This is my latest novelette, now available to purchase online. Yet here is the beginning laid out for you to read and enjoy as a teaser. Be warned, there are some highly controversial concepts sneaking about these pages. If you do find offense attacking your preconceived ideas, I ask that you take a deep breath and apply as much mercy and grace as you need to accept this fanciful tale as a holder of Truths… no matter how fictional the story itself may seem to be.
I seek only to offer blessings and an expansion of curious wonder in revelation. Be you blessed,
Gregga J. Johnn
The Girl Who Walked With Death. (click title to order your copy today)
In a small apartment simply furnished to suit a single woman in her early 40s, Charissa bustled about her bedroom, putting on shoes and a sweater, gathering her things to leave, listening into her phone. She paused at her walk-in closet to glance up the small side wall. It was hand painted with a climbing rose bush and several names listed on height measurements at varying levels.
Lifting her fingers to her lips, she reached her hand up to touch one name that was quite taller than her own height. It was a rough scrawl of the name Ken. Then touching her hand to her heart, she smiled.
Exiting the bedroom and walking down the hallway, Charissa spoke into the phone,
“I’m almost ready.” She listened to the reply with a grin.
But a notification dinged her phone, so she interjected,
“I’ll be there in a jiffy, k? See you then.”
Hanging up the call, Charissa glanced at the notification. Seeing the name on the email, she stilled suddenly and dropped to sit on the floor. Clicking the screen, she opened the message and read one short paragraph.
Glancing up at Ken’s name on the wall, she sighed and whispered,
“I’ve not heard from you in months. And this is your only reply?”
Struggling internally, she purposed to speak,
“I will be glad for you and bless you as you go.”
A final resignation to the truth let go a justification,
“At least you told me.”
The winded woman moved to carry on exiting her home. She turned to glance into the room one last time, pausing to blink watery eyes. Then taking a deep breath, Charissa closed the door resolutely.
Some hours later, Charissa re-entered alone in the dark. She dumped her keys in a dish on the doorway table, hung her bag on a hook, and moved to collapse onto the couch. Opening her phone, she read the short message from Ken, again.
“I want to thank you for saving my soul. You recognized the evil that haunted me and ripped apart its hold on me. I will be forever indebted to you. I want to tell you that I met a woman whose soul is aligned and meshed with mine. Her name is Trish and I love her. I know that this is not what you were hoping to read, but I won’t lie to you or anyone else. Your touch heals the haunted and drives evil away. Thank you, Charissa.”
Charissa finally let the tears fall. Curling up under a comfy blanket, she closed her eyes and entered the private sanctuary of her mind palace.
On a grassy field by a lake, Charissa sat with Jesus.
He spoke first,
“How’re you doing?”
She shrugged and pouted with a flat tone,
“You already know that.”
“Yes, but I like it when you talk to me about it.”
The scorned woman pushed her positivity,
“I’m grateful to have been able to love him as I did. Thank you.”
“She will teach him how to love, now that he’s able to love, again. Thank you for helping me heal him in that.”
Acknowledging her gift, the lonely woman smiled,
“It’s always my pleasure to love others with you.”
“I need you to tell him something for me, though.” Jesus pressed.
“Yes?” she accepted.
“He’s not to waste time arguing with her.” The Redeemer continued prophesying, “He needs to do everything he can to love her and live well with her.”
Agreeing to reach out to Ken a final time, Charissa muttered,
“Ok.” then began weeping quietly.
Jesus pulled her closer to him to comfort her as a movement of Light swirled slowly around them, embracing both in a rainbow hug.
Then the Savior of the world whispered sadly,
“He doesn’t have long with her.”
“What?” Charissa was sharply attentive.
“He is only going to get five years with Trish.”
Unsure of what else to say to such doom, Charissa simply replied,
Back in her apartment, Charissa stretched on her couch, breathed deeply, and opened her teary eyes. She moved to her computer at a writing desk by a big window. She began to type. The wind wavered through trees outside and the night deepened with pock marking stars. At the end of her writing, Charissa read her message aloud,
“Thank you, dear sir, for telling me. I wish you all the very best in love. You deserve it. I bless you and may all grace go with you…. I want to respect your wishes, but I must be about my Elohim’s business. I have a word for you that burns deeply and strong:
“~ Love your lady with all that you are. Do not waste time on arguments of pride and selfishness. Bend to your task at hand: to love and protect, cherish and make every effort to serve her in the way that Christ serves the church. Be a servant king, sacrificing all your life for the advancement and beautifying of your lady love. FOR YOUR TIME WITH HER IS SHORT! DO NOT WASTE A MOMENT. Do not exhale a breath in selfish anger, nor resisting pride. Bend. Bend your stubborn heart to LOVE. For in doing so, you will receive much love; more than you can understand at this time.”
Breathing deeply with a final sigh, Charissa hit the send button and as the email disappeared she began to cry, again, wandering off to bed where her meditations took her to comfort.
There upon the Sanctuary island within her soul, Charissa sat in her grassy field by the lake, leaning against the chest of Jesus, his arms around her.
Trying to convince herself, Charissa acknowledged her own part in the breaking,
“He didn’t break my heart. I admit that. I broke it, myself. He never asked me to love him.”
Jesus assured her,
“No. I asked you to do that.”
The woman of love sighed,
“You ask that a lot.”
“All the time.” Jesus agreed.
“I’m not really sure I’m loving the exact, perfect way you want me to.”
Jesus graciously smirked,
Suddenly earnest, Charissa prayed,
“Thank you for your grace, covering over my… imperfections.”
“Always.” He responded with a snuggling squeeze.
“I hold no ill-will toward him. Strangely enough, I even hope the best for him. I genuinely hope he is happy.” Charissa thought aloud.
“That’s because you loved him truly.” Jesus agreed.
“But, it hurts so much.” Charissa faltered
“That’s because you loved him deeply.” Jesus swayed her in his arms gently.
Charissa let her heart cry in his embrace,
“I’m just so sad.”
Jesus paused a moment and kissed her head, brushing her hair with his hand. He whispered,
“You loved him purely.”
“Yet,” she was a little baffled in her sorrow, “he chose to love someone else, and not me.”
The Word of Life, Redeeming King Jesus, held her close and breathed with her through her sorrow. Then he spoke two words,
“I want to.” Charissa admitted her lack of ability to trust.
“Truly, trust me.” He pressed.
Charissa allowed her heart to express itself fully,
“But, I don’t understand. I really thought…. You had me love him. Why? If he was going to go away. I even asked for 50 more years to love him. I was sure you agreed to that.”
With a strange sadness, Jesus admitted,
“I don’t understand.” Charissa complained.
“I know.” Is all he said.
“But, I will trust you.” Charissa determined. “You’ve always made it better for me, when we go with your plan, instead of mine.”
The Lord of the Universe smiled,
“Thank you. I’ve got this, I promise.” He assured her.
Hugging her even closer, they watched the wind ripple over the water as that essence of rainbow Light flowed through the flowers around them.
Later in the week, Charissa danced with wild abandon at a rock concert, singing along with the music. A rough band played hard and the energy of the atmosphere was high. The concert was a benefit to raise money for a family of local military veterans.
From the stage, the lead singer called into his microphone,
“Thank you err’body! An’ have a good night!”
The music crescendo echoed, ending with great applause. Charissa then moved to the bar, pouring herself a drink from the free ice-water jug. The lead singer, Conrad, joined her with a big sweaty hug.
“Thanks for your email. I love hearing from you. It’s always just at the right time.”
“You’re welcome.” Charissa hugged her friend back, “How has your soul been since then?”
Conrad smiled and assured her,
“Better, when I know you’re sending peace our way.”
But, then he steered her to a slightly quieter corner, to ask,
“I was thinking you should really meet my mom. She’d love to talk to you about all that spiritual stuff.”
“I’d love that.” Charissa agreed.
Conrad then paused to broach a new topic,
“I was wondering… with all that stuff you hear… do you know… if you could tell me? Y’see, I was married a while ago and my wife got pregnant, but we lost the baby. It’s one of the reasons we ended up divorced. I’ve been torn up and only just starting to slowly enjoy life since then… I was wondering… Do you think you might know what sex the baby was?”
Charissa thought a moment, unsure,
“I don’t know, but I guess I could ask?”
“Would you?” he asked, hopefully.
Another fan interrupted them, and Conrad happily sighed their CD.
Then, turning back to Charissa, he gently urged,
“I would really appreciate it if you could?”
“I can always ask.” Charissa smiled.
Stepping away from the fans and walking outside, Charissa avoided the smokers with a saluting grin. Then, she sat on the curb quietly asking in her heart,
“I’ve never done this sort of thing before.”
Jesus sat next to her,
“You can always ask.” He winked.
“Will you tell me if Conrad had a baby son or a girl?” Charissa tested.
Jesus smiled and nodded his head in front of their vision. A glimpse into the heavenly realms opened up to reveal a small boy with sandy brown curls dashing about on toddly legs. He was playing with a soccer ball that seems too big for his little hands.
“Awww. He’s so sweet.” The woman cooed, “Does he have a name?”
“Not yet. You should ask Conrad to give his son a name.”
“Yay!” Charissa loved that idea.
She walked quickly back inside, making her way toward the band who were still signing CDs at the merch table. Hugging Conrad goodbye, she whispered in his ear,
“I have to head home now, but… I believe you have a son, and you as daddy, should give him a name.”
Conrad hugged her a little tighter,
“Thank you, so much.”
She giggled happily,
They parted in the crowd: Conrad with a curious and thoughtful smile, Charissa breathing deeply as she walked to her car.
The mystical woman drove out of the parking lot with her music playing the local Christian station. She turned a corner toward a set of lights when suddenly the Grim Reaper figure of Death appeared on the right sidewalk just before the green light. He swung his scythe straight at Charissa. Seeing him with her spirit eyes, she quickly slammed on the brakes in shock.
A large semi-trailer careened through its red light and barely missed hitting Charissa, but for her stopping in time. Death was suddenly blinded by a brilliant spot light shining from above, directly upon him. He cringed in the light, backing away, as if it hurt.
Charissa stared at Death, yet he was no longer able see her behind the brilliance. The woman turned left at the lights and drove away unseen.
Back at home, Charissa entered her living room quite shaken. She sat in her comfy chair and panted a little. Rainbow light began swirling around her, soothing her ragged breathing.
“Come Holy Spirit, bring your peace.” She prayed.
The Light embraced her.
Charissa breathed calmly in the peace before whispering to no one in particular,
“I do believe I was supposed to die tonight.”
Jesus spoke quietly by her side,
“You asked for 50 more years and we agreed to that. Your new life starts tonight.”
Charissa smiled in wonder,
“Everything feels brand new, like I have no idea what is supposed to happen next.” She explained for her own clarification, “I mean, you often give me a sense of where I’m supposed to follow you, but now, I see only an empty white room.”
In her mind, the divine couple sat in that blank white room.
Jesus nodded his confirmation,
Charissa whispered in a moment of awe and fear,
“It really was all supposed to end for me, tonight?”
Jesus extended his arm around her, encouraging,
“We had your place prepared and ready.”
“But now,” she breathed and stared at the whiteness around her, “it’s all brand new?”
“Mmmhmm,” the Divine Word of Elohim agreed.
“And, I can do anything I want from here?” Charissa asked hopefully.
Jesus guided her expectations,
“You know me well enough, now, to choose what you want. Your time with me has imprinted much of Our character on you. You can start to trust your choices as you walk in faith.”
Without hesitation Charissa expressed,
“I want to love You and all Your creation!” Then admitting her heart’s longing, she added, “I still want to love some-one. Honestly, now that I don’t have any one man to love, I confess, I feel a little lost without a specific prayer focus.”
“You have your friends.” Jesus pointed out.
“Yes, and I always cover them in prayer.” Charissa agreed, but then questioned the longing deep within, “But, I feel like I need a challenge to focus my effort on. Is that bad?”
Jesus laughed with adoration,
“I made you to love specifically. It’s what you are destined to always do.”
“But who?” the lover wondered.
“What about…” Her Redeemer paused.
“Yes?” Charissa was eager to hear.
“What about Trish?” Jesus dropped his bombshell.
“Trish?” Charissa thought about that a moment.
“Yeah.” He said, “I told you, she only has five more years to live. You could pray for her to live out her last days well.”
Charissa pushed the limits of her personal grace, seeking divine empowerment in that,
“If I got to love Ken, I would want to love him as long as possible. Can’t they get to love each other for longer than five years?”
Jesus stared at her in proud wonder, then asked,
“How long do you think they should get to love?”
The Holy rainbow Light then swirled before them and revealed a vision. Charissa saw a glimpse of Trish holding hands with Ken as they walked down a beach together. A Death reaper was following a few paces behind Trish, leaning toward her as if getting ready to touch her. Charissa’s heart seized in great concern.
Quickly she answered the Word of Life,
“Sixty years comes to mind first, but that would mean they’d both be over 100. They may not like that much. If it were me… I mean, I asked for 50 more year, so I’d have been 94 years before….”
A thought then occurred to the gracious woman,
“What if they get that 50 years?”
From the vision, Death then spoke,
“Are you giving her your 50 and taking her 5?”
The vision of Ken and Trish faded as Death stepped into the white room of Charissa’s mind and the whole place changed into a courtroom before the Judge of Eternal Creation.
Charissa suddenly realized the gravity of what she was asking.
In honesty, she confessed,
“I don’t want to die. I have far too much to do.”
Her Defense Attorney, Jesus, interrogated gently,
“Yes, we have big plans, don’t we?” Charissa momentarily forgot her recently overturned death sentence.
She thought of all her dreams,
But then she stopped and looked beyond her- Self, admitting,
“But, what if Trish has big plans, too.” She sighed, “What makes my plans more important than hers?”
Rocking back and forth in her defendant’s chair, she reconsidered,
“If I could love him.…” Looking at the Judge of Creation, then at Jesus her Mediator and Word of Life, she asked tentatively,
“They’d get the 50 years together, if I take the 5 years?”
Jesus nodded and clarified the case,
“That is the contract Death is proposing. You get to choose.”
Charissa held to some disappointment,
“Five years isn’t very long.”
Jesus then whispered in her ear,
“I changed the world, and the way Death operates, in only three years.”
With this new perspective, Charissa whispered a revelation back to him,
“Filtering yourself through my broken humanity, you could still get a lot done in five years, couldn’t you?”
Jesus nodded in their conferring,
“If you’re fully surrendered, there’s no limit to what we can do, together.”
Charissa raised her voice to speak to the whole court as she continued to pursue the higher understanding that formed in her mind,
“And Death is simply the completion and ending of things, right? Essentially, Death could help me complete and finish everything I need to get done in that time.”
Jesus smiled his “atta-girl” grin,
“All things are possible.”
With declaration, Charissa determined,
“Then, yes. I agree.”
A flash of light cracked in the room as the Judge of Creation banged a gavel. A contract agreement appeared in the center of the room rolled as a scroll.
The Defense Attorney and Redeemer King – Word of Life stood to take up the scroll. He handed it to Charissa, decreeing,
“This is yours, now.”
A sudden rush of adrenaline filled the woman as she took up her destiny and smiled,
“Ok. I’m kinda excited: to live like I was dying.”
Death retorted dryly,
“Like nothing. You are dying, or you will be soon.” He grinned at her with sarcastic hunger.
Charissa blinked, suddenly in her living room chair, again. Death stood across the room from her.
“So, we’re in this together now, huh?”
Death considered her,
“I’ve never seen anyone accept their sentence as freely as you just did.”
Charissa shrugged dismissively,
“I’ve been practicing being a channel of love. It’s habit now.”
“Your love is terrifying.” Death confessed his own fear.
“It’s not my love,” Charissa redirected him to the eternal Love of Creator.
Death suddenly crumbled and knelt before her.
“I need that love.” He bowed his head in prayer, “Please, forgive me and let me know this love, again.”
A sudden burst of light transformed Death from a grim reaper figure into a dazzling white Angel of Completion.
The restored Messenger of the Light cried out with joyful tears,
“Redeemed! I’ve been redeemed!” And he disappeared in another flash of light.
Charissa stood alone in her darkened room blinking skeptically,
“That seemed too easy.”
There was another crack and a second Grim Reaper appeared in the room.
Charissa stared confused,
“What happened, didn’t you just Angel out of here?”
“My predecessor is gone.” The second Death retorted. “I have to fill his office, now.”
“Death is an office?” Charissa pressed this revelation.
“What did you think it was?” the Reaper snarked at her.
“A being.” She responded honestly.
“At the rate humans die, you really thought there was only one Grim Reaper?”
“Well, I guess I never really thought one way or the other.” Charissa accepted, “Huh.”
Death changed the subject,
“I need to change, though. I don’t like this uniform. I’m more of a plain-clothes guy.”
“Ok.” Charissa said for a lack of any other answer.
Death spun around and changed appearance. When he turned back toward her, he was wearing the face of a well-known celebrity: Bradley Charming.
“Bradley Charming? Why do you look like Bradley Charming?”
The Bradley Charming Death answered with great charm,
“I wanted to look more appealing for you. If we have to spend the next five years together, it might as well be pleasant for you…” he winked, “…while I’m killing you.”
Charissa teased back,
“If you wanted to appeal to me, why not Reeve Wick, or even better… Nikola Rocketman?
The Bradley Death disagreed,
“Oh, Wick is too dark. I want a lighter look. And, Rocketman… I don’t do Martians. Besides, I like Bradley’s smile.” He flashed a brilliant Bradley Charming smile.
Charissa chuckled mildly confused by her genuine appreciation,
“I am ok with that.”
Bradley Death channeled a millennial attitude,
With nothing further to add, Charissa said,
“I’m to bed then.” And she walked to her bedroom with Death following her.
Bradley Death asked sultrily,
“You want company?”
Charissa’s eyebrows shot up over even wider eyes,
“Ah. That’s just too weird, for even me.”
So, Death sat on the floor leaning against the bedside table.
“OK then.” He said. “Sleep tight.”
Death touched her arm affectionately and Charissa felt a twinge in her belly. She absentmindedly rubbed her tummy then rolled over to sleep.
**AVAILABLE ONLINE NOW** The rest of the story filled with even more wonder and questioning is available in short booklet form. So you can buy the book and read the second half of this revolutionary tale. Do buy the book and as many others of mine as you find interest. Check them out on my website Gregga J. Johnn & Story-in-the-Wings, or use your Google-fu to find me. I’m about.
PICTURE CREDIT: GJJ- Taken at an official Gregga J. Johnn Halloween event, “Usher’s Scary” at Usher’s Ferry Historic Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Thanks to Chris Wenger for use of the sword.
Peace, Joy, and LOVE be with you. -GJJ