We decided to forgo the weekly potluck and came home immediately after the service. We had a quiet lunch, Mara and I, of vegetable soup and quesadillas, while listening to a guitar concerto in the radio.
As we ate I marveled at my silliness. It hadn’t been as scary as I’d thought; in fact, I had almost enjoyed it. And though my mind had drifted off for long spaces of time during the service, my musings for the most part hadn’t been morbid. The people I’d known before hadn’t chewed me out, either. The biggest surprise, however, was that Mara and I hadn’t killed each other on the drive there and back home. There was a subtle change between us, and I did not know how it had happened. It was just very odd to discover that though neither one volunteered to begin or carry any form of conversation, the air was not tense as it was wont to do whenever my scatter-brained older brother was not around to liven things up.
“Do you want to go back for the afternoon service?” Mara asked as we cleaned up. “Some Gospel singers from out of state are coming to sing.”
I shook my head, “I’ve had enough for today, I think.”
Mara scraped something from the kitchen stove, “Well, I suppose it would be too much to ask.”
I regarded her warily from the sink where I was drying the dishes. Was she trying to start a fight? “What’s that supposed to mean?”
She frowned, “It’s not supposed to mean anything. Calm down, Tanya!”
“Don’t tell me to calm down! It’s not like I’m angry or anything.” The dishes clattered loudly as I stacked them in place as if belying my assertions, “You always think the worst of me,” I muttered.
“Don’t give me that.” Mara threw her cleaning rag on the sink and proceeded to wash it clean, “You are the one who suddenly wanted to go to church, so I took you with me. You didn’t want to stay for potluck, I brought you home. I am way past forcing you to go to church. I was simply offering to take you. Do I get a ‘Thanks’? No. Do I expect it at this point? Not really. Just don’t shoot my head off for trying to be civil.”
Her words stuck me. I didn’t exactly agree with her sentiments—she somehow always managed to verbally outmaneuver me—but the revelation that she wasn’t entirely trying to antagonize me left me speechless for a time.
“I’m sorry,” I said after a while. My tone was subdued from the effort of getting down a huge slice of humble pie, “I didn’t know—I thought…” I sighed, “If you are going I’ll join you. I can drive if you want.”
Mara wrung her now clean rag and hung it up to dry. “I wanted to hear the concert, but I had originally thought to spend the day up there. Going back in the rain and then finding a place to park would be an absolute nightmare. Anyway. I thought I’d go see Alma. She’s not doing so well after her surgery.”
“Ok.” I said, as if I had an idea who Alma was.
“You going out today?”
“Pfft! I never go out.”
She looked surprised, and I wondered what it was she thought I did on Saturdays when she was out the whole day. For the sake of our new-found truce I didn’t volunteer any information.
“I think I’m going to do some homework. Or study. I have some big exams coming up.”
“It’s the Sabbath.”
“I’ll take a nap then.”
“Ok. I’ll be back in the evening.”
Fifteen minutes later Mara left, and I remained at home to listen to the rain.
Part 21 – If You Only Knew