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Chapter Thirty-five
Tell Him

"My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue."
~ Psalms 39:3 ~

Time passed, and Adam was now touring in Arkansas... or was it Alabama? Adam moved around so much, that even he could barely keep track of where he was. However, no matter what state of the Union he found himself in, Adam and Charlie continued to keep in touch via the satellite phones. Little did Adam know, that whenever Charlie heard his voice, the longing inside of her grew stronger, until she felt her secret would surely consume her.

Charlie yearned to confide in a friend, for though Gary knew, she barely knew him enough to call him a friend.

One warm Friday evening in August, Charlie and Maggie found themselves sitting on Charlie's bedroom floor, leafing through old 'Quest' magazines Maggie had found in her parents' garage-- most dating back to the sixties. Charlie had little interest in them, for the stories and articles were predominantly about Vietnam. Maggie, on the other hand, was sure there was a story in one of the issues that talked about her brother, Wayne, who had fought in Vietnam.

Charlie was uncomfortable about Maggie's continued insistence that her brother was still alive. She hoped this wasn't a sign of Maggie reverting back to her old habit of waiting at the bus stop for a brother who would never return. Indeed, Maggie still wore the silver MIA bracelet bearing her brother's name. Maggie had a great deal of loyalty for this brother whom she had never even met.

Charlie reluctantly flipped through pages, helping her friend search for the phantom article, when the teenager's eyes fell upon a page bearing Wayne's name.

"Maggie!" announced Charlie, in surprise, "I think I found it!"

The girls hunched over the magazine, while Charlie read it out loud:

"More casualties occurred outside of Kontum, South Vietnam," read Charlie, "when an ambush firefight claimed the lives of fifty-three American soldiers out of a company of one hundred and ten. These losses would have been even more devastating had it not been for the heroic actions of PFC Wayne James Downen. Under heavy gunfire from the enemy, Wayne Downen carried to safety mortally wounded PFC Kevin Henrickson, who died shortly thereafter. Exposing himself to enemy fire a second time, Wayne went back to rescue PFC Terrence Franklin. Wayne then returned to the firefight, and was never seen or heard of again. Though Wayne's body has never been found, he is listed as missing in action, and presumed to be dead. Terrence Franklin, who is now recovering in a military hospital, says he owes his life to Wayne Downen."

"They gave Wayne a Silver Star," added Maggie. "Dad has it in his dresser drawer. Charlie, you don't think he's still alive, do you?"

Charlie hated to say "yes," but she hated the thought of Maggie returning to the bus stop even more.

"I think," replied Charlie, carefully, "that's it's not likely he survived the firefight."

"But," pointed out Maggie, "they never found his body."

Charlie shrugged. She didn't want to debate the subject. As long as Maggie wasn't going back to the bus stop, Charlie had resigned herself to let Maggie believe what she wanted to.

"'All things are possible to him that believeth,'" said Maggie, quoting a promise from the Bible. "Even though no one else believes in the things you wish for with all your might, as long as one person has faith, it's possible. It's kind of like the way it is with you," added Maggie, suddenly sounding mysterious.

"What do you mean?" asked Charlie, curiously. "What are you talking about?"

Shyly beaming like a child who knows a deep secret, Maggie leaned over and whispered something into Charlie's ear. The surprised look on Charlie's face made Maggie giggle with delight.

"How did you know?" asked Charlie, shocked at the perception of her friend.

"I may be slow," replied Maggie, "but I'm not blind!" Maggie batted her eyelashes, and in her best imitation of Charlie's voice, said, "Oh, Adam!"

"I don't sound like that!" Charlie laughed, swatting Maggie's arm in mock reproof. "You have to promise me you won't tell!" she said, trying unsuccessfully to be serious. Then both girls broke out into giggles and laughter until their sides hurt.

continued on next page...
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