End of Days: The Temptation of April, Part 1

(by uciboy2001@yahoo.com, 02 May 2004)


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END OF DAYS:  THE TEMPTATION OF APRIL
by UCIBOY

BEGIN PART I

April Choy had always known that she would suffer a bad fate in life.  Her
mother had reminded her of this ever since she was a little girl.  "You were
born in a bad month, but what could I do?  You were ready to come out?  You've
always been so impatient."  When her mother would say this in her old country
accent, April always got the impression that she was being blamed for being
born when she did; that it was her fault she came out at the end of April
rather than the beginning of May.

April never wanted to believe in her mother's astrology.  In fact, that was
why she decided to be baptized Christian in junior high school - as a way to
tell her mother that she rejected her old country ways.  And yet April's life
had not been easy.  She was an average student at best, and though she thought
herself an easy person to get along with, she actually had no friends her own
age.  She would lay awake at night wondering why this was the case, and came
to two conclusions.

First, she thought that her ethnicity was an obstacle to making friends.  Her
family, after all, was the only Chinese family in this small Ohio town outside
Columbus.  After her father died, leaving his wife and two kids to handle the
family restaurant on their own, times had been tough, but they eventually
managed to establish themselves in the community.  Still, it wasn't easy being
the only Asian in high school, and April felt some definite hostility from
some of her classmates.

But April knew that it wasn't just her ethnicity that might give her a
disadvantage in making friends.  After all, her sister Candy had plenty of
friends in junior high and was quite popular as a star gymnast for the school.
No - there was something else; something that April hated to think about but
couldn't ignore:  her physical appearance.

April would occasionally watch the Chinese channel that her mother received on
satellite, and though she couldn't understand the words they were saying, the
images that flashed before her on the screen were clearly registering in her
subconscious.  All the actresses were thin and beautiful and looked nothing
like April who had a bad case of acne, wore thick glasses, and was 40 pounds
overweight.  

Kids can be so cruel as they terrorize obese classmates; nor was there any
comfort to be found at home.  Her mother continuously pestered her about being
fat, and her younger sister - thin and beautiful as she was at 12 - called her
16 year old sister "fatso."  She tried diet after diet, but she simply
couldn't resist the temptation to eat all the things she shouldn't.  When
depression would follow from her lack of willpower, she'd eat even more.  It
was, in short, a vicious cycle - and April began to wonder whether her mother
had been right all along about her bad fate in life.

There was, however, one place where April was able to gain some comfort from
fellowship - and that was at the local Calvary church that she had joined in
junior high when she was "saved."  Her mother and sister thought she was crazy
to join an evangelical church; and even April wondered whether it was more the
companionship than the "word" that kept her going every Sunday.  Or maybe it
was just Father Ken - the cute, young priest who had convinced her to accept
Christ into her life.  Whatever the reasons, April liked going to church.

And so it was on this Easter Sunday morning that April sat in the pews of
Calvary church where she knew the parishioners all liked her, despite her
ethnicity and weight problem.  She particularly liked Annette Wilson who, like
April's mother, had to raise two daughters alone after a messy divorce.
Annette was the nicest, most loving Christian April had ever met - and so she
always tried to sit with her at church every Sunday.  

But it was Father Ken that she really looked forward to seeing.  April thought
his fire and brimstone sermons were a bit over-the-top, always speaking about
how the "end of days" were near.  Even though she didn't agree with all he had
to say, she loved the way he would build up his passion for the first 3/4 of
the sermon, and then smile for the latter part as he spoke of love and
forgiveness.  

When she listened to Father Ken, she wanted to be a good Christian, too.  Of
course, circumstances being what they were, she didn't have many opportunities
for sin.  Her mother was very strict, and April didn't exactly have any
male-callers that were asking to take her virginity away.  April often
wondered whether she would live the life of a spinster.  When April mentioned
this to Annette once, the 40 year old woman replied, "Don't give up hope, my
dear.  You're still so young.  One day you will grow up into a beautiful
swan."  Kind words such as these April would never hear from her own mother,
and she therefore always felt a closeness to Annette. 

Today as April sipped punch with Annette after the service in the church quad
outside, Father Ken came up as he made the rounds from group to group saying
hello.  April always felt a little nervous around this handsome man, but she
loved spending every moment she could with him.

"How are my favorite girls doing today?" Father Ken said as he gave Annette
and April a hug.

April stood there with a smile on her face as she watched the priest and
Annette converse for a few minutes.  He was so tall and muscular, and his
blonde hair and blue eyes were absolutely enchanting.  If there were ever a
calendar of priests, April thought that Father Ken would no doubt be on the
cover.  She loved the dimples that would form on his face every time he
smiled, and he had a hearty laugh that would put anyone at ease.

"How's school April?" Father Ken asked as the 16 year old stared dreamily at
him.

"It's okay," she replied.  She was too embarrassed to tell him about the "C"
average she always seemed to be getting on her work; or that the kids at
school mercilessly teased her for being fat.

But Father Ken knew April well enough to sense when things were bothering her.
"Listen April, I know that things are tough for teenagers these days.  It's
hard to make good friends with so much sin and iniquity around.  But remember
that God loves you, and you always have good friends here at church.
Moreover, it's Easter - a time of new beginnings.  Things will turn around for
you."

These warm words were precisely the kind of pick-me-up that April needed to
hear, and she couldn't resist giving Father Ken one more hug before he moved
onto the next group.

"He's right, you know," Annette said.  "Things will turn around for you."

"I hope so," April said with a smile.  

"Hey April," Annette's 12 year old daughter, Betty, cried out with a laugh,
"come here."

"What's up, squirt?"  April loved Betty like her own sister.  In fact, they
practically WERE sisters as they always played together after church.  

"There's Charlie," Betty whispered in April's ear.

"Oh, the guy you like, right?"

"Shhhhh, I don't want him to hear."

"Well how do you expect to be his girlfriend if he doesn't know you like him?
How about I go talk to him for you?"  

"No!" Betty replied in a panic.  "I'm not ready."

"You're never gonna be ready, Betty, so why not do it now?"

Somehow April's reasoning sounded entirely logical to this child,, and so the
young girl with blonde bangs walked nervously over to start up a conversation
with Charlie.

"Looks like the beginning of a beautiful relationship," Cindy, Annette's 15
year old daughter, said to April as she sipped on a cup of punch.  "Mom's
gettin' ready to leave.  You need a ride?"

"No, it's such a beautiful day," April said with more confidence now after
Father Ken's pep-talk.  "I'd rather walk."

--------------------------------

April didn't live more than two miles from the church, and she knew a little
exercise would do her good.  And the neighborhood she lived in, though old,
was quite beautiful with its tall trees and green lush yards.  There hadn't
been much development in the area, and so the homes were the two-story,
wood-frame type structures built on big lots in the early 1900s.

"Things are going to turn around," April told herself as she walked onto her
own street.  "I just know they will."

"Hey fat-ass!"

April froze.  She knew Victoria Robinson's voice all too well. 

Victoria and her two followers - Camy and Jill - did everything possible to
make April's life a living hell at school.  April never understood the reasons
why, especially since she and Victoria used to be friends in grade school.
But as soon as April's weight started to get out of control in junior high,
she became the target of Victoria's viciousness.

"What do you think you're doin' walking on my street?" Victoria asked
menacingly as she and her two henchmen walked up to April.

"This is my street too, Victoria!"

"Oh really?  Well I don't recall seeing any 'Welcome Fat-ass" signs in this
neighborhood.  And there certainly aren't any 'Welcome Chink' signs around
here either - so you must be on the wrong street."  The three girls surrounded
April and started to pound their fists into the palm of their hands.

"What do you say we teach this fat chink a lesson?" Victoria said to her two
goons.

April tried to run but the three girls tackled her and pushed her down on the
ground.

"Jesus, I thought we were having an earthquake when she fell down," Jill said
with a laugh.

April felt the tears swelling up in her eyes, but she refused to give these
girls the satisfaction of watching her cry.

"Oh, the fat baby is gonna cry," Camy said in a mocking tone. 

"Hey fat-ass, are you gonna cry now?" Victoria chimed in.  "Huh, you fat
chink?"

"HEY!" a voice said from behind the girls.

Victoria, Camy, and Jill all turned around to see a beautiful young Chinese
woman smoking a long 120 cigarette standing behind them.  She had short black
hair and was tall and thin, as thin as the Virginia Slim 120 she held between
her fingers.  "Leave the girl alone," the woman said with fire in her voice.

"Well," Victoria replied as she moved away from April and towards this mystery
woman, "I guess this whole neighborhood is being shot to hell with all the
chinks moving in here."

The feminine physique of this woman hid the strength that she possessed as she
grabbed Victoria by the neck and lifted her a foot off of the ground.  "The
politically correct term is Chinese American," she said calmly while the
teenager struggled to get herself free.  The woman brought her cigarette up to
her lips, took a deep puff, and exhaled a white cloud of smoke into Victoria's
face.  "Now I suggest that you leave now before this 'chink' kicks your ass,"
and the woman threw Victoria down on the ground.

Gasping for breath and tears forming in her eyes, Victoria crawled backwards
until Camy and Jill picked her up and the three ran down the street.  "This
isn't over, Fat-ass," Victoria yelled back.  "We'll see you at school
tomorrow."

"Are you okay?" the smoking woman asked as she offered April a hand to help
her up.

"Yeah, thanks for your help," April replied as she took the woman's hand and
stood up.  She was a bit in shock, however, from what she had witnessed.  She
didn't know where this woman came from, or that there were even any other
Chinese living in her neighborhood.  "Who are you?"

"I'm Jezzie.  I live right here," the woman said as she pointed to the house
in front of them.  

"This is right next door to me," April said in reply.  "I thought this house
was empty."

"I just moved in," Jezzie said with a smile.  "Come on in and let me get you
cleaned up."

"No," April said politely, "I really should get home."

"Oh, what a shame," Jezzie said with disappointment.  "I guess I'll have to
eat those baked goods alone then."

"Well," April said after reconsidering the offer, "I guess I could come in for
a few minutes."  April could never resist the temptation of free food.
Besides, she wanted to learn more about this Chinese woman who was now her new
neighbor.

END PART I


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