“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’” ~Mark 2:17
I walked into school the next day, Monday, absolutely dreading it.
It wasn’t just because of the stereotypical Monday feeling either. If it had been a Tuesday, it would’ve been just as bad. I secured my backpack on my shoulders and walked in. Not only would I have to interact with Shelly, I’d also be questioned about where I snuck off to. I played with the flash-drive I had in my pocket, which I had downloaded all the pictures onto last night. It was late, and I was tired from the weekend. Who knows if they even all got on there.
Asher wouldn’t leave me. I had to play with him and watch him. It was oddly silent for the rest of the day, until Pearl arrived home. Even then, there were no sounds of a family living there. Finally, that night when Asher fell asleep, I could put him to bed, do some homework, and download the pictures.
The crowd in the school lobby was tightly packed. I weaved my way through the pockets of cliques with my head down, especially avoiding the people I knew went to the party. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice me and I made it to my locker without interference.
As I was pulling books out of the compartment, I waited for someone to come and just slam my hand in the door. Shelly was surely not going to be happy with me leaving, and would probably get back at me for it later. What confused me was Ace. Of all people, he didn’t want to be there. I guess he couldn’t have like her that much if he wasn’t pursuing her. I don’t blame him, she’s way to possessive.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and immediately whipped around.
“What do you want?!“ I exclaimed, assuming it was Jimmy or Marcus.
Only it wasn’t. It was Sawyer.
“Oh, hey,” I said, feeling a little embarrassed. “Sorry.”
“It’s fine. We told Alivia,” he said, getting right to the point.
“Told her what-- Oh.” I remembered what he told me about his dad and the tumor. I never asked if it was cancerous, and I really hoped it wasn’t. Why do the worst things happen to the best of people?
“Yeah,” he said quietly. “She didn’t take it well.”
His eyed flickered to the ground and he shifted his feet. The sad look on his face seemed to become apart of him, and I hated it. I wish he could go back to the same Sawyer when I first met him.
“She didn’t come to school today. I don’t know what else to do. I tried talking to her about it after my parents told her. She just shut herself up in her room, not wanting to talk to anyone,” he explained.
My heart grew heavy as he went on. First Sawyer and now Alivia. Who next, Asher? I shivered at the thought of her being so upset she didn’t even have the heart to talk to her brother. I wondered what she was doing.
“Is there anything I can do? At all?” I asked.
“Just pray. Oh, and come over tonight,” he said, a little amused with his own change in conversation. “We can read the Bible for a little bit.”
“Should I come over when your family is... You know, going through this?”
Not only was a little uncomfortable with the idea of studying the Bible in the first place, there was also the matter of intruding during a very bad time.
“It’s fine, Ma said you could--”
“Tin Tin!” a cold voice called to me. I froze and didn’t dare look to see who had said it, because I already knew.
“Shelly,” I muttered, staring at the floor. I felt her walk right up to me and stood way to close.
“I missed you at the party, I heard you left,” she growled. If it were anyone but me, they would’ve fallen into her little trap. I knew she was guilting me, but I was more scared of her more than anything else.
“I had to go somewhere,” I mumbled.
“What was that?” she asked. I refused to answer or even look at her. I wanted to run. “I didn’t hear you, babe.”
She shoved my shoulder against the lockers and I was forced to stare into her eyes. Her expression was definitely dissatisfied, and I loved it.
“Don’t call me that,” I said, skin crawling when she called me ‘babe’.
“Why’s that? You don’t like me?” She batted her fake eyelashes and gave me the you-better-answer-this-right look.
“What reason do I have to like you?!” I exclaimed. Anger flashed in her eyes. For a moment I thought she was going to hit me.
“Shelly, stop!” Sawyer shouted.
She spun around to face him, not hiding the fact that she was utterly irritated.
“Stay out of this Sawyer!” she spat in his face.
“Leave him alone,” he answered in a low voice.
She rolled her eyes and stepped back from the both of us. An evil grin came across her face and I nearly ran. But I held my ground, and waited for her to leave.
“Do you at least have the pictures?” she asked, annoyed.
“Here,” I answered. I tossed the flash-drive at her and she snatched it out of my hand like a cat. “You owe me four hundred and fifty dollars.”
She huffed then pulled out her purse and handed me the money in twenties. At least she kept her promises. She spun on her heel and walked away, but not before throwing me a dirty look over her shoulder. I exchanged a glance with Sawyer, who looked a little shocked himself.
“Well,” he said, “someone’s in a mood.”
I nodded and smiled, amused. She was always in a mood.
  
Whenever I saw Shelly in the halls after that, she’d either ignore me or give me a look like she wanted to rip out my guts. Which was fine with me, as long as she wasn’t actually doing it. None of my crew talked to me, not that they would anyway. I’ve become their unintentional enemy, though I don’t know exactly how it happened.
Maybe it’s the first time it hit me, but that was when I noticed everyone from our group ignoring me. I had to admit, it hurt a little. I was hanging with those guys since freshman year, and now they decide I’m not good enough for them. I couldn’t make up my mind whether I cared or not. Deep down, I think I did.
Ace wasn’t at school that day. I had planned on talking to him, maybe befriending him. He seemed to be slowly exiled himself. While I didn’t know him all that well, he and I were in the same boat.
After school, I went to Sawyer’s. Pearl had practice today, her game was tomorrow. It was her last home game in the season before tournaments started, and I planned on going. Not that I’d have anyone to hang out with while I was there.
I showed up at Sawyer’s right behind him. More than anything, I was anxious to see Alivia and make sure she was okay.
“Tin Tin Amble, welcome back!” Mr. Olson exclaimed as I came through the door.
I looked over to see him at the dining table. He didn’t exactly look sick, but his face didn’t seem to light up as it did the first time I met him. Smiling, I waved a little.
“How are you doing, Mr. Olson?” I asked.
“I’m doing better, doing better. Thank you for asking,” he replied, nodding. He took off his glasses and set them on the table. He also appeared to be reading the Bible and taking notes in a little notebook.
“Anytime,” I said.
“Dad, we’ll be downstairs if you need anything,“ Sawyer said, handing me a can of root beer.
“Okay Pan. Ma should be home soon, so don’t worry about me.”
He gave us a weak smile and I noticed the cane beside him, leaning against the table. I grinned back, but it felt forced.
We walked down to the basement and turned into Sawyer’s room. He let out a sigh as his backpack fell off his shoulders beside his bed.
“You’re worried about your dad, aren’t you?” I asked.
He nodded numbly.
“I don’t know what I’d do without him,” he mumbled.
“I prayed for him, you know?” I blurted, setting my own backpack down.
Sawyer smiled, looking more relieved than he had in the past week.
“I know,” was his reply. “I had a feeling you would.”
I don’t know if this creeped me out or comforted me. Either way, I grinned and nodded.
“So I was thinking,” Sawyer began, reaching for two books on his desk. He handed me a smaller one, and I realized it was a Bible. The cover was worn, like he had read with it so many times. “We could read through the book of Mark. It’s not very long, only sixteen chapters.”
“Okay,” I replied, opening the Bible.
We sat down on the floor across from each other as Sawyer proceeded to explain how the Bible was broken up. Old Testament, New Testament, different books, four Gospel accounts, chapters, and verses. Then we began reading.
At first, it was a little strange, just because the concepts were so unfamiliar to me. I didn’t know what to expect. However, I paid attention best I could, especially since I read every three verses.
Sawyer also let me have a notebook to take notes with if I wanted. A lot of the terms confused me, like ‘baptism’ or who John was. When it began to talk about casting out demons in people, I was a little baffled. I didn’t ask though. The words seemed pretty straightforward. We only read two chapters, which was nice, especially since I had a ton of questions afterwards.
“Baptism. What’s that?” I asked, pointing to the word.
“Simple,” Sawyer said, a smile on his face. “You are baptized to show that you have decided to follow Jesus publicly. Basically you’re dunked under water to resemble the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.”
“Sounds intense,” I said, raising my eyebrows.
“Not really,” he laughed. “It’s really a joyful thing. Probably the best moment of my life.”
“Really?” I asked skeptically.
“Yeah. Following Jesus was the best decision I’ve ever made. I would not be the person I am today without Him.”
“Is that what they were talking about on Sunday? Losing yourself to follow Jesus?” I asked.
“Yep. Jesus was selfless and came to earth because He loved us enough to teach us and save us from ourselves. He didn’t have to, He wanted to,” Sawyer explained.
My heart jolted at that. A lot of times I did things because I had to, not because I wanted to. Jesus probably had it all hanging out in Heaven, and He just came here for us out of love? Didn’t He expect us to do something or keep His rules?
“Wait,” I said. I paused, thinking about what I wanted to say, and Sawyer waited patiently. “Isn’t there a catch?”
“No. Only to read and do His word because we love Him.”
“So like you?”
“What do you mean?”
Sawyer looked confused. He drew his eyebrows together and shook his head slightly.
“Well, you didn’t have to teach me this stuff, but you offered. Is that what God would want you to do?” I asked.
A beat of silence passed.
“I believe so,” he answered.
We then proceeded to read chapter two. It wasn’t as confusing, and afterward Sawyer explained most of my questions without me having to ask. He pointed things out to me that I made sure to write down, because, I had to admit, it was kind of cool. While I was really uncomfortable at the time, since I hadn’t heard of any of the information before, there was something about it that was immensely distinctive. Like the look on Sawyer’s face when he talked about it was totally different from other times I had conversations with him.
“So you know when they’re accusing Jesus, but they don’t say it out loud?” Sawyer asked.
“Okay, the cool thing about it was that they didn’t physically say it. They thought it and Jesus answered them verbally. He knew their thoughts,” he explained.
“What?” I asked in disbelief. “So Jesus can know my thoughts too?”
“Yes. And mine and Alivia’s and everyone else’s.”
For some reason, that really unnerved me. My thoughts were my private territory, and I’m getting news that God can read my mind? I’ve thought some pretty terrible things.
“Has He always known them?” I asked.
“Yep,” Sawyer answered, seeming a little astonished himself.
“Huh,” I replied.
After that, we just hung out and drank our root beers, talking about the most random things. We never started on homework, which was perfectly fine with me. Eventually I had to tell him that I needed to go.
When we walked upstairs, Alivia was coming in the backdoor.
“Hi Alivia,” I greeted her.
“Hey Tin,” she said, smiling. Worry invaded it though and was in her eyes. Her cheeks were a little red from being outside in the chilly weather. She walked into her parents room, excusing herself.
I was about to go out the door when I realized I still had Sawyer’s Bible.
“Oh, here,” I said, trying to hand it back to him.
“No, keep it,” he told me. He smiled. “Want to study tomorrow?”
I nodded and grinned.
I couldn’t decide if I was excited about it or completely dreading it all together. But all I knew was something had been lit in me that I couldn’t stop.