by s. nicole böcek
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2017 and 1382
For light to shine, you’ve got to turn it on in spite of the darkness.
Amber watches as her friend taps away at her phone.
“You’re always on your phone,” Amber comments.
“You’re always on my nerves,” Lacey retorts.
Amber chuckles and grabs Lacey’s phone.
Amber’s eyes narrow. “This is what you get when you ignore me.”
Lacey grabs her phone back and looks down at the screen. Amber feels pressure on her shoulders. Tell her. Invite her to church or something. Tell her, the words echo in her head. Ignoring her conscience, Amber stays silent. She waits for a few more seconds and then stands up.
“Gotta go, Lace,” she says.
Lacey nods. “Okay, see you.”
Amber walks home and twists her watch around, putting in the date 1382.
The world swirls around in blue and green light, then it goes dark.
Amber opens her eyes to find herself in a town. It’s dark and bats are flying around. There are footsteps.
Amber ducks into the porch of an empty looking house and presses against the wall, watching as a crowd of people with torches pass by. “We’ve got to find him!” one angry man growls.
She is about to come out of the shadows but she hears something upstairs.
It sounds like scrawling noises. Amber opens a door next to her and sneaks up the rickety wooden staircase. She sees a man sitting at a desk. Books surround him. Amber takes another step forward but the step is squeaky and the man turns around, catching sight of Amber.
He leaps up, surprised.
“What! Where’d you come from?”
The man looks down at Amber with a frown.
“Who are you?”
Amber is about to faint. She turns to run back down the steps.
“Wait. Are you okay?” he asks, pouring a cup of water for her.
“Uh…yeah, I’m okay,” Amber nods, going up the last step and taking the water he offers.
“What are you doing here?” the man frowns. “Are you one of them?”
“I—uh—I…” Amber trails off, swallowing.
“It was those bats, right?” he sighs, “they always scare people.”
Amber pulls her sweater over her watch. “What are you writing?” Amber asks, changing the topic.
The man sits back down at his desk and gazes at his books and papers, a hint of pride in his eyes. “I am translating the Holy Scriptures into English.”
Amber nearly squeals but she holds her breath and calms herself down. She looks down at the papers. “Isn’t that dangerous?” she asks, “Like, illegal?” She strains her brain to remember the man’s name. Who translated the Bible into English in 1382?
He stares at her. “Will you turn me in? I thought you were them.”
Amber shakes her head. “Me? No way!”
The man smiles. “What is your name, child?”
“And I’m John Wycliffe.”
“Wycliffe? Why you’re famous!”
He stares down at the papers again. “Infamous, more like. To answer your question. Yes, it is dangerous. Very dangerous and illegal. But it will be worth it.”
“What do you mean, worth it?” Amber tilts her head.
Wycliffe clears his throat and points down to the book. “Christ and His Apostles taught the people in the language best known to them. It is certain that the truth of the Christian faith becomes more evident the more faith itself is known. Therefore, the doctrine should not only be in Latin but in the vulgar tongue.”
“I just find it hard to think that you are willing to do something dangerous. Do you mean the police will arrest you?”
“More like the Inquisition. They don’t like people reading the Bible themselves. But I firmly believe, as the faith of the church is contained in the Scriptures, the more these are known in a true sense the better. The laity ought to understand the faith, and as doctrines of our faith are in the Scriptures, believers should have the Scriptures in a language which they fully understand.”
Amber blinks and then nods in slow realization. “I read my Bible everyday, actually. My father reads it to us.”
“You already have a Bible?” At his surprised look, she starts to backpedal. The Bible’s not in English yet, stupid! You’re messing with history.
“I mean. The stories. Yes. The stories. He tells us stories from the Bible. About Abraham and David and Jesus. Things like that.”
He chews on his lip, but his face is still twisted in confusion.
“You speak as if my dream has come real. I wish this exact thing—fathers freely reading the Bible to their children. Your father is blessed to have access to Scripture. People should tell the stories to their friends. Not just the stories. The gospel. Do you know the gospel?”
“Well sure! In Christ alone we can be reconciled to God. By his righteousness, not our own deeds.”
“Exactly. You are a strange child.”
A noise outside draws Wycliffe’s attention. He pulls his papers into a stack and collects his writing utensils.
“Come what may, Amber, you should not hesitate to spread this gospel to those who understand you. So many people are lost in superstition and fear.”
Wycliffe’s gaze pierces into Amber. “Why do you cringe when I say this? Do not hesitate or run from giving the Truth to anyone close to you, Amber. Do not be ashamed.”
Amber stares at him and then nods in agreement.
I have to tell Lacey. I can’t run from this. I don’t want her to face God’s wrath alone because of my hesitation.
“How do I do that?” Amber asks after a minute’s pause. “I want to tell my friend, Lacey. But I don’t know what to say to her that won’t sound weird.”
“Show her your father’s Bible. Obtain a reliable text, help her understand the logic of Scripture, compare the parts of Scripture with one another, maintain an attitude of humble seeking, and receive the instruction of the Spirit,” Wycliffe instructs.
Some loud footsteps trample on the stairs. In a swift move, Wycliffe slides his books and papers into a basket, opens a secret door in the wall, and steps into it. He holds his finger to his mouth and closes the door softly.
Amber turns around to face the men throwing open the door.
“Where is he?” they demand, grabbing Amber by the neck of her shirt.
“Who? What? I don’t understand.” She squirms out of their grasp and runs out the door.
“Catch her! She knows where Wycliffe went!” they shout.
She darts outside and, just in time, the world spins around her.
The English town disappears and she’s back home.
Amber feels even more burdened than before. First, Calvin, now Wycliffe. Look what they risk for the faith to not die out. You can’t be ashamed of this, Amber! Just tell Lacey! Just tell her!
Amber sits on her bed and groans, wiping her face with her hands. A whole life depended on her. Two whole lives.
Somehow Zeff is connected with Amber. Maybe she really names her son Zeff. Amber opens the closet and takes the coat out. He still hasn’t come. If Zeff is her son from the future, his life is tied to hers. Maybe that is what he meant!
Amber, in anger, opens the window. “Hey, I got your coat!” she shouts into the dark, night air. No one except a wandering policeman hears her.
“That’s not my coat,” he says.
Amber blushes. “Oh. Sorry.”
She closes her window and puts the coat back into her closet. Why me? Why me? Why didn’t Zeff choose someone else? Ugh!
So many people are lost in superstition and fear. Wycliffe’s words come back to her. Lacey is lost. In the dark.
Amber sits back on her bed and cries.
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