Mary sat in the computer lab, trying to look busy while she waited for the bell to ring. There was only about 10min left of class. She had gotten out of her last class of the day a little early to come here and hear about the newspaper class that would be starting next year. Her public speaking teacher had stopped her after class the day before to see if she might be interested in it.. apparently her English teacher had passed her name on as someone who had journalism potential.
The head of the yearbook team, who was also the computer class teacher, addressed the students who had come in interested in becoming part of the newspaper team. She was not to be the one heading the newspaper, apparently there was a new teacher starting next year that would be taking that on.. but they wanted to make sure there was enough interest, that there would be enough students committed to it, so that they could decide whether it would be an actual class or just an after school project.
So Mary sat there at an empty computer, playing Solitaire after putting away the papers the teacher had passed out, waiting for the day to end.
Billy appeared in the doorway with Sam at his side.
Mary's heart skipped a beat. It seemed as if all the air had whooshed right passed Billy and out the door.. leaving none for her to breathe and she feared she might suffocate in his presence. She had been trying so hard to act normal around him for the past year. They'd gone out a few times with groups of friends from band, but things had always remained strained and awkward between them.
Mary sunk further down in her chair, lowering her head and wishing she could melt into a puddle on the floor.. that way it would hurt less when he stepped on her. She prayed he wouldn't see her sitting there.
He and Sam sat down in a couple seats toward the back of the room. She wondered what could have brought him in here, 10min from the end of the day only a few days from the end of the school year..
She looked forward to the summer. She had grown tired of trying to gain his attention, trying to nurture their friendship, tired of hoping for more only to be met with consistently less. She looked forward to giving up her end of it and being left alone for the next three months. Next year he would be a senior, and she would be a junior.. Only one more year until he's out of my life.. she thought to herself.
She breathed a little sigh of relief as he settled into the seat a few rows back and sat very still, barely moving a muscle.. imagining herself dissipating into vapor and falling in little droplets to the floor.. perhaps a little pool on her chair.
She heard footsteps behind her.
Billy sat in the empty chair beside her and looked at her. That little smirk curling his lips into the old familiar half smile that she saw so often in the beginning of their relationship. She felt her heart break a little more. She'd grown to hate seeing him look at her like that on the rare occasions he did over the past year. She hated the butterflies that filled her stomach and the warmth that rose within her.. She knew what that smile meant. But she knew it would only last a moment. She knew he could never really feel the way about her that she did about him.
She thought back to a phone conversation that they'd had over Thanksgiving break..
"How come you never call?" she had asked him.
"I don't know.. I just get... busy, I guess."
"It makes me feel like you don't really want to stay friends.. Do you?"
"Yeah. I do. Of course, I do. I like you. Why would you think otherwise?"
"Well.. I don't know.. Sometimes you're so.. nice. So attentive and seem so interested in me. Other times you're just cold and distant and you just ignore me. I don't know what to think."
"Why did you go out with me? Was it because my brother and his girlfriend pushed you into it? Or were you even attracted to me then?"
"I was attracted to you.. I mean, their encouragement didn't hurt.. But yeah, I was attracted to you, I liked you."
"What happened then? Did I just bore the heck out of you? Did I just turn out.. not how you expected?"
"Gosh.. I don't know.. You sure didn't bore me. You're anything but boring.."
"Was it because I told you I'm not a virgin?"
"Um... I dunno... Yeah. I guess that was a big part of it.."
Mary had had a good long cry after that conversation. She had officially experienced both ends of the spectrum of relational consequences that her 'sexual status' could bring.. She had been judged. Judged and dumped by a Christian boy. But she had also gone out with Chris..
That day in Algebra class, she'd laid her head on her desk and cried into her sleeve.. regretting all that she had done, all that had happened. Wishing she could go back in time to the night her boyfriend had snuck into her window and make a different choice.. Chris put his hand on her shoulder and asked her what was wrong. She told him everything.. and a couple of days later, he had asked her out. It wasn't long before he broke up with her, disappointed by the fact that she really wasn't interested in hopping in bed with him next. He had gone on and on that she'd only had a 'bad experience' because 'he didn't know what he was doing'.. and he wanted to show her how great it could be. She felt so dirty. Dirty, and a little disgusted.. and trapped. She recalled how relieved she'd been that day at his house when they were lying on his bed and he was fumbling with her clothing - zippers and buttons and hooks... he heard the garage door open, signaling his parent's arrival home.
"Shit.." he jumped up and re-buttoned his own pants as she put herself back together, breathing a sigh of relief.. she just didn't know how to say 'no', apparently. Thank you, God.. she'd thought to herself.
That phone conversation with Billy had left her feeling unjustly judged. Who was he to consider her somehow less than, somehow not worthy of his affection based on that fact? It all fell into place at that time.. it all made sense. He was attracted to her.. very much so. But he didn't want to be. Because he was also disgusted by her. She knew he was also a Christian, she had even gone to church with him.. and he with her, while they were dating. He knew how things worked with God. She had made her peace with God.. God had forgiven her, why couldn't he? He couldn't get past seeing her as 'tainted goods'.
That smile. She wanted to close her eyes and wish herself away, but she couldn't. She sat there beside him in the computer lab, waiting for him to speak.
"Hi." he said.
"What are you doing in here?"
"We had a meeting about starting a newspaper class next year."
"Oh.." he said, nodding his head slowly but keeping his eyes on her. "I see." He was sizing her up again, she could feel it. She was tired of it, but couldn't help but hope for different results this time. "So.. uh.. got any big plans for summer?" he asked, leaning his elbow on the desk and tilting his head to the side as he looked at her.
"Nope. You.. uh.. wanna hang out?"
"Sure. I guess.. You have something in mind?"
"Well, the drive-ins open next week.. I was thinking maybe we could go see a movie?" Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like a date.. are you sure you want to do that with me? she thought to her self.
"Sure.. yeah, that sounds fun." she said, smiling shyly as she met his eyes.