It really burned. As many times as Callie had attended fireworks events on the 4th of July, she had never had a spark fall on her until now. It had been an unusually beautiful burst of color. She had been absorbed in watching it until the last glimmer faded, echoing in the “ooh” of her teenage sister Cara sitting beside her. Then all of her attention turned to the searing pain on her arm, and she uttered a very undignified “Ouch!” and Cara jumped up, shaking the quilt as Callie grabbed her arm. Now a grandmotherly type woman was steering her toward the first aid area.
Matt leaned back in his folding chair, flexing his arms behind him. No excitement tonight. For all their spectacular explosions of light, fireworks displays were generally quiet affairs for the EMT squad. Nothing exciting ever happened. Not that he wanted anyone to get hurt. A quiet evening was good. With all the classes he was taking, it gave his mind a chance to rest and drink in the fragrant summer air.
“Hey, Matt, someone’s coming.” His partner gave him a heads up, and a grin. According to their unspoken agreement, it was his turn.
The girl was burned. He reached for the bandages and meds that were standard procedure. Because of the uneven light in their area, he didn’t get a good look at her face at first. “Doesn’t look too bad. I think we can get it fixed up right here.” He looked up to give her a reassuring smile. And forgot what he was going to say.
“Callie?” Memories flooded him. A little girl with blond braids licking a Popsicle, a pretty teenager smiling at him over a plate of chicken wings, a lovely face in the moonlight, crying as he said . . . “I didn’t know you were back.”
“I’m home on summer break. I’ve been away at Bible college.”
He wrapped her arm expertly. Callie had always known he would make an excellent doctor. Healing was in his hands. And ministry was in his heart.
“Oh. I guess I didn’t know that either.” Matt gave her a shy smile.
“I wanted to tell you, but every time I started to, it seemed presumptuous. Like ‘I have my life in order now, can we pick up where we left off?’ So I never did. My parents kept me posted about you though. I knew you were still in school and working as an EMT. But I had no idea you would be here tonight.”
“You know I wouldn’t see it that way, Cal. Breaking our relationship was the most difficult thing I ever had to do. And finding out that you belong to Christ now makes this a very happy day.” Matt didn’t let go of her arm.
“But Matt, it’s been so long. I don’t want you to feel obligated. I know God has called you to medical missions. I won’t hold you back.”
Matt stood and pulled her with him away the crowd at the first aid tent. “Callie, you never did tell me what you’re studying at college?”
She looked at him, eyes serious. “Missions.”
Matt didn’t say anything, just put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. “You knew it all along, didn’t you, you adorable rascal. You knew as soon as you told me what God led you into that I would ask you to marry me, just as I wanted to years ago, but couldn’t because we didn’t share the same faith in God. You’re just trying to get away from me, aren’t you?” His eyes twinkled with mischief and something else that made her heart pound louder than the boom of the fireworks.
“You know better than that, Matthew Ralston. I just wanted it to be God that put us back together. But I never dreamed He would do it this way.”
“His ways are perfect; His timing is right. I still love you, Callie.”
And the sky exploded in a burst of color that showered like confetti around them. — VQ