Yes It Matters

I didn’t see that guy again until maybe some three weeks later.

I was sitting in the back, sketching on my binder, when he came in and sat on the pew across the aisle from mine. The same one he’d been at that first time. When he caught me looking curiously at him through the gloom he got up and took a seat next to me.

“Tony. You?”

I stupidly blurted out my real name, “Tanya”

“Nice to meet you, Tanya,” he said chuckling softly.

He looked younger when he smiled. I now estimated him to be no more than twenty-one. Somehow, I had the feeling that I’d seen or known him before–did he remind me of my older brother? I took his hand and shook it. “Nice to meet you too”

“Why are you sitting here—all the way at the back?”

I bristled, “Why are you sitting here?”

“I don’t know anybody.”

“Same here,” I lied

We didn’t talk for a while. As the service went on I got used to having another person sitting next to me, so I sat back on my usual spectator attitude. Tony, however, was an active participant. He sang when they sang, kneeled when they kneeled. He didn’t cry like before, though, which was a relief.

“Tanya” he suddenly whispered as the pastor rose to give his sermon, “do you know of any Bible studies or catechism or classes or whatever to become baptized?”

I was in a spot. How would I know what Zuri’s church did?

“I don’t know.”

“Well aren’t you baptized?”

“No. This isn’t even my church”

“Oh.” He looked decidedly disappointed, “Nevermind, then.”

I thought about what I said next for a full fifteen minutes. Should I? Should I not? Oh well.

“There’s a Small Groups study here on Monday nights… If you are interested. The people there can answer your questions.”

“Monday? What time?”

“Six”

“No what time it ends?”

“Around eight. They have food afterwards”

“Count me in, then”

When the church lights flickered on at the end of the service, we shook hands again.

“Will you be there?”

I shrugged, thinking of my situation, “Does it matter?”

“Well I want to make sure I know at least somebody.”

“Yeah. I’ll be there,” I said, pondering the real question of how could I not be there?

He saluted me as he turned to go, “See you then.”

 

part 12 of If You Only Knew

Coming in From the Rain

I did not enjoy Wednesday prayer meetings. But since the church was vast and only the front was lighted up, it was easy for someone like me who sat at the back pew, to walk out and wander about. Unfortunately, when it rained hard I was forced to remain indoors.

So it was one rainy evening that another person joined me at the back pews. It was a twenty-something-year-old guy so drenched from the rain his shoes made squelching noises when he walked. He behaved peculiarly. During prayer time he hugged his damp form, rocked softly, and cried, emitting shaky high-pitched wails at times. When the small group of singers took the stage and began leading out the hymns he got on his feet, lifted his arms and continued saying stuff as he sang along and wailed betimes.

I felt uncomfortable. Almost scared. But before I could move and join Zuri at the front pew, the meeting was done, the church lights flickered on, and we stood facing each other for a short beat.

Deep-set eyes under dark, thick eyebrows. Sharp-featured. Short. Incredibly thin and pale.

I opened my mouth to say some inane apology, but he blinked, and fairly ran to get out of there.

 

part 11 of If You Only Knew