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Chapter 5- New Beginnings

The fog enveloped the hazy road. I stared blankly at the houses we passed, not even caring about the draft I had to finish nor the flashback I just had. I felt guilty, though. Here I was with a stranger whom I didn’t even know and who was kind enough to lend me a ride; yet, I failed to make conversation with him. Perhaps I didn’t want to, besides what was so interesting about me? A single mother who worked at the St. Louis Chronicle: I was pretty boring, or so I thought. Even though I worked at one of the most popular newspapers, I failed to create a writing career for myself after being turned down by multiple publications simply because I was a woman. Still, I didn’t know what to say to the cowboy as he kept his eyes focused on the road. Bored, I casually began examining the contents inside his truck. Fairly clean. A tool box was propped against the dashboard, some rodeo equipment, a half-eaten sandwich that hadn’t been finished in a long time, and…the Bible. The Bible that somehow prompted me inside his truck. Of course, I only did it because I needed a ride. But there was something about that old book that made me feel at ease and on edge all at the same time. 

“So,” cleared the cowboy’s throat after several moments of silence.

“So?” I questioned not knowing what more to say.

“Whose company do I have the pleasure of enjoying?”

I was startled, surprisingly. I should have expected him to ask such a thing. But I hadn’t said a thing the whole time, and all I caused for him since we met was trouble: blaming him for an accident the bucking horse caused, not him. I gulped trying to swallow the knot in my esophagus. “Ruth. Ruth Hollister,” I finally managed.

“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Hollister,” he answered politely.

“Oh, it’s Ms. Hollister, actually.”

He said nothing, just nodded gently. There was an awkward pause to the casual conversation.

“Um,” I stuttered. “What’s your name?”

“Tal Livingston.”

“Tal?”

“Yes, Tal, and don’t ask me why.”

I tried to hide my chuckle but failed desperately. Tal Livingston—what an unusual name. 

“Well, it definitely suits your profession,” I giggled, and a smile crept across his face.  “So, Mr. Tal Livingston, where are you from? Perhaps Texas?” I asked playfully.

“No, not Texas. Not all cowboys come from Texas you know.”

“Oh, really?” I quizzed, amused.

“Yes, really. In fact, Ms. Hollister, I’m from Wyoming.”

“Just as I figured!” I laughed uproariously. 

He scorned sarcastically. We continued our sort of “small talk” for a while until I gazed yet again at his Bible. There was just something different about that book, but I couldn’t figure out what. I couldn’t help but ask him about it.

When I finally gained enough courage, I gazed up into his clear, blue eyes, “So, tell me about the Bible you have propped up on your dashboard?”

He raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean? Are you asking if I’m a Christian?”

“I-I don’t know,” I answered, not really sure what I meant either.

 “Are you asking if I’m a Christian?” He pressed.

“I suppose,” I replied.

 He didn’t even to hesitate to answer, “Yes.”

I didn’t know whether or not I was surprised, but I cocked my head and furrowed my brow. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard somebody openly admit being a Christian. At least, not as strongly and proudly as he did. 

“What about you?” He asked.

The words stung. I didn’t really know. Was I? 

“I don’t know,” I continued. “When I was a little girl, my parents took me to church and made it absolutely necessary for me to pray, read my Bible, and attend Sunday school. But one day,” the words choked my heart. “My father left. I was only twelve, but mother still insisted that I continue my journey with God. Then, I married young. Too young. I got pregnant, and he left me as well. At that moment, I realized God had taken everything away from me that I loved. So, I set my Bible on a shelf, and I haven’t opened it in years.”

He didn’t say anything. I suppose there wasn’t much to say. He just kept his eyes on the road, his brow furrowed as if processing all I had said. 

***

When we arrived at my home, he stopped. We didn’t say anything, and I forgot all about the time and work that still needed to be done. 

“Meet me for lunch tomorrow at Lucy’s,” he stated when I had gotten out of the vehicle. He drove away before I could object, leaving me speechless. Should I do it? Why was this man so persistent about my well-being? Guilt? I didn’t know for sure, but the next day at exactly noon, I met him at Lucy’s. For the first time in a long time, I felt relaxed.

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