A short story.

By. Cassie Stephens

Downtown is the heart of any city, busy and full of life. As a photographer it’s where you end up. There, you’ll always get that one picture that captures this small Midwestern town. Like I mentioned it’s where you end up and as do I almost everyday. I walk the same sidewalk on the right side. Everyday right in front of that old thrift store sits a man on a bench, just staring out towards the street like he’s waiting on something. After seeing this day after day I finally got the courage to go over to him. What I didn’t expect was for him to tell me his life story.

“Sir? Excuse me sir, may I sit here?”
After a long pause he finally talked never looking in my direction. “Why are you asking me? It’s the city’s.”
“You have a point, but I just wanted to ask if that’s alright with you.”
Smiling he said, “It’s alright.” Looking in the same direction like he always does he continued, “I’ve seen you out here before, but you usually have a camera. What happened? All out of ideas or do you have something else in store?”

I sat there in silence looking at him while he still continued to look in the other direction, nothing changed for him I thought. No matter who talks to him or what distracts him, he will never stop staring in the direction of the street.

“Well sir….”
“Thomas, my name is Thomas. You can stop with this sir business.”
“Okay… Thomas I always see you sitting here and wondered why.”
Chuckling a little bit he smiled from the side of his face. “Waiting.”

“May I ask on what?”
Finally turning to look at me he gave me this look like I should have known already. Looking into his eyes for the first time scared me. They were haunting and dark. What seemed like hours of just us staring at one another, he turned back around muttering, “My ride.”
Confused by his answer I pressed on, “Your ride? So you’re waiting for your ride…From whom?”
“What is your name?” he asked, ignoring my question completely.
“Well Julie, you may know this but I’m homeless. I have nothing to hope for, gave that up years ago. What hope I have left resigns in a ride that I have been waiting for…”
He paused for a minute and I stayed quiet giving him time to collect his thoughts.
“Nearly twenty years now. Sitting and waiting, growing old, rain or shine…”
He kept talking but I didn’t understand him, he mumbled and talked quietly after that. But it didn’t add up. How can one wait on something for twenty years? He didn’t look that old.
“I’m seventy by the way.” And it appears he can also read minds.
“Why have you waited for so long? I mean whoever you’re waiting for isn’t coming back.”
“Yes they will!” Getting upset he continued. “A promise is a promise. She said she would come back!”
“So you’re waiting on a she? Well one mystery solved.” Ignoring my last comment he asked for the time, I told him it was seven o’ clock. He got up and stared to walk off.
Getting up too I asked, “Where are you going?”
“Home” was all he said and continued to walk off.

The next day I went back to the bench to finish my conversation with Thomas. The bench was empty. I did this for a week and the result was the same. Going back the next day I hoped he would be there. Turning the corner on the sidewalk I looked up and like he’d never left sat Thomas. Growing with excitement I walked towards him and without saying a word to him I sat down next to him.

“What, not asking now?”
“It’s the city’s.”
Smirking he said, “Right you are.” We didn’t talk for a while, a part of me wanted to ask where he was but I also had the feeling he knew I was going to ask it. Still I wanted to know.
“So… Where were you last week?”
“The she I was referring to last week is my wife, Ellie is her name. We met at a barn dance in Arkansas. I fell in love with her that night, one beautiful lady.”
“That’s sweet Thomas, and do you have a habit of ignoring my questions? Or is that just me?”
“Just you Julie, I never ignore just some things are better left unsaid.” Glancing at me for a moment he turned around again looking the opposite way. I just sat there in silence remembering his eyes again, they no longer scared me.

“We married the next month, yes we were in a hurry but in love. Also very young…Sixteen. All a blur now, but we had five kids, three boys two girls. Beautiful children. All got her good looks.” Saying with a proud smile across his face he continued. “We lived in Benton Arkansas forever, perfect spot for fishing. I love fishing, do you?”
Not letting me answer he kept talking like I wasn’t even there. “That’s how he died, my oldest son Thomas Jr. he fell in the lake, such a wonderful boy…But horrible swimmer. Never got around to teach him, I went in after him but it was to late. He was ten. That left Ellie depressed for a while, so we moved away to here. And here is where we stayed.” Thinking that would be all he sucked in a breath and went on, never once looking at me. “Ellie got better over time and we were happy, good jobs and good kids. Never once did they get in trouble. Ellie found God a little later… Have you found God?”
I was so transfixed on his story looking out into the street I didn’t know he even asked me a question. Shaken from my stare I looked over at him and he was staring at me and started to ask again. Before he could finish his question again I answered.
“Yes I have.”

Still looking at me he smiled and his eyes changed. They no longer were dark but sad. “Good. Good for you, I’m still looking for Him, but I think I’m close. I wish I could find Him right now and ask one question. Why did you let my little girl die?” Still looking at me I noticed after he said that a single tear rolled down his cheek. Wiping his face he turned his face away from me and I wanted to tell him not to blame God, but he started talking again. “Ellie never got depressed or mad. She never questioned God like I did, she knew Mary was going to be okay and pain free. Mary my youngest got sick one year with some fever, never got better just dying everyday.” At this more tears were going down his face. Wiping them away with his dirty hands he sucked in another breath. “Hell, maybe she is better off.”

The rest of that afternoon I heard his life story. How his other kids grew up, went to college, got married and how he himself is a proud grandfather. But one thing still puzzled me. What happened to his wife? Throughout his entire story he never mentioned how or what happened to her, I even tried to ask him once in a while. Yet all he said was she was coming for him, which then led to other questions in my head. Did she leave him? How did he become homeless? Is he crazy? But the answers to my questions would have to wait. It was getting late, I got up to leave and turned to Thomas.
“Well thank you for a lovely day of story telling, maybe I can hear more later?” Waiting for a response from him lead to minutes felt like hours at times. Never turning towards me just kept on staring out into that same direction, he never said anything to me. Growing impatient I finally spoke.
“Okay then, have a good night see you later.”

As I turned to walk towards my car I could have sworn I heard him mumble something, but I’ll never know what. Life for me got pretty busy after that day. New job and new responsibilities kept me from going back to the corner bench, to see Thomas. A month later I went back to his spot to see if he was there, he wasn’t. Walking over I sat down and just stared in the same direction he always did when I met him. I sat there silent and looking on as the time passed, I don’t know how long I sat there till I heard someone from behind me asked if they could sit down.
“It’s the city’s, why are you asking me?” I replied dryly without looking at the person.
“My husband said the same thing.”
“What?!?” Turning to look at the person sat a very beautiful woman. She looked content with life, aging very well and her eyes spoke for her at times.
“Your husband?” I finally said after staring at her.
“Yes dear, my husband. You act as if that is impossible.” She said smirking.
“Well actually I do because I met a guy…”
“Thomas?” Asking me but she knew the answer already, so she continued.
“Thomas, a great man. Died too young though, been twenty years now.”
Shocked by her statement I didn’t believe it, I just saw him last month! Asking her nicely if we were talking about the same man, she simply replied with a yes. Getting upset I went on.

“Ma’am I mean absolutely no disrespect to you, but last month I saw him, there is no way he is dead! In fact he has been waiting for you! How come you never came back? Where did you go anyway? Assuming you are in fact the real wife of Thomas!” Stopping finally to catch my breath, I looked over at the woman. She sat there staring at me and started to smile. Giving me a wink she began to talk.

“Thomas my husband was a brilliant man, he would be 70. He would do anything for anybody, pleasant and caring also very stubborn. But when our first child died, something inside him died that day too. Years later when our youngest died, he went with her. I knew a better plan was going to happen to me and the rest of our children. I’m Ellie by the way…”
“So wait…You’re really Ellie? The same Ellie Thomas was telling me about just last month. So you’re lying to me because how could he have possibly told me if he was dead.”

Anger was growing inside my body to the point of me starting to shake, how could this lady just come up to me and tell me some lie. Not wanting to hear anymore I started to get up to leave, but she reached out and lightly grabbed my hand. Looking down, her eyes calmed me, I then felt something I haven’t felt in years, peace and trust.

“My dear you didn’t let me finish, may I finish my story so you will better understand?”
Sitting back down I nodded my head. Still holding onto my hand she continued looking at me.
“Our story continues, everything he told you is what he knows. You see he did die, actually we all died a week after our youngest died, car accident. But he was so stubborn and my children and I knew God, so now he thinks we are coming to get him. When in fact we are waiting for him.” Signing she looked away from me for a moment.

I was confused, I’m sure my faced showed it. No longer able to stay silent I asked the one question anyone else would have asked.
“So does this mean I’ve been talking to a ghost and now another?
Smirking she turned her head to look at me again.
“Sweetheart you’re talking to me because you’re stubborn too. You’re like Thomas..”
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m not following you. How can I be like Thomas?”
“You didn’t let me finish again. You have a thing for that. My dear, you are dead too.”

Letting go of her hand I stood up quickly. I wasn’t scared just shocked, looking down at Ellie she gave me a comforting smile. She stood to looking in the distance, and began to speak.
“So tell me, who are you waiting for?”



Here is my story.

It took along time for me to get to this point in my life, to tell my story, my story that is not filtered but the truth. This is not easy for me, but right now in my life I’m doing some purging and it’s my choice to put my story on a public site for all to see. To get it fully out so I can no longer hide behind the curtain.  Trust me friends, I’m ashamed of myself, so with kindness.. Please find it in your hearts to not look at me in a negative light.  cussing will occur… If that offends, don’t read.

I was born and raised in a fantastic household, my childhood was nothing short of amazing and full of love.  My parents having me as their only child made things easy for them, I was a good kid and I always followed the rules. Summers were rad and my Star Trek collection was impressive!  Ever since I was a child, I went to church,  I was SUPER shy and didn’t get involved in things at the church until way later.  When middle school hit for me, that became the three years of hell.  Almost every day I was made fun of for something dumb, which in reality, that happens to everyone. Middle schoolers are the worst.  I got through it relatively okay.. Well, when I say relatively, I mean crying every time I got home.   The only good side to that was on the evening of October 27, 1997 at a Franklin Graham Crusade, I stood up, grabbed my dad’s hand and walked down to get Jesus in my heart.  It was experience that wasn’t overly amazing to be honest… Could be due to the fact that hundreds more were doing the same, it wasn’t until I was at home, by myself that I fully grasp what I did.  That’s when it became amazing.  Two years later would begin my high school career.

High school, for me was when I broke out of my shell! I made new friends, played soccer, got involved, finally went to youth group at my church and went to a girls Bible study, were I met my still BF Camissa.  All was exciting and I truly for once in my life felt really good about Jesus, my goals and just life in general.  You might have guessed it.. Their is a but.  But just as it was beginning to be awesome, Sophomore year started. It started off just fine, however around the middle of the year I got a headache, didn’t think twice about it and took some Tylenol and moved on. Woke up the next morning, had a headache again, I took a pill and went about my day. Next morning same thing, and the next and the next. Towards the end of the week I started to notice that they were not going away and in fact were there all day long.  I told my mom about them, and a month later after having a non-stop headache, she set up an appointment.  This began a journey that I’m still dealing with today, however their is a silver lining, which I will get too.  After a MRI, CT, EEG, PET, MEG, NIRS… They found nothing wrong with my brain, except a build up at the front of my head, which the Doctor said was due to sinus.  That should be good news, right? At least it wasn’t a tumor. But it didn’t soothe me, only made me angry that nothing could be found.  I also did a food journal, to see if it was a food related issue.. Nothing. This continued throughout the next two years, and in those two years I had taken 30+ of different prescriptions.  This didn’t help me at all, in fact it brought me down to very dangerous part in my life.  I questioned God every minute of every day, the journal entries I wrote during this time were filled with all the boy crushes I had and “WHY GOD?!”  Some of the pills I took had side effects, one such side effect was depression… This was not good to say in the least.  When a person is in pain, they tend to forget of all of the joy in their life and instead focus on the pain. Even though I was involved in my school and my church, I may have never showed the turmoil I was going through.. I made sure to try and smile when I could, but behind doors.. I was screaming.  One such night, my Junior year after laying in bed far to long not able to sleep, I quietly got up and went into the kitchen.  Went back into my room, sat down on the floor and began to write a letter.  The letter was simple and to the point..

To mom and dad.

I love you.

You did nothing wrong.

It’s me.

I cannot take this pain anymore, I hate it.

Seems like this is a good option.

I love you.


The reason I went into the kitchen, was to get a knife.  I had the knife to my wrist, tears were heavy and I was very scared.  In honest admission, I didn’t want to do it, but the pain was horrible and in my clouded mind filled with lies, I thought that was the best option.  Before anything could happen however, I met God.  It wasn’t like He kicked open my bedroom door and punched the knife out of hand, but it felt like it.  It the quiet of my room, besides my sobs, He very loudly said; “NO!” It startled me enough that I dropped the knife and cried harder if that was even possible.  For a while I heard nothing else, then He spoke again and what He told me brought me out of my dark place and for the first time in a year, my mind was clear and free of pain.  He gave me peace and the one thing I took from that at the time, was one simple thing He said:

Give me time, you’ll understand it later in life.

So, I held onto that and waited and waited.  Remember the silver lining? Well, I still have headaches, they aren’t as bad as they use to be but I still have them.  I know what they are caused by thanks to a Doctor who took the time. Simply put, I’m a stresser and so thus I have High Tension Headaches.  For the past two years I have been seeing a chiropractor, that has helped GREATLY! But the true ending to this thirteen year long pain, was the reason for them. Look, having a headache does indeed suck, but having a headache and knowing why, sucks less.  Just this past year, on my journey back to Jesus, I was praying and as usual asking why I had to have this pain.  Quietly He answered me:

You have them because they always bring you back to me.  If I took them away, you’d stray and not rely on me.

It was simple and honest.  So, yes having a headache isn’t the best, but in the very least it’s a reminder that I can’t quit God. He has healed me, to where I don’t have them day in and day out at weeks at a time. But He hasn’t fully healed me and I’m okay with that.

Back tracking a bit.. After high school, I went through two different programs at two different times. First one was called Elite and that helped me grow and to have a better understanding of the Bible.  Small group of individuals, working together and gaining knowledge. It was truly cool to go through and besides the youth group were I gained some lasting friendships, this did as well.  The next one was called L.I.F.E. watch, when I took this program I was twenty-one, but it didn’t bother me, I enjoyed being the third oldest!  We took some courses, took some tests and did some mission work.  Just like before, It brought together a group of individuals that ranged in age from right out of high school to however old Josh was.. Which I think was 50… 😉   Their were moments of AWESOME and moments of BOOOO. But after that year was done, I gained stronger friendships that has lasted and even more knowledge.  At the end of that year, we took a little trip to Mexico for a week.. Reynosa, Tamaulipas Mexico to be exact.  In Reynosa you will find Casa Hogar Benito Juarez Children’s Home.  The vision that this place has is really beautiful.  The children that live inside it’s walls are given a warm bed, food, friends and Jesus. For the most part, they have parents, but sadly the situation in Mexico isn’t always ideal and sometimes the parents cannot afford to feed or give shelter to their children, so they can come to Juarez to get that.  The kids there are beautiful, loving and taught some lastly traits. They are still kids however, and so they also have their bad days, but one week for me wasn’t enough. I first went in 2006 and two years after that I went with the church. They were for only a week, but I truly enjoyed going, so much so that in 2008 for the month of October I lived and helped within the Home! Truly a memory I’ll never forget!

After all of my ups and downs in life, God remained solid.  I may have been angry with Him from time to time, but I never walked away.  Sadly, I wish I could still say that, but for two years prior to 2013, I did.  I didn’t walk away because I was angry with Him, in fact it was because I was angry with myself.  You see, all my life I have been hiding my inner most secret sin, the sin that has plagued my life because I continued to allow it.  Since that was the case, I became the biggest hypocrite of all.  That’s not far to God, I was shaming Him not only by my actions but by my mouth and life.  I couldn’t take it, so I walked away.  I stopped going to church regularly.. Then that turned into not going at all. I read this blog recently that a friend put on his FB wall, and everything I read in that blog was my life for two years.  I just stopped. I stopped my quiet times, reading of my Bible, and when I did write in my journal it was “I’m a fuck up.” “Leave me alone, fuck you, jesus.”  Even though I was going through all this, He still sought after me, so if I told Him to fuck off, He’d leave. Word to the wise kids, He never leaves.  Oh sure, I plastered on a smile and was the funniest person in the room, but it was a lie and fake.  I did it because I didn’t want anyone to see through me and ask the question.  It didn’t work.  That tricky Sarah Snavley saw me, she asked and I told her all.

Here is my bravery.. For most of my life I have suffered with dealing with sexual sin.  The older I’m getting, the worse it’s getting.  Yeah, I got my V-Card still.. But I’m not pure, like I was when I was younger.  I’m dirty and full of guilt. Trust me friends, I hate myself daily for the choices I’ve made, I’ve come to terms with that fact.  But the other silver lining is always and forever God.  Why He still sought after my heart and still seeks it and brings me back to Him, is beyond me.   The guy won’t quit me, when I quit myself from Him.  Thankfully, oh thankfully the slow and steady walk back to Him this past year has been more then I could have ever asked for! Just when I thought my life was making it’s choice, Liz mentioned of a couple that moved here and was going to start a church plant.. I’m now involved in a beautiful idea with people that are like minded and truly God filled.  I like it.

I’m not close to perfect.. Not at all.  But the journey I have with Jesus now is much more different and comes with a better understanding. I love Him. I’m also starting to come around to the fact of how much He truly loves me.  I’m excited for my new journey, it will have it’s moments, but no more. No more backpedaling.

Thank you.

Words, words, words.

Rest assured, I will not be reciting anything from Hamlet.. I just figured it was fitting and I’ve been saying that all day. Why, I don’t know but it’s better then having ‘Never Gonna Give you Up by Rick Astley in my head… Thank goodness that left my brain.  To be honest, I had a way cooler idea for today’s photo challenge.  However, I’m starting to feel the slight hatefulness of an oncoming sickness, so my brain has been focused on Zicam, Enhinacea, tea, and Hamlet. But, I digress.

Of all the things I could do with today’s challenge, I chose to show the words that were written by my hand.  Ever since I received my very first journal many years ago, with it’s major christian girly themed cover, I began this wonderment of writing.  I haven’t stopped and continue to do it, I write about my trips, friends, Jesus, myself, politics, and basically the stuff you’d never make public.  It’s quite hilarious to go back and read what I wrote so long ago… My goodness I was a whiny child who had a lot of crushes! Oh, the boys I wrote about.. It’s rather gross.

It truly is wonderful to see the maturity level over the years, through my journals.  The writing stopped being about my selfishness and ” Gooooodddddd, why am I still single…” to my selflessness and “thank you, God.”   Sometimes I want to tear up and throw away my older journals, for they are rather embarrassing. That will never happen though, because they are who I was and what I was is in the past.  Thank goodness for that.  It’s good to write, keeps my mind some what free of over thinking, and like I said before.. Let’s me get out my opinions in private rather then publicly, they let me explore my imagination and travels when I take them.  Quite useful, really.

I was given a challenge one time from someone I highly regard, not only as a friend, but a woman I have confided in over the years.  I still haven’t done so, but one day I’d like to take on the challenge and let someone read any one of my journals.  That is a big challenge, I’m not quite there. Someday.. Maybe…  Nonetheless,  if it does happen, please forgive me.

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Title: Words
Date: 2.5.14
Camera: Canon Rebel T3