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"I'm not even going to pretend to understand, because I don't. Whatever you just said doesn't change anything," responded Adam, undaunted. (Translated, the Latin phrase, 'acta est fabula,' means, 'the drama has been acted out,' usually to an unhappy end.)

"May I go now?" she asked, impatient to leave.

"Your father loves you very much," replied Adam. "If he thinks the salvation of your soul is this important, doesn't it behoove you to give his concern the time it deserves?"

"Just because you've been able to take advantage of Daddy's vulnerable mental health, doesn't mean you can manipulate me, also!" retorted Charlie, getting to her feet. He was not going to maneuver her into giving in, by using Chuck against her! No, she was too smart for that.

"You can't run from God forever, Charlie," warned Adam. "Sooner or later, the rain will catch up to you, and you'll get wet, no matter how hard you ride General to escape it." Charlie looked at him in surprise. How did he know that story? Of the many campfire yarns her father told, "The Cowboy Who Bulldogged A Cloud" was her favorite. She remembered how she laughed at the funny faces Chuck made as he told the story. Charlie dug her sock-covered toe into the brown carpet. It seemed like a lifetime ago. She longed for the way things used to be-- before Early Onset Alzheimer's; before North Carolina and Darren; before Twin Yucca.

"It's a funny story, isn't it?" asked Adam, sensing that he had struck a nerve. Charlie solemnly nodded her head.

"No one can tell a story like Daddy," she replied, the agitation in her voice fading.

"I know you love your father, Charlie. So do I. That's the reason I came here today. I don't want to be your enemy. In fact, I'd like to be your friend. However, I wouldn't be a very good friend if I didn't warn you about the danger you're in. It's as real as...," Adam paused for a second, "as if you were trapped in a burning car. Promise me, as your friend, to at least consider what your father and I say," asked Adam.

It was such a gentle plea that before Charlie could refuse, she found herself saying that she would. Maybe it was because she felt sorry for him when she saw how sad he looked when he compared her to someone trapped in a burning car; maybe it was because she noticed the scars on his hands; whatever it was, it almost made her trust him.

Adam recalled to mind that from what Chuck had told him, Charlie's habit was to pull whenever pushed, and to push whenver pulled. Sensing that if he stayed longer, he might undo the good that was just done, Adam decided that it was time to go. He would let the Holy Spirit do His job.

"It's time for me to go," Adam said, standing up.

"I'll tell Daddy you're leaving," offered Charlie, going to her father's bedroom door. She peered in, only to find him asleep on the bed. "He's sleeping," Charlie reported, walking her visitor to the door.

"I'll talk to him later," said Adam. "And remember, you promised me to think about your salvation. I'll be praying for you." In spite of herself, Charlie smiled.

After going to the kitchen to get a drink, Charlie returned to her room. The "touchy-feely" book she had been reading, laid in the corner where she had tossed it. Charlie picked it up and fumbled to the page where she left off. Try as she might, she couldn't get her mind back into the story.

"What a weird man," she thought. "I wonder how he got those scars on his hands."

Unbeknownst to Charlie, the doctors had told Adam there would be no scarring from his burns. However, when the bandages came off, it became quite apparent that they were wrong. All Adam had to do was to glance at his hands, and he remembered the one young girl he couldn't save.

The emotion of witnessing to his daughter had so fatigued Chuck's mind, that he decided to ride out the episode, unconsciously. When he awoke, two hours later, a wave of nausea swept over him. He tried to get to his feet, but the room suddenly whirled around him, so that he had to quickly retreat to his bed. Chuck was tempted to call for help, but wasn't sure if he should. Maybe this would soon pass. He hated to trouble anyone unnecessarily, but the nausea and dizziness continued.

"Mom," Chuck called out, trying to compose his voice in an even tone, so none would suspect him of needing help, "are you there?" The house remained quiet. As the dizziness and nausea grew steadily worse, Chuck determined that he must make it to the bathroom. He didn't know how much longer he could keep it down. "Mom?" he called again, this time his voice betraying that this was indeed, an emergency. Deciding that his Mom wasn't home, Chuck finally called for Charlie. To his surprise, no one answered. He was alone.
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