Elijah entered the cafeteria, lunch tray in hand. The table where he usually sat was still empty. Either no one wanted to be anywhere near him or he was just early. The clock on the far wall showed there were still a few minutes before the major influx of students, so he assumed the best. Still, after the way morning prayer group turned out, sitting alone might not be so bad. Lately life seemed like a war, moving from one battle to another. Although he was not ready to wave a white flag of surrender yet, a lunchtime cease-fire would certainly be welcome.
Like the music room, the cafeteria had large windows, the kind that stretched from floor to ceiling. During the day the cafeteria could stay well lit without the need for electric lighting. They also gave a great view of the lawn in front of the school. When the weather permitted, many students spent their lunchtime outside, basking in the sun. The sun was in full force today and made it hard to see as one emerged from the lunch line. Using this to his advantage, Elijah didn’t bother to look around to see who else was there. Instead he squinted, tilted his head down, and made a break for his currently unoccupied table.
Elijah purposely sat facing the windows so he could catch the view. Several kids were out on the main lawn talking and tossing a frisbee. The warmth of the sun felt good on his hands and face. Maybe after he finished eating he would venture outside and try to find Ben. Elijah hadn’t seen him all morning. Missing the prayer group wasn’t a big surprise, but Ben missing lunch, that was a different story.
It was still a little early, but more and more students were starting to filter into the room. The large cafeteria would quickly become loud and busy. Elijah tried to ignore the commotion and enjoy the time alone. He closed his eyes and let the heat from the sun warm him. A tray touched down on the table across from him, but Elijah held out for another second before opening his eyes.
“Sorry, thought you might be praying,” Jonathan said looking down at his lunch.
“Just zoning out for a minute.”
“Yeah, I’ve been doing that a lot today,” Jonathan replied. “It’s been hard to focus. You certainly dropped a big one on us this morning.”
“I guess,” Elijah frowned. “I didn’t know everyone felt that way about the Mormons.”
“I did,” Jonathan reflected. “Everyone’s got their own set of ‘truths’ that they grow up with. Whether those truths are actually true isn’t always the case. I really don’t know much about the Mormons other than what I’ve been told by my dad and he obviously believes they are a cult. I’ve never questioned that, just took it as the truth. Since we started hanging out I’ve come to believe that you truly did have that vision and that it was from God.
“So, now I have two conflicting truths. I trust you, and if you say the boy in the vision is Joseph Smith, I believe you.” Jonathan stirred at a lump of mashed potatoes. “I’m not saying I’m going to blindly become a Mormon, but I am ready to hear what they’ve got to say.”
Elijah felt his body relax now that he knew that Jonathan was still with him. “Thanks! The missionaries are coming over tonight and it would mean a lot if you were there. Your family could come, too.”
“Well, I highly doubt my dad will. He’ll probably blow a gasket when I tell him I want to meet with the Mormons. I’d like to meet with them once myself before I say anything to him,” Jonathan frowned. He paused for a moment. “What about inviting the group? Would it be alright to see if anyone wants to come?”
“Sure, if you can get the word out. The more the merrier. The missionaries could go over the first discussion again,” Elijah agreed.
“You’ve already met with them?”
“Yeah, last night at Mark’s.”
“That’s got to be a miracle in itself. Mark Roche, from bully to friend overnight,” Jonathan smiled and shook his head. He finally took a bite of the potatoes. The cafeteria was very crowded now. Looking toward the lunch line Jonathan motioned with his fork. “Speaking of friends, here comes Ben.”
Elijah turned to see Ben trying to negotiate his way past a group of girls who were looking for a table. Elijah shook his head and smirked as he watched Ben checking them out while trying to dance around them. As he finally slid through, Ben caught Elijah and Jonathan watching him. He quickly glanced back at the crowd of girls and then made a face to show he thought they were hot.
“Yo E! Yo J!” Ben barked as he flopped down at the table beside Elijah.
“What’s up, Slacker? Decide to catch a few extra Z’s this morning,” Elijah asked, giving Ben a shove with his elbow.
Ben was the closest friend Elijah had. Elijah had always had trouble finding people that he had enough in common with to classify them as friends. Ben was as close as anyone could come. They both liked computer gaming, they watched the same television shows, and liked the same music. This didn’t mean Elijah always agreed with everything Ben did. A quick examination of Ben’s face and it was clear that he had been up to Elijah’s least favorite of Ben’s habits.
“Uh-huh, I see you’ve been on a little trip,” Elijah chastised.
“O.K. Mom! It’s no big deal,” Ben chided.
“Uh, yes it is. Even more so now,” Elijah replied.
Jonathan had been watching the two a little puzzled. Being the son of a preacher was a somewhat sheltered life. He was actually thankful for it. He often thought that in a world as corrupt as the Earth, being a little innocent was a good thing. Knowing beforehand that he was probably going to ask a stupid question, he decided to speak up. “Where did you go that was so bad?”
Ben let out a loud laugh and Elijah gave him an astonished look.
“You gotta get out more, dawg!” Ben roared.
“He was doing drugs,” Elijah answered in a whisper so no one outside of the three of them could hear.
“It was just a little weed,” Ben interjected. “It’s no big deal.”
“Well, I’d have to agree with Elijah on this one,” Jonathan said, his face turning red.
“Oh, come on! Pot’s not bad. It’s from nature. Even the Bible says that God gave us the plants and stuff to use,” Ben retorted. “Isn’t that right, Jonathan?”
“Wait a minute,” Jonathan said in amazement. “You’re trying to use the Bible to justify drug use? That’s just wrong. First off, plants are for man’s use, but that doesn’t mean they’re to be rolled up and smoked. Second, God created everything in the Garden of Eden, those plants were perfect. But once man got cast out, the Bible says that thorns and thistles would spring up from the ground. Weeds to make man’s life more difficult, like marijuana.”
“Geez, don’t you O.D. on me too! Not all of us have led the easy life of a preacher’s son,” Ben said, his voice starting to rise. “Must be pretty nice just following what your parents make you do.”
“Hold on a second, Ben. My life’s not as easy as you think,” Jonathan retorted. “As you can see, my parents aren’t here, and every day I have to make the tough choice of whether to follow what they’ve taught me about the Gospel or to just go with the flow. If anything, it’s you that’s got it easy. You just follow along where ever the wind blows you, tossed to and fro by the slight of men.”
“With all that’s happening, aren’t you afraid that the end will come and you’ll have to face judgment?” Elijah cut in.
“Of course I am. I’m terrified of where I might end up, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to stop living my life!”
“You’re just like everyone else around here,” Jonathan burst in. “Everyone’s afraid that they’re going to Hell for not keeping the commandments, but no one wants to make the changes necessary to get their lives straight. It’s too hard or it’s not fun to do what God wants. Just because my dad’s a preacher doesn’t make it any easier on me. I’ve had to choose to not do things that looked fun, but I knew were wrong. That doesn’t mean I’ve lost my life, it’s helped me keep it.”
“I may not keep all the commandments or know the Bible inside and out, but I’m still a good person,” Ben retorted.
“You can be the best person in the world, but without Jesus, it means nothing,” argued Jonathan.
“Let’s just change the subject,” Ben snorted.
“Fine! It wasn’t going anywhere, besides I’m done eating anyway,” Jonathan said as he stood up with his tray and walked away.
“Well, now that that’s over with, I’ve got something to ask you,” Elijah said trying to sound calm.
“If you start on me, I’ll take off too!”
“I’m not going to start anything. Just listen. I want you to come by my house tonight at six. There’re some missionaries coming over to talk about the Mormon Church. That’s what happened when I was with Mark. I found out who the boy in the vision was. Joseph Smith started the Mormon Church when he was a boy, just like the boy in the vision. They’re going to come by and talk more about it and I really want you to be there.”
“Huh, I’ll think about it. Maybe I’m just not cut out for all this. I’m never going to make it to Heaven apparently anyhow,” Ben looked away from Elijah. Although his face was turned, Elijah could hear the uneasiness in his voice. “I’ll think about it.”
With that Ben stood and walked away as well. Elijah watched him disappear into the crowd, his head lowered to avoid the stares of those that heard he and Jonathan arguing. Elijah turned back to his tray. Nothing seemed very appetizing now so he looked back out the window at the other students enjoying the spring day.
“Well, so much for a cease fire,” Elijah thought. “Back to the war.”[Home] [Chapter 22] [Chapter 24]