"I'll pick you up after," said my mother. "Behave and listen to the teacher."
"Yes ma'am." Another night at the church meeting with my Sunday School class. This was more of a party atmosphere, however. The more difficult classes had been conducted during Sunday School meetings in the mornings before church.
"Hey, Rickey," shouted my buddy. He received a look of disapproval from one of the Bible study teachers. Yelling in the church hall was not approved. He saw her look. His shoulders slumped just a might along with his facial features. "Sorry, ma'am."
"Hey, buddy," I said in a more quiet tone meeting up with him inside the door. "What's going on tonight?"
"Well, the most difficult classes are over. This is more an introduction to the baptismal procedures. Teach asked me to open the folding chairs and put them in a row. Wanna help?"
"Sure." We approached the wall where the folded chairs were leaning. I grabbed a couple. With one on each side, I walked to the last opened chair and placed it beside it.
"Is everybody here?" I asked as I flipped the seat out. Shoving it next to the one he had opened I turned to head back.
"Yeah. Some of the girls brought friends. They are trying to get them to attend church with us." He grabbed two more and turned to go back.
There were several girls bunched in the corner chattering away. Every once in a while they would look at my buddy and me and laugh.
"What do think they are laughing at?" Their laughter brought a frown to my face.
"Aah, who knows. Probably us but, then again, something else entirely. Like I said, who knows." My buddy was a year older than me and so much wiser. If he didn't know nobody could.
I continued to frown in their direction as I returned to the line of chairs folded against the wall. My hand touched one. My feet stopped. My eyes became riveted to a mane of black hair with auburn highlights. I was mesmerized by the play of the overhead lights on her luxurious locks dancing rhythmically while she talked. She wore a pale blue sweater over an off white dress. I was captivated by this girl who had her back to me.
"Whoa, Rickey. You better get your eyes back in your head and carry that chair over there."
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Who is she?" He was always up on the visitors to the church.
"I don't know her. She came with Joan. I think she goes to St Andrews."
"I'd sure like to get to know her."
"You'll have to wait til after. We gotta get these chairs lined up."
"OK," I said picking up the chairs. I glanced over to see her again. She turned toward me. It was like electricity shot through me. I was stopped in mid stride, my mouth dropping. She had the palest skin and the most perfect mouth of blushing red I had ever seen. I was entranced. She had to have noticed as her eyes, with beautiful thick lashes, glanced at me. Then she smiled. If I hadn't had that chair in my hand I would have oozed into the floor. As it was, I tripped over my own feet as I started back to the lined up open chairs. She saw that clumsiness and smiled. I smiled back and ran smack into my buddy who dropped his chair with a clatter.
"What's the matter with you?"
"I don't know. You see her?"
"Yeah, so what?"
"Isn't she the most wonderful girl in the world?"
"Huh. She's alright I guess.'
"I gotta meet her."
"Alright children. Time to take your seats." The adults were clapping their hands for our attention. I snapped to. We took our seats. The brunette was a couple of rows in front of us. I gazed with fascination at the rich dark of her hair as she turned in my direction. I saw a twinkle in those dark brown eyes as she smiled at me again then turned quickly to the front. I was certain my heart's pounding was audible to everyone within a mile's radius.
"Hey, she noticed you," my buddy poked me in the side. "Rickey's got girlfriend." I poked him in the ribs. He poked me back. Before I could gather steam for another elbow to his side...
"Alright, you in the back. Rickey! Settle down. We need to get started." I straightened up. The brunette and Joan turned to look. They laughed receiving a stern look from our instructor.
While the teacher talked to us all, I drifted in thoughts of the future which looked so rosy in my imagined life with this girl with raven hair and alabaster skin. I watched her and her friend as they whispered to one another glancing back at my buddy and me. The teacher talked on and on. When would she quit? When would this be over? When could I meet this dream sitting two rows ahead of me?
After what seemed a never ending speech the teacher finally said, "And that should do it. You all know where to meet next Sunday morning to dress for the Baptismal? Come early. God bless you all. You may now enjoy the refreshments in the corner."
I was up and away but she and Joan were gone. My buddy followed me over.
"You going to get some cookies?"
"Cookies? My future just got away from me and you're thinking about cookies? Where'd she go? Did you see?"
"She's over there getting cookies. Seems she's more practical than you." He started toward the table.
"Hey, wait!" I shouted.
He turned back to me. "What? I'm going for refreshments. You come if you want or don't."
"But she's over there." I was blushing.
"Isn't that what you want? Just a minute ago she was your future. If you don't talk to her she'll be in your past."
"I...I don't know what to say."
"Hello's always a good start." He began walking again.
"Look, I'm going to get a cookie before they are all gone. I might get yours too since you don't want one. Just head over there. It'll be easy."
I was nailed to the floor. My feet wouldn't move. My face was on fire. She glanced in my direction. I raced for the bathroom.
Maybe I can stay in here until my mother comes to get me, I was thinking. The door opened. My buddy came in.
"Everybody's beginning to leave you know," he said. "What happened? You were so all fired up to meet that girl and now you can't even be in the same room?"
"I don't know. I'm scared. I don't know what to say. I don't know how to act. I'm a big baby."
"You are so right about that. I talked to her. She's really nice. You'd like her. Come on out. Just say hello."
It was a battle. The desire to meet her was there. It was strong. I felt another surge of the previous urgency. I walked out into the room. Almost everyone was gone. She wasn't at the refreshment table. I walked in that direction looking around.
I heard the piano before I saw her. Tinkling across the ivories was a new tune recent to the DJ's. "Heart and Soul" was coming loud and clear. I looked in the direction of the black upright. She was there, her back to me. Her fingers were bouncing along the keyboard and the lilting tune was loud and clear. It seemed to pull me in her direction. I listened as I progressed across the floor. It brought a smile to my face as I came up to her.
She stopped. Facing me she smiled. "Thanks. It's the only think I know how to play."
"It's beautiful. Maybe you should become a pianist."
She chuckled. It was lovelier than the tune she picked out again on the keys. "I don't think so. Can you play?"
"I used to pick out chopsticks but have forgotten how it goes."
"Oh, I know that one, too. Let's try it together."
My two fingers and hers began to beat out the tune. We were laughing. Our eyes played over each other's faces as we tapped out the tune. It was a heavenly moment.
"Lynette!" Came a voice over the piano.
She stopped. As she turned she spoke, "I guess I have to go."
"Now?' I blurted out.
"Fraid so. Joan's my ride home."
"But... Will you be back?"
"I don't know. Maybe."
"I hope you do."
She smiled and turned joining her friend.
"Bye," I said watching her disappear into the night beyond the door.
At C of C many years after I ran into her again. She was even more lovely. She didn't remember that evening at the church. Even so we dated for a while but that's another story.