A Changed Lock Chapter 15: A Lesson in Everything

Fiction By Damaris Ann // 2/9/2018

Jules stirred from her sleep and turned onto her opposite side. She moaned a little and reached up to rub her neck. Sunlight was streaming thickly through her curtained windows, causing her to blink and squint. What time was it? She sat up and twisted around to see her clock. "10:30? Oh my. I haven't slept in that late in ages."
She rolled out of bed and lazily pulled her slippers on. Her filmy robe blew behind her while she trailed slowly downstairs to the kitchen.
"I must've left my phone in here. Yeah." She picked it up off the counter and turned the screen on. No messages. She navigated to her keypad and dialed a number.
"Hello?"
"Hey Dad."
"Mm, hey."
"I didn't wake you up, did I?"
"Maybe."
Jules grinned, flopping around in her slippers to turn on the lights. "Sorry. Umm, so, I was thinking I'd make some lasagna before I head out. I wanted to drop one off at Martin's place and leave one here for you to eat tonight."
"That sounds good. How about you plan to head out around 1:00?"
"That sounds good. Wait, you have the car..."
"About that. Miles agreed to pick you up and then take me home."
"Oh. Okay. I guess let him know I'll be ready at 1:00."
"Will do. See you soon."
"Okay, bye." Jules hung up and set her phone down with a frustrated sigh. "What if I wanted Greta to pick me up? Ugh. Whatever."
She jerked the refrigerator door open and began pulling together a breakfast.
After she had finished eating her fruit and yogurt, she stomped upstairs to pull on a pair of jeans and a red striped tee shirt dress. After she braided her hair, she made her way back down to the kitchen. She turned on her favorite playlist while pulling the lasagna together. The music calmed her for a while, and she danced and sang while she worked. Between her cooking, dancing, and singing she lost track of time. The doorbell rang, and she ran to see who was there.
Her face went blank. "Oh, Miles. Hey."
"Uh, hi." He looked confused. Music was still blaring in the kitchen. "Kevin said to pick you up at 1:00," he practically had to shout to make himself heard over the music.
"Yeah, well, I'm not quite ready." She crossed her arms over her chest and leveled a cold stare at him. "Come in and sit down. I only need a few more minutes."
Jules led Miles into the kitchen and turned the music down to a more reasonable level. She banged her pans and spoons around, closing cabinet doors with extra vigor.
Miles sat down on the edge of a kitchen chair, trying to keep his feet out of the way. He watched Jules stomp around for a few minutes. "Do you need help with anything?"
"Nope." She thumped a pad of paper onto the counter in front of her. "I just need to write down cooking instructions for Dad, put my shoes on, and grab my backpack from my room. Would you like a glass of water or something?"
"No, thank you." He ducked his head down, subconsciously thinking about what he could have possibly done to make her so mad at him.
Jules scribbled furiously on a piece of paper and then stuck it on top of the lasagna she had just set in the fridge. "I'll be right back." She ran upstairs and put her red Converse on, and then carried her bag back down to the kitchen. She filled another small container with jellybeans and stuffed it into the top of her bag. "I'm ready." She glared at Miles over the top of her bag. "Do you know where Martin's house is? I have to stop by his place and drop off this lasagna. If you don't know the address, I can tell you how to get there."
"No, I've ever been to his house before." Miles quickly stood up. "Want me to carry that?"
"Sure. You go ahead; I've got to turn off these lights and lock up."
"...okay." He disappeared out the front door. When Jules walked outside he was waiting for her. He opened her door.
"Thanks," she mumbled, blushing rosy-red to the tips of her ears. She put her seatbelt on and sat still. "We'll turn left on Main Street, and the right onto North Hall Street. Their house is the second on the left."
"Got it." Miles kept his eyes on the road, but out of the corner of his eye he noticed Jules fidgeting. He sighed. This was going to be a long afternoon.
Miles walked with Jules to the Ortiz' front door. Jules held the pan of lasagna while he knocked. They stood there for a few moments, shuffling their feet and feeling awkward. Miles was just about to knock one more time when Martin opened the door.
"Oh, hi Miles. I wasn't expecting to see you."
"He's giving me a ride to the hospital," Jules rushed to explain. "I wrote down instructions for the lasagna." She tried not to notice the seemingly hostile look Martin had given Miles.
"Thanks! It looks delicious. Would y'all like to come in?"
Miles looked at Jules. "Well-"
Martin brushed Miles off and turned to Jules. "Mama would love to see you, Jules."
"Oh, well I don't really have time. Give her a hug for me, please. I'll see you later." Jules turned and practically ran back to the car.
Miles said a hasty goodbye and followed her, hearing Martin slam the front door behind him.
Back in the car, Jules rested her chin in her hand and stared silently out the window. Once they had pulled back out onto the road she watched mile after mile of fresh, green landscape roll by. Miles glanced apprehensively at her a few times, unsure of what was going on. The air between them felt tight and frigid.
He finally broke the silence, his voice gentle. "Are you okay?"
She shrugged. "I'm fine."
Miles sighed. "Look, I don't want to pry into your life or anything, but when I picked you up earlier I got the feeling that you were mad at me. Did I do something to offend you? Was it something I said?"
"No..." Jules trailed off. She sniffed.
"Are you--are you crying?"
"No." She sniffed again.
His eyes flicked over to her face, then back to the road. "Do you wanna talk about it?"
"I don't even know what's wrong." She turned away from the window and glanced at Miles. "I was fine until Dad called this morning, and I was thinking, what if I wanted to call Greta? And then you came over and were being all nice to me. And Martin said, well, he didn't say anything. But I thought maybe he was mad at me and I--I don't know what I..." Jules trailed off incoherently and sniffled for a few minutes.
"Umm. I--I don't know what to say. I'm sorry you had such a rough morning." He reached over and patted her on the shoulder. "It'll be okay."
He internally screamed at himself. "Miles Robert Stanley, could you say ANYTHING that sounds less convincing?! Get it together, man." He let a few moments of silence fall between them, giving Jules a chance to stop crying and himself some time to collect his thoughts. "You're pretty stressed out about everything, aren't you."
She smiled ruefully. "You say that more like a statement than a question. I'm sorry I've been so moody. And confusing. I guess I'm not dealing with things very well right now."
"It's okay. Believe me, I know. Things can be so confusing. And although I can't pretend to understand everything you're going through, I do understand part of the frustration of caregiving."
"You shouldn't be so nice to me, Miles. I was being ridiculous earlier. I'm really sorry."
"It's okay," Miles smiled. "I'm just glad I didn't offend you or anything. If I'm being honest I know I'm super awkward, and I can be really oblivious sometimes."
Jules laughed. "I've noticed."
"Hey!"
"Sorry, I'll be nice."
Miles grinned. "I'm just playing with you. So, would you like to hear what I do when I'm having a bad day and I feel overwhelmed with everything?"
"Yes please. I could use some help, obviously."
Miles cleared his throat. "I won't agree with that too loudly." He grinned at her mischievously.
"No need to rub it in." Jules laughed, pulling her feet up into her seat. "Please, proceed."
"Okay, so," he cleared his throat. "Would you agree that two of the reasons for everything that happens are God's glory and man's sanctification?"
"Oh yes." Jules nodded. "I definitely agree with that."
"Good. So when things seem to be going wrong I like to take a step back and ask myself two questions. The first is, is my attitude giving glory to God? If I feel like it's not, I try to analyze what I can change about it. The second question is, what can I learn from what's going on? There's a lesson in everything if we're willing to learn and grow. God often uses sorrow to make us ready for the wisdom and knowledge He has in store for us." He stopped suddenly. "I didn't mean to preach a whole sermon."
"No, no," Jules shook her head slowly. "That was exactly what I needed to hear. I've been so self-absorbed these last couple of days. Ugh." She shook her shoulders resolutely. "I want that to change."
Miles smiled over at her. "I'm glad I could help motivate you a little bit."
"More than a little. You pretty much just kicked my conscience in the gut."
"Yikes. That sounds painful."
"It's a good kind of pain." She looked out the window for a few moments. "So tell me, Miles, and be honest; did you volunteer to pick me up today, or did my dad put you up to it?"
Miles looked sheepish and maybe just a bit uncomfortable. "I'm not exactly sure. I kinda think your dad put me up to it, but at the same time the way it happened made it sound like I had offered. And I kinda meant to offer, too..." he reached and scratched behind his ear. "Is that weird?"
Jules raised an eyebrow. "Not really, no. I mean it was really nice of you. But at the same time it seems like my dad tried to manipulate you into doing it."
"No! No. I mean, like, I'm perfectly happy to do it, but like--"
"It's fine, Miles. I'm not sure if Dad really meant it that way. I'm still getting to know him, so I don't quite understand all of his quirks. Besides, he seems to have taken quite a likening to you."
"Well I like him, too. He's a neat guy."
"Hmm. Yeah, he is. Hopefully we'll be able to spend more time together once Grandad comes home from the hospital."
"When do you think that will be?"
"Honestly, I have no idea. Which reminds me, I really need to be making sure my house is wheelchair accessible. And look into purchasing a hospital bed. You know I probably should get the downstairs bathroom remodeled, too..." she sighed. "There's just so much to think about." She rubbed her forehead and sighed again.
"You should talk to Charlie. He's done some remodeling before, and he's pretty good with tile. He helped me make some changes in my house for Gramps last summer."
"But your grandpa doesn't have to use a wheelchair ever, does he?"
"No," Miles smiled. "Not at this point. But we agreed that it would be good for both of us if we start making changes now. That way things will be more familiar and natural for us later on."
"Y'all are so wise. Maybe I'll talk to Charlie next Sunday."
"You should."
Conversation lagged for a few minutes. Then, "Hey, do you have an auxiliary cable?"
"Yeah, it's coiled up in the center console. That blue button will turn on the radio."
"Cool, thanks. I want to show you some songs. Do you like alternative music okay?"
"Oh yeah."
"Awesome. Let me know if you don't like this song." She pressed play and turned the volume up.
The crooning of an upright bass played out.
"No way! Is this Himalayas?"
"Yes!"
"This is one of my favorites."
Jules grinned. "You're such a cool person."
Miles laughed. "Thanks. So are you."

CHAPTER 16: SUPER CRYPTIC

Comments

I like this chapter a lot, I

I like this chapter a lot, I think because I relate to it. ;)
Dealings with emotions are not great, and you portrayed the crazy truth of it so well in this chapter. Mile's explanation is a good reminder that I so often forget. Thanks for this chapter. And, as always, I'll be waiting for more!

Libby | Sun, 02/11/2018

“The gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation.
Therefore, suffer, yes. Be misunderstood, yes. Be shamed, yes. But do not be ashamed. For the joy set before you, take up your cross, follow Jesus, be shamed and despise the shame!" -- John Piper

Thank you so much! Miles'

Thank you so much! Miles' mini sermon is something I've been trying to grasp over the last few years. It's actually part of the reason I started writing this novel in the first place.
I'm glad you enjoyed this chapter. :) I'll hopefully have the next one up in a matter of days.

Damaris Ann | Sun, 02/11/2018

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.

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