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Short Story- An Enigma by Jonell Kirby Cash

Short Story- An Enigma by Jonell Kirby Cash

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Published by: stumbleupon on Aug 22, 2012
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An EnigmaBy Jonell Kirby CashReady to begin her morning run and checking her watch Deidra allows exactly nineminutes to reach her classroom on the third floor of the physics building. As she races across thecampus her strides are long and graceful and she moved with an easy rhythm until, seeingsomething in her path, Deidra breaks her stride and loses her balance momentarily. With no
minutes to spare, Deidra doesn’t stop to see what had caught her attention. She rushes on to her 
Theory of Chaos class, the course
her boyfriend, who’s a senior, told her separates the physicsstudents from the wannabes. She’s determined to prove to Tennyson that engineering is not a
male only major.But Deidra can listens only half-way in class; she revisits her run and keeps wondering
why she didn’t stop and see what it was that lay in her path. “What a bummer,” she thinks
--andas soon as class ends Deidra rushes back, praying the item is still there. With relief, she picks it
up and sees it’s a very small book, about four inch
es by four inches and maybe a half inch thick.The miniature book is old and worn. Opening the book to the fly page, Deidra is touched by themessage written long ago:
Son, May God comfort and protect you in battle. Love, Mama
” 
 
This book’s seen lots of wear, obviously not always kept clean, but it’s been handled with
great care, Deidra observes and she concludes that a young soldier loved this book 
 — 
and back home a mother prayed for her son and was afraid for him. And for awhile Deidra thought aboutanother soldier, her father
 —who never came home and she was sad because she’d never known
her dad. He had died in Vietnam.She looks at the book she
’s holding
and imagines
the reason she couldn’t forget seeing
the book and having to go back and get it was somehow tied to losing her father before she knewwhat a father was. I must find the soldier who lost this book, she vows. With that thought a newhope crept in, maybe this soldier was in
Nam and knew my dad.Tennyson was waiting for Deidra at their lunch break. Breathlessly, Deidra tells
Tennyson about the New Testament she found on her run. His response, “What do you want for lunch?”
 
“Huh,” she replies, annoyed and distracted.“Lunch, babe, Lunch!”“Tea and a BLT—I guess.”
 
”What’s going on with you, Dee?”
 
“Look, I have something to do. Eat without me. I’ll see you tonight!” she says as she
grabs up her books, pecks Tennyson on the forehead and rushes from the room.
 
2
“Damn, Women. You can’t expect an engineering maj
or to be maternal. My parents are
going to go ballistic when they meet Dee!”
 Deidra is already searching Lost & Found listings on the college internet system by thetime Tennyson has finished his lunch.Nothing about anyone losing anything on State U campus, she concludes. Deidra begins
to weave a story of the owner of the New Testament. “It has to be a WWII soldier because of the
age of the book and th
e mother’s message
that sound
so fortyish!” she says aloud as she holds
the book to her nose and inhales the musty aroma.
Deidra glances through the local paper’s Lost & Found. Nothing there! However, a storycatches her attention. “Local veterans scheduled to speak at Veterans’ Day celebration.” Deidracan’t move on
--maybe the secret of the young soldier is revealed in this article, she reasons while
fearing otherwise. She read the article carefully and one name stood out, “WW11 Master Sgt.Orvis Megs, an engineer who fought in Germany with the Third Infantry, will speak at 1p.m.”
 Could this be the man who lost the New Testament? He must be about 75 years old (
a Bible his mother sent him; probably sixty something years ago
)…an engineer (
could that be thereason the book was near the physics building?
)…a religious mother (
mothers, believers or not,turn to religion with son in war 
) …Orvis Megs (
a name associated with State U 
). Knowing
she’s spurred on by her fantasy, Deidra tries to contain her emotions but finally admits she can
neither sleep nor study until she finds Orvis Megs.Searching the microfiche records at the library Deidra turns up the name Orvis Z. Megs,PhD, a physics professor at Carnegie Mellon in the early fifties. Scanning his list of publications, Deidra notices that early on Professor Megs wrote about Chaos theory. Finally, itoccurs to Deidra
that her professor has pointed to Dr. Megs’ works in his lectures.
Deidra thinks
she’s on to something exciting.
 *********Since retiring Dr. Megs lives much of the year on an isolated island almost ahundred miles south, off the coast of Georgia, and the only way to reach his home is by a ferrythat makes infrequent runs from the mainland to the island when the river currents are favorable.
“I have to do this,”
Deidra tells Tennyson that evening when they meet at their studycarrel.
“You’re not putting your grades in jeopardy to chase down some doting old vet who losta New Testament, I hope” Tennyson scolds.
 
“It’s important to me—and I think it’s vitally important to him. I can’t study or rest until
I find the owner
of this book,”
Deidra
’s countenance stops her companion from rebutting.“What about this weekend? Aren’t you putting
us
in jeopardy? My parents will be hereFriday to meet you
 — 
the only day you must get to the island to return a New Testament to some
 
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broken-down vet. . . . Oh, all right. . . a has-been physicist, you feel may have returned in someapparition because he met your dad
 —and, and send you a message!”
 
“G
ive my regrets to your
Mom and Dad and I do hope this doesn’t ruin any opportunity
to
get to know them. I have to do what I have to do!” she says as she walks away—and doesn’t
look back.****************Crossing the channel at dawn Deidra questions her mental state for setting out on this journey. She has never met Professor Megs
 — 
he may be deranged or perhaps angry that I’ve
encroached on his privacy
, she thinks as the boat docks at the tiny Island.Taking a deep breath, Deidra let the warm moist air welcome her. She feels alone untilshe hears a deep resonant voice,
“Is you
r name Deidra
?”
The voice is kind; nevertheless, her heart pounds; she squints into the mist and sees, or
thinks she sees, a man in a tattered coat and imagines he’s about the age of her father….or would
be if her father were alive.Finally Deidra
says, “Yes, I’m
Deidra.
” Who are you? Sir,” she adds.
 
“A stranger on a mission,” he replies in a hushed manner. “I’ve found you through trial
and error
 —in a most unusual way.”
 
“But why?” She asks.“You’ve revealed yourself through your mis
sion, and now I can complete my mission. I
have a package for you.”
 The stranger hands Deidra a brown envelope. She looks at what he has given her andtries to understand what it is. Confused, Deidra opens the envelope and takes out a small pictureof 
a soldier with a printed inscription, “To Deidra, from your dad who never held you
, but I
forever hold you in my heart!”
 
“Are you Professor Megs?”
Deidra
asked hopefully. “Are you the professor— 
whochanged physics
 — 
you know,
the butterfly effect,
--- abou
t predicting events?” she added
, unableto contain her excitement
 —standing there with Dr. Megs…a man bigger than life to her and toall of the engineering students!”
Wait ‘till I get home and tell my friends
,’ she thought but kept
that to herself.The
stranger stepped closer, “Yes,
Deidra
, I’m Orvis Megs.
And no,
the butterfly effect 
,
explanation wasn’t mine— 
that was a colleague
’s—but I see you’ve studied the chaos theory.
How exciting, Diedra
.”
 

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