drifts back to that hurtful day.

One year ago...

     Azaliah and Mekhi walk through the university campus discussing their post-graduation plans.      “I got accepted to 3 graduate schools” Mekhi said with a smile. “I’m sure a little chemistry and biology can cure the common cold. I can’t wait to get started.”

     “You would think that.” Azaliah chuckles.

     “I mean why not? Science explains everything: How you breathe, why you need food, the way we fall in love.”

     “Science cannot tell me why I fell in love.”

“Of course it can. All the hormones and feel good stuff floating around in your brain. Everything is science. Even in this world and where it came from.”

     “No,” Azaliah scowled, “we are not doing this again.”

     “Why not Zay?” Mekhi stopped walking and looked at her. They had reached Azaliah’s dorm room.

     “Because you and I both know where this conversation ends. It ends with you and I upset with each other and not speaking.” Azaliah states.

     “No Zay. We only end up not speaking because you can’t stand to hear that someone doesn’t believe in your ‘God spoke and the world was’ theory. Which, by the way, is scientifically bogus.” Mekhi sits at Azaliah’s desk.

     “Don’t Mekhi. Don’t mock my beliefs. The way the earth was formed, the animals, and humans ...how do you explain the perfection?  The way it all works together. Nothing BUT a God, my God, could have done it that way.”

     “And the hundreds of scientists who have studied countless years are wrong? No one can be right but you?”

     “And the millions of other believers? Bible scholars? Men who have devoted their lives to studying the bible. Are you saying they’re all wrong?  Azaliah stated as she rested her hands on her hips.

     “Oh I believe Azaliah. I believe people who put their beliefs in an invisible being don't believe in the human spirit. They don’t value sound research, tested theories, and logical conclusions.”

     “Mekhi. You heard what I heard. You sat in the same services and listened to the same testimonies of God’s saving grace. What happened?” Azaliah’s eyes began to fill with tears.

     “I wasn’t carried away by my emotions! I didn't let stories of giants and boys with stones cloud my judgement.” Mekhi yells.

     “Wake up Mekhi!” 

     “It’s you who need to wake up! I will never believe that stuff Zay! I will never allow my emotions to rule my rational thinking.  

     “I will never give up Jesus.” Azaliah breathes.

     Mekhi stands and stares at Azaliah. “Then I don’t see how we can work.” With those last words Mekhi walks out of Azaliah’s dorm room leaving her alone and crying.

Ring! Ring! Ring!

     Azaliah pulls herself from her memories to answer her phone.

     “Hey Zay!”

     “Hi Teek. How are you?”

     “I’m good. What’s up?”

     “Oh nothing. Bean and I are having tea.”

     “Girl, it’s been like, 12 months. Isn’t that enough time to mourn?” Tiki says.

     “Four years Teek. You think 12 months is enough time to get over it?”

     “What I do know is I want my friend back. You have been incognito since the breakup. I’m not being insensitive, but life is happening all around you and it’s leaving you behind. Which is why I booked you a flight.”

     “To where?” Azaliah asks surprised.

     “To Japan!” Tiki shrieks.

     “Japan?! What am I supposed to do there?”

     “Azaliah, you know I take a yearly vacation to visit my family. You haven’t gone with me in two years and you’re coming this time.”

    “I don’t know...”

     “Of course you don’t which is why I do. We leave in 2 weeks so get your things ready. I can’t leave you here to wallow. I already told our boss so no work excuses. Later!”  

     Hanging up the phone Azaliah looks at her cat, “Bean dear pack your catnip. You’re going to Nana’s for two weeks.”

     Azaliah stepped off the plane at Narita International Airport in Tokyo, Japan feeling light headed. She smiled to herself remembering all the good times she and Tiki shared on their Japanese adventures. She had been going on vacation with Tiki for the past 5 years. Azaliah loved Japan. She loved the politeness of the people, the vending machines on every corner, and the wonderful white grape flavored drinks with bits of aloe. Humming to herself she walked over to the nearest machine and bought one.  As she savored her drink and waited for Tiki to come out of the lady’s room she received a text message.

     “You have been expected young “Paga'.”

     “Who is this?”

     “We will meet soon. Stay by your phone.”

     Tiki walked up and looked at Azaliah’s phone. “Who is that Zay? It’s in Japanese. Wrong number?”

     “Yeah, I guess.”

     While Azaliah and Tiki waited to pick up their bags Azaliah read the strange messages again. Reading the last few words she had an overwhelming feeling that those text messages were truly meant for her.


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