Monday, December 15, 2014

Chapter 26, part 1: Distractions

Friday afternoon, I doodled in the margin of the notes from journalism class. I had to write a feature story profiling a Elk River student, preferably someone I didn’t know well, by Monday. Might be a good excuse to call Brad.
As I reached for the phone, it rang. The caller ID said Lacey Johnson. I let it ring once more, and then picked up.
“Giselle, I’m so glad you answered. Listen, I owe you an apology. I didn’t know Rob was going to go after you like that.”
“That was no fun, but the worst part was thinking you agreed with him when you took off.”
“Well… no offense, Gigi, but Rob was right about at least one thing.”
I winced anticipating the next words.
“I want to encourage you to read your Bible more. That and leading others to Christ is really what it’s all about, isn’t it?”
“I do read the Bible—well, at least I do sometimes. Mostly it’s in small snatches here and there.” I groaned. “Who am I kidding? I try to read it, but it’s too hard to keep up with. I feel like I don’t understand half of what I’m reading, and then I’ll miss a few days, and well, I just forget to pick it back up again.”
“Listen, Gigi, sorry to do this to you, but Rob just texted me – he’s downstairs waiting. We’re going to town to dinner tonight. I knew I didn’t have much time to talk, but I wanted to make sure we got back on good terms ASAP.”
“Thanks, Lacey. I’m glad we’re still friends.”
“Me too. See you around, sweetie. And as far as reading your Bible goes, just take it slow. Read one verse a day and pray for God to help you understand it. Or ask Ian – he’s amazing at that sort of thing.”
“Yes, but—“
“Oops, look at me starting another conversation when I’ve really gotta go. Bye!”
When Lacey hung up, I started dialing Ian’s number to tell him the good news, then stopped myself.  Wouldn’t it be great if I started to follow Lacey’s advice first?  Then I’d have something really good to tell him. 
I picked up the Bible, and it fell open to the page marked with the scrap of paper where Brad had jotted his new cell phone number Tuesday night.  All thoughts of reading God’s word fell away as I got lost in a daydream of my future with Brad.  Before I quite knew what I was doing, the phone was in my hands once again. 

“Hello? Brad?”

“Yeah, who’s this?”

“Hi, it’s Giselle.”

“Just joshing you.  Of course I would recognize your sweet voice anywhere.”

I cleared my throat, wondering if blushes traveled through phone wires.  “Well, anyway, I’m doing a project for journalism class and wondered if I could ask you a few questions.” 

After the initial awkwardness of the formal interview questions, we settled into an easy banter, discussing everything under the sun.  Eventually, I realized how late it was. Had we really been talking for two hours?

“Brad, I just realized how late it is.  I have to run to dinner before the dining hall closes.  See you tomorrow at the Passion Play in Exeter?”

“Sure, wouldn’t miss it.” 

***

Saturday afternoon, I racewalked across the Quad, afraid I would miss the bus. Our small group of friends going to the passion play in Exeter had somehow morphed into a full-fledged CSF field trip, complete with transportation in a luxurious motorcoach. Brad was meeting me at the bus, and it was his first CSF activity. How did it get so late?
I knew exactly what had gone wrong. That morning I had finally sat down to read the Bible like Lacey suggested, flipping it open to a random page. Song of Solomon. Was it my imagination, or was that about sex?
I went online to find an expert opinion, and ended up following a rabbit trail to some things I probably shouldn’t have seen and detailed stories I probably had no business reading. I got caught up in the fantasy world created by the words, and then I looked up at the clock and realized it was 15 minutes before I was supposed to be across campus to leave for the field trip. I hadn’t even gotten dressed for the day.
Checking my watch, I broke into a run. The combination of guilt and adrenaline from the race against the clock left me nervous and on edge. What was wrong with me? The prompting to talk to someone about it came unbidden once again. Maybe I would, someday, but now was not a good time.
Just then I caught sight of Brad standing a few feet away from the group of students gathered to go on the field trip. A jolt of energy surged through me, and my stomach leapt. I waved.
“Hi, glad you could make it!” I called as I neared Brad, and gave him a side hug.
I was so conscious of Brad’s presence all day that I barely paid attention to the play, a retelling of the life and death of Christ. Still, when it came time for the crucifixion scene, I didn’t have to fake the tears for my role as one of the women at the foot of the cross. Something about the scene stirred my soul, and I wondered for a moment if the man on the cross would really be in the business of giving bear hugs to little girls.
None too soon, the scene ended and flirtation with Brad distracted me from any further spiritual thoughts.
We sat in the front row of the bus across from a freshman Kirsten had introduced me to at the first CSF meeting, Jonas Manning.
“I think we should start a new trend, and bring back robes and tunics,” Jonas said as we drove away. “So comfortable! And, did you notice, Brad? All the girls looked oddly hot in them. Those Bible dudes knew what they were doing.”
I couldn’t resist joking with him. “Good to know. I’ll sell all my jeans and t-shirts and invest in a line of muumuus.”
“You looked amazing in your caftan, Giselle, don’t get me wrong,” Brad said, “but I gotta say, you were even hotter in the harem costume you had to wear to be an attendant in Herod’s court.” He looked at me appraisingly. “Don’t you agree, Jonas?”

I blushed and couldn’t help smiling at the flattery and attention.