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3 – Tell Me Why [The Byzantine Souls Saga]

Rachel Appears as a Guest Host on Table Talk Now

The crowd erupted with applause as Rachel walked onto the set of the popular talk show– “Table Talk Now”. A group of celebrity personalities share their opinions about fashion, politics, life, health, music, tv, movies, and anything that impacted pop culture in America.

Rachel took a seat in between the comedian, Rascal Topher, and actress, Kayla Harks. On the ends of the half, round table were broadcast journalist Sue Zinger and retired soccer player, Jonas Pennington. Rachel sat directly in the center of the four main hosts. Yes, shows like this were done in the past, but this was the first of its kind to include male voices on a consistent basis. Rascal and Jonas were on the show from the beginning.

When the chorus to Byzantine Souls song, “Tell Me Why” ended, the lead host, Jonas, introduced Rachel. His shiny bald head reflected the hot stage lights creating a slight light flare. His teeth were whiter than the brightest bleach work, and his royal blue suit complimented his dark, coffee brown skin.

“Rachel Noelle Fernández-Sparks joins us today. Not only is she this fierce front runner of one of the eras greatest alternative rock bands, but she is the first lady of a church, and a mother… tell us… how do you balance all that and manage to produce new music and get ready for a world tour?” He smiled at Rachel, leaning on the table with his elbows.

“Ah… honestly… I don’t think about all that I have to do, I just think about what I need to do next. So… moment by moment, I just do what needs to happen, and then move on…”

Rascal looked the most outlandish with an orange mohawk with frosted lime green tips. He actually wore aviator shades. He hand fire engine red, pointed gages in his earlobes. The pointy studs on his leather, long sleeve shirt made Rachel worried if he leaned in a little too close to his left, she would get poked. Quickly, he interjected, “So you don’t believe in Jesus, yet, you’re a pastor’s wife… how does that work?”

Rachel felt a little embarrassed. Talking about the church or even bringing up her husband’s line of work made her crazy nervous.

“My husband has been 100% supportive of my career, even before we got together. I could never stand in the way of his dream.”

Sue, one of the prettiest Korean-American’s Rachel had ever seen, jumped in on the religious topic, “You sometimes attended services… what is like when your husband gives an altar call, and hundreds come up choosing to believe what the Bible says about the Son of God, and yet, you’re not up there on the altar? Are you worried your husband’s church will lose members because he’s married to someone who doesn’t believe in God?”

That overloaded Rachel’s brain. She froze unable to answer questions she never pondered. The show was directed by Rachel’s management team to stay off the topic of religion and her husband’s role as a pastor. Clearly Sue’s nose for hard-hitting news couldn’t ignore the aroma of controversy.

Kayla Harks, a proud, pretty lesbian born and raised in Dallas, Texas, came to Rachel’s aid, “Well, losing members don’t seem to be a problem for Pastor Keith Sparks, considering He has the largest church in L.A., and it continues to grow.”

As the lead host, Jonas used his power to veto the subject matter and transitioned the conversation with a single phrase, “The powerful song, Tell Me Why, the clip we listened to you, as you made your way out to join us… you told Hit Records Magazine the song was about your unhealthy, co-dependent, relationship with Skeeter Goodrich… former band member and original, co-founder of Byzantine Souls… tell us a little about the history that led you to create the song… so many years later…”

What an equally complicated question…

Five Years Ago

Skeeter stood in the shower, with boiling hot water running on him. The entire bathroom engulfed with steam. The humid heat nearly choked the breath out of Rachel. Her chest felt heavy like someone was sitting on it. Skeeter held a sharp, kitchen cutting knife to his throat.

“I will kill myself…  if you leave me… I won’t live without you…”

Rachel spent two hours packing enough to go back to her mother’s house. Three hours ago, she broke up with Skeeter. She felt if she stayed in this relationship she would end up dead… not because he would kill her… but because she would end herself… Being around Skeeter brought her down. To cope with his demands, to handle his constant need of attention, she started cutting again… like she used to in middle school and in high school…

Last night, she went to midweek service to support Keith. It was his first service he got to preach in the main sanctuary to an adult crowd. During worship, before he got up to preach, the lead pastor, under the anointing, took the stage in the middle of the worship and said a young lady was in the room, who was cutting herself to cope with life and she was currently in an unstable relationship… Pastor Stewart added that whoever that girl was, he encouraged her to get out of that relationship and even more importantly, find comfort in Christ Jesus, but most importantly to seek counseling immediately.

First, Rachel thought Keith blabbed to his pastor about her, but she realized she never told Keith she was a cutter. As close as they were she never confided in him to talk about her mental health issues.

Uncontrollably, Rachel buckled to her knees on the ground and wept loudly as the worship leader went back to singing. A couple women came up and ministered to Rachel. They laid hands on her. One prayed into Rachel’s ear. And based on what that one woman prayed, Rachel was aware this moment would happen…

Across from Skeeter, in the middle if the bathroom floor, Rachel held up her cell phone, 9-1-1 was set up to call, all she needed to do was press the green button.

“I love you Skeeter… you know I do… but I have to go… I’ll call 9-1-1 if I have to… either way… I’m leaving tonight…”

As Rachel slowly backed up toward the door, Skeeter threw the knife to the shower floor and screamed with rage… no words, just a loud, curdling scream. Crying, he flopped to his knees in the shower and Rachel took his window of surrender to flee.

She only grabbed one bag, filled with the essentials for her to make it through a few days. Once out the front door, she ran to her car parked in the driveway, she climbed in anxiously, afraid that Skeeter would pop up and snatch her back inside. Even starting the ignition gave her no peace. Slowly, as she backed up, she worried Skeeter did kill himself. That the only reason he wasn’t chasing after her was because he lied in a pool of his blood in the running shower…

Rachel stomped on the brake. She switched the car back into drive to pull up a little bit. As she placed the car in park, she regretted her choice. She couldn’t help it. She loved Skeeter, she couldn’t explain why, but she needed him as much as he needed her.

The Present – Table Talk Now

“Keith is the sweetest man I’d ever been with and he always treats me with dignity and respect… but our first year of marriage was hell, because of all the baggage I brought based on my unhealthy relationship with Skeeter. I tell people all the time, music is therapy for me, and writing this song about that toxic season in my life was healing for me.” Rachel answered.

“Now,” Sue dove into the conversation, “Skeeter’s book, ‘Abuser Recovery’ just came out a few weeks ago and you wrote the forward… what was it like being asked to say something positive about your abuser?”

Rachel felt like she was in hades from the heat of the lights. She gulped thinking of how to answer Sue’s heavy question… again…

“It took me a while to wrap my head around it, but in the end, I think it helped in my process of healing. Being able to forgive those that hurt you most is like coming back to life after the hatred you felt for that person drained all the spirit out of you…”

“So about six months ago, you were seen having drinks with Skeeter at the Indigo Lounge, the tabloids got a hold of it and started rumors the two of you were having an affair… you handled the whole scandal like a boss… how did you do that?” Kayla inquired, resting her chin on her fist, which was held up by the pillar of her forearm.

6 Months Ago

Skeeter sat in the corner booth, just like he said he would be in his text. Though Rachel was there to do nothing wrong, she felt like a cheater for not telling Keith where she was going. But she knew how Keith would react to her meeting up with her ex, and with being in such a good place with Keith, she didn’t want to ruin that.

She slid into the booth seat across from Skeeter. He looked way different than when they were together. He was clean shaven now, his hairline balding, therefore he kept his hair super short nearly shaved off. He wore wire rimmed classes like Harry Potter, and he dressed business causal with a blue button up shirt on and gray slacks. He wasn’t the man she once knew.

“How is Storm?” Skeeter asked.

The question made her heart skip a beat. She owed everything to Storm. Without him she would have never had the courage to leave Skeeter and without him she would have never married Keith.

“Good… I had to sing him to sleep before I left the house…”

“Oh, really… what did you sing him?”

“Jesus Loves Me… it’s his favorite…” Rachel smiled thinking on the peace that filled the room when she sang her son that song… it was moments like that, that almost made her believe in God again.

The conversation only stayed on small talk for a few more minutes. Then Skeeter got straight to the point. He was relieved that Rachel finally agreed to meet with him. What he needed to ask her needed to be done in person, because before he asked, he needed to do something first.

“Will you forgive me for how awful I was to you when we were together?” He asked with tears swelled in his eyes.

One thing Keith taught her how to do well was forgive, because without forgiveness it was impossible to fully love people.

“Yes… I forgive you…” She didn’t hesitate to do so.

He leaned forward, and set his glasses on the table, and cupped his face with the palms of his hands. And he cried.

Rachel still didn’t want to touch him. She knew eyes were on them. She knew someone either took a picture or were about to take one and sell it to the highest bidder. But however the gossip magazines and social media outlets spun the pic of her and Skeeter sitting at this booth, she knew the truth… she was here to forgive her abuser…

The Present – Table Talk Now

“Silence can never be taken out of context, therefore, when lies are out there about you, simply let them float, because the truth always comes out, and when it does, there is freedom in the truth.” Rachel commented.

Rascal joked, “The truth will set you free! You for sure are a preacher’s wife… quoting Bible to us!”

Jonas pressed on with the interview as if Rascal’s comment wasn’t voiced, “I was deeply touched by this last sentence you wrote in the forward of the book, in fact I want to share it, I have it right here.” Jonas picked up Skeeter’s book from the table. He cracked open the all black book with white typewriter letters for the title. Jonas read, “Here is what you wrote, ‘To the man who once was my biggest enemy, I can honestly say, I forgive you wholeheartedly and I fully support your journey as you become a new man.’ It takes a big person to forgive like that. There were parts in this book I could hardly stomach to read as he described what he did to you… How did you find it in your heart to forgive him?”

6 Months Ago – At the Indigo Lounge

For nearly an hour, through tears and laughter, Skeeter explained the two year journey he’d taken to change who he was. The entire timeframe, Rachel remained skeptic of his transformation.

Rachel took a sip of her ginger ale. Avoiding eye contact with Skeeter, she asked, “Like… why do you want to share our relationship hell with the world?”

Skeeter took Rachel’s hand that she had set on the table. Under the dim blue light, they made eye contact, and with sincerity Skeeter said, “Because I need to use our dark past to shine the light… I need to share that through Christ anyone can change.”

Uncomfortable, Rachel retracted her hand from Skeeter’s grasp. “Not everyone changes knowing God.”

Skeeter chuckled, “You’re married to a pastor and you sing your son hymns to go to sleep, and you still don’t believe in the power of Christ?”

More and more these days, Rachel was on her way to believing in God again… but when she looked at all the pain and suffering in the world… it was still impossible for her to believe in a good God.

Clearing his throat of what had to be phlegm, Skeeter’s allergies were crazy this time of year, he whipped out his smartphone. After getting past facial recognition, and tapping away at his screen, he turned the phone to face Rachel and he presented a family portrait. He and Heidi, each of them held a blonde toddler, dressed in a flowery, pink dress. Rachel remembered seeing on Z News, the celebrity gossip channel, that Skeeter welcomed twin girls, Chellie (pronounced Shelly) and Belle, with his wife, Heidi, roughly 19 months ago.

“My family… Heidi was pregnant and about to leave me, and I couldn’t let them go… I tried many times to change before but after trying everything… turning to Jesus was the only thing that worked.” He explained.

Rachel knew when Skeeter was lying and when he was telling the truth… She believed he was different.

The Present – Table Talk Now

“Tell us, what is next for you, the band, and the fam?” Kayla Harks asked to wrap up Rachel’s interview.

“Well, we’re in the studio making our second album… we’re kicking off our world tour next month, and the fam is good as usual.” Rachel said shrugging her shoulders not too sure what else to say.


On 12.15.2019, come back to read and listen to the single:

AYFTA - BSS - BG

BriAnna Monique View All

Storyteller via writer, actor, filmmaker, and artist.

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