August 4, 1995 – Friday – 4:36 p.m.

I am in Cusseta, Alabama.

I have been here for over four hours.

Marcus and I had car trouble.

We have spent the last four hours at a place called Perils Travel Plaza.  The engine messed up.  We had to buy an alternator and a thermostat.  It’s going to cost me $150 and its not even my car.  We ate lunch here and took some pictures.  I am tired.

Why did this happen?  We should be in Crestview by now.  But the Lord has placed us here.

Marcus and I are waiting for the battery to charge up.

I called Emily, but I got an answering machine.  I left a message.

I wish she was here.

Our car had been under a bridge in Chambers County, Alabama for a long time.

But God is in control.

August 3, 1995 – Thursday – 5:40 p.m.

Today was my last day at McDonald’s.  My collection has grown because of that place.  So many names, so many stories.

Betty, Cindy, Debbie, Toni, Danielle, Robert, Lynn, Carl, Travis, Ronnie, Louisa, Delores, Ola, Deborah, Tim, Tamika, Tonya, Amy, Shawn, Thomas, Julissa, Betty, Virginia, Josefina, Reggie, John, Kenesha, Beth, Natalie, Mike, LaQuisha, Phillip, Martha, Herbert, Avis, Jackie, Hershel, and, of course, Barbie.

Then there were people who came through the drive-thru everyday.

Jimmy

Butch

The Mayor

The Medium Coffee Girl

The Newspaper Man

And the beautiful woman with three little girls who either got a bacon biscuit or a plain biscuit with a buttered muffin, hash brown, and a small Diet Coke.

With the bacon biscuit, her price was $3.16.

With the plain biscuit, her total was $2.63.

She came through everyday for the past three months, but I only remember her looking me in the eye once.

. . .

I called Emily a little after 5 o’clock.  They are in the middle of a hurricane.  Everything is wet.

But I like water.

Especially when it is falling.

Marcus and I will leave around 3 o’clock tomorrow morning.

And I have absolutely no idea what will happen.

July 25, 1995 – Tuesday – 8:53 a.m.

Last night was Interesting.  We did go to the MXPX concert.  A group named Blenderhead was there too.  Although it was a Christian place called the Vertical, a lot of weird people with weird haircuts, tattoos and body piercings were there.  It wasn’t my thing, but I learned a lot.  It might have been Christian music, but my spirit was not lifted up.  There were moments when everyone around me was slam dancing.  I would just look up and think about Emily.

Wayne spent the night last night.  He and I plus Marcus and Kevin were talking about girls and how little Wayne had turned into a ladies man.  Then Kevin said that I was the Lady man.  He was referring to Emily.  None of them know Emily like I do.  All they see is her beautiful girl in the picture beside my bed.  I see so much more.

I laid in my bed last night thankful and almost in tears.  God knew what he was doing.  He had to show me the real Emily before he would allow me to see Emily in person.  There is so much I don’t know about Emily.  But I do know that I want her.  She is strong in who she is.  We are from two different worlds.

She is sunlight.

And I moon.

Knowing who she is, she searched for another red light like her.  And she found one over two years ago in a mystical land of forest-covered mountains and endlessly-giving waterfalls.  She realized I was special, even when I did not.

So, this is our story.

I am sure in her own way she is writing down her part.

The rest of the world does not see us.  They do not notice.  They do not care.

But, to me, the rest of the world hardly exists.

There is a place called Siler City.

And there is a place called Sanford.

There is a place called Banner Elk.

And there is a place called Boone.

There is a place called Crestview.

And there is a place called Heaven.

That is all I know.

July 22, 1995 – Saturday – 9:50 p.m.

At this moment, here in my corner of North Carolina, the air is peaceful.  It is misty and quiet outside.  Only the crickets are talking.

I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture tonight.  It made me realize that if I was all alone, I would create someone like Emily to commune with.  So, that is why God created me.  Therefore, I will worship and commune with Him and in doing so, he wishes to give me the desires of my heart which opens the door to thousands of little stories each day.

It is as simple as that.

This morning at McDonald’s, I ran the back drive-thru booth.  Barbie did not work today, but she came through the drive-thru with her sister and friend.  She looked different.  She was beautiful.  She said that tomorrow was her birthday.  She will be 21-years-old.  Hopefully, I will see her next weekend.

To continue with Emily and I…we wrote each other for almost two years.  Even while I searched for things in Ryan, Christi, Jenna, Tenielle, and Jeni, I wrote to her.  Around the time Jeni and I broke up, she opened up a little more and so did I.  Our letters began to express personal feelings and I called her on March 26, 1995.  We have been calling and writing ever since and have decided to meet in person in eleven days.

I would go into more detail with each letter, but I’ve written many of them in the pages of these journals and I’m sure whoever you are in the future that has found this collection of my Books of Days, that those letters from Emily are not far away.

Goodnight Emily.

And goodnight Jesus.

May I have a peaceful sleep.

July 21, 1995 – Friday – 8:00 p.m.

In two weeks, I will be in the arms of an angel.

For my own pleasure and for your information, I am going to recap everything that has happened between Emily and I beginning with the days before June 19, 1993.

We (Marcus, Kevin, Ben, Peter, Danny, Tim, Mark, and myself) were at Deep Creek Campground near Bryson City, North Carolina.  We had a campsite by the bathroom.  During that week, I slept in a small yellow tent, not knowing that the girl of my dreams was sleeping about three hundred feet away.  Throughout the week I saw this beautiful girl walk through our campsite to the bathroom.  But on the final night of our trip, three hours before we were going to leave, a member of our group dares Mark to ask her to play cards with us.  He does and she says yes, but that we have to play at her campsite so she can watch her little cousin.  We begin to play rummy, I am sitting across from her and for the first time I look really closely, and wow, the way the lantern light was reflecting in her eyes, the structure of her chin…I remember them…a truly bright and beautiful face.

I do not know how to play, so she volunteers to teach me, but she says I’ll have to sit next to her.  So she makes one of the other guys move, and I sit next to her.  The card that she needs is an 8 and it’s the next card that lands on the table.  She leans her head towards me.  Her forehead touches my hair and she whispers, “Whomp…there it is!” into my ear.

That was our first touch.

It’s time for her cousin to go to sleep, so we all head back to our campsite.  Mark, obviously feeling a taste of jealousy, reserves a place for her to sit by him and he places me on the other side of the table, as far away from her as I could possibly be.  Time passes.  We begin playing card tricks and she says that she knows a good one, but that she needs a partner and she instantly says that I’m going to be her partner.  So, we go off to the side, by the tents and away from the picnic table and she explains the trick to me and my role in it.  While over there, we hear the guys whispering and making a big deal about this gorgeous girl giving little nerdy me all the attention.  Tim, even steps over and takes a picture of us.

Back at the table, we sit next to each other and begin the trick.  While everyone tries to figure it out, we switch things up through whispers in each other’s ears and taps on each other’s legs.  We laugh, we smile, yet we have no idea of the years to come.

We are listening to Carman during all this and she asks me to turn it down a little.  And then she says, “Don’t get me wrong, I like Carman.”  I’m so shocked she even knows who Carman is.  I ask if she’s a Christian and she says, “No only am I a Christian, I’m a real Christian.

Time for goodbyes come.  We get each other’s addresses.  I walk her back to her campsite and when I turned around to walk to the car I heard the Lord whisper in my ear, “Here Jacob, this is for you.”

This concludes our first meeting.

Our meetings with ink and paper began shortly after that.

I will go into detail with that later.

July 11, 1995 – Tuesday – 6:45 p.m.

I have worked these past two days.  Both days were fun.  Yesterday was interesting because Toni was having a bad day. It dealt with her husband.  She doesn’t love him.  She doesn’t even like him.  She stays with him for the money.  It’s sad.  She deserves better.  She is a good girl.

I came home yesterday to find a letter from Emily.  It was a wonderful letter.  The last paragraph was:

You are right about the Sun and Moon.  We exist together, but we can never touch.  I think it’s time for an eclipse, bright eyes.”

She was right.

An eclipse.

It is time for the sun to touch the moon.

I called her last night.  We talked for an hour.  We set plans for my visit in August.  She gave me basic directions to her house, but she said she would mail me a map.  I get off the Interstate, turn right to get to the city limit, go all the way through town, and then turn past the Wal-Mart and past Wendy’s… I predict that map will be one of the most important sheets of paper in my life.

Emily was taking a bath while we talked.  We had the greatest conversation.

She also sent a picture of her with her letter.  It is next to my bed.  She is smiling, very big.  Which is what I needed to see.

The picture is beautiful.  She is beautiful.  I find myself staring at it.  I find myself staring at her.  I try to look away, but I can’t.  Her whole face shines like the sun.

Emily says she’s been asked by people in New York, Houston, Miami, and other places to be a model.  They got a picture of her from Glamour Shots.  She is not sure if she wants to do it though.  She is only 16.

Who is this girl?

She is so amazing!

Her life is so big, yet she tells me that she needs little me.  I don’t understand.  Why was I chosen to be the distant pen pal of Emily?  Why me?  She is insanely beautiful both inside and out.  I feel like we are the only two red lights in the sky.

This must all be a dream.

Please don’t let me wake up Lord!

April 23, 1995 – Sunday – 10:15 p.m.

Last night I went out with James and a girl named Syndi.  We ate at Pizza Hut and then saw Forrest Gump at a dollar theater.  The last time I saw Forrest Gump was August 13th, 1994.  That was before the storm.  It reminded me of the summer.  I felt like I was back home.  But it has been eight months and ten days since that night.  And now those eight months and ten days are gone.

I went to church this morning as I do every Sunday morning.  Jim’s sermon was awesome.  He is a wonderful teacher and preacher.  Clifton invited me over to his house today.  We watched Stargate.  It was really cool; I liked it.  Afterwards, Crystal took me horseback riding.  I had never been before so I was excited.  And since I am so easily amazed, Crystal was laughing at me the entire time.  She walked into the pasture and almost stepped in a pile of horse crap and I about lost it; I’ve never been around that much poop before.  It’s nothing to her though.

We just went for a short trot up their road.  It was cold and misty outside, but I enjoyed myself.  She said she would take me again sometime.  I’m looking forward to it.

I am supposed to be back here at school on the 15th of August.  Lees-McRae Summer Theater is putting on a production of The Secret Garden that I want to see.  It ends on the 14th.  I’m going to come up anyway on the 14th to see it.  Leslie, Clifton and Crystal’s mom said I could stay at their house that one night since I won’t be able to stay on campus until the 15th.  The 14th is a Monday, so that means the 13th, a Sunday, will be my last day at home.

August 13th, 1995.  That date sounds familiar.

Anyway, after our horse ride we watched Blue Sky with Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange.  Great movie!  Church was great tonight as well.  We all went out to eat at the Country House afterwards.  Pastor Jim was there as well.  He asked me when I will be back in the fall, so I could start creating a drama ministry.  I told him August 14th.

Crystal is really excited about this.  She was disappointed when she found out I wasn’t going to be here for the summer.  She wants to work in film when she gets older as well.

When I walked out of the Country House tonight I was almost knocked down by the wind; it was blowing so hard.

I’m sure it will blow harder in about two and a half weeks though.

I got back to my room at around nine o’clock.  I sat on my bed and took off my shoes.  I threw them over into my closet and then I opened my top drawer of the dresser next to my unmade bed.  I pulled a precious piece of folded paper from out of it and gazed upon these precious words: “Please call me if you need anything.”

I grabbed my phone and dialed the most beautiful phone number on the planet.  And my beautiful Emily answered.  We talked for little over an hour.  We talked about everyday life.  She does so many things.  I knew she played a lot of sports and that she played bass guitar and piano, but tonight she told me that she also dances as well as does gymnastics and even kickboxing.  I asked her if there was anything she doesn’t do.

“Probably not,” she said.

She says that she will begin making the video for me soon.  I can’t wait!

She had had a wonderful time at the beach for spring break.  She gave me so many little details about what had happened and what she was thinking, etc.

After about an hour, we said our goodbyes and goodnights.  I hung the phone up and then turned and looked at myself in the mirror.  I looked into my own eyes and then I realized that I was scared.  I was terrified.

What have I done?  What am I doing?  Emily is so close, yet so far away.  I feel like she is slipping right through my fingers.  I am afraid to have her.  I’m even afraid to say it because I feel so much truth in it.  I feel like I’m living in a dream world.  Whenever Charlie and I are talking, I always mention Emily.  I talk about her all the time.  I talk about her like she is right next to me.

I am simply scared that somewhere along our journey in this crazed world, I will lose her.  Her world in Crestview seems so much larger than my small world in Banner Elk.  And who knows?  Who knows where her and I will be tomorrow?

As I listened to her voice over the phone tonight, there was something I wanted to tell her.  I wanted to tell her that I loved her, but I didn’t.  I couldn’t.  I couldn’t bring myself to say it.  But why?  I had told her that I loved her before.  Why is it different now?

Wait a minute.  What am I doing?  I’m trying to figure this out with my brain.  Emily said, “The Heart has eyes the Brain knows nothing of.”

I can’t see this in it’s right perspective with my physical eyes, I must use the eyes of my heart.

The storm that nearly knocked me down as I left the Country House tonight must have grown.  I just saw a flash of lightning outside my window.  There just went a another one!  Cool, another one!

On March 8, 1995 I wrote this: “There is no lightning in the air, but there is Emily’s letter on the dresser beside me.  Oh, how I wish a storm would blow me away to Crestview, FL.”

It looks like my wish has come true.  The eyes of my heart see absolutely nothing that the brain can.  Because my heart is not here.  My heart has been blown away by this storm of lightning to Crestview.  It cannot see anything here, for Emily has my heart.

Why be scared?  There is nothing I can do.  Lightning strikes.  I cannot stop it from striking me.  I cannot make it strike me.  I cannot make it strike anyone else.

So, I will just let it be.  I have been struck with lightning and I cannot pretend that I haven’t been.  So I will let this force inside me now grow.  I will not deny it.  I will not try to hide it.

I will believe in it.

God is this force.

God is love.

I will not try to understand.

I believe God knows the answers.

I believe God is the answer.

I believe love is the answer.

And I believe love will find a way.

So I will write it here:  Emily, I am in love with you.  How?  When?  Where?  Why?  I’m not going to try to figure that out.  God knows how my heart sees you, so I will give it all to him.  For he controls where lightning strikes.

Sunlight spilled out from the sky, until it was gone

And moonshine showered down on me, until I knew I was alone

Then I reached up to the sky, and the storm began to blow

April 18, 1995 – Tuesday – 4:15 p.m.

The Spring Dance Concert is this weekend.  Well actually Thursday and Friday night.  I am running sound for it.

I have to go to the rehearsals tonight and tomorrow night.  That will make this week go by faster.

Then April will contain only one more week.

Then May comes.  By the 12th I will be back home.

I only have three weeks left of my Freshman year at Lees-McRae college.

People at church do not want me to go home for the summer, but I am.  Jonathan will be home with me.  It should be a fun summer.

I can’t wait until I see Jenna and Tenielle.

You know, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been here at school for eight months, but I guess I have.

Did I fly during these past eight months or did I sit on a branch and sing?  I believe I climbed the tree and sat on the very top.  And while I was there, I spread my wings and looked at all that was around me.  Then I jumped off of the tree and flew!

Where?  To Cincinnati.

I flew there many times.  Until this past time when something was unbuttoned and our relationship began to fall away.

So, I flew back to my tree.  And then down to Albany, closer to heaven than I had known.  Closer to my Angel.

Back at my tree, I saw things fly towards me.  It was paper.  It was ink.  And the most beautiful combination of the two.  It was my Emily.

So now as I prepare to fly back home, I look forward to the day I can fly to Crestview.

And the day when Eagle’s wings touch my Angel’s.

April 17, 1995 – Monday – 1:40 a.m.

It’s early Monday morning.  Easter Sunday is over and it was a super nice day!

Emily called me about an hour and a half ago.  I just got off the phone with her.  Her Spring Break has begun and she is going to stay in a condo on the beach all of next week.

We talked about so many things.  She says that she is going to use their video camera and video herself, her family, and some of her friends and send it to me.

I hope she does.  That would be really sweet.

She told me about her life and school and the way she sees things.  She says that she is so high on life these days.  I wish I was with her.  I am I suppose.  She sees me as a big part of her life.

She is definitely a huge part of mine.

She is finding her tomorrow.  She is smiling.  She is happy.  She is the most amazing girl I know.

I want her Lord.  However I can have her I will take her.  If she is only a friend, hundreds of miles away, then I am happy.  If she is more, I am happy.  If she is less, then I will have my memory to make me happy.

Another story has begun.

Another chapter.

Another note.  However, this note began to play before the idea of the never-ending Canon in D came along.

I will write this story one day at a time.

Until the next story begins.

This is the story about the Angel and her Prince.  It began almost two years ago.

And I pray it never ends.

April 10, 1995 – Monday – 1:05 a.m.

Sunday has been over for an hour and five minutes.

Church was beautiful this morning.  This afternoon, Charlie, Dan, Clifton, Trey, Phillip, Curt and myself went up to the top of Grandfather Mountain.  The day was so beautiful.  I went all the way to the very top.

I’m sure if I looked hard enough I could see Crestview, Florida.

The evening service was also beautiful.  We ate out afterwards and then I came back here.

10:00 p.m. rolled around and Charlie and I talked for 15 minutes.

And then I called Emily at 10:15 p.m.

I got off the phone with her at 12:45 a.m.

As before, our conversations true beauty and meaning will only be known to us.  We talked about simple things; we talked about everything.  We laughed, we smiled, we loved.

She mentioned her last letter.  She told me to forget most of it.  She knows now that I am real.  She doesn’t have to play a game with me to try and figure me out or test me.  She knows that I too am beyond that.  She apologized for even doing that to me.

We read poetry back and forth to one another.  I told her about the two bald eagles I saw on Grandfather Mountain and how they chirped and called for me after I walked away.

I told her everything that entered my mind during those two and a half hours.

As we began to say goodbye, I told her to say something along the lines of goodbye to help me.

“I love you,” is what she said.

“I love you,” was my immediate reply.

It took us another 30 minutes to say our goodbyes.  At the end of our conversation I said, “I want you Emily.”

She said, “You got me.”

I smiled.

She continued, “I don’t know how Jacob, but you did it.”

She went on to tell me that if I were next to her at that moment she would hug me.

I told her that I would spend a few hours just looking into her eyes.  We talked about meeting each other at Deep Creek.  I asked her to tell all of her friends I said “hi.”

She responded with, “Jacob, I want you to tell everyone who went to Deep Creek with you in ’93 that I have fallen in love with you.”

March 26, April 6, April 9.

Goodnight Emily.

Father God!  I know there is a reason why we are so far away.  And I thank you for your plans and your will.

I love her Lord.

I love Emily.

I don’t know what it means.  I don’t know what to do.  But you gave her to me, so I’m going to continue to love you more.  I don’t know why you gave me such a good and beautiful gift, but I will cherish this woman for the rest of my life.