Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Fiction -- But Isn't Evolution a Side Issue?

Bear is coming back to life (hopefully), in time to get a last minute entry into the Friday Fiction loop. Julie Arduini over at The Surrendered Scribe is hosting this week. So be sure and drop over there as well, to find links to the whole selection of entries, and/or to add a link of your own and join in the fun! We all welcome comments and discussion!

Bear's story continues from last week, with Richard explaining to his five friends what happened in his science class when he told the science teacher he couldn't do an assignment concerning evolution, pretending it's truth, when he doesn't believe in evolution... (Click here, if you want to catch Part 1 of the story.)

"He was not pleased." Richard took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "He told me religious faith was to be commended, but there's no place for fanaticism in a science classroom. He said, since I'm only a freshman, he'd excuse it this time. But I was going to have to learn the difference between fact and myth. He said there was no scientific basis for the creationist viewpoint. Then he excused me from the class assignment and put me on what he called a 'Term assignment'."

"Which is?" asked Dan.

"To get facts to back up my position that man was created, rather than formed through Evolution. To turn in an ongoing report weekly on the subject, instead of the regular weekly class assignments, until I'm ready to acknowledge that my position is insupportable."

Richard straightened in his chair, folded his arms in imitation of the science teacher, and began to take on a fairly good duplication of a New York accent. "This way, you will not have to damage your integrity in any way, Richard. Once you are thoroughly convinced, then you will be able to rejoin the class in their assignments without fear of compromising your principles. I will expect high-quality work, Richard. You will be graded on this, and you will be expected to do quality work. I won't accept Bible quotes and religious fables. I want to see facts... Uh oh..."

Richard's words faded as he caught sight of a couple of guys from the basketball team approaching.

Ted, his tall frame almost a duplicate of Jeff's in height and build, stopped directly behind Richard. He leaned over him, laying a hand on each side of him on the table, boxing him in. "Well, if it ain't the little preacher!"

Andy, a guard on the team, glanced warily over at Jeff. "Don't waste our time, Ted. We got better things ta do."

Ted shrugged, grabbed Richard's milk, and poured it over his lunch. "If anyone evolved from an ape, 'twas this little monkey. Him an' his Jesus friends!" He raised an arm, arching it, and scratched under his armpit. "Ooo oo oo oo!" Then puffed out his chest and beat on it with his fists.

Jeff's chair hit the floor with a bang. Grabbing Ted's shoulder, he whirled him around. "Care to repeat that to my face, Teddy boy?"

"Now, now, Jeffie..." Ted backed off a step and swung his hands up in the air, palms forward. "Coach'll bench us both if ya start anything ya can't finish..." Then he smiled sardonically. " 'Sides, why waste time hangin' with this loser? Hoping his 'genius' genes'll rub off on ya maybe? The dude's a wuss, man. Face it! When ya gonna wake up and get back ta normal? It's been months since ya been to Andy's on a Saturday night. Do ya even drink beer anymore, man?" He winked towards Andy. "Ol' Melissa's pinin' away for her Jeffie, ain't she?"

But Andy was staring in the direction of the lunch counter. Turning, Ted spotted Brown weaving her way through the line, headed in their direction.

"Catch ya later, Jeffie! Just think about it, will ya? I been doin' ya a favor, givin' ya time ... but it ain't gonna last forever, ya know." He and Andy headed towards the corner doors that opened into the main hall. Brown veered to follow them, but gave up when a friend of Andy's accidentally dropped a loaded tray of food in her path.

Jeff grabbed the folding chair off the floor, and turning it backwards, straddled it, shooting a look at Dan. "Well, it's started. Ready to shout 'Hallelujahs' now, friend?"

Richard stared down at his plate, absentmindedly pulling his glasses back on. They hung up on an ear for a second before his trembling hands got them into place. Bits of macaroni floated in an orange/gray milk sauce, the green tops of peas peeking out, here and there.

"Well, Praise the Lord," Dan said, matter-of-factly, putting a hand on Richard's shoulder. "It's started."

Wanda's face was pale, and she kept glancing at Ted and Andy, now making their way out through the crowd at the doorway. Ted was looking back at their table again, and tapped someone on the shoulder, pointing at Richard. Most of what they were saying couldn't be heard, but in the midst of it, even here, clear across the room, they heard the derisive hoot of "Jesus!" followed by laughter.

Wanda looked around the group at the table. "And we're all in it with you, Richard. " But they heard the tremor in her voice.

"We don't really have a choice, do we?" asked Jeff, crushing an empty Styrofoam cup in frustration.

"Don't care. I'm not going to live a lie," said Richard. "We're supposed to be witnesses. Not passively accepting what the world preaches. Not blending into the background... "

"Amen!" said Dan, who himself constantly seemed to find opportunities to talk to other students about the Lord. All at the table had witnessed one-on-one with various people around the campus. All were known for their Christian faith. But this... This was another level completely. This...

"But evolution versus creation is a side issue, Dan!" Carol crossed her arms, voice steady. "I know lots of Christians who love the Lord with all their hearts and believe in evolution too..."

"I know." Dan's finger tapped the tabletop for a minute, while he thought. "But we're not supposed to walk based on what others believe, but on what we believe, right? Each has to walk in witness of their own faith. If we walk a lie, as Richard put it, to blend in with everyone else, how're they going to believe us on the central issue?"

He quoted from memory, from the Bible, "'You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven'...We all know evolution's garbage. Don't you think it's time someone stood up in this school and said so, instead of just trying to blend in?"

"Amen!" Debbie said, hugging her arms tightly around herself, trying to stop the shaking. "Richard's tired of hiding under a bowl. Me too!"

A quietness came over the group. They were beginning to feel that peace and presence which they were not accustomed to feeling outside of church. A quiet calmness settling from above, totally separate from their own emotions ...

Carol looked over at Jeff. "They're right." She locked eyes with him, waiting. Then eventually added, "Amen".

Jeff took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. "All right! All right!" He threw up his hands. "Amen, already!" He leaned forward and roughly mussed Richard's hair. "Kid, we'll stand with ya. And I'll watch your back, best I can, but we're in for a lot more than you're bargainin' for, I'm warning ya..."

Dan added soberly, "And we'll stand with the Lord."

Silence settled over them. Although the din of laughter, conversation, and rattling dishes still resounded around them, the table suddenly seemed set apart.

"I think we'd better pray, people ... "

And, as one, all heads bowed.

To be continued...

Again, Bear welcomes all comments on the writing -- "red ink" included -- especially concerning anything that might make this story seem out of date to modern teenagers.
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6 comments:

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Ah, another good installment, Bear! I loved this--felt bad for Richard though. I do like how his friends banded together to help him. That was great--true spirit of friendship there. I really hope he can show that pesky teacher what for!

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I really like all the details in this paragraph, "Richard stared down at his plate, absentmindedly pulling his glasses back on. They hung up on an ear for a second before his trembling hands got them into place. Bits of macaroni floated in an orange/gray milk sauce, the green tops of peas peeking out, here and there." It makes Richard seem vulnerable and real.

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

I enjoyed the realistic flow of comments being bantered about by the non-Christian group of kids. I love the way the Christian group of kids are learning about standing for truth. My favorite paragraph: "A quietness came over the group. They were beginning to feel that peace and presence which they were not accustomed to feeling outside of church. A quiet calmness settling from above, totally separate from their own emotions ..." I look forward to the next chapter! Blessings, Rita

Sherri said...

Bear, you write well! I did get a little confused with so many characters in the scene... but it's a good portrayal of what in some way all Christians go through, if we are faithful.

Julie Arduini.com: The Surrendered Scribe said...

I love the detail here, you really put the reader in the scene with description as rich as yours. I'm not a teen, but I was definitely engaged!

Hoomi said...

I'm fifty years old. Trying to stay current on teen vernacular is kind of like trying to herd cats, and even if we have it sort of right when we write the story, it'll be out of date not long after. My practice has been to give kids in my stories their own vernacular, set in their world/time frame, and if anyone cares to say I didn't accurately depict how kids these days talk, I can honestly answer, "These ain't those kids."

Nice build-up on the story to come. I've got an idea where the story is going to go, but there's plenty of room for surprises and twists.

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