April 11

A very sad, lonely service for poor Mildred. Only a handful of people showed up. Not one single person from her church. It was like the church was blaming Mildred for bringing shame on the church. “Sin in the camp,” “God’s wrath,” and “Justice has been done” was what I overheard.

“They seem to think it’s all Mildred’s fault,” I whispered to Kate on the way out of the chapel.

Kate nodded. “Poor Mildred.”

The pastor was sent off for grief and family counseling. That’s all his denominational execs did. Mildred’s family got nothing.

Sometimes, life is a sad affair.

That sounds so wrong in light of the circumstances. What I mean is life is sad and unfair.

_____

April 12

Whoa! Where did the week go? I had to stop and pick up some nail polish. Yes, guilty as charged. I love nail polish and Gwen and Mitch’s friends were coming over so I thought I’d show more enthusiasm for life on the weekends. This working 9 to 5 is killing my social life.

And I haven’t been feeling like waking up early to go to church. I’m beginning to understand why working people don’t like going to church on Sunday–only day to sleep in! Gwen’s concerned about my lethargy and I’m trying to keep her from calling our mom so I decided to go shopping. Shopping is always a sign that a woman is doing just fine. Stereotypical, but not true for me. I’d rather watch a football game or go to a concert.

Anyway, I’m ready to check out at the store and waiting for the salesgirl to finish talking on her phone.

“OMG, really. Like for sure I’ll be there. Will Peter be there? Like he’s soooo hot.”

OMG, does her supervisor know for sure that she’s on the phone instead of helping a customer?

“Excuse me. I…” I’m ignored. I don’t like being ignored.

“Excuse me.” A little louder this time.

“Sydney, give me a minute. Someone…,” deep sigh and rolls eyes, “needs help…” She glares at me, hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. “Whaaat?”

“I’ve been waiting for a while and…”

“I’ve been busy. Can’t you see?”

“No, you’re talking on the phone with your friend. I’m a customer and I need help.”

“Syd, some b—”

What? She called me a…what was her problem? Not sure why she was giving me such an attitude. Sure changed when I asked for her supervisor and wanted to fill out a complaint.

_____

10:15 p.m.

Just spent another evening with Gwen and Mitch’s friends. Somehow, it wasn’t as fun as advertised. Both couples were super religious and if I heard “praise Jesus” one more time…

“Gwen, if they don’t stop, I’m afraid I’m going to start using four letter words,” I warned Gwen as we cleared the dishes.

“You too? Poor Mitch. He probably has several bruises on his shin from my kicking him under the table.”

And we start laughing and can’t stop.

“Praise Jesus, the gift of laughter. How wonderful and pleasant it is when sisters live together in harmony!” That would be pious Gail.

I’d had it. “You know, Gail…”

Gwen’s looking at me, pleading.

“…Praise Jesus.”

I had to think about my sister.

But if this is what married-life entertaining is like, I’ll pass.

_____

April 13
10:25 a.m.

Why on a Monday?? It’s going to ruin my entire week. Why can’t the pastors stay home? It’s their day off. Well, not Tav’s, but I wish it was his, too.

“Five minutes. Be in my office,” Mark suggests, although, I consider his suggestions generally as directives.

I need air to breathe and some chocolate to ease my nerves. I really don’t like emergency staff meetings. They always take place at the wrong time. Always.

And here’s Faith in my office. Probably stalking Tav again. She wants me to run some copies for her. She took my five-minute break. I really want to scream. She’s wearing another ghastly perfume and it’s giving me a HUGE headache.

Thanks to Faith, I don’t have time for chocolate. Another nail in her virtual coffin.

_____

10:30 a.m.

By the time I got back to Mark’s office, they were all waiting for me.

“You okay?” asked Tav.

“Fine, thanks. Sorry I’m late, Faith needed someone…,” I’m looking at Tav to make my meaning clear, “…to run some copies for her.”

Tav refuses to take the bait.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Mark picks up where Tav left off. “Natalie, if you need to talk, my door is always open.”

“I’m okay. Thanks.” I must have really looked like I was in deep pain. I really wasn’t. I just appear that way every time I’m in a staff meeting…and Faith’s perfume had given me a headache.

Thank God Mark starts to pray. It gives me a few minutes to catch my breath. Actually, a lot more than a few minutes. Mark likes long prayers.

“Amen.”

“Amen.”

Mark started pacing the floor and sat down again.

It was making me very nervous. Why can’t people just sit where they’re supposed to? Except me, of course.

“Well, I’m sorry to tell you that Chuck is resigning. We’ll need to find a new choir director.”

That’s all? An emergency meeting for that.

And then it struck me.

Oh no! Budgetary problems and Chuck has to resign.

Me next? I’m concerned since I want to keep this job a wee bit longer.

“It’s a delicate matter.”

Couldn’t be too deadly—not like poor Mildred. Kate was looking more like her self, Tav was sipping contentedly on his coffee, and even Mark seemed more relaxed and had popped a chewing gum into his mouth. Pastors chewing gum always surprises the church members. I’m not sure why, but it does.

“The elders met with Chuck yesterday evening and requested his resignation. Very sad day.”

I was so preoccupied with this new crisis that it took Kate a few extra seconds to get my attention. Her raised brows were trying to tell me something.

“I’m really sorry to tell you all that Chuck confessed to having an affair with Andrea.”

It suddenly seemed like there was an epidemic of affairs in the church community.

“They’ll be telling their families today, so please keep them in prayer.”

I was right.

“Natalie was afraid of that.” Kate granted me my moment. It wasn’t exactly a great moment to have, but maybe next time they’d pay more attention to the secretary.

“Let us know if you pick up on anything else. The truth is people generally overlook the secretary. She’s like the invisible woman.”

Compassion, and now encouragement from Tav?

I’m trying not to let it make my heart flip-flop. But it does.

Oh no. No no no no no!

_____

9:25 p.m.

Kate just called. Guess Chuck confessed about his affair to his wife and she’s forgiven him, taken him back. Now they’re blaming Andrea. She caused Chuck to fall. It’s all her fault.

Chuck is pretty greasy looking. Wonder what Andrea saw in him.

_____

11:15 p.m.

“Where are you?” Text from Frankie.

“Been crazy busy at work :(!!”

“I tried to call a hundred times. Have you changed your number?????”

“No. And it wasn’t a hundred times!!”

“Is everything okay?”

“Yes. Just crisis at work. Will call soon xoxoxo.”

Tav was occupying too many of my moments, I hadn’t thought about Frankie much.

It’s not Tav. Your workload got so much heavier.

Lying to self. Self willingly accepts lie.

_____

April 15

Everyone’s going crazy about Tax Day. The one time of year I’m happy to be part of the Pathetic Income bracket.

At least, for this past year. It’s not like I didn’t try to get a job. I mean I did sort of try.