The Writer's Corner
The Next Step…
Chapter 19 - Turning 18
Written by Deanne Bertram
Mark had heard nothing from Lou about their upcoming birthdays
and he hoped that maybe, just maybe, she had forgotten to mark
it on her calendar. He was looking forward to sharing a quiet
celebration with just Hope and his parents.
Hope and Hattie met Mark and Micah at the Marshal’s and they
shared the walk to the church for services. As they arrived,
Lucas was assisting Milly down from the buckboard. Mark and Hope
hurried to catch up with his parents as they entered the church.
Today’s sermon was of growing up and taking that first step
towards being an adult. Mark and Hope both felt the sermon was
directed straight towards them. They sat a little straighter and
scooted a little bit further apart. Both averted their eyes and
tried to hide their smiles.
Reverend McCafferty concluded his sermon, “Today’s sermon isn’t
directed towards any one in particular, except for all those who
are about to leave their childhood behind and take another step
towards being adults. It’s a long road and though sometimes our
children wish to grow up too fast, once that day arrives, we, as
parents, ask, where did time go? We remember the first day we
held a newborn in our arms and now…
“Now ladies and gentlemen, everyone is graciously invited over
to the Mallory House Hotel to celebrate the birthdays of Mark
McCain and Hope Lane, as they turn eighteen today.”
A round of applause and happy birthday wishes came from the
congregation, as Mark sunk down in the pew and Hope buried her
head in his shoulder. Eventually, the other parishioners had
left the church and it was only Hope and the McCain’s.
“Come on son,” Lucas stated as he placed a hand under Mark’s arm
and lifted him to his feet. “Seems Lou’s been wanting to really
celebrate your birthday for a long time and now, she’s got her
“Pa why can’t it be just family, like it used to be?” Mark
“Mark, our family will never be, like it used to be, but I know
how you feel. But you need to understand, that our family, it’s
not just the two of us and your Ma, and some day Hope. Our
family is this town. Come on, before they burn the hotel down
with all your candles.”
Mark offered his arm to Hope as they started to leave the
church. They had just arrived at the door when Hope squealed,
“Father! Ethan!” and ran towards them. The McCain’s came up
behind smiling as they watch the family hug. Mark waited a short
distance away and was pulled in the embrace.
“Lucas,” Seth stated as he offered to shake Lucas’ hand. “I’m
sorry we didn’t send word again. We received a wire that this
was going to be a surprise party. I see congratulations are in
order. Mrs. McCain,” as both officers removed their hats.
The McCain’s and the Lane’s walked into the hotel together. Lou
and Johnny escorted Mark and Hope to their seats of honor as
Micah lit the candles on their cakes.
The celebration wound down and Lou felt satisfaction. She
finally was able to hold the birthday party for Mark that she
It was just a few friends that remained with the families in the
restaurant. Seth and Ethan were stating that they had permission
for their visit to last through the New Year, before they had to
return. The conversation drifted to what all the letters meant
as the town kept them informed of Hope’s progress in school and
her life in general in North Fork.
“Lucas, from what we’ve read in the letters I know I placed my
daughter in good hands when she stayed in North Fork.”
Milly excused herself, it had been a long afternoon and she felt
she wanted to lie down before making the ride home. Hope
escorted Milly upstairs.
Mark let his eyes drift up the staircase as he watched Hope help
his Ma. Lou came in to say arrangements had been made for the
Major and Lieutenant to stay at the hotel as long as they could.
The Next Step — Permission
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch