Mirror Mirror: Chapter 24

By JD Rockel


Chapter Twenty-Four


May 2027

The rest of the school year proceeded without any more horrifying events. The two couples tried to spend quality time together and not risk too much intimacy. It was a challenge and none of the four was completely successful. It was a matter of balance between being faithful to God’s values and building the relationships God had provided.

With the summer approaching, there was talk about what to do. Rosa saw the need to earn some money since her parents required gas and insurance money to drive the family car. They weren’t tyrants about it but hoped the requirement would teach some good money habits.

Rosa sat down at the kitchen table with her cell phone, a notepad, and a pencil. You can do this, Rosa. She picked up the phone and looked up the number her mom gave her.

“Hello, Stephanie Rodriquez? This is Rosa DeLuca. My mom said this would be a good time to call.”

“Yes Rosa, I’m so glad you are interested in working at the Cucina. Please be assured our conversation now is not part of the official interview. I just want to get to know you better. What makes you want to work here?”

“Well, since this isn’t part of the interview I’ll be honest.” Rosa paused for a moment and then laughed to indicate it was a joke. “I am joking Stephanie. I will be honest with you or anyone I will be talking with. There is the practical reason for needing money to pay for car insurance, but there is also the desire to see what happens where you and my parents work. They come home telling stories and I wonder sometimes they could possibly be true.”

“I can understand both of those reasons, Rosa. Restaurant work can be quite exhausting, and bizarre things do happen sometimes. But it is rewarding to see our guests enjoying their time together. And the food your dad cooks can bring anyone out of the pits of depression. Your mom mentioned the hostess position, but would you be interested in any other positions?”

“Again, to be honest, I only really know about hostessing, wait staff, and cashier. Maybe it would be helpful for me to spend some time there and see what happens behind the scenes.”

“An excellent idea, Rosa. While Friday nights are busy, it might be the best time for you to meet the staff and see what this place is like when it gets crazy.”

“Friday is just fine. What time would you like me there, Stephanie?”

“Show up at 4:00 and plan to stay until midnight. That will let you see what eight hours of hard work might look like. Please don’t be scared though. You will be exhausted the first day, but there’s no job here you can’t do. Be confident in yourself.”

“It does sound a bit scary, but I know people do the work every day. I’m sure I’ll be fine. I am excited to see what all this horror my parents describe looks like in person.”

“Great, our uniform is black slacks and a white, long sleeve top. We have aprons here so you can fit in. Don’t worry about that. Oh, and wear comfortable shoes. Probably a running shoe would work well. I look forward to having you here. See you at 4:00 on Friday.”

“I appreciate the opportunity, Stephanie. I’m looking forward to seeing you. Goodbye for now.”

Rosa ended the call and took a deep breath. What am I doing, Lord?



Ella knew the expectations to earn money for car insurance also. She also considered the requirement unfortunately burdensome. She needed to talk this over with her mom.

“Mom, you got a minute?”

“Sure Ella, what is it?

“I’ve been looking for things to do this summer to earn money for the car insurance. For the most part, I’m able to work cashier. I don’t think I want to wait tables, but I could try that if I need to. But there is one other option that I want to talk over with you.”


“Froedtert Hospital in the Falls has a summer program called Volunteens. It runs from mid-June to mid-August. It would allow me to learn how things are done in the hospital.

“The requirements are to donate 25 hours over the summer with a minimum of 3-4 hour shifts once a week. There are forms you and Dad would have to fill out for me to apply. After the experience with Jerry, I have become very interested in first aid and patient care. I would like to take a first aid class someday. This program would be a first step I think.

“Of course, the bad news is that it doesn’t pay anything. The good news is that it is only 25 hours total over the summer, although more time can be requested. I wanted to talk to you first, but I’m sure we need to discuss the idea with Dad too.”

Renata was focused on Ella with wide-eyed amazement. “Wow, that is a noble pursuit. I can understand how living through the trauma with Jerry could encourage you to investigate this.”

“It wasn’t the trauma so much as watching the paramedics work. I could tell they cared for Jerry and me as people. It was more than a job to them.”

“That makes a lot of sense. Let’s find Dad and talk it over with him.”

Tony was sitting on the sofa reading. The fireplace provided a warm, cozy glow. It was his place to relax if there wasn’t a putzy job to do at his workbench.

“Tony, Ella has a proposal for the summer she would like to share.”

Ella repeated the elevator pitch and paused to see how her dad would respond.

“I’m impressed that you did such good research. You did mention waiting tables or cashier work. Would it be possible to schedule the hospital time in conjunction with helping at the Cucina?”

“I suppose so. I’ll be honest, I’m not thrilled with the idea of working to make money. Hmm, that didn’t come out the way I wanted it to. What I mean is, I recognize the need to make money. But I hope I can find a job that isn’t so boring that I want to quit each time I go there.”

“Well, I agree that it is highly desirable to work a job that doesn’t drive you crazy. There will always be challenges but I understand what you are saying. You’ve been quiet, Ren. What are your thoughts.”

Renata wanted to be encouraging. “I think it’s great that Ella is interested in first aid and patient care. I also agree that everyone needs to learn a less-than-awful way to earn a living. Trying several job positions at our restaurant would be a safe environment. You probably wouldn’t get fired the first night.”

Ella giggled along with Tony.

“I’m sure you would make an exception for me and kick me out after just an hour. But I will get more information about scheduling at the hospital, and you can let me know what to try and when.”

“Sounds like a plan. We will stay on top of this. I’m sure we can make it work.”



Jerry got off the phone with Ella and headed for her house on his bike. It was a beautiful Saturday morning spring day. The temperature was warming up nicely at fifty-six degrees, and Jerry decided to bike with shorts on.

Pulling into the DeLuca’s driveway, Ella was outside waiting for him. Unlike Jerry, she thought fifty-six required a sweater and jeans.

“Good morning, Beautiful. How is my lovely lifesaver today?”

“Oh Jerr, don’t you think you have done the lifesaver enough times? But to answer your question I’m feeling pretty good this morning.”

“Awesome, and you will forever be my lifesaver. It was because of your care by my hospital bed that I decided to trust Jesus as my Savior.”

“I thought having Jesus talk to you in person convinced you.”

“Well, that is true. But you asked me to come to church with you, and you stopped my bleeding, and you stayed by my side…”

“OK, I get it. I love you too.” The two of them giggled and hugged one another.

“Did you get anywhere with finding a job for the summer, Ella?”

“Sort of. I’m working out some details, but I am hoping to volunteer at the hospital a few times a week. My parents still strongly suggest that I try working at the restaurant. I’m just concerned that I’ll mess up there and be an embarrassment.”

“I can understand that. I doubt that you will mess up that badly, but I suppose dropping a plate of food in someone’s lap would be stressful.”

“Thanks for the encouragement,” Ella said, very sarcastically. “So, what about you, Jerry? What are your summer plans looking like?”

“You know I’ve mentioned how awesome the technology at Orchard Hill Church is. Well, it got me interested in what could be done with computers. We all know how to surf the web and use social media, but what about writing new apps or mixing music or 3D graphics? It’s all available out there.”

“But you would need to take college classes for that stuff, right?”

“No, I don’t. There are training programs on-line for newbies. And the software for 3D graphics or music and video editing is available for free. I want to explore what’s out there and learn whatever I can.”

“That’s great, Jerr, but even though this stuff is free, don’t you still have to make some money over the summer.”

“Yeah, that is a bummer. I don’t want to flip burgers and salt fries.”

“That’s how I feel. But what can we do except be cashiers and burger flippers? I guess I’m fortunate my parents own a restaurant where I can try a couple of things. Hey, is there any way you can help your dad with repair jobs? It’s worth asking him.”

“Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that. I’m doubtful, but I can ask him. He might have a connection that has a job available, too. I’ll try.”

“Sounds great. I support your learning the technology. But I have another really good idea.”

“What’s that, Ella?”

“Let’s take advantage of this nice day and relax somewhere together.”

“I thought we had to be careful about that sort of thing.”

“We do, but we need to experiment to see what forms of relaxation are acceptable. I’ll get my bike and we can go exploring for a spot to relax.”

“Works for me!”



“Rosa? This is John.”

“I know, your face popped up and our special ring-tone told me it was you.”

“Well… Jerry or my dad could have used my phone to call and tell you I was being taken to the hospital.”

“John, stop that. I’m still shaky from Jerry’s incident at times.”

“I’m sorry. Really! I’m just calling to tell you what I found for the summer.”

“That’s OK. And I’m sorry I bit your head off. So, what did you find?”

“First of all, I got a job at one of those half-price bookstores. You know the one in Brookfield?”

“Yes, of course. That’s awesome John.”

“Just think of all the books I can nose through.”

“You will probably be expected to work some of the time.”

“I know, Rosa. But I am excited. It’s like working in a library. And there’s more.”

“More to the job or more to the summer?”

“More to the summer. I’ve been talking to the missions group at church. They sponsor a one-week mission trip just after school lets out.”

“Missions? I didn’t see that coming. Do you feel a calling to go somewhere?”

“I do, Rosa. I can’t say missions would be a life-long call from God, but this particular trip is tugging on my heart.”

“Sounds great, John. Where will you go?”


“Chicago? Where in Chicago?”

“It’s west of downtown near Douglas Park.”

“I’m trying not to panic, John. I know Milwaukee and Waukesha aren’t safe areas to live, but Chicago is worse. Have your researched this?”

“The ministry on the west side of Chicago is very reputable. I’m confident Orchard Hill wouldn’t support them if it wasn’t safe. All the community work is conducted during the daytime and we sleep at the mission.”

“OK, and I know it’s only for a week. As much as I want to trust God 100%, it can be very hard. If God has put this on your heart, go for it.”

“Thanks, Rosa. I strongly feel this is from God. We can talk and pray about it next time I come over. I still have to tell my dad. Pray hard about that. I don’t think he will understand.”

“Considering I’m having difficulty understanding, I will certainly be praying.”

“Thanks, Rosa. I’ll be over in a day or two. Bye for now.”

“Bye, John. I love you.”

“Love you too.”