We last left off with Book!Merikay asking herself if she’s read for Jesus to come, because he is coming very very soon. The people who published this, and probably teenage!Merikay at that point, also believed that Jesus was coming within a few short years. Book!Merikay’s anxiety is our anxiety, and book!Merikay’s fear of hell is our fear of hell.
Merikay and Pat finally reach “the hills.” The hide in some woods, walk for a while, and finally find a place to rest.
The ground felt like a Sealy’s Posturepedic mattress after the hours of walking. We both fell into a deep sleep.
Authors out there, just be aware of how stuff like this can really date your work. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing that’s going to break the book, but it is something that you need to be aware of.
Actually, I looked this up. Sealy’s Posturepedic mattresses still exist, and can be purchased for the low price of $599. It’s no longer something I’d know off the top of my head, but they do still exist. Maybe not so dated after all.
Pat and Merikay sleep for a long time, then wake up and eat an apple, and go back to sleep. Then they wake up again when the sun is setting, and read the bible.
Merikay reads Psalms 27, which just so happens to be the very words she needs to hear.
How could things like this happen? How could I just open the Bible and have the very verses I need come jumping out at me? For a moment my heart went out in love to God.
Like I said in the last post, Adventists are particular believers in “The Lord will guide you to exactly the verses you need to read.”
As a teenager being read to in Bible class, I think this passage was so cringe inducing that I rolled my eyes out loud. Book!Merikay knew about the whole “read a verse and wow it will apply to your life because God” thing. So why was she saying this? In teenage!me’s mind, she should have known better.
Re reading this as an adult…here’s the thing. Psalm 27 is a particularly popular passage. You might not be able to quote it from memory, but once you start reading it, you’ll probably recognize it. Let’s take a look at the verses Merikay is reading:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?…. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion;…… when my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.
These verses are particularly broad. They could apply to lots of different people in lots of situations. Adventists refer to the end times persecution as “the time of trouble,” but in the context of this psalm, it looks like the writer is talking about being pursued by enemies.
Book!Merikay tells us these verses were already underlined. Sometimes we remember things unconsciously even if we can’t quite bring them to mind.
I’m saying that it’s possible that book!Merikay led herself to those verses because she knew, in some corner of her mind, that they were relevant.
I’m not saying God still couldn’t use these verses to speak to her. (In the context of this story, God exists, so I am treating God as real, in context.)
I’m saying that even if God had used those verses to speak to her, this wouldn’t exactly be something remarkable.
But, Teenage!Merikay was writing this for a bible class, and probably needed a way to shoehorn this in, and it was written in a weekend so I’m cutting it some slack.
Merikay then decides to play a little game, one that book!Merikay seems to think is original.
In the game I held the Bible closed, with only the binding resting in my lap. Then I’d let it fall open to whatever it would, and the first verse I saw I’d read and try to get a lesson out of it.
Fun fact: every single Adventist has, at some point, done this. In fact, probably ever Christian has, at some point, done this.
Fun Fact #2, try finding a way to get a lesson out of such verses as
She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. Ezekiel 23:20 NIV
But of course, if Merikay put something like that in there she’d get an F, so the Bible opens to 1 John 3.
Behold what manner of love the father has given unto us that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”
Raise your hand if you sang the first two lines out of habit. My hand is up, at any rate.
Merikay thinks about being a daughter of God. She gushes for a bit about how princesses are supposed to act.
Princesses must not only show by their acts and words that their government and king are the best, but also during war, must suffer the keenest persecution along with the rest of the royal family.
I don’t know if this is true or not, but let that pass. The main thing to note here is that the king isn’t the one enduring persecution. Where’s God in this story? Up in heaven, doing God things. You could argue that Jesus was persecuted like 2,000 years ago and that Jesus is God, so therefore God is persecuted just not at the same time you were…. but that seems like an exhausting bit of mental gymnastics to me, and I’m not sure if I can agree with that. God in this story just seems kinda like a dick who is making everyone else suffer while he sits up there in heaven doing… whatever it is that God does up in heaven nowadays.
Merikay thinks so much about being a princess that her legs and feet stop hurting. She and Pat read till it’s dark, then pray for hours.
You couldn’t rest the day before when you were running, but now you have ample time to sit and pray for hours? Get up and pray as you are running again toward the mountains. You’re still not safe.
They get up to start walking again. They get about two feet before they realize it’s Friday night and therefore Sabbath, and decide to stop and have vespers. Even though they just had prayer and a Bible study.
Question: Does God think it’s ok to run for the hills on the Sabbath?
Anyway, Merikay and Pat go find someplace where they feel safe, and start singing. Which just seems like a great way to draw attention to yourself and shouldn’t you be pressing on toward the mountains?
They sing, and then they pray…
We had nothing now but prayer. Prayer and running.
And they have each other, and they have their bibles, and they seem to have food whenever they need it….
I know that prayer can be a hard thing to write about, because it is so personal. However, one bit of advice I’d have given Teenage!Merikay is that if you’re going to talk about prayer and how important it is to you, you need to do more than just tell me what you prayed about. I need to see you doing it.
After their official vespers service, they decide they’d better get a move on. They’re not traveling by a road, so they don’t have to stop, drop and hide every ten minutes.
Just 24 hours stood between us and the enforcement of the death decree.
This is good. I like this. In fact, there should have been a countdown in Book!Merikay’s head every time she thought about this. It creates tension and drama and a real sense of urgency.
Pat wonders out loud if they caught the Coopers.
I wondered too. I wondered what was going on back home, whether my family was running or chasing, whether my friends were like us or like those who were trying to catch us.
Teenage!Merikay probably didn’t know this, but most people in Nazi Germany were neither Nazis nor people who hid Jews. Most people in Nazi Germany were ordinary people just trying to live their lives.
Adventists, however, don’t believe that this will be the case in the end times. They believe that there is no middle ground, and so Merikay doesn’t believe in a middle ground, either. There will be runners, and there will be chasers. Nobody’s out there just trying to live a normal life where people water their lawns or wash their cars or let their children laugh and play outside.
But above all I wondered if I was saved.
I’m not sure what to think about this. In some ways this feels real to me, but on the other hand, I feel like this should have been resolved in some way by this point.
I like, though, that Teenage!Merikay is doing a nice bit of foreshadowing. I’m not sure if she’s aware that that’s what she’s doing, but it is. We do get to know the answer to this before Jesus comes, and I like that.
We were in the mountains now. The ground wasn’t too different from that of the hills, except for the steep grade.
So, the Smoky mountains are surrounded by hills? I’m terrible at geography, so let’s just move on.
Pat and Merikay see the sun rise from the mountain, and kneel down to pray. As they get up, they see “two men with rifles and a dog.”
“Hey you! What are you doing?” The voices were hard.
They’re 2 teenagers praying on a mountain. They’re either on acid, or they’re Sabbath keepers. What other option is there?
Pat and Merikay split up, each picking a direction.
The 2 men and the dog decide to follow Merikay rather than Pat. The men start shooting at her, but they miss. At this range, they must be some seriously bad shots. Or perhaps they’ve had a liiiiitle too much fireball whiskey. Who am I kidding? It’s God, of course, deflecting the bullets.
Merikay falls, and the dog jumps on her. That’s it, they’ve got her.
As [the two men] came up, the dog backed off. I lay, looking at their hard faces. For a brief moment I wondered if my hair looked all right.
Because she left behind the rollers and pins, get it?
I didn’t pick up on this part as a teen, but as an adult I am shuddering as I read this. Two men, alone on a mountain, and a girl….
Book!Merikay should be a bit more worried, is all I’m saying. And not about her hair.
One of the men raises his rifle, takes aim, and just as Merikay is praying that Jesus forgive her for any sins she might have forgotten to ask forgiveness for, the other man stops Man1 from shooting, because “the law don’t go into effect ’til tomorrow.”
“Aw, so what’s the dif, we kill her now or later?”
I’m torn on what to feel about the way these men talk. On the one hand, it can be ok to portray accents in writing. In context, however, I feel like teenage!Merikay is trying to make these guys seem as bad as possible. They’re probably meant to be something like the redneck types who are, of course, mean, nasty, and stupid. I don’t like the juxtaposition of “talks differently” with “bad as possible.” Because it seems like it is being implied that people who talk like they are “uneducated” are also evil. It’s a common stereotype, and it’s really not cool.
Honestly, I’m just wondering why the law is stopping these guys. If things have escalated this quickly, and everyone is evil all the time, what is stopping them from killing her, waiting a day, and then saying, “oh look officer, we shot her this morning.” I highly doubt that, with the massive amounts of cases the new Sunday Police have to deal with, that anyone is going to look into it too closely. These 2 men would absolutely get away with it.
Second honest question: Why is it legal for them to shoot Book!Merikay? Even in states that still have the death penalty, we don’t let just anyone carry out the sentence. We take the condemned person to the proper authorities and make them do it.
The men drop their accents long enough to decide to do just that. They are hoping that there is a reward for her (there is, incidentally) and they reassure themselves that they will have plenty of hunting to do the next day when the death decree goes out.
Again, why is it legal for vigilantes to kill people? Even in states with death penalties, this is not a thing.
One of the men laments that Pat got away from them, which is a good way to let us know as well, so 10 points to Merikay for finding a way to somehow drop that.
Merikay thanks the Lord for answering her prayer, even though he….didn’t. Earlier as she was running, Merikay was praying for the two men not to catch her. Then she prayed that Jesus would forgive her for any sins she forgot to confess before she was murdered. At no point did I see her pray that Pat would make it.
The dog was mean, but kept away when the men were near. They were terrible, acting as though they had never known how to be good. They pushed me down, laughing, and jerked me up with cruel remarks.
If that is all that they are doing to you, then I have a hard time believing they are so bad as all that. I’m just saying, there are worse things 2 men could do to a girl they captured. As to the dog, don’t be mad at it. It’s just doing what it’s been trained to do all its life.
The men take Merikay to jail, where she is taken to a cell in the basement. We are told she is questioned a lot, but we don’t get to see what questions are asked or how Merikay answers them. This….could have been expanded on a bit. I imagine at some point, though, Teenage!Merikay just needed to finish this. The first part of the book looks like it’s thought out and written decently well, and then the last part feels like it’s a bit rushed. She wrote this in a weekend, so I could excuse it in a first draft.
Again, most of my issues with this book have to do with the editor, who should have known better.
There are 4 other people in the cell with Merikay, one of whom is a woman. The cell is 12×12 feet, which seems rather large for a prison cell. I think my incarcerated friend said his cell was like, 6×6 or less. I could be misremembering and Teenage!Merikay probably didn’t have an incarcerated penpal, so nevermind.
As I entered, they all looked up.
“Welcome, Little One,” one of the men smiled.
This right here is why I am going to hell in a handbasket. I don’t care if I’m the youngest, anyone who calls me “little one” is going to get a face full of fist.
“Have a seat,” another offered, pointing to the floor. “We’re just having church.”
Even in prison, you can not get away from church.
I could tell, being here only a few minutes, that this was a wonderful place.
Yes, prisons are known for that.
The people were kind.
People in prison are known for that too….
They joke that Merikay can be their visitor that Sabbath. I can roll with it.
Their “church,” we are told, is super simple: All they do is sing. And then they pray, and the guard whines that all they have been doing that morning is praying. No, they were just singing. Didn’t you hear them? Singing can be praying, but very technically they’re not the same thing. (That’s an area we don’t get into, for the sake of time.)
Alright, I’ve run out of steam. We’ll pick up later, in the next post.