The Christian Girl

It was the first day of an introductory to writing class at the community college. It was taught in the summer semester, so there were few students. The instructor had us slide our desks across the linoleum to form a circle, then we had to do introductions, where you state your name, class, and what you want to do. When it got to me I said my name and class and since I didn’t know what I wanted to do I said I wanted to go to law school.

For some reason I hadn’t immediately noticed the girl to my left. She was gorgeous, model like, long blonde hair. She described herself as someone who liked yoga and wanted to be a Christian youth minister. I thought it might be ministeress, but I didn’t know much about Christians.

After introductions we were going over sentence structure and the instructor asked us, just for a basis, to name the seven parts of speech. Everyone was quiet. I hated speaking in class but the silence was worse.

“You mean like nouns and verbs and stuff?” The Christian girl said this.

“Yes,” the instructor said and she wrote nouns and verbs on the board. “What are the other five?”

I decided to just say them quickly and when I did the Christian girl squinted and watched the instructor write them all down. Then she, the Christian girl, winked at me.

I could smell her shampoo during class; it was something like strawberry and kiwi, and if I sat in the right position and she sat in the right position I could see the band of her panties above her jeans.

The instructor assigned our “big” project for the semester. It was to write a ten-page paper on any topic we chose, as long as we could support it with three references. She asked the class if anyone would describe what a thesis is.

The Christian girl said, “you mean like the main idea?”

The instructor nodded then grinned at me as if we shared some sort of inside joke. It made me feel guilty when I saw the Christian girl smiling.
After class the Christian girl met me at the doorway. “I see you are the smart one,” she said.

I shrugged and thought it was strange someone this beautiful would go into youth ministry. I thought of saying something like, if there were ministers like you when I was a kid I’d have begged my mother to send me to church…but I said, “I’m not very smart.”

On the drive home I saw the Christian girl waiting for the bus. I thought I should stop before I pass her by. I should at least pull over and offer a ride so she could refuse. But I didn’t; I drove and thought about where I sat that last time I was in church. The last time that was not a funeral.

My mother made me go. My uncle had given me a bible to read and though it was a King James Version she wrote an inscription and let me keep it. There was a time I resented my mother for not taking me to church more, but I remember sitting on the wooden pew next to her and I was glad we hardly went.

The following Monday I sat at my desk and fingered the edge of a book I was reading and I was trying to think of something I could say to her. Someway I could connect with a Christian. However, she didn’t show up. All class I waited I thought maybe she’d walk in at the last minute and apologize for being late. She’d walk in and tell the class she had some sort of Christian business she had to take care of, like making clothes for the poor or reading to the blind.

For a week class ran in this manner. The instructor would speak about how to cite works in MLA or how to avoid passive voice and I’d image where the Christian girl was. I concluded she was at some Christian summer camp, teaching young kids, wearing modest shorts and smelling of mosquito repellant.

On Friday I went home and searched for the bible I’d been given. I found it in the basement next to a box labeled “Graduate Thesis 1974.” Just like a movie where an explorer comes across something important, I blew on the book’s cover and watched dust scatter. I turned to the inscription my mother had written. “Read seriously and ask serious questions.”

On the concrete floor I skimmed the thin pages and looked for something about young women. The only thing I really found was a part about a daughter having sex with her drunken father.

It was Monday and I sat at my desk running my thumbnail on a crack, when the Christian girl tapped me on the shoulder and sat down.

“Hey you,” she said. She seemed tanner. “Need to ask you something after class,” she whispered as the instructor passed out some writing exercises. I turned to my desk and wasn’t sure if I should’ve said something. I had the bible in my book bag.

The first exercise was a run-on sentence and we had to clean it up. I just put a common and took out a conjunction. I started thinking I heard her wrong. Why’d she want to talk to me?

After class and before I could stand up she disappeared out of the doorway. I took my time putting my pen away and gathering my folders. I thought about asking the instructor a question I’d know the answer to but she was busy filing things into her bag.

In parking lot, the Christian girl stood in front of my car. She had freckles on her nose and she wore dark sunglasses.

“Need your help.” When she said it she chewed gum. “With the assignment, our project. I talked to her, the instructor and she said I should talk with someone to get caught up.”

I wanted to ask where she had been, why she wasn’t caught up. “It’s easy,” I said.

“Can you help? I’ll buy you dinner.” She leaned on the hood of my car after she said this. She wore open toe sandals and her toenails were purple.

“Nice toes,” I said.

She laughed and curled them. “Thanks. So, dinner?”

At home I lay in bed and turned the pages of the bible. When I was little I thought it was funny when people read from the Bible, how they would talk like knights and kings. My mother disliked the King James Version. It was archaic linguistically and people were in love with it for no reason. My mother said people were in love with a lot of things for no reason. At her funeral though, the preacher spoke in King James English.

I looked for a passage I could bring up at dinner. Maybe something I could inquire about that wouldn’t come off as pretentious or argumentative. I thought about asking her why does God’s dialogue always appear in red.

I sat near the fish tank and ate some of the complimentary chips with salsa. If you ordered a Margarita in Spanish they wouldn’t ID you. I almost ordered one but I wasn’t sure if alcohol would offend the Christian girl.

She showed up wearing tight jeans and a V-neck shirt. When she bent forward to scoot her chair in, I could see lace on her bra.

“Like this place?” She asked. The waiter poured me some fresh water.

“Out of curiosity,” I felt stupid saying that, “where did you go last week.”

“No where special, visiting my boyfriend out of town.”

I let go of the plastic menu.

“I’m sorry but I can’t really stay,” she said and she raised a tortilla chip, spilling some salsa onto the checkered tablecloth. “Stay.” She made a gesture suggesting I shouldn’t get up from my chair. “Eat, on me.”

When the waiter came over I asked him in Spanish for a Margarita and told him the young women wasn’t staying.

“See, you are the smart one,” she said.

“I didn’t order anything expensive.” I played with the menu again; I didn’t feel like eating.

“I really want to stay.” She winked and put a twenty on the table. “I’ll need your help another time.” My margarita was placed in front of me. “Margaritas?” She almost screamed. “Now I wish I could stay.”

“You’re religious right?” I licked some salt from the glass.

“Not so religious.” She winked and stood up. “Have a nice meal.”

The bill and tip came to less than twenty and I thought I’d give her the change. I’d say to the Christian girl thanks for dinner and here is your change.

The Christian Girl

xstephens

Salt Lake City, United States

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