Authors: C. Elizabeth
“Saydi?” Nathanael called.
When I turned, he stood with one arm on the roof of the car. “You have nothing to be sorry about.”
My insides still felt funky. “Thanks for the ride.”
“Would it be okay if I saw you tonight?”
Funkiness be gone! The excitement ripped through me like lightning. “Sure!”
“Okay, I’ll pick you up at seven-thirty. Is that good?”
My head bobbed like a fool.
“See you later.” He hopped in his car.
As soon as the taillights were out of sight, I dashed into the house, flipping my shoes against the wall. “Mom, where’s the phone?”
“Saydi, who was that?”
“That was Nathanael. Where’s the phone?”
“It’s on the kitchen counter. Saydi, I thought you said they gave you the willies?”
Darting my eyes around the room, they finally rested on the phone. I snatched it up and dialed Angie’s number.
“One minute, Mom.”
Mom narrowed her eyes.
Four rings...five...“Hello,” a raspy voice answered.
“Angie? You’ll never guess what?”
There was a slight hesitation. “What?” Angie sounded like she’d been hit by a truck.
“You don’t sound good.”
“I’m not. I’ve been sick all day.”
“Hmm, I wonder what that’s from...drinking!” Purposely shrieking so it hurt.
“Mm-hm. Saydi, I’m dying here, can I call you tomorrow?”
My heart fell. My news was the kind that was supposed to make friends excited with me. “Yeah, I’ll see you in church.”
“Maybe. Bye.” She hung up.
Before I could start dialing Becky, Mom gently took the phone from my hand.
“Honey, I think you’ll get the same answer from Becky, Norma and even Todd. I spoke with Micky and she said it isn’t just Angie who is sicker than a dog, but all of them are. None of them got home until almost seven this morning.”
It made me a bit mad that my friends couldn’t share in my news. “Why did they have to stay so late and drink so much?” I pouted.
Mom smiled. “I’ll listen if you like.”
The excitement got to me again, throwing my ability to talk slowly and make sense out the window. “Nathanael came and picked me up at work. We talked, then I was a stupid head and told him I knew his mom left when he was a baby. Then he got sad or mad, I’m not sure which...” I took a deep breath. “Then I got out of his car and thought he hated me for what I said, but then he asked me out tonight. Mom, I don’t know what to wear! He didn’t say where he was taking me.” My eyes popped out of my head. “What am I going to wear?”
Mom laughed. “My! All that in a span of a five minute drive?”
Elaborately flipping my hand in the air, I responded, “I think he took the long way around. I can’t remember! What am I going to wear?”
She gently took my arm. “First of all, sit.”
My butt plunked down.
Sitting right beside me, she took my hand. “Now, I thought you told me those boys gave you the willies?”
“His brothers, not Nathanael. Actually, he makes me feel calm.”
“Yes, I can see that,” she giggled, being a smarty pants. Then she got serious. “Wasn’t Nathanael the one in your dream who had you so scared?”
“Yeah, but it changed when I saw him this morning. The dream seemed silly then.”
“Oh.” She looked in my eyes. “Well, Saydi, I’m not sure if you should be hanging around with them. Besides, they only moved in yesterday and already Nathanael has asked you out. Doesn’t that seem a little quick?” She wasn’t happy, and she was being
“Are you judging him, Mom?” I tried to make it sound like I was fooling around with her. It didn’t work.
“No, I don’t think so. I just think it seems fast, especially when your first impression was so negative. That’s all.”
“Maybe I did get caught up in the moment. It’s just that...it’s just that he’s so cute, and no one has ever paid attention to me except Todd.”
Sighing, she gave me a gentle smile and paused. “I can see this is important to you.” Eyeing me, she added, “Oh, all right. Be careful and listen to yo—”
I cut her off and pushed away from the table. “I know, I know, listen to my intuition and I won’t be led astray.”
She tried to flick the towel at me. “Go shower.”
~ * ~
Mom helped me put a few curls in my hair, then helped with my make-up, telling me that less is more. “Make-up is only to enhance your features; no one is supposed to know you’re wearing it.”
I tried on every piece of clothing I had in my dresser and closet and finally decided on a white knitted short-sleeved top that had a v-neck tastefully low and jeans. It would have to do.
The doorbell rang, throwing my stomach into my throat. The shakes were making their way slowly into my joints—it was my first real date. Yikes! All of a sudden, hiding under my bed seemed comforting.
Willing my heart to slow and with a deep breath, shaking and sweating included, I cracked my bedroom door a teeny bit and tried to get up the courage to move my legs. Nathanael’s voice floated toward me. I swallowed hard and walked toward the entrance. My mission was to get to the front door quickly, but Mom and Nathanael had other plans. Rounding the corner, I was faced with them sitting all comfy cozy on the couch, catching me completely off guard. My response catapulted out of me, “Hi!”
Nathanael quickly stood and smiled a huge smile. “Hi. You look nice.” At least his tone of voice was normal, not like mine.
“Thank you. So do you.” I relaxed immediately upon seeing his attire, a long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of jeans—it gave me a bit more confidence in myself, knowing that I had chosen right.
“Thank you.” He slightly bowed his head to Mom. “It was nice to meet you, Mrs. Gardiner.” Then took her hand and kissed it.
Mom blushed. “It was nice meeting you too, but please call me Adina, and thank you for the roses.”
Speaking to Mom, he held his hand out to me. “Then Adina it is, and you are most welcome. What time do you want Saydi home?”
My eyes begged and pleaded, and if they could fall on bended knee they would. All the while she surveyed each emotion that went across my face, including my relief when she smiled. “One o’clock at the latest.” Of course it came with a stern warning with a wag of her finger.
“Thank you, Adina.” Then he turned to me. “Shall we?” he offered, holding his arm out so gentlemanly.
When I looked back at Mom, at first it looked like she was frowning. Then when she saw me watching, she smiled and gave me a weak thumbs up. A giggle stuck in my throat.
~ * ~
He opened the car door and gently held my arm until I was seated, then closed it and went around to the driver’s side. As he put the key in the ignition, he smiled. “You really do look beautiful.”
The heat plastered itself in my cheeks. “Thanks.”
Looking out his side mirror to make sure the coast was clear, he pulled away from the curb. Once we were on the straight and narrow, he twined his fingers through mine and hoisted them up. “Is this okay?”
Instead of nodding, again my head bobbed.
Bringing my hand up to his lips, he kissed it and said, “Good.” Then with one hand, he maneuvered the car on a left turn with ease and we were on our way.
“What’s on the agenda for you tomorrow?” he asked.
“I teach Sunday School before regular service, then attend regular service, and usually after that we all go to Sloppy’s for lunch. Then it’s home for studying, supper, then bed.”
“Hmm, talk about structured,” he commented, turning an eye on me. “Tell me more about you, the inside you.”
What a strange question.
The inside me? Who was that?
“I like to read,” came out.
“Mm-hm. I figured.”
The night before was going to haunt me. “I’m sorry about that...that book-dropping incident,” I said, keeping my embarrassed eyes away from his face.
The warmth of his finger feathered down my cheek. “No harm done. So, besides my father’s cherished possessions, what do you like to read?”
Nothing came to mind at the moment, except the one thing I usually kept to myself. “I find scriptures fascinating.”
What is wrong with you?
My incredibly stupid self fell silent after that revelation. There was nowhere else to look but down. “I like romance, too,” I added hastily, trying to recover.
When I peeked up, he wrinkled his nose, stuck out his tongue, and jeered, “Eww!”
That cracked me up. Nathanael made me feel comfortable, and it didn’t matter what stupid things I said. He was exactly the boy all girls dreamed of, someone who looked past all the jitters and silliness that flopped out of our mouths.
I shrugged. “It’s a girl thing. But I like horror and some mystery, too.”
“So you find the Bible fascinating?”
So much for overlooking it; mind you it was nice he was pretending to show interest. “Well, it’s not so much the scriptures, as is it the concept of it all—the battle between good and evil, that type of thing. Yes, I believe in God, but I’m human.”
A grumble rose in his throat, which shut me up. But he encouraged, “Go on.”
Something was unsettling to me, but I continued anyhow. “Sometimes I wonder.”
A serious tone broke through when he spoke. “You know you’re not supposed to question.”
“I know, but it’s human nature. There’s so much out there against us weak humans. It’s a constant tug of war.”
“Good point. Do you believe there’s a real Hell?”
“I think it’s here on earth, really.”
His voice went extra deep, low and creepy. “So you don’t believe there’s a pit of fire holding a bunch of demons waiting to pluck your soul?”
That rendition made me giggle. “I don’t know. I believe if you have a good heart and soul and work hard at being a good person, either way, you can’t lose.”
“What about you?” I asked.
“I find the scriptures fascinating, too.”
My mouth dropped. “Really?”
Laughing at my outburst, he replied, “Yes, really. But not for the same reasons. I love the history of it all, where and how it came about and what followed. There are so many more things that happened outside of the Bible, you’d be amazed.” His passion for it was evident in the way he spoke.
I was seeing a side of him that made him more a person, not just a hunk, and it made me feel great that his fascination was in tune with mine. “Like what?” I asked.
He chuckled. “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time to delve into the depths of good and evil.”
“We’re almost there, hang tight.”
A smile danced around his eyes, not entirely revealing itself. “You’re wondering where we’re going?”
“Yes, wouldn’t you? I’m in a strange boy’s car and have no idea where he’s taking me. It should be a little creepy.”
“And...is it?” he asked easily.
That smile came forward as we turned onto his street, down his back alley and up the driveway.
Holding hands, we walked on the path toward the front of the house and turned the corner...it took me by surprise. All the porch lights were on, as well as the lights in the house. The front deck had a few rocking chairs and tables on it, as well as a porch swing on the opposite end.
Why hadn’t I noticed this last night?
It was a completely different house without two hundred kids running through it. It was peaceful.
He helped me with my coat, then took his off and placed them on hangers in the closet. There was a need to be close to each other, and he took my hand again...
~ * ~
...I gripped the teardrop crystal. The ocean still lay dark between me and a spot of sun that rolled above.
“Take it with you,” the waves hummed.
~ * ~
My eyes refocused to eventually find Nathanael in full view again.
“Oh, there you are. I thought I lost you already.” He smiled tightly from behind a bar. We were no longer in the front foyer and were in the bookshelf room.
Slightly shaking my head, I said, “Sorry, I was admiring the house and didn’t notice a lot of this yesterday. You guys sure put everything back fast.”
“Well, first of all, you didn’t stay long enough to notice anything.” He shoved his hand in his pocket while he poured a soda in a glass and watched it flow over the ice. “As for putting everything back, that’s why we have servants,” he informed, passing me the glass then opening another.