Authors: C. Elizabeth
“You love me,” she quietly proclaimed, sitting at her desk beside me.
Yes, yes I did...but how much? The day wasn’t over.
~ * ~
Lunch time was our first opportunity to meet up with Norma and Becky, our other two groupies.
Norma was about an inch shorter than me, which would put her at about five four. She had dark black hair cut really short, so it framed her face and made her hazel eyes shine. Her cheeks were always rosy and she had an exceptionally small nose, but it suited her. She was also the one who struggled with everything, including boys.
Becky, on the other hand, was five six and had the same blonde hair as Angie, but it was always tied up in a ponytail. Becky hated hair in her face and over her dark blue eyes she wore glasses that rested on her little flat nose. Becky could be categorized as not the sharpest tool in the box, but she was fun.
Angie filled Becky and Norma in on her plan. Norma was on my side, arguing our case that the old house was out of the way. Becky was on Angie’s side. That was a no brainer...Becky was just as boy crazy as Angie.
Unfortunately for them, my logical side kicked in. “If they’re just moving in, we’re probably not going to see anybody anyway.”
Becky stuffed a potato chip in her mouth. “Of course we will. They gotta come in and out to unpack the truck.”
“Duh!” I jeered playfully. “By time school’s out, the moving part will be done.”
She hovered a chip close to her mouth looking off to the side, in her own world. “Oh, never thought of that.”
“Don’t look now, but we’re not going to be the only ones who’ll be doing a drive-by.” Angie directed a nod behind me. “Look who’s planning.”
Turning around, I took a bite of my apple and grunted. “Of course,” I drawled with my mouth full.
Segra, Jocelyn and Mattie were all wide-eyed and talking with their hands. Segra Tittle had long curly brown hair, brown seductive eyes (I heard boys say that), was about my height, and had a body that made movie stars look saggy.
Jocelyn Adams was the one I kind of felt sorry for. They only allowed her in their group because she let them push her around. She had mousy brown shoulder length hair that always looked messy, blue eyes, stood about five nine, and was a little chunky around the edges. Unfortunately for her, she hadn’t mastered how to be graceful with her height and always seemed clumsy.
Then there was Mattie Drunes. She’d fit in anywhere with her long auburn hair, freckles and green eyes. She was about five seven and slim, and I never understood why she wanted to hang out with Segra. Mattie always had a smile, even with braces.
Those three were the most popular girls in school and had been since, well...forever, and only because boys liked the type of girl Segra was, for a short while anyway.
Angie moved in closer. “So, let’s skip last period.”
“No,” I argued. “I have an English test then. I can’t skip it.”
Angie turned her attention to the other two. “Well?”
Becky nodded with excitement.
Norma declined. “No thanks, we’ll know soon enough who lives there. What’s the big deal about today?”
Becky gave Norma a crooked smile. “Because if there’s boys and they see us first, we’ll be the first on their minds and they’ll remember us!” It was a warped logic, but a Becky logic nonetheless.
Norma flirted with the idea Becky presented. “Oh, maybe that is a good idea.” And as if someone hit her in the head, she snapped it toward me. “Are you sure you don’t want to come?”
It wasn’t something I could even consider, and they knew it. “No, I can’t. I’ll meet you guys at Sloppy’s after I drop off my Sunday School lesson. Father Lacombe wants to take a look at it to make sure it’s okay for me to teach the kids.”
Being our resident, not so bright, drama queen, Becky threw her hand over her mouth. “Oh! I forgot! Darn it! I’m teaching next Sunday, aren’t I?” She looked at all three of us, wanting an answer.
Angie dug in her purse. “Hang on, let me get my calendar,” she said as she pulled out her cell phone. All of our schedules were meticulously imbedded into that little electronic calendar of hers, not that we had any kind of elaborate agendas, but it pleased her to feel important.
After some furious button pushing, Angie had Becky’s answer. “Yup, sure are, Becks.” Then she tucked it away and looked at her. “Have you even got an idea what to teach?”
“Not a clue.” Becky slouched down in her seat.
The bell rang.
When I stood to leave, I patted Becky’s shoulder. “You’ll think of something, hopefully soon. It usually takes you two weeks to prepare a lesson.”
She ignored the bell and rested her chin in the palm of her hand, sulking. “I know.”
~ * ~
My spare class on Friday afternoons usually found me in the library studying, and that particular day was no different. I laid out all my materials and methodically began reading the first chapter of five we were being tested on in English.
“Hey, Saydi,” Todd said, as he sat down across from me.
I peeked up. “Hi, Todd.”
Todd Lethars, eighteen, had been my boyfriend off and on since sixth grade and completely off since grade nine. It was never anything serious; we’d never even kissed, so I guess you could say he was one of my best friends, too. But a couple months prior he’d started acting weird, following me around and even going as far as to corner me and ask me out on a real date.
I told my mom about it and she laughed, saying he was finally a young man and was showing interest in me. “That’s what boys do,” she informed me. Well, though he was tall, maybe six foot, with blonde curly hair, perfect skin and beautiful brown eyes and...
get a grip!
Something just didn’t feel right when he asked me. It felt like my brother was asking me out, and ever since then I stayed away from any boyfriend/girlfriend talk whenever he was around. I also tried to avoid him.
“What can I do for you, Todd?”
He folded his arms on the table and rested his chin on them, grinning.
“Todd, I’m trying to study.”
Continuing to grin, he nodded. “That’s okay, you study, I’ll watch.”
My mouth turned up in a soft smile. “You’re making me lose my concentration.”
“No! I’m sorry!” he goofed.
I giggled. “Todd!”
He pushed his chair back. “Okay, I’ll let you get back to it.” Then he pointed at me. “You heading over to Sloppy’s after school?”
“Yeah, right after I drop my lesson off with Father Lacombe.”
“’Kay, we’ll see you there.”
Across the room, two girls were whispering and gawking at him as he walked away. Todd could probably have any girl he wanted. He was pretty cute.
~ * ~
With another exam under my belt, I scanned the extra noisy hallway for my friends, then remembered they had skipped last period. It would be interesting to see what they discovered, and as I stepped out the doors it did make me a bit curious as to who had moved into the old house. I had to admit a little jolt of excitement came along with that curiousness.
What if there were some new boys
? That would be the highlight of the year for all the girls, no matter what the boys looked like. It was appealing just to have new faces in town.
The rumbling of an engine crawled up behind me.
“Hey, get in,” Todd called from his car.
“Thanks, but I’d rather walk,” I responded, forcing a smile.
“Come on, Saydi,” he begged.
I stopped to study him, debating whether it was a good idea or not.
His hands slapped together in prayer fashion. “Please, with sugar on top.”
“Oh, fine!” I grumbled and got in. “The least you could’ve done is be a gentleman and open the door for me.”
The tires squealed against the pavement as he pulled away from the curb. “I’m not that desperate.” He laughed.
When Todd rounded the first corner, he slowed down to the speed limit, not wanting to alert the Father to his erratic driving ability. Once parked, he insisted I stay put. Then he opened my door for me and bowed, holding his hand out. “Me lady.”
Taking his hand, I stepped out. “I thought you weren’t that desperate?”
“Well...maybe a little bit.”
It felt uneasy how closely Todd walked beside me, giving me the impression he wanted to reach for my hand and in turn made me shudder. A quick interception was warranted.
“You don’t have to come in,” I blurted out.
Smiling, he responded, “I know, but I need to talk to Father Lacombe too.”
There was a sly look on his face. “Don’t you want to know why?”
There really wasn’t any interest on my part, because I knew what he was doing, but I humored him anyway. “Okay, why?”
“I wanted to see if he’d let me attend Sunday School,” he said, being a rascal.
And there it was...letting me know, in a roundabout way, he wanted to spend time with me. “You’re a little old, don’t you think?”
“Well...” He ran his fingers through his hair. “That might be a problem.”
He laughed, finding the small of my back with his hand.
Father Lacombe was happy to greet us the way he always did, by clasping his hands together and throwing them up in the air. A big smile lit his face.
“Saydi, I’m so glad you could make it,” he said happily, holding my shoulders. Then he shifted his attention to Todd. “And I see you brought Mr. Lethars with you,” he added, reaching for Todd’s hand.
Todd accepted and shook. “Hi, Father.”
I put my knapsack on the pew and started rummaging through it. “I brought my lesson for Sunday for you to look over.”
“Good, good. I trust it will be inspiring for our little ones.”
Pulling it from the clutches of two binders, I handed the pages to him. “I hope it will be.”
“Sit, sit down and tell me what it’s about.”
With Todd on my right side, I turned to my left, facing Father Lacombe.
“Well, I wanted to talk to them about the idea of teaching, actually.”
Father Lacombe raised an eyebrow in curiosity. “Go on,” he encouraged.
“Well, as the saying goes, ‘You can give someone a fish and feed them for one day, or you can teach them how to fish and feed them for a lifetime.’ That’s what I wanted to inspire them with.” For some reason, the heat flushed my face, suddenly feeling embarrassed.
Father Lacombe put his hand on my shoulder and smiled. “That’s a wonderful lesson, I’d have to say the best yet from the mentor program. I’m proud of you and can’t wait to read it.” And with his usual hint it was time to go, he stood and extended his hand out to Todd.
“Mr. Lethars, it’s nice to see you in God’s house again. Can I expect to see you in the future?”
It was Todd’s turn to blush bright red. “Yes, Father.”
He placed his hand on Todd’s shoulder. “Of course I will.”
We all knew it wouldn’t happen. Todd quit going to church the year before, right after his dad died.
“Thank you, Father,” I said.
“Thank you, Ms. Gardiner. I’m excited to read your lesson.”
Todd was again being a gentleman, placing his hand on my back while we walked toward the doors.
“Oh! Mr. Lethars?” Father Lacombe called out.
We turned. “Yes sir?” Todd responded.
Father tipped his head a bit to the side and looked directly at Todd from under his eyelashes. “We have all lost loved ones, some for reasons we know, others we don’t. Regardless of those reasons, it’s the path we choose afterward that defines the impact they had on our lives.” He smiled. “Make sure the love your father had for you doesn’t go to waste.” He looked at both of us. “I look forward to seeing both of you on Sunday.” Then he turned and went through the door to the sanctuary.
We glanced quickly at each other.
Todd was especially close to his dad and so was I, not having one myself. His dad’s smile was infectious and his laugh was booming. You could hear it from blocks away and when he died, we lost Todd for a while. Though we all tried to be there for him, he wouldn’t let any of us in.
Finally, after some months, he started acting like his old self. Todd’s mom told me that he was seeing a counselor. Maybe that’s why I didn’t have the heart to tell him the way I really felt—throwing him another blow just didn’t sit right with me.
“That was weird,” Todd commented while opening the passenger door for me and scratching his head.
My door closed softly and he got in the driver’s side. What Father said had Todd flustered—he fumbled trying to get the key in the ignition. “You don’t think so?”
“Todd, he just wants you to come back to church. Maybe if you feel closer to Him...” My cheeks went hot again, then I looked down at my hands.