From the Yorktown Crier – Poquoson Post ( Aug 16-22, 2012 issue):
Who Burnt the Popcorn?
Number 2: “To Everything There Is a Season”
In an office break room somewhere on Route 17. Or, is it Wythe Creek Road?
“Who burnt the popcorn?” asked Mary, the office manager.
“I did,” said Gabriel. She hurried to fix the mess. “I set the time like you said.”
“No. I said the setting was wrong. So was your time,” said Mary.
“Sorry,” said Gabriel.
“Who eats popcorn in this heat anyway?” asked Mary. She opened the refrigerator.
“You know what we call this heat?” asked Tom. He bathed his fries in more ketchup.
We?” asked Mary.
“Virginians. Locals. Tidewater folks. We call this Summer,” Tom chuckled at his own words. “Summer.”
Mary raised her eyebrows looking for the punchline.
“Tom, tell us again what it was like before air conditioning,” smiled Gabriel.
“And before cars. And electricity,” Phil slurped his huge drink.
“And before the invention of the wheel?” Mary joined in.
“It was hot. Right hot. It’s supposed to be hot,” Tom warmed to the opportunity to perform. “Blazing hades hot. Hot enough to keep Yankees living up North, hot.”
“It’s too hot,” said Mary.
“Maybe for back in Pittsburgh. But not for Bull Island. Or Tabb. Or Seaford. Or Lackey, hot. For every season there is a reason,” said Tom.
“Really? Do you think there is a reason for everything?” asked Gabriel.
“Yup,” said Tom.
“A reason for war? For cancer? Car accidents?” asked Phil. He leaned forward in his seat like he was leaning into a pitch.
“Uh huh. Yes,” said Tom.
“For being on time with the monthly reports,” asked Mary.
“Yes, ma’am. Even terrible things like Alzheimer’s,” Tom nodded. He knew Mary’s father was fading fast with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Reasons don’t make things right,” said Mary. Her eyes carried her pain.
“No, but all things work to good for those who believe in Jesus,” said Tom.
“What if you don’t believe in Jesus?” asked Phil.
“There’s a time for every purpose under Heaven. A time for war and peace. Time for birth and death. Time to kill and time to heal,” said Tom.
“That’s a rock song,” said Mary.
“My Mother played it all the time. It’s from the 60s. By the Byrds,” said Phil.
“I’ve heard my Grandmother Nana and my Mama say that,” said Gabriel.
“Everything has a purpose? For everyone?” Mary was ready to go back to her office.
“Yeah. Here’s what I know. Terrible, awful things happen in life. The worst thing ever is bearable if you’re a Christian. The hard times are better. The good times are great. The great times are awesome and last and last,” said Tom.
“You really believe that?” asked Mary.
Phil looked at Tom intently. Gabriel smiled a bit.
“I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it,” said Tom. He picked up his lunch trash to go. “It’s in the Bible.”
By Silence Dogood Nelson