The next day dawned bright and hot. While I dressed, a distant voice over a loudspeaker announced the official start of Wet and Wild.
At the top of West Hill, throngs of students clustered. A fire hose cascaded water down a sheet of black plastic, across the dense grass of the hill and into the muddy Hollow below. I paused at the bottom to watch a few students take the plunge before climbing up the hill myself.
Breanne spotted me and made her way over. She stooped to give me a peck on the cheek.
“Your shirt,” she said quickly, color rising in her cheeks. “Just following instructions.”
I laughed. “This was the only dark colored t-shirt I could find. I wonder how many kisses I’m likely to get today.”
“Hopefully not too many. Hey, I’m itching to try the water slide. Ready?”
“I think I need to watch a little longer to get my nerve up. You go ahead.”
When Breanne left to get in line, I saw Phoebe and Ian climbing back up the hill. They were both dripping wet and covered in mud. Ian immediately got back in line, and Phoebe hung back with me.
“Nice to see you again, Giselle. How did it go at the clinic?” Phoebe asked.
“They don’t know what’s going on. It’s probably nothing though,” I said, instinctively rubbing my finger along my jaw. The lump was still there.
“I heard about your grandmother too,” she said.
That surprised me. “You did?”
“Word travels fast on this campus. They call it the Elkie Grapevine.” She put her hand on my arm. “We’ll make sure to pray for her at CSF.”
“So, are you ready to take the plunge?” Phoebe asked.
“Now or never, I guess,” I said with a nervous giggle.
We got in line behind a tall, shirtless guy. I tried not to stare at his tanned, muscular back as the line inched forward. Just before he jumped, he turned to us. “Watch, I’m about to set the all time speed record,” he said and took off with a running jump down the slide.
“Easy on the eyes, isn’t he?”
“C’mon, I saw you looking.” She elbowed me in the ribs. “You and every other girl on campus, me included. That’s Brad Talbert. He’s a sophomore. Last spring he almost single-handedly took the Elkies to the baseball championships.”
As she spoke, Brad rose out of the brown water at the bottom of the Hollow and sauntered over to join the mud football game that was just getting underway in the grassy area next to the campus lake.
“Looks like we’re up,” I said, grateful for a change in subject.
We stepped up to the edge of the black plastic sheeting. The hill looked even steeper from this angle.
“You go first,” Phoebe said.
I sat and scooted forward into the flow of water, delaying the inevitable. Phoebe and the others in line started chanting, “Go! Go! Go!”
I pushed off. My heart leapt into my throat. Grass, sky and trees whooshed past in a blur. I splashed down into the swampy pond forming in the Hollow and climbed up, giddy with adrenaline. I had to do it again!
Frolicking in the mud and water all day turned out to be just the distraction I needed. I fell into bed at day’s end, exhausted and just a little sunburned. Mom emailed me Sunday night with a relatively positive update on Oma’s health which eased my worries further.
The following Tuesday, Ian stopped by our room and walked with Lacey and I to the second meeting of CSF. The heat wave had broken at last, leaving a pleasant crispness that hinted at the real change of seasons to come. It felt glorious now, but I wondered just how much colder it would get.
A flock of geese clustered on the bank of the campus lake. One floated on the water, honking. Ian stopped halfway across the bridge and stared at them.
“Look, this is what I was talking about last week,” he said.
“The congregation of geese?” I snickered.
“All creation groans and awaits the day of the Lord,” said Lacey in a reverent whisper. “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
Did she really mean that? I was sort of hoping to finish college and maybe even get married first.
Ian still stood staring. “The way that goose is honking while the others just listen has got me thinking. He’s got to be sharing the Good News. Can’t you hear it?”
I wasn’t sure if he was insane or joking.
The goose honked more insistently. The others began shifting and ruffling their feathers.
“Wait,” Ian said with a crooked grin. “I think I’m being blessed with the gift of interpretation. He just said, ‘come to the water, all who thirst.’”
Just then the rest of the flock entered the water en masse.
“Best response to an altar call I’ve seen in a while!” Ian whooped and clapped. “Go goose dude go!”
“Ian, you’re the goose.” Lacey chuckled and tugged on his arm. “C’mon, we’re going to be late. I’m sure the goose revival can carry on without our supervision.”
During the fellowship time before the meeting started, I chatted with Phoebe. She asked after Oma again.
“It’s maybe not as bad as I originally thought. She’s already making small improvements.”
“That’s great to hear.” She put her hand on my arm. “We’ll make sure to pray for her tonight.”
“C’mon, they’re about to get started. Sit with me?”
After the meeting concluded with prayer, two red-haired guys came up to Phoebe. They also had matching green eyes, matching dimples, matching Elk River lettermen jackets. Twins!
“Giselle, I’d like you to meet Ewan and Rhys Finley. We’re from the same town.”
I couldn’t tell which twin she had indicated as Ewan and and which as Rhys. It didn’t matter. They were so identical I doubted I would ever be able to tell them apart. I just smiled, nodded and admired as Phoebe joked easily with the twins.
Lacey wandered up and Phoebe repeated the introductions. The one on the left was Rhys, the one on the right was Ewan.
Lacey yawned. “Sorry to be the party pooper, but I’m exhausted. Ready to go Giselle?”
“Sure. Nice to meet you guys.”
Lacey and I walked in silence until we reached the bridge. I finally burst out, “Can you believe how handsome those twins are? I only wish I could tell them apart.”
“Hmmm? Oh, sorry I didn’t really notice. I guess my philosophy about CSF is that I’m there to get closer to God, not pick up on guys.”
I felt so immature and shallow. I had such a long way to go before I’d be anywhere near as spiritual as Lacey.