Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chapter 29, part 2: Questions

Confession was supposed to good for the soul. So why did I still feel so bad? Something about Brad’s response to my secret reminded me of Jonas’s words.
Brad’s sharp voice interrupted my thoughts. “Giselle, I asked you a question.”
“What?”
“You’re barely listening to me. I don’t get it. Don’t tell me something else is bothering you. Why can’t you just relax like a normal person?”
“I am perfectly normal. Why does it bother you so much that I have something on my mind? If you absolutely must know, I was thinking about something Jonas said to me the other day.”
“That loser? What did he want other than to try to get in your pants?”
“Don’t talk like that. I don’t know why you think those things. We’re just friends, that’s all. Jonas warned me.”
“Warned you. That sounds ominous. About what?”
“About you, I guess. He said he went to high school with you, and he knew what you were really like. That you had a reputation as a player, that you broke hearts all over the county. He said I should be careful or you would break my heart too.”
“Heh. Well, maybe he did hear those things in high school. I was popular with the ladies, sure. Too bad for them, they all turned out to be psycho. All clingy, needy, whiny and annoying. I’m lucky I found Wendy junior year.”
“That’s funny—Jonas said that you treated her worst of all.”
“Now that’s just a flat out lie. Malicious. Low.” His eyes darkened with anger. “You saw how Wendy and I were still friends when you went with me to my old church. Do you think that if I really hurt her that bad she would even speak to me?”
“So why did you break up?”
“I don’t really remember.” He stared ahead, jaw tight again.  He couldn’t even look at me.
Suddenly I regretted bringing the whole thing up. Love keeps no record of wrongs. If I loved him like I told Kirsten, why was I digging around in the past? “Sorry I brought that up.”
“Yeah.”
I took off my light jacket and hugged it to my chest. After miles of lushly treed countryside, the landscape opened up to tiny farms dotted with old-fashioned equipment. A horse and buggy trundled down the southbound lane.
“Look at that, Brad!”
“Yes, there are Amish along this stretch of 13. They’re cute as long as they’re not slowing me down.”
Love is not easily angered, I reminded myself. Let it go. For just a moment, I met the eyes of the young girl in a white bonnet who held the reins. I marveled at her quiet dignity. But wait. Love also perseveres. Love rejoices with the truth.
"Jonas said Wendy dumped you because she caught you with some other girl,” I blurted.
“What the heck!” He smacked the steering wheel and punched the stereo power button, killing the music. “What did I just finish telling you? Don’t you trust me? I can’t believe you would even give Jonas and his stupid theories the time of day. It’s so obvious to anyone with eyes in their head that he has a crush on you. He’s just filling your head with lies about me so he can have you to himself. Besides, I thought we went over this territory with Zoey this summer.”
Cowed by his sudden anger, I apologized again. “Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I never should have brought it up. I do trust you. I love you.” Still, there was one more question I had been pondering since Jonas’ warning. Might as well ask it now while he’s already mad. “Brad, can I ask one more thing.”
“I’d rather you not, but I don’t suppose my preference will stop you, will it?”
I winced at his biting tone, but plowed ahead. “What exactly did you mean when you said you were popular with the ladies?”
“You want to know if I’m a virgin,” he said flatly.
“Right.”
“No. I’m not. Sorry to disappoint you, Miss Perfect.”
My heart sank. He was right, his response didn’t line up with any of my expectations or ideals. Since thinking about doing it and actually doing it were the same by God’s standards, I wasn’t perfectly pure either. But I still always pictured being my future husband’s first real encounter. God, I silently prayed, it’s so clear to me that you’ve given me this man to marry. Help me forgive him for the sins in his past. I resolved never to tell Brad of my disappointment. It would only hurt him; only make him doubt God’s love and my love.
Brad’s next words were softer, vulnerable. “You’re awfully quiet. Are you disappointed?”
“No?” That wasn’t convincing at all. I rushed to restate it more firmly. “No, really, it’s okay. I forgive you. It’s in the past, right? Besides, like I said, God looks at our hearts and not just our actions. A sin is a sin, and I’m no better than you when it comes to that kind of immorality.”
“I wish you wouldn’t talk like that. Forget condemnation and shame. Just accept yourself. So what if God created you with a higher sex drive than other girls? Lucky for your future husband, is what I say.” He squeezed my knee. “We’ll just have a better sex life than the rest of those prudes.”
I blushed and put my hand over his. His tolerant words flooded me with relief. It sounded so appealing, but was it true? God had created my sexual urges, so they couldn’t be bad? Had I really been feeling guilty over nothing?

As the car sped past hills blanketed in glorious fall foliage, I became increasingly hopeful that there really wasn’t anything wrong with what I’d been doing and feeling. I began to daydream about Brad and I getting married. I tried to be extra agreeable for the last hour of the drive to make things up to him.