Subject: I just thought I should write home.
Hello mum, it’s Mathew. I’ve been at the station for about one month now, and I thought I should message you. Everyone here in the station’s doing alright. We’re having a lot of fun and learning a lot along the way.
How’s everyone? I hope Cath and Jessica are doing okay. Please ask them to pray for me.
I need it. I thought to myself as I typed up an email to my mother. For the past few days, I had been taking walks with Nathaniel and learning more about him. Now I knew Nathaniel still visited the Catholic church in the town that was a few hours ride from the one we were in. I also knew Nathaniel didn’t talk to his father — or didn’t know him. I wasn’t too sure about the exact details.
I bit my bottom lip as I stared at my screen My chest started to feel a bit tight. What if they knew? I wondered, thinking to my parents. This was something I had started panicking about. I started thinking about how Olivia would react, how my brothers would react, how my small little town back home would react if they found out that I was thinking about a man like this. Though it was just plain paranoia, it’s not like anyone could see my thoughts written on my face.
I had feelings for Nath, and worse still, I had stopped fighting them. I was banking on the chance that Nath himself would never notice and they would fade away with time, but I had two years in this station, and I wasn’t too confident that I wouldn’t do something stupid before then. I was already jealous of everyone and everything that hung around Nath that I might as well implode from the feeling of jealousy alone.
I let out a sigh, allowing my fingers to meet with the keys of my laptop.
I’ve been enjoying my service. I thought it was going to be hard, to be honest, but it’s a lot like repeating the training we got back home. Sam and I are talking to a few people at the moment and helping them out with the basics. It’s nice to help people find a path to God.
As you stray from yours. A voice said in my head as I continued to type up the email. I ignored it, trying my best to concentrate on the wall of text in front of me.
Olivia’s a natural at this. She’s doing great. I don’t think she has written to home yet. I should remind her to do that.
I continued in my email. It was early in the morning. About four A.M. to be exact. I wasn’t going downstairs for my regular jog until seven, and I don’t even think I wanted to go. Nath had told me he was going out of town to the other shop he worked at sometimes. He had even handed me his house keys, ‘just in case.’ I wasn’t sure what that meant. Was he trying to lead me into doing something? Was he expecting something from me?
God, I’m over thinking this.
My worries clouded my thoughts, and I couldn’t really concentrate on writing the email. I saved it as a draft before getting up from the seat at my study desk. Sam was still out like a rock, and probably won’t be awake until eight thirty.
After some time of just sitting around, I got up and headed downstairs, deciding that I would go for a walk after all. I started slowly on the street with our station on it, but I increased my pace as I jogged through the street that led to the path Nathaniel often took. I smiled when I spotted the stray dog. It was sitting at its usual corner, probably waiting for Nathaniel. A shame the man wasn’t around to hand him treats today.
“He’s a sweetheart,” I remembered the woman that ran the local grocery store saying as I had come to buy some bread. Nathaniel had just left the store from the back of the shop. He had helped her move her things around. “It’s a shame he doesn’t talk much. I wonder why.” I had just smiled at her words as she handed me the plastic bag with the loaf of bread in it. It seemed Nathaniel was well known, and not known at all at the same time. He seemed to be leaving small footprints everywhere he went, seeming more like an experience than a solid person. I wondered why he was like that. Maybe that was just his nature, and I was overthinking things like I usually do.
I wanted to know more about him, but he was reserved, and I didn’t want to seem intrusive and poke nosy. It didn’t help that I had dropped everything about church and God. My brain was too tired to be spiritually active for myself, not to talk of someone else.
When I started to accept the fact that my feelings crossed the line of mere fascination, I started to see him differently, and I wanted to know more about him. I had stopped avoiding him. I had started taking walks with him in the morning and talking to him when I could, but he treated me like he treated everyone else. With a smile on his full lips and an interaction filled with light conversation that never really crossed the line of discussing anything besides the mundane. A few times it would become personal, and he would leave or make me leave by pointing out the time.
I pat the sides of my grey jogging pants, feeling my keys as well as Nath’s keys in them. I still wondered why exactly he had given them to me. Was he playing mind games, or did I just wish he was? When I had asked yesterday on our walk he had just shrugged and said, ‘just in case.’ In case of what? Was the question I’ve been asking myself since yesterday afternoon. I had zoned out during two meetings, and I had spent a lot of time just holding the keys in my hands as I lay in bed that night.
A sigh left my lips as I slowed down and began walking. I made it into the narrow path, and as usual, the croaking of frogs, and the sound of birds singing and jumping from branch to branch filled the air in the area. I soon got to the clearing by the stagnant lake created by the dam. This was more or less Nathaniel’s thinking ground, and it had become mine too since it became a habit to follow him during his walks.
“What’s happening?” I asked out loud, listening as my voice rang through the area. I stared down at my blurry reflection in the blue-green river, shaking my head before looking up again. What am I doing? I thought to myself as I ran my fingers through my hair, feeling the strands slip through and fall back. I really didn’t know what I was doing.
I took Nath’s keys out of my pocket before holding them in a fist, feeling the cool metal of the keys press against my skin. “He gave them to me because he trusts me, right?” I asked myself out loud, trying to hold on to any reason that meant I was special in some way. I wanted to be special to Nath. The man that had made himself simple yet complex. It was like I could see bits of him through a beaded curtain, and the simple glimpses only made me want to see the full picture.
He had more than made himself at home there. Sometimes he would kiss me, and sometimes I would just watch on as he did simple tasks. Images of his lips curling into a smile, and his dark eyes looking at me with amusement filled my mind. Also, his tank tops. His stupid tank tops. A smile spread across my face as my laughter filled the air. Is this what a crush was supposed to feel like? I wouldn’t know. I hadn’t had one before. A frown soon replaced the smile on my face as I started to think about what I had gotten myself into. I had allowed this to happen. I had given up on trying to ignore it and just let it run amok.
Yet I wasn’t satisfied.
It was like greed had started to build up in me. I wanted something more, but I was too afraid to reach out for it. Maybe I did hope that he would reach out to me, so I wouldn’t feel guilty for doing it myself, but it seemed like he might not even take a liking to me. This was not what I had expected to happen at all. I had wanted things to fizzle out, but why did I now feel restless because nothing was happening? This was one-sided. I should be happy that was the case, but I wasn’t.
Dangerous. That’s what my thoughts were, but I didn’t seem to care anymore. I woke up, repeated prayers and duties more like a teacher than a believer. I wasn’t sure if the gravity of my thoughts and sins that were weighing on me was what was causing this recoil. I was letting it happen, there was no excuse for that, and the worst part was that I didn’t mind. I didn’t want my feelings to go away anymore.
What was this? Jealousy, greed, envy — just too many to list, and I was too exhausted from overthinking. Maybe this is how people do deep in sin felt okay with just living in it. Mine were not even manifested into actions yet, and I was already numb. I want more, so I am going to reach out for more. The conclusion I made in my mind all of a sudden filled me with newfound energy. Suddenly the screws started turning in my head, and I was thinking up scenarios when I would get some time with Nathaniel, and maybe hint to him how I felt.
He said he likes books, then maybe I should get him books. I bought some of my favorite books along with me, but I highly doubt he would like them He didn’t seem like the type that would like Christian fantasy. I kept thinking of how to tell him how I felt without actually telling him. Yes, it seems like doing things in circles was my style.
I stood by the lake with my hands in the pockets of my joggers as dwelled in my thoughts. Some time passed before I checked my watch to see that it was almost eight, so I left the clearing and started heading back to the station. The dog was still lying down on the ground when I passed it.
“He’ll be back tomorrow, don’t worry,” I said with a smile, walking past the confused dog. It stood up, making a sound between a whine and a bark before settling down on the earthen floor again. A chuckle escaped my lips as I continued on my way.
Yes, Nathaniel would be back tomorrow, and I would pay him a visit — to return his keys of course.
Gosh, who was I kidding?