Authors: Barbara Kaylor
Elliot propped his elbows on his knees and shoved his hair back with frustrated hands. “Doesn’t right now count for anything? Do I put my whole life on hold until every single memory returns? What if none ever returns? What then, Geneva? Should I just go through the motions with Olivia in hopes that one day I’ll eventually love her again?” It was the same question he’d posed to Rick.
“Maybe you should spend more time with her,” Geneva suggested, kicking herself. She was falling in love with Elliot. Sending him back to Olivia was like throwing him to the wolves. She’d rather protect him, but he wasn’t hers to protect. He belonged to Olivia. Geneva would have to send him back sooner or later. Believing they’d have a life together was just a schoolgirl fantasy.
“You really think that way?” Elliot’s hopes that Geneva cared for him were dashed. He’d been so sure the memory was an indication of more between them. Had he been wrong? Had the accident messed up the wiring in his head so that he only
he loved Geneva, not Olivia?
Geneva scooted her misty glance to the water. “It doesn’t matter what I think or believe, Elliot. I’m not part of your life, not the one you’ve lived in Orlando. I’m not the woman you’re engaged to. My feelings don’t count right now. Olivia’s do. You can’t just ignore her.”
“You’re right,” he agreed, suddenly convicted by the whole matter. He couldn’t leave Olivia stranded without any regard for her. He rubbed his thighs as a plan formed in his head. It wasn’t one he liked, but it was unavoidable. “I’ll return to Orlando and meet with Olivia. Maybe I’ve been seeking answers in all the wrong places. Maybe this memory I have means nothing at all. You and I didn’t mean anything to each other in Orlando. You’ve made that clear.”
Geneva’s heart shattered into a bazillion pieces as she listened to Elliot. His tone reeked with heartache and finality. The joy they’d just experienced together, talking about the lake and beach, was lifetimes away. She’d ruined the moment for the sake of reality, a reality neither wanted to face.
Elliot walked Geneva back home, but didn’t accept her invitation to come for dinner or return to the evening service. She’d given him too much to think about. All the way back to his cabin, Elliot mulled over the one quality in his memory of Geneva that pointed to more than just the firing. His profound feelings for her. Something stronger than the memory itself was struggling to get out, and he wanted desperately to find out what it was.
On their way to church, the Palmers stopped by Elliot’s cabin. Winnie had fixed him a turkey sandwich. Elliot was appreciative and ate the entire thing even though his appetite was weak.
With nothing but his troubled thoughts to keep him company, Elliot reached for the Bible Perry had loaned him. Several pages were dog-eared. He flipped to them first, hoping to find an inspiring message. The marked passages were uplifting, but not relevant. Every block of Scripture Perry had underlined spoke of living with joy or obeying God. Elliot wanted something that addressed his particular needs.
After a while, disappointment overwhelmed him. He closed the Bible and walked back out to the lake. The sky over the water was a calm, pinkish hue. It filled him with peace, but no answers. He stood still, letting the evening breeze mess his hair. Wavy strands brushed his forehead. He pushed them back. His hair felt bushy and unkempt.
Why do I feel like that?
He remembered being more cleaned-cut, but the memory turned to dust in the breeze. He glanced down at his clothes. He wore a polo shirt, khaki work trousers, and loafers with no socks. The outfit didn’t trigger any unsettling feelings. Elliot sighed. The amnesia wore him down. Nothing jogged his memory.
He slipped out of his shoes and strolled along the water’s edge. A whippoorwill’s song across the lake echoed Elliot’s loneliness.
God, help me,
he pleaded silently.
He’d prayed that same prayer over and over since waking up without his memories. It’d been three weeks, and he was more confused than ever. Geneva was right. He needed to spend more time with those he knew well, people who were in his life. What was he accomplishing being in Holly Park?
It came to Elliot like a whack on the head.
He remained outside until the stars came out. When he returned to the cabin, he picked up the Bible one more time before getting ready for bed.
There has to be an answer in here,
Elliot told himself.
I just haven’t found it yet.
He thumbed through the pages again. Verse after verse brought some peace or joy or hope, but he wanted more. Then it hit him. All the Scriptures were familiar to him. He hadn’t given it much thought until that moment. He’d been so hungry to find the one verse that would speak to his specific problem that he hadn’t realized he remembered what he was reading and where to look.
Elliot shook himself. He’d been a Bible reader in the past. He knew God’s word. Without hesitating, he turned to 2 Corinthians 12:8 - 10 and read Paul’s words out loud.
“I begged the Lord three times to take this problem away from me. But, he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.’ So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. For this reason, I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.”
Elliot read the passage over and over. Why had he remembered it so vividly? Had he recognized it from a sermon he’d heard or was it more of a family favorite? Something had made him turn to it. Tears of joy gathered in his eyes. This verse was a connection to his past.
“My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you,” he read again.
Hungry for more, Elliot searched and found more familiar verses to study. He’d lost track of time and fell asleep, sitting in the chair, his mind still keyed up. Under the strain, he dreamed.
“You’re fired, Geneva!”
“What? I just secured the account you’ve wanted for years. Why are you so angry with me?”
“Your methods went against company policy. A severance package will be mailed to you.”
“You can’t do this!”
“I’m the president of this company. I can do whatever I want!”
“I’ll file a complaint!”
“I wouldn’t do that, Geneva. I have proof of your unethical conduct. If you go away quietly, it will remain in my files. If not, I’ll be forced to produce it, and I’m sure you don’t want that.”
“What proof? I demand to see it!”
Elliot opened a folder and spread several photos on his desk. “Here’s the proof, Geneva. You were carrying on with your client, a married man.”
“Pictures don’t lie.”
“I can explain every one of those photos, Elliot. Just give me a chance. Please don’t do this Elliot. I thought we were friends. You told me I was an asset to the company.”
“That was before this! Now please go.”
“This is unfair!”
“Get out, Geneva! Get out now!”
Elliot thrashed from side to side under the power of the dream. A strong emotion gripped him. Still dreaming, he watched Geneva stomp out of his office in a blast of fury and pain. His fists curled at his sides after she was gone. He slumped at his desk with his head in his hands. Rage overpowered him. Rage and— jealousy. He was jealous. Geneva had gone out with the rep from the account she was soliciting, and it enraged him. He pounded his desk.
“You can’t work here anymore, Geneva! I’ve fallen in love with you!”
Elliot jerked awake. The memory consumed his mind and emotions. He sat up, feverish. It could have been a dream.
He screamed inwardly. The fit of jealousy was too strong, the love in his heart, too powerful
This had not been a dream. It was an extension of his only memory. He’d been angry with Geneva because she’d gotten too close to someone else. That’s why he’d fired her. It was the only way he could get back at her. His actions had been purely selfish. He couldn’t stand the thought of Geneva with another man so he got rid of her. The deed had been wrong and unjust.
One mystery remained. How had he found out? Where had the photos come from? Geneva had defended her actions, saying she’d done nothing wrong. Perhaps she hadn’t. He’d not given her a chance to refute his charges. He’d just sent her away. Now, he knew why. It didn’t make him feel better, but he did feel closer to understanding why it was this memory and none other that had survived the amnesia. His love for Geneva ran deep.
Fully awake and still dressed in his clothes, Elliot fixed himself a cup of black coffee and drank it down while watching the dawn illuminate the horizon in a splash of color. He’d asked God for help and he’d gotten it. The memory clung to his mind like a battle scar. He showered and dressed in a clean set of clothes then sat outside on the porch to wait for Geneva to stir.
As soon as he thought the time was right, Elliot headed to Geneva’s, determined to hear her side of things. He’d not be put off again. Russell met him in the yard. Elliot patted the pooch, but his eagerness to confront Geneva didn’t allow much more than that. He paused at the porch steps. Had he given the matter enough thought? He flicked the notion away. He was tired of thinking. He needed answers. Was that the business side of him trying to emerge? Taking charge of the problem strengthened him, but Elliot hesitated. God had brought him to this point. He’d not handle the situation alone. If he didn’t take God with him, he’d botch things up or, worse, fail.
His heart leapt with vigor as he knocked on the door. Geneva answered right away. She’d been passing through the living room when she saw Elliot through the sheers.
“Good morning!” Her tone was cheerful despite not sleeping well the night before. She couldn’t get Elliot and Olivia out of her mind.
Elliot stepped inside, clearly distracted by his wary thoughts.
“We need to talk now,” he said before she could offer him a cup of coffee.
Geneva gazed at him with dread. He’d had a breakthrough. She could see it in his eyes.
“Sure.” She led him to the kitchen. He watched her prepare a light breakfast of banana bread and fresh fruit. Her flawless, swift moves amazed him. Every twist and turn of her body speckled the room with her quiet, joyful fragrance. He felt empowered.
Geneva sat across from him and said a blessing over the food then faced Elliot with tired eyes. “Now, what do you want to talk about?” As if she didn’t know.
He told her about remembering the Bible verses as a lead in. Geneva’s excitement was genuine.
“Praise the Lord!” She exclaimed. “That’s a breakthrough right there!”
Elliot nodded as he spooned mixed berries onto his plate. “I remembered a little more about the confrontation we had in my office when I fired you.”
“Really?” Geneva glanced up from buttering her bread, intrigued by the authority and confidence in his tone. Whatever he’d remembered, it was big. She wasn’t sure she was ready for it.
“I need you to fill in the gaps. Geneva.” Elliot would keep his jealous rage secret for now. “What did I accuse you of?” He wanted her side.
Geneva washed down the bread she’d been chewing with a sip of coffee then dabbed the corners of her mouth with her napkin. Stalling settled her nerves.
“Alright, Elliot,” she started with surprising strength. Reliving that horrible experience wasn’t easy, but she’d been preparing for it ever since Elliot had arrived over a week ago.
Elliot leaned back and gave her his full attention. He sensed her unease and felt badly about it.
“Ahem.” Geneva cleared her throat to steady herself. She gave him some preliminary information like how long she’d worked for him, her status in the company, and the account she’d been trying to sign. Elliot responded to her explanations with slight nods.
Geneva smiled as she recalled the morning Elliot had summoned her to his office. “I was expecting a promotion for winning such a prestigious account. You’d been after it for years. It was a big company, over thirty stores in the southeast. I was excited. Most of the sales team rooted for me. A party had even been planned to celebrate my promotion.” Her spirits dropped as she remembered the humiliation that followed.
Geneva paused to let her emotions simmer. Elliot restrained from commenting. He didn’t want to break her train of thought.
“When I got to your office, you fired me on the spot then confronted me with a folder full of photographs. They were of me and Dave Knight. His father owns the group of stores I’d just signed on.” Geneva squirmed as she recalled her anger and hurt. “Apparently, I’d been followed by someone. The photos made it look as if something was going on between me and Dave, but there wasn’t. Dave is a happily married man. I was actually helping him plan a surprise birthday party for his wife. We had developed a friendship based on our Christian beliefs. I’d even met his wife. She’s been here once with her Sunday School class.”
Elliot ran a hand over his face, embarrassed by his foolish actions.
“Go on,” he urged.
“You were very angry with me.” A knot rose in her throat. Incurring Elliot’s wrath instead of his praise that morning seven years ago had sideswiped her heart.
“I’m so sorry for the way I spoke to you, Geneva.” Elliot pursed his lips at his stupidity. “In my memory, I feel overwhelming animosity, and it’s scary.”
“I’m pretty sure I’d been set up.” Geneva treaded cautiously.
“Who would do that? And why?”
“A promotion was available and there were two people vying for it. Me and Olivia Swanson.”