Twelve Smooth Stones – Gabriel Bachman, high school sweetheart

Gabriel Bachman, two years Esther’s senior, is at the top of his class in every way: academics, athletics and heart.  Every girl longs to be HIS girl, but it is Esther who catches his eye.  I have to wonder if Queen Esther had any admirers among her people before she was taken by the King’s men.  Undoubtedly, it would have been possible. Like Esther’s family, the Bachman’s are wealthy and have business connections all across Europe and inAmerica.  Seeing the Nazi behemoth swallowing their people, Gabriel’s parents make arrangements for him to intern with an uncle inAmericawhile attending the university inNew York City.

“The summer passed slowly.  Gabriel had left in June.  Esther had managed to see him the day before he left; he had come to her house, and she was the one who answered the door.  Before he even spoke, her eyes threatened to tear.

“Esther,” he said, as he nervously placed his hands into his pockets.  Why does she have such an affect on me?  Clearing his throat, he continued.  “May I come in for a moment?”

“Why yes,” she answered, stepping back to allow him to enter the foyer.  She had never entertained male guests before, but knew enough to invite him into the parlor.  Her father and brothers were at work, and her mother had just stepped across the street to visit with a neighbor.  She had hoped, had even dreamed of a moment alone with Gabriel, and it seemed as though she would have her wish!  “Please, have a seat.  Would you like something cool to drink?”  Esther motioned to a chair, and graciously awaited his answer.  In a way, Gabriel amused her.  He had always seemed so sure of himself at school.  Perhaps it was the setting and the circumstances that made his hands shake and his brow glisten!  He seemed relieved to be able to focus on something as sure and solid as a chair!

“No, thank you,” he managed after clearing his throat. “I just wanted to stop by and … say good-bye,” he faltered to a stop.  His eyes mirrored his heavy heart, and she could not hold back the tears.  She tried to hide her face, but he was there, standing close to her, lifting her chin.  Her tears had the opposite effect on him than he would have thought: they broke his heart, but at the same time, they gave him strength.  How he desired to protect her!  Gently, he took her hands and pulled her close.  “There, there, Esther.  It won’t be forever.”

“But how do you know?” she sobbed, barely knowing that she was in his arms. She didn’t mean to be so forceful, but the strain of the past few weeks crumbled her resolve to be strong.  How badly she wanted to escape with him toAmerica.  She felt completely protected in his arms.

He held her close for a moment.  As much as he enjoyed her closeness, he didn’t want to cast a shadow upon their relationship before it even got established.  What would her father or mother think if they saw him holding their daughter?  He gently pushed her back to arm’s length, knowing the memory of that moment would strengthen him in the days to come.  “I don’t know, but even if it is – I will wait for you, Esther.”  His deep voice and penetrating eyes melted her heart.

“I will wait for you too, Gabriel, “she whispered.”

There was one more hug – gentle yet firm.  She felt him sweetly kiss her hair, and he was gone.  She caught just a glimpse of wetness on his cheek as he turned to leave.

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