IV. Late Night Texts
After Connor and I hung out eating Nona’s brownies and playing my PlayStation for about two hours, I finally called it a night not wanting to risk falling asleep in church the next morning. After I took a quick shower, I slid on a new pair of boxers before I settled into my sheets, my muscles slowly starting to ache from the intense conditioning. The only positive was that I found sleep easily...or I would’ve if only my phone-which I forgot to silence- didn’t obnoxiously burp out a text right when I was in the nice median between being awake and asleep.
I let out a monstrous groan/roar as I forced my arm to extend and reach my phone, the brightness momentarily blinding me before I mindlessly tapped my phone until I found the brightness slider and slid it all the way down.
Ugh. Still too bright.
After a few moments, my eyes adjusted to my screen and I saw a message from an unknown number.
Unknown (22:45): Enjoy your pizza? ;)
I looked at my phone in confusion, my brain still clouded and hazed by sleep as I replied.
Me (22:48):Who is this?
Thank God for autocorrect-sometimes- because if I didn’t have it, it would’ve come out as Whoi zyh osz?
Within seconds, my phone produced another text.
Unknown (22:49): How r u feeling btw? U really gave my dad and I a scare. I would’ve given u mouth 2 mouth but unfortunately we were interrupted. I’m still down for it though ;)
I had to read it over and over again to prove that my brain was playing tricks on me, but unfortunately I couldn’t. Coming to the horrid realization, my heart rate increased and sleep was easily forgotten.
Me (22:51): Madison? Wtf? How did you get my number?
A text bubble appeared as he typed, my heart racing as I waited a couple minutes for his response.
Unknown (22:53): You can thank your Nona. She thinks I can be a “good influence” for u, whatever that is :p She also said she was impressed when how I calmed you down and thought it’d be beneficial that we got to know each other...I had the same idea, but for differences reasons
I couldn’t help the blush that decorated my face. He didn’t even have to be in front of me, yet his words still affected me.
Me (22:56): In ur dreams Williams.
Unknown (22:57): U know it ;)
I rolled my eyes.
Me (22:59): I don’t have time 4 this, Mads. I’m tired.
Unknown (23:02): Do u need me to come over and help you get to sleep? He joked, causing me to let out an irritated sigh.
Me (23:05): Bye Madison
And those were the last words I sent to him before I turned my phone on do not disturb along with silencing it for good measures and even when it vibrated holding a corky response from Madison, I willed myself to ignore it, counting sheep all named Madison until I fell asleep.
“Come on, Noah! We can’t be late for church!” my Nona called as I hurriedly tried to properly tie my black necktie.
“I’m moving as fast as I can!” I whined, moving on to putting on my newly polished black dress shoes, nearly falling on my face in the process.
“Noah, you have five minutes to get down here or I’ll-”
“I only need three, Nona!” After I tied my shoes and smoothed out my dress shirt and slacks, I tucked my phone in my back pocket and swiftly moved to the bathroom where I ran a comb through my messy brown hair until it looked decent. I looked over myself once more trying to make sure that there wasn’t a hair out of place or a wrinkle to be seen. Once satisfied, I met Nona in the living room.
“Nicely done,” she commented after looking me up and down. “Now come on, we need to hurry up if we’re going to be on time for communion.” I nodded before I hurried into the kitchen and grabbed a granola bar to curve my morning appetite. After that, I helped lead Nona into the car, carrying her Bible in one hand and supporting her with the other.
“Are you comfortable?” I asked as I secured the seatbelt around her small fragile body and she nodded.
“Thank you.” I nodded in response before I set her Bible on her lap and closed the car door, careful not to close it on her before I made my way to the driver’s seat. I dug my keys out of my pocket and shoved them into the ignition. The car jumped to life beneath me, a low hum vibrating the seat beneath me.
I pulled out of the driveway and cruised down the street at a steady pace, my mind wandering from place to place until the car came to a stop. I blinked a few times and realized we were in front of the church, people of many different races, backgrounds, and pasts all greeting each other as they entered the massive glass church doors.
I pulled the keys out of the ignition and tucked them in my pocket before I helped my Nona out, people throwing greeting at us as I helped her into the church and into our usual seats. People slowly started pouring in, some stopping by to talk with my Nona and I.
When it was about four minutes until church started, I turned on my phone in order to open my Bible app when the text I’d failed to open popped up on my phone. I took a deep breath and silently prayed it wasn’t anything too dubious while I opened up the text.
Unknown (23:07): Good night Noah. Try not to dream about me too much ;)
I quickly closed out of the message and opened my Bible app just as the chimes started ringing, indicating the start of service. Service commenced like it always did, like it usually did minus communion which we did every other week. Our preacher, Pastor Brandon, did an amazing job as always, but I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering to him, and it irritated me. It was like he was a fungus, latching onto something and growing until he’s consumed everything. Every thought. Every breath. Every waking moment Madison was on my mind whether he was in the front of it or lurking in the shadows of my more prominent thoughts, but he always managed to push his way forward. And I hated it immensely.
I pulled myself back into the message, clearing my mind of everything but Jesus and what Pastor Brandon was preaching. I needed something that’d carry me through the week, especially because I was starting work tomorrow with- don’t you dare Noah. If you even think Madison’s name one more time before church is over I’m going to kick myself as hard as I could in the shin.
I pinched my arm hard in order to focus on the pain and distract myself by listening to the message instead of posing empty threats to myself for thinking about Madison, and to my surprise it worked exceptionally well.
I managed to focus solely on the message for the rest of church without my mind wandering, and even after church while I was waiting for Nona to wrap up her visiting which her friends, my mind wandered to football and school of all things.
“Noah, have you met Gracie? This is Mrs. Grant’s granddaughter and she’s into football as well,” Nona said as she approached me with her arms linked to a girl who looked about my age with long wavy brown hair and big green doe eyes. She had delicate fair porcelain skin that had virtually no ache or imperfects. She had small lips that were colored with a soft pink. She was beautiful. Breathtaking. I would’ve fallen head over heels for her if I were straight. Or if she were an extremely good looking guy like the one who I’d been trying to forget.
“No, I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure. Hello, my name is Noah,” I smiled, which she returned as a slight blush painted her cheeks. She was shy. Cute.
“You two get to know each other while I take care of offering.” Despite how badly I didn’t want to do it, I nodded and did as my Nona wished not wanting to hurt her or Gracie’s feelings by declining.
Gracie and I made small talk consisting of me asking most of the questions while Gracie gave me short one or two word answers and blushed. By the time we’d finished talking I found out she was sixteen but she was a junior due to her high academic performance (maybe she could tutor me), she’s been a football player for over ten years, and she worked at a pet shelter so she could have experience for when she became a veterinarian. I also noticed how she tended to look everywhere but my eyes when she spoke. She was flustered and I felt bad because I didn’t like her that way. If we became close she’d be my little sister at most but nothing more.
“It was nice meeting you Gracie,” I nodded just as my Nona approached.
“N-Nice meeting you too, Noah,” she shyly stammered before hurrying off, presummaly to her grandmother.
“So…?” my Nona asked as I walked her out of the busy church.
“So…?” I teased, causing her to hit me on the arm.
“Ow!” I laughed, playfully rubbing my arm as I tried to muster a scowl at her, but that only caused me to laugh more.
“Noah you know what I mean,” she chastised. “How did you like Gracie? She’s a nice and smart girl, no? Not to mention beautiful and caring and-”
“Nona, can we talk about this after we get in the car?” I cut off, seeing Gracie and Mrs. Grant out of my peripheral, though they were out of range to hear our conversation but I didn’t want to take a chance.
After a few moments, we were in the safety of the car and I felt Gracie’s eyes lingering on me the whole time until I shut the car door. I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding as I slumped down in my seat. “Now tell me how you feel about her Noah.”
“She’s nice and pretty…” I trailed, trying to find the best words to describe how I was feeling. “But I just don’t think we’ll be anything more than friends.”
“Why?” Nona asked, her voice raising to the volume that almost resembles yelling. “She’s perfect for you! She has a good work ethic, good at school, has her priorities straight and knows what she wants to do in life! She’s a great influence for you-”
“Oh, like how Madison is?” I questioned, a strange anger slowly warming up my insides. “Sorry, Nona, but I don’t enjoy people being pushed onto me and I definitely don’t enjoy people obtaining my number without my permission!” The hurt look in my Nona’s eyes bore into my heart and I instantly felt bad. I pinched the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes, thinking of things that usually calmed me down. After about ten seconds I relaxed and looked up at her. “I’m sorry. I know you’re just doing what you think is best for me, but I...I just don’t like having new people forced onto me without my consent, that’s all I’m saying.”
“I know, miele, but you have to see the world as I am,” she pleaded. “You’re a senior in high school getting ready to go out into the world, yet you don’t even have the basic knowledge on how to do things on your own. Work. Money. Anything. But these people, Madison and Gracie, they do. And not only that, they seem like great people to get to know and grow close to. Please just give them a try and if you don’t click with them, I’ll leave it at that and I won’t bug you again.”
I sighed and looked out of the window my eyes landing on Gracie as she laughed at something with her grandmother. I couldn’t help the small smile that grew on my lips at how cute she looked. Maybe I could give this a chance and even though my heart and mind don’t like her that way, I might be able to distract myself from Madison. I mentally scolded myself. No, I wouldn’t lead her on, that would be cruel. I sighed again as I looked at Nona once more. “I’ll give it a shot,” I grumbled. “But I make no promises on how this will turn out.”
Nona smiled. “That’s all I wanted.”
I offered her a weak smile of my own as I pulled the keys out of my pocket. Lord, please be with me and not let this all blow up in my face.