It was early noon, and I was sitting in with Sam and brother Joshua to have a chat with one of the people Joshua and his partner had convinced to come and sit down with us. She was a tall woman and looked like maybe she was somewhere in her twenties. We were in one of the many small rooms built for this exact purpose in our station. Joshua was talking, carrying out the lesson like we had been taught to.
“So, there’s no hell?” the lady asked, looking over at Elder Joshua who had just finished speaking. I nodded, before sighing and shaking my head when I realized the girl wasn’t looking at me.
“Yes, there’s no hell. Heavenly Father loves us so much that the worst place he could put us in is a world like the one we live in now,” I said, watching as the lady with pale skin and dark hair looked over at me. She smiled, rubbing her eyes that had dark circles under them — she seemed amused.
“Then why all this?” she asked, and I frowned a bit, looking from her to Joshua and then at Sam.
“Why what?” Sam asked, adjusting his position in his chair.
“Well, if you’re not going to get punished for being a bad person, and if you’re a good person you still get a good place to stay...” she trailed, pausing a bit like she was trying to remember what she had told. “The terrestrial kingdom, that’s what you called it, wasn’t it?” she asked and we all nodded our heads. She smiled, folding her hands.
“So, if there’s no hell, what’s the point of being Christian? What’s the point of living so strictly like you have a stick up your ass?” she asked, and I coughed into my hand, trying to stop the laugh that had formed in my throat from spilling over. People here did have potty mouths.
“Well, human beings long to be reconnected with the father—”
“Well, I don’t,” she said, cutting Joshua off. I just stared blankly at her, but I spotted Sam shaking his head from the corner of my eye.
“So, we strive for completeness, completeness only a connection with heavenly father will give you,” he said opening up the pamphlet on the table. “Also, wouldn’t it be sad to be resurrected, and then find that you could have lived in a world filled with no pain and suffering if you had followed the gospel here on earth?”
The lady slouched on the couch, tapping her fingers on the arm of the chair. “I’m not sure. I kind of like my life as it is now,” she said, and Joshua just smiled. “Besides, you said that people preach to, and covert dead people before judgment day. Why can’t I just give my life to heavily father there? When I’m sure he exists.”
Joshua chucked a bit, holding his hands together as he nodded. He looked like he was trying to search for how to explain things in better details to her. He tapped the fabric of his trousers before running a hand through his dirty blonde hair. I could tell that he was getting a bit frustrated with her, but like with everything else — patience was key, so we sat there with her for another half hour before calling it a day.
“People are strange,” Sam told me as we left the room and walked upstairs to our room. We had service in about two hours, so we had to get ready. I couldn’t see his face since I was walking behind him, but I knew he was fuming. He only walked this fast when he was. “Imagine not wanting to have happiness that’s beyond description? She said she likes her life now. Did you see her eyes? It looks like she takes drugs.”
I wanted to ask him how he knew that, and whether he wasn’t just saying things because he was annoyed with the way she was reacting. Sure, she might as well be trolling us, but at least she had come to talk to us. That was more than a lot of people would do.
“Yeah.” I just nodded in agreement with him before retreating back to the worries in my head.
It was early in the evening and a handful of us had come outside to share fliers. Church service had ended a few minutes ago, and it had made me smile to see some new faces in the crowd. It seems some people had been convinced to come for a sit-in.
I was walking side by side with Olivia, watching her flash smiles to absolute strangers, and getting them to listen to her talk about our church and the party we were holding soon. A smile spread across my face as I watched her talk to them. She’d always been able to be convincing and bubbly, so it didn’t faze me that she got more hits than misses.
“We should go down this path,” she said, turning away from the person she had handed a pamphlet to look at me, making her red flowing shirt to sweep across the air with the movement. She was now pointing towards a narrow dirt road that I’ve never visited before, but I nodded, concluding that Olivia knew what she was doing.
After a few minutes of walking, we saw a couple of small shops positioned in front of small homes and buildings. Olivia smiled, making me follow her as she quickened her steps. She started heading from shop to shop, handing out fliers before meeting me at the road pavement so we could walk up ahead.
“Oh, look! There’s a shop there!” she said, smiling brightly before walking ahead of me. I rolled my eyes. I was exhausted and tired of walking around, but Olivia looked like she was having the time of her life. Maybe I should ask for about her secret to being enthusiastic.
I eventually caught up with her, but I lagged behind a bit. The area caught my eye when I realized that there were mainly cars around. We had either gotten to a car repair shop or some automobile dump of some sorts. My theory of it being a car repair shop was confirmed after I looked around and turned to find Olivia heading over to a large open shed. She went in and immediately started talking to the person inside.
I made my way to the shed, and when I got closer, I could tell who exactly Olivia was talking to. It was Nathaniel. His hair was in a man bun, or whatever it was called. As usual, he was wearing a tank top over trouser bottoms. He had mentioned working close by during our walk.
I headed closer to the shed before I leaned on the door. Apart from Olivia who was now inside the shed with him, he seemed to be the only person working here at the moment. My heart started to beat more quickly as I watched them exchange words. I bit my bottom lip as I tried not to appear panicked. Since the day I walked with Nathaniel in the morning I had avoided him like the plague for obvious reasons, but now, I couldn’t just turn around and pretend I didn’t see him. Olivia was here, and she would ask me what was going on. I didn’t plan to tell anyone about the thoughts I’ve been having lately. I wanted to resolve those feelings — whatever they were — on my own.
“Look, you can ask him,” I heard Nathaniel say, turning to gesture at me with his outstretched hand. My eyes went wide. I hadn’t realized they had noticed me standing here. My eyes moved to the floor that was littered with screws and scrap metal. What did he tell her? I had zoned out while they were talking, and I was starting to get a bit worried.
“He says you’ve already told him about the party, is that correct?” Olivia asked, turning her round freckled face towards me. I nodded in response, calming down considerably. Thank goodness. I said in my mind. But if I had to be honest with myself, what was I expecting? I wasn’t even sure why I had been panicking. They were my feelings, it’s not like Nathaniel knew I had them, so he couldn’t tell someone. I was just being anxious.
“Yes, I did,” I said, and Olivia nodded, letting out a sigh. With that she walked away from Nathaniel’s side, biting her bottom lip as she tried to think of what to do now.
“Sir, I’m leaving this filer...” she trailed off, looking around the small place filled with tools, and scrap. She was holding the brightly colored filer in her hand. The smile she had been wearing all day widened when she spotted a table, and she walked over to it, placing the flier right on top. “Right here. Please don’t throw it out,” she said, finishing her previous sentence. Nathaniel laughed.
It was a nice laugh. Filled with amusement, not irritation or frustration.
“Anything you want, pretty lady,” he said before disappearing into the raised old car that he had been raising with a jack while Olivia was looking around. Olivia chuckled shaking her head before she walked over to me and tapped my shoulder.
“You’ve just been staring,” she whispered, smiling before walking past me and out of the shed. I blinked, still standing there. After a while I left the shed too, catching up with Olivia before we started walking back to our station. It was evening now, about five in the afternoon. The sun was still out, but clouds had started to gather, making the hot day cooler. My mind wondered off to Nathaniel when I saw the dog he would usually feed run past us.
Pretty lady? I wondered, remembering what he had called Olivia back in the shed. A small frown made its way to my face. Why would he say that? I wanted to believe that I was mad because he was being inappropriate, but thoughts of him calling me cute that day on our walk kept flooding my mind. I wasn’t furious for Olivia. I was jealous on my behalf. My esteem was crushed by the fact that he might have just been messing around that morning. It had also suffered a little blow when I realized he didn’t even seem a bit upset with me for avoiding him. Wasn’t that what I wanted? Why was I upset? It was confusing and slightly terrifying.
I tried to zone out of my mind. I talked to Olivia as we walked back to the station. I offered to help the sisters in the kitchen even though I wasn’t supposed to be there and ended up sitting alone in the empty chapel room trying to prayer, but my prayers were lost in a sea of confusion and panic.