Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Bye, Forrest!” Arielle and Cade called to their friend as he left to continue his journey. Now that he could stand on his feet without help and his stitches were out, Forrest decided to take his leave. He’d informed―with the help of Cade, of course―his family about what had happened, and that as soon as he could, he would be returning. Finally, the day had arrived.
Even though she tried to hide it, Cade could tell Arielle was relieved Detective Billingham was leaving. She had done a good job of taking care of the man and being hospitable, but after him staying there for over a week, all three were stretched a little thin. Forrest was ready to see his dying mother, and get back to civilization, as he called it. Arielle was tired of tending to the complaintive man, and Cade was done trying to find a newspaper for him. Goodness, was he choosy or what?
Arielle released a sigh, opening the door of the house, turning to face him. “I don’t wanna be rude, but...”
“You’re glad he’s gone?” Cade interrupted. He leaned against the door, giving her a small smile.
She nodded before walking into the cabin. “Exactly. It wasn’t that obvious, was it?”
Cade followed her in the house, closing the door behind them. “Somewhat. Forrest probably couldn’t tell, though. He was too busy asking for a newspaper and pipe.”
“I know,” Arielle said as she picked up an apple that sat in a basket on the counter and bit into it. “Who woulda thought someone could be so...so...whiny and picky,” she stated with a full mouth and a roll of her eyes.
“Yep.” Cade sat at the table, grabbed an apple and started eating as well as. He took his Bible that laid in front of him and flipped to where he’d left off last.
Arielle slid in the chair beside him. “Can I read this time?”
“Sure.” Cade handed her the book.
She set it out in front of her and began reading. “’I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold on me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.’” Arielle continued to read from the Psalms until a knock at the door startled her reading.
Cade jumped up from his chair. “I’ll get it,” he told Arielle as he walked towards the door. “Surely Forrest isn’t back so soon,” Cade mumbled under his breath as he opened the door, revealing a tall man with icy blue eyes, graying brown hair, broad shoulders, and a short brown beard. The man’s skin was pale and he looked quite sick. He gave Cade a weak smile.
“Guten tag,” he said.
Arielle stood shocked. The tall, sickly old man in front of her was none other than... Opa.
“Meine sonnenschein!” Opa said as he started towards her. He wrapped his arms around her in an embrace and began weeping. Here stood her grandfather, the man whom she hadn’t seen in thirteen years, Vater’s father, Arielle’s only family left on earth.
Arielle released a sob as she hugged her beloved Opa back. “Oh, Opa.” Opa had come for her, his sunshine. She didn’t know how, but for that she was grateful.
Opa pulled away, and seemed to drink her in. He smiled and his eyes reflected his joy. “Arielle,” he said, his distinctive German accent making the Hebrew name sound strange, “How I’ve missed you!”
“Opa, you look sick. Come sit,” Arielle told him in his native language as she led him into the dining room and sat him in a chair. Only then did she realize Cade stood in the entryway, confusion on his face. Arielle walked towards him and brought him over to her grandfather. “Cade, this is my grandfather, my opa.” She waved her hand at Opa, who smiled at Cade. “Opa, das ist meine freund, Cade."
“Cade,” Opa repeated the name. “My granddaughter’s friend?” he asked in surprisingly good English. “You’ve done her good?”
Cade seemed amazed at his clear speech. “Yes, sir. I have taken good care of Arielle, but she might say otherwise.”
Opa nodded his head. “Arielle, has Herr Cade been good to you?” He looked to her, lifting a bushy eyebrow, though his eyes glistened and his lips tugged upward.
Arielle smiled. “Yes, Cade has been a good friend. He is the man who takes care of the tower by the shore. Don’t worry, he is honorable and hasn’t done a single bad deed, except throwing dirt at me” Arielle winked at Cade just as Blessing ran into the room, barking and wagging her tail.
Opa bent down to pet the dog, who gave a satisfied whimper. “Your dog?” he asked Arielle, though his gaze never left the dog.
“Yes.” Arielle crouched down on her knees and rubbed Blessing behind the ears. “This is Blessing. Vater and Mother gave her to me for my thirteenth birthday.”
Opa nodded, and Arielle could tell he was saddened by the thought of his son’s death. But behind that hurt was a glimmer of hope. “I didn’t see him for years, but my love for your vater was strong, and I miss him and your mutter deeply,” he said.
Arielle sniffed, scolding those tears for brimming on the edge of her lashes. “I miss them too, Opa. But I’m glad you are here. How did you find me?” She sat down in a chair beside her grandfather, eager to hear of whatever journey he’d gone through to find her. Which made her both happy and bewildered. No one knew that she was still alive. Or at least no one was supposed to.
“Ah, that is a long story, but I’ll try to summarize it. I had my resources ask around, search, and eventually they came upon you here. After the fire, you must have came here, and that is most logical. As soon as I heard you were here, I hopped on a boat, and sailed until I arrived here a few days ago. I am glad to finally see you, Sunshine.”
Cade gave her a half grin from where he stood leaning against the door-frame. “So, Sunshine, you never told me you had a nickname,” he teased.
“That would be because it is reserved for Opa’s use only. And last time I checked. you aren’t my grandfather, now were you?” Arielle played.
With a sigh, he replied, “Well, I suppose I’m not. But I am your best friend. So that counts for something, right?” He cocked his head, a sly expression forming on his face.
She rolled her eyes, expelling a breath. “Who ever told you that you are my best friend, hmm?” With that, she lifted a brow, countering his insinuation. Though she couldn’t deny it. He was―with the exception of Blessing―her best friend. And the only human one, at that.
He shrugged in return, pushing away from the door post and walking toward her. “I suppose I just assumed so. But if you say otherwise...” He let the sentence trail off, sitting in the chair beside her.
Arielle set the three plates of fish down at the table where Cade and Opa sat.
Opa’s arrival still surprised Arielle. It was so hard to believe her grandfather was here, sitting at her table, talking with her best friend. It was like she had a piece of her vater with her, and that felt good.
Arielle released a sigh of pleasure as she sat in between Cade and Opa.
“Let us all bow our heads and close our eyes,” Opa said, starting to pray. “Heavenly Father, thank you for this magnificent day, this appetizing fare, and for safely bringing me to Arielle. Bless her and her friend Cade. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
“Amen,” Arielle and Cade echoed in unison before digging in to the meal.
She watched as Opa’s gaze scanned the walls and the paintings that hung on them. He pointed to a picture of flaming blazes that surrounded a house. “Did you paint that, Sunshine?” he asked. The painting was one she created a couple years ago on the fifth anniversary of the fire. Sometimes, she wondered why she had painted it to begin with. Every little thing only served to prick her heart.
“Yes. It’s my house the day of the fire,” she answered, her voice no more than a whisper.
“It’s beautiful, Arielle,” Opa commented sorrowfully, yet his gaze never left the painting nor did his voice falter.
“If you think that’s pretty, you should’ve seen it when she painted me. Now, that was beautiful,” Cade teased, lightening the suddenly gloomy mood.
Arielle giggled. “Yes, you were quite good-looking with blue and pink on your face. I’m really glad you finally decided to agree with me,” she played.
“Well, you didn’t look so bad yourself. Paint really becomes you, Sunshine.”
Arielle playfully nudged Cade in the shoulder. “I told you not to call me that.”
Cade nudged her back. “If I can’t call you Sunshine, then you can’t call me Cadey.” He smiled.
Arielle made a show of pondering that for a moment. “Fine, Cadey. You may call me Sunshine, but only once a day, so choose the moment wisely,” she remarked as she punctuated the statement by jabbing her fork in the air, then shoved a bite of food in her mouth.
Opa cleared his throat beside Arielle. “I, um, I have something extremely important to discuss with you,” he told her, then quickly added, “But it can wait until you finish eating.”
Arielle was worried. What does he need to discuss? she thought.
She finished her food, then picked up her, Opa, and Cade’s plates and carried them to the kitchen. She ducked the plates into a basin of warm, soapy water, grabbed a washcloth, and started scrubbing it clean.
Cade walked up behind her as she dried the dishes. “Here, I’ll finish this; you go talk with Peter,’ he said, taking the towel and dish from her hands. He pushed her towards the doorway.
Arielle walked back into the dining room and sat down beside Opa. His face portrayed the seriousness of the issue. “What is the matter, Opa?” She gulped, unsure if she was prepared for his news. Would it be bad, or will she by glad she was hearing this?
“I did’.t come here just because I wanted to see you. I needed to see you, don’t get that wrong, but there is a reason of more importance, Sunshine,” he said.
Oh no. What is wrong with Opa, Lord?