June 29
11:30 a.m.

Thank God, Jack Sprat and his wife aren’t in the office today. It would really have ruined my day.

I feel so alone. Kate is gone. Mark is leaving. Tav was—where is Tav anyway? Probably on his vacation, too. He never said. Not that I wanted him to or anything. Should I care? No, I don’t.

But I do.

And now, my mom just calls me and says that my dad has accepted a call to work with a church in Germany.

“Why didn’t you tell me before?” That’s me protesting. I want to be with my parents.

“My love, we just found out.”

“Does Gwen know?” If she did and they weren’t telling me, there’s going to be hell to pay.

“No, we just found out. Thought I’d let you know first, and…”

“There’s going to be oceans and oceans of water between us and thousands and thousands of endless miles. It’s not like I’m on the East Coast and can just be there and…I’m going to die.”

“You won’t. Maybe you can join us. We’ll have room for you and you have been wanting to see…”

“Paris!! Yes, as soon as I save up enough I’ll be there.”

So now I have a plan. I’m going to save up money and go to Europe and everyone will be sorry that they left me behind. Yes, you’re allowed a pity party once in a while. Twice in a while. Many times in a while—in extenuating circumstances. Although, I don’t want to be like Hannah’s mom who goes from prayer mom to banshee—whoa! I’ve heard her yell and scream. At. The. Top. Of. Her. Voice. And then, she’s back to smiling and saying all those prayers in church.

Mine is just gentle disgruntlement—you could say it has a charm of its own.

Or not.

________

3:30 p.m.

“What are you doing here?” I can’t believe that Brad is actually in the office on Monday. He says he sleeps all day to recover from Sunday’s youth’s activities.

“Checking in on you. Here’s a red rose for you.”

“Seriously?”

“I told you I would.”

“Yes, but…”

“But you think I’m a loser, a couch potato, and wouldn’t remember.”

“Yes. Yes. And…hmmm…Yes.”

“Natalie, you’re sick. They have a name for your disease.”

Brad and I have become best friends. It’s funny how you make friends with a guy who insults you, but you know he likes you. Yet, a woman, when she’s all honey and dripping compliments, you know she dislikes you…intensely. Like Faith.

“Who’s got a disease?” Speak of the devil… Well, I wasn’t really speaking, just thinking.

“You have…they wrote about it on the local pub’s bathroom wall.” Brad smiles at her and is gone. I’m trying not to laugh, and just not succeeding.

“Brad’s sense of humor is very tasteless. He’s picked up the manners of the youthhh he takes care of.” She spits out youthhh like Brad is the caretaker of so many cockroaches. Faith is not amused. I wonder if she’s ever amused…

“The youth have very good manners.” I speak in their defense. Why does everyone think that youth don’t have good manners?

“You and Brad are so…”

“So?” I guess it was the way I was clutching my letter opener that made her change her mind about whatever she was going to say.

“Oh…so young.”

“I guess you don’t like youth and people who are young when you get to a certain age.”

“What do you mean by that?” Hands on waist, squinty eyes. And they’ll know we are Christians by our…hate.

“Faith. Leave it alone. I was just joking.”

“You think you’re in charge of the church because everyone is gone? Well, I have more authority than…”

The authority card?

“Oh, suck it up.” Faith is looking as red as the rose that Brad had just brought me.

“You’ll regret this!!! You’ll live to regret this!!! I’m going to tell—”

Thank God for the telephone. “First Church…”

“Natalie, you okay?”

“Walt! So absolutely wonderrrrful to hear your voice!”

“Natalie, I’m always so happy to hear yours.”

Faith wants to say something more, I make hand motions that I’m taking a long call, and she leaves. Finally.

Even Walt is a welcome relief.

“Natalie, you know…you know…you mean very much to me. Maybe we can go grab a lunch…dinner together…one of these days…nothing much.”

No really, no, never, Walt. Perish the idea. Bury it deep in the deep, deep sea.

Maybe I overdid the warm welcome. Hmmm…

_______

11:45 p.m.

So back to my pity party. I listen to one of my mom’s favorites…