The Only Time

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The vaulted ceiling reaches great heights as it majestically forms the peak of the chapel room. Elegantly designed chandeliers hang all around, carefully placed to create a perfectly lit surrounding. Vast windows pour the morning sun down on the churchgoers below. The church is an awing sight. Even the blue carpet seems to radiate underneath it all. The walls are a perfect shade of white. Their whiteness is the defining characteristic for this newly built wonder, reflecting the warming and peaceful thoughts that everyone there is experiencing. That is, everyone except one boy. One boy, who is thinking many thoughts but none of them are remotely peaceful. Instead he is racking his brain in a desperate attempt to ready himself. Something big, in his mind, is about to happen and the thought of those events, is nearly crippling him with fear. Fear for what he is going to do, what he is going to say, how he is going to act. Not during the meeting per say, but rather, after. Not because of the meeting, but one person in the meeting. One girl, to be precise. One girl, who is thinking many thoughts but not one of them, is stressed in the slightest. And why should she be, it’s just a normal day at church. She is from around here and he isn’t. She is enjoying the service, for him that couldn’t be farther from the truth. She doesn’t know he is there, and he really wishes he wasn’t. He wished he could be a thousand miles away from this place; this very room. The room that’s filled with people he had only been told about, or seen in photographs. Now he’s rethinking why he left his comfortable world for this one, which he knew nothing about, which is entirely hers’. Why he’d allowed himself to come for a surprise visit to see her, when they had only seen each other in person once, totally escapes him now.
“Time to go.” the boy heard himself say to no one. The meeting finished, he finally decides he’s not up to talking to her. Even if he did drive four hours to see her for nothing, it didn’t matter. Midas well leave before she sees me. Save myself the embarrassment, he thought. No such luck. One of her friends spots him. “Chad? Chad Ellis?” her friend questions. He turns. There she is. The girl he had been constantly talking to for the past year. There had been a conflict in his mind earlier about whether she would be as pretty as he remembered. That thought is entirely shattered. She is gorgeous. She looks up at him, smiles brightly and says hi. He wants to say so many things to her, he wants to run up to her and hug her and be exactly the guy she liked talking to over the phone all this time. Instead, all that comes out is “hey”, and an attempt to smile back. I’m no good at this! He thought angrily, as his mind races for the right thing to say. This is where I’m supposed to come in and do what I’ve rehearsed a thousand times in my head. Nope, it doesn’t happen that way. He isn’t much of a ‘player’. He really is just a young, naive boy with a crush. “What are you doing here?” She asks, saving him, hinting her confusion and excitement at seeing him. “I was in the neighborhood.” He tries to say in a sly way with a slight smile; however it came off more nervous than anything else. She plays along anyways. “I figured I might stop by and see how you’re doing.” “Well I’m glad.” She adds with a smile, but the moment is interrupted by the church bell signaling that Sunday school is about to start. And that’s where things really start to go downhill.
Her name is Nicole. She is kind of a mystery. She is someone that he never really figured out. And now he probably never would. But he is with her on this day. And as they walked to class that day, awkward as it might have been, some things were sure. Sure that he at least got to meet and see the girl that had such a tight grip on his heart for so long. Sure that this day would be well remembered, even if he screws it up, especially if he screws it up. And also sure that when they walk into the classroom there would only be one chair left, right in the middle. Maybe on a normal day when he is thinking straight he might have asked the person in the chair next to the empty one to please move so he could sit there with her. But not today. He nervously says he’ll go get another one and sits on the end by himself. You can be certain in a moment when a noise startles the group, that, a head hitting a wall in another room, is him. When he gets back he even sees that the person sitting next to her is some punk guy from her church, who likes her, that is sitting in his spot. If looks could kill. The rest of class goes well enough. Nicole contributes a little to the class discussion, whereas he sits quietly trying not to speak, besides all the visitor bologna they make you go through. Class ends and, as quick as possible, he goes and makes sure he is the one talking to her and not the punk. The punk, the incredibly tall punk, even tries to say something to him. He responds and gives him a look that clearly tells him to get lost. He does. Thank goodness one of her friends stays though, not putting ALL the pressure on him to talk. They talk quite a bit, but its more nervous chit-chat than anything else. Nicole still looks ridiculously pretty in person, making it really tough to talk to her. There is one more class to go to, without her this time, though. It’s almost relieving to leave her for a little bit. His nerves could calm done for a while, before they’re entirely shot. He thinks about just leaving and never coming back. It seems a simpler way out. There is no way that he could handle this. No way that a girl like that could ever like him. No way that he could be the guy that this girl calls hers’. He stays though, good thing too. He finds her and her sister waiting for him outside of his class. Her sister invites him back to their house to stay for dinner. If his nerves were shot before, now they’re totally blow away. He gets to his car, and literally prays, that he won’t screw this up. It’s a cold, gray day in February, he notices during the drive, even though there isn’t much snow down there. He follows them to their house, silently hoping the drive lasts forever.
It doesn’t. Like most things you hope for, they don’t usually happen when you want them to. Their house is huge. He knew her family is rich, but he never actually visualized how rich they are. Walking in the front door he meets Nicole’s older sister, and little brother, but not Nicole herself. “She is just changing out of her church clothes. She’ll be down in a minute. Want to see a quick tour of the house why you’re waiting?” Her sister, Taylor, asks. “Yes I would. This place is amazing.” He said. It is true. The place is amazing. It is spacious enough to house a family of ten even though their family is only five big. The architectural design is fabulous too. Very unique designs appear all over the household. He and Taylor, and Rylan, her little brother, are having a steady conversation about it in the kitchen when Nicole reappears. She did change her clothes, but maybe a few other things too. Her dark brown hair seems to reflect the ceiling light it’s so smooth and glossy. The light layer of newly applied eye shadow above her emerald green eyes sparkles ever so slightly. The new outfit she is wearing compliments her figure modestly. She looks absolutely stunning. He has to stop himself from staring the moment she walks in. A nice conversation actually takes place with him and her and her siblings. But after a while of this he wished he could talk, to just her. He found himself having to talk to her siblings more than he’d like to. On top of that her mother gets home. Now he is actually being interrogated by her mom (who seems maybe a little paranoid about him) and doing the farthest thing from having a one on one conversation with Nicole. But he surprisingly answers well enough, and this seems to satisfy her mom and she goes on with making dinner. They’re making spaghetti casserole, and Nicole is cutting up some fresh vegetables. He asks her if it’s okay if he changes into his regulars too. And so he does, putting on clothes that, he hopes, will makes him look best because he picked them out special (even attempting to have his clothes match). Maybe lifting weights for the past six months will pay off on him having a light tone. He comes out of the bathroom, changed, and walks up as coolly as he can, “What do you think? Can I pull off the V-neck look?” he inquires smoothly. She laughs “Yes, only because it doesn’t drop super low like a lot of guys try to have it.” She says smiling. She is cutting green peppers now. “You’re pretty good at that.” He says, trying to make conversation. She helps quite a bit because she likes to talk a lot and he likes that about her. “I’m okay.” She responds looking up with a smirk. “I actually..” She keeps going but he is too lost in thought to hear. What I would give to be here all the time talking to this amazing girl, looking at her pretty face, and, hopefully, making her happy. He thought while kind of losing track of reality for the next few minutes.
Dinner is just about ready now. The smell of spaghetti sauce has entirely filled the air. Nicole’s mother tries to get him to sit away from Nicole but she insists otherwise. Her parents call her Nikki. She is great at volleyball. She might be going to Europe this summer to play there. She is even a little mouthy, in a funny way, when her parents say something she disagrees with. These are some of the things they talk about over dinner. He really just sat and watched, making comments every once in a while. Enjoying himself while not actually having to talk that much, glancing over at her whenever possible. Dinner ends but nobody asks him to leave so he stays. Members from they’re church come over to have a discussion about faith. Everyone goes into the living room for the discussion and he just happens to sit with the people leading the discussion so they ask him to contribute a few thoughts to the lesson if he’d like. He agrees to but mostly sits silently anyways. He notices that the living room is very well decorated. Pictures all over, frames well placed, and basically a mini theater in their own living room. Their tiny, two dogs, Sophie and Chloe, play happily in the middle everyone. The couches are lined up in almost a semicircle. Coming back to reality, he realizes he hasn’t contributed anything to the lesson. Apparently the preachers noticed too because they ask him if he has anything he wants to add. They’re talking about the subject of faith. The subject of faith is one he knows a lot about because he actually is quite religious. He also knows that Nicole goes to church but she as always been jealous of the testimony that he has of the truth of their church. So he took this opportunity to really bare his testimony and tell about one of the most important things in his life. It’s something that not many people even bother to listen to so he really did his best to say something meaningful. He looked from person to person while he spoke to express how important he thought this is. Up to this point he didn’t really know if Nicole liked him so he didn’t expect her to really pay that much attention. But when he looks at her, she is staring straight back, with the most intense gaze he has ever seen. He quickly glances away to another person and continues to talk, but looks back again, and sees she hasn’t looked away. She is looking at him with her brilliant green eyes, studying, looking, for something. Her face and eyes look so amazing that he almost forgets to continue speaking. He doesn’t know what she was looking for, or why she bothered and he still doesn’t. But never then or after did he ever have a person look at him in such a way.
Now everyone else has left. And she and he are finally alone to talk. And they talk for hours and hours. They talk till it’s very late into the evening. He doesn’t feel uncomfortable around her any more. They talk and laugh freely, having one of the best nights of his life. Finally he has to go, his phone won’t stop going off with calls for him to get home. She doesn’t want him to, and really tries to get him to stay. But he has to anyways and they walk to the door. The two hug goodbye. It is one of the best moments of his life. Her perfume is the best thing he has ever smelled. And then he leaves, and drives home, hours and hours away. It is all he can do not think about her the entire drive home. He didn’t know it at the time, but that would be the only time he would ever see her.





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