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To Believe or To Not Believe
Hebron, Indiana, 1979. A farming town that contained the home of one Julianne Cobbler, who had just finished her freshman year of high school at Hebron High School. While she was excited for the summer to start, she knew that that was when the hard work would begin. During the summer was when all of her siblings were home and when her dad put them to work on the farm. She was sure that this summer would be just like all the others, boring and uneventful.
The Sylvester’s had just moved from New York to Indiana, and had moved into their new house by the 1st of July. A couple days after moving in, Lane Sylvester headed to the market with her daughter Olive to pick up a few groceries. The roads towards the outside of town weren’t paved and though Lane had had the same Jeep for 8 years, it didn’t survive the pothole in the road. Lane was concerned that since she had just moved and didn’t know anybody nearby, they would have to walk back to call a car service. She grabbed Olive’s hand and began walking back to the house.
“Hey!,” the sound of an old car grinding to halt alerted Lane. She turned as dust flew at her face from the car and quickly wiped her eyes and squinted so she could see who had approached. She placed Olive behind her protectively.
“Hey, pardon me if I’m mistaken, but didn’t you just move into that house on Peach Street?,” the voice asked.
“Yes my family and I just moved from New York. I’m sorry, I don’t recognize you, have we met before?,” Lane asked of the middle-aged woman standing in front of her.
“Oh, well I live across from you actually. Seems like you’ve been having some car troubles, you and your daughter need a lift?”.
Lane hesitated. While she did need help she didn’t know if she should trust this stranger. Even though they were supposedly neighbors, Lane knew nothing about her.
“Sure, thank you so much.”
As Lane and Olive climbed into the woman’s truck, she noticed that there was another girl in the backseat. She looked about Olive’s age, but instead of greeting each other, they timidly sat on opposite sides of the back seat. The woman revved the engine, and then they started to head home. Sometime along the way, Lane and the woman, who’s name was Barbara she found, started chatting to pass time. The girls in the back also got to talking and started giggling about different stories being told.
When they arrived at their houses, Lane and Olive got out and thanked Barbara for the ride. Lane and Olive went inside happy that they had made their first friends in their new neighborhood. And while the move had been tough on both of them after being separated from their friends, they started thinking that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad to live in Hebron, Indiana.
Julianne Cobbler lived on 6 Peach Street in a quaint little brick house with stables outside. The day after encountering her new neighbors, she decided that she wanted to see Olive again. She had had fun with her in the car and since her other friends lived farther away, Olive was the best option. Julianne called to her parents, saying she was going to see Olive, and walked over to Olive’s house. Her house was very similar to Julianne’s, just a slightly paler red and a bit smaller. Lane Sylvester opened the door to her, and invited her in.
“Olive’s upstairs in her room, third door on the left.”
“Alright, and if Olive wants to, do you think she could come over to dinner tonight?”, Julianne asked.
“Why sure, I’m sure Olive would love that!”, Lane replied.
Julianne mounted the steps two at a time, excited to see her new friend again. She pitched her idea to Olive about dinner and she agreed that that seemed fun. The girls ran down the stairs, quickly saying goodbye to Olive’s parents, and headed up the steps leading to Julianne’s house.
“Mom, I invited Olive over for dinner, hope that’s alright,” Julianne explained.
“Of course that’s ok! Dinner will be ready in 5 minutes so you girls just wash your hands and once you’re back it’ll be on the table”.
The girls did as they were told, and just as Barbara said, dinner was on the table by the time they were back. It all looked delicious to Olive, as her mom wasn’t much of a cook and usually ended up burning most things. As they all sat down at the table, Olive was introduced to Julianne’s brothers Michael, Peter, and Tony, and her dad John. Olive immediately picked up her fork, ready to dig in, but she hadn’t even had a couple bites of mashed potatoes before she realized it was all silent.
She looked up slowly, oblivious to what she had done wrong. The whole Cobbler family was looking at her in shock. Barbara cleared her throat amidst the awkwardness and gently asked,
“Erm, honey, aren’t you forgetting something? Wouldn’t you like to say grace first?”. Olive had never said grace before. Olive hadn’t even been in a church before. She explained to Barbara that her family wasn’t religious, but of course she could wait while everyone else did. Barbara and John were appalled. They couldn’t believe how different and rude Olive was all of a sudden. Both excused themselves from the table to see what they should do, but everyone could hear them arguing as if they had never left the room.
“Maybe I should go.” Olive said, while slowly rising from the table. Julianne tried to stop her and convince her that it was ok, but Olive just felt out of place and decided it was best to leave.
Later that night, John and Barbara gently told Julianne that she was not allowed to see Olive again. They explained that they didn’t want her family’s beliefs (or lack thereof), affect her and change her into a bad person. Julianne was distraught, torn between obeying her parents and her good friend. She went to sleep that night debating what she should do.
Olive woke up the night after saddened at the loss of her friend. She didn’t understand how Barbara and John could react that way to her not being religious. Sullenly, she got out of bed and prepared breakfast when all of a sudden, the doorbell rang. On her doorstep was Julianne, a crying mess. She apologized for the way her parents acted towards Olive and said that they shouldn’t have judged her because she was different from them. When Julianne had told her parents that she was going to continue being friends with Olive, they yelled at her, saying that she was betraying God by being in cahoots with an atheist. So she had ran here, to Olive’s house. After calming Julianne down, Olive thanked her for standing up for her.
“I know it must’ve been hard for you to leave and I’m so sorry I caused this.”
“No, it’s not your fault. I just can’t believe that my parents could be so closed-minded and unaccepting of you. One moment they loved you, then as soon as they realize you don’t believe in the same god, they suddenly hate you. It’s not fair.”
Julianne, with no one else not directly involved in the issue, called her grandmother for advice. “Grandma, I need your help. I ran to my friends house because Mom and Dad were judging her because of her religion. I love them, but I don’t agree with them. What do I do?”
“Sweetheart, your mother especially can be very… protective over her beliefs. When Barbara commits to something, she sticks with it, sometimes in a way that is extreme. I believe that is what is happening now. She thinks that she has to protect you from this outsider that she barely knows. Give her time, and don’t hold this against her too much. Just make sure you stick to your beliefs, you don’t have to believe everything your mother does.”
“Ok Grandma, thank you. I love you.”
“I love you too sweetie. Now go fix this with your mother.”
Julianne did as her grandmother told her to, and left Olive’s house to head up the cobblestone driveway. Before she could even knock on the door, her mother swept her into her arms. The pair exchanged apologies and Barbara promised to try to accept Olive.
Olive and Julianne remained friends over the summer, and walked into Hebron High together better than ever on the first day of schools, with plans to go to Juliane’s house afterwards.