Roller Coaster 11

“Chelsea, this is Wendy.  Wendy, Chelsea.”  Chelsea flashed a genuine smile and nodded. 

“Hi!” she said.  So, where do you know Jason from?” 

“My dad’s in the hospital,” she replied, suddenly feeling vulnerable.  Why was she telling a stranger about her problems?

“I’m sorry,” Chelsea answered sympathetically.  “Hope everything goes okay.” 

Wendy nodded silently and took her seat.  She was grateful for the music that was beginning, signaling the beginning of the service. 

As the service began, Wendy tried to follow the songs, prayers, and other elements of the service.  Jason was there to point at a hymn number or cue her to pass the offering plate.  The pastor was a good storyteller, and she listened as he described the scene of Lazarus’ funeral in exquisite detail.  His point about life in the midst of death resonated with her.  It made her think how her dad would want her to live, even though he was facing death.

After the service ended, she allowed Jason to introduce her to his parents, his grandmother, his brother, and his other sister.  “Would you like to go to lunch with us?” asked his father.

“Um, I can’t.  I have to… to get back home.”  Wendy was in no mood for an afternoon of making conversation with strangers. 

“Let me walk you,” Jason said, taking her by the elbow and turning her toward the doors.  Apparently, it was more of an imperative than an offer.

When they reached the outside door, Wendy started to protest.  “I’m fine, really.  I’m just around the corner.”

“Let me walk you,” he repeated, more gently this time.  My folks will be talking for at least another fifteen minutes.  She shrugged, turning away to hide the amused smile that came to her lips. 

“If you insist,” she agreed.  Her walk was slower than it had been on the way to the church.  She found herself wanting to prolong her time with this intriguing young man with big dreams and a bigger heart.

“What did you think?” he asked, “Of the whole church thing, I mean.” 

She frowned.  Was it that obvious she was new to the whole church thing?  “It was good.  I liked the music and the preacher was really good.  Everyone seemed really nice, too.”

Jason smiled and nodded in agreement.  There was a slight pause, then he spoke again.  “It’ll work out, you know.”

She shrugged.  “I know.  I just have to learn to deal, no matter what.”

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