I, Natalie Taylor, Am in the Middle

March 26

So I’m in the kitchen, minding my business, just taking a break, and sipping my tea and longing for one of Max’s yummy desserts, when a couple of our senior women enter, deep in discussion.

“Jessica said they’re getting rid of him.”

Jessica? Who’s Jessica? Whom are they getting rid of? After they get rid of “him”? Maybe they’re going to get rid of me. I need this job. My curious mind wants to know. I mean it’s the church, everyone wants to know everybody’s business.

“What happened?” one asks.

“I can’t say. Ask Jessica.”

The asker stops and looks at me, and they both lapse into silence. Awkward silence. Huge. Awkward. Silence. Like it’s my fault that I happen to be in the kitchen right now.

“Hi. I’m…” And I couldn’t remember my name. Have you ever had that happen to you? Just went clear out of my head. “Hmmm… I’m…Kate.”

The women are staring at me. “You’re Kate?”

“Haha! Did I say Kate? I meant that I’m Kate’s secretary. Not Kate’s, but, you know, the new church secretary. Well, gotta run. Nice to meet you.”

I must look really ill because Kate is staring at my face and asking, “Are you alright?”

I nod and I continue to sip my tea. Kate says, “You heard that Bob’s leaving, didn’t you?”

“I don’t…wait…what…who’s Bob?”

“Everyone knows. They’re all talking about it at church today.”

“No. I mean who’s Bob?”

“I feel like you’ve been here forever.” Me too, I wanted to agree fervently. “Bob’s the pastor at Trinity. He has accepted a call to another church.”

“That’s a problem?”

“Yes. His church didn’t know that he was looking around.”

“Ouch. How did they find out?”

Kate nodded her head wisely. “It’s the Internet. And church,” she adds as an afterthought.

I watch her silently.

“The church that he interviewed with announced on their website that he had candidated for the pastoral position, but…this rarely happens…the congregation voted ‘no’ on him, and Jessica read about it and called his current church and told her elder friend there. So now this church is planning on firing him or something. It’s really awful.”

“Eeew. Sounds horrible. Poor guy. But who’s this Jessica woman?”

“Jessica is our self-appointed prophetess and PI. She prowls the Internet for any dirt or news she can get on pastors. If she finds anything, she tells everyone about it. If she doesn’t like the pastor, she sets up a forum about him and starts to bash him.”

“You’re not serious?”

“I’m serious.”

“But isn’t that like a stalker?”

“Even worse. She calls up all the past churches the pastor has been at and asks if anyone had ‘challenges’ with him. Then she shares them as ‘prayer concerns’ with the women’s group.”

“She would waste her time like that? And I thought I needed a life.”

“She sees herself as the church’s warden…protector.”


“Jessica had…a difficult childhood and it’s had some serious repercussions on her. You know, feelings of neglect. She’s needed a lot of therapy…”

“Psycho?” I blurt out. Very smooth. Spoken like a caring pastor’s daughter.

“We don’t call them that in the church,” Kate says, quickly hiding a smirk.

“So we can’t call her Norma Bates then?” I persist.

That put Kate into hysterics. She was laughing so hard that both pastors came out to see what all the noise was about.

Overall a good day. I think I’m starting to get the hang of things.

March 27
12:11 p.m.

It’s Friday. It’s a crazy busy day. I haven’t received all the information for the bulletin, which I should have received last Tuesday. Folks, there is something called a deadline. Pastors and church members never seem to understand the word “deadline.” Anyway, this sporty type of woman, the runner type, shows up around 11:45.

“Is the pastor in?”

“Pastor Mark? Or Pastor Tavish?”

She stares at me like I’m purposely being obtuse or trying to irritate her. I’ve never seen this woman so how would I know whom she wanted to see.

“Pastor Tavish, of course.”

“Of course.” Stupid me.

“Hi Natalie!”

This woman suddenly looks like she’s seeing the Ghost of Christmas Present.


This has now become intriguing. I can feel strong negative energy in the room.

“Oh! Jessica!” Her face pales. “So good to see you.”

Jessica! I have eventually met the Jessica!

“You’re out and about…and right here at the church office, too! Not trolling the Internet! Haha!”

“What are you doing here?”

“Just stopping by.”

“And you?”





The tension in the room escalates with each monosyllabic response. My Monday was already ruined, and now my Friday was getting a beating too.

“Uhm…Jessica…” I nod in her direction to make sure I knew whom I was talking about, “Jessica stopped by to see Pastor Tavish.”

“Well, I just thought it would be a warm way to welcome our new pastor by taking him to lunch.”

“Mmhmm. Very warm of you.” There was just something in her voice that—

“What are you inferring?”

Not inferring—insinuating, or implying. My grammar OCD kicked in. My head swung back and forth like watching a tennis match. A very bad one.

“Oh nothing. Just, you know…”

“Faith, how can I help you?” I try to intervene.

“Well, I…”


“I thought Pastor Tavish might want to grab a quick lunch.”

“That’s very warm of you, Faith.” Jessica was smirking now.

Faith turned a deep shade of…purple or A Whiter Shade of Pale!

“I should have realized that you’d be first in line to….” Faith spiritualized her tones and left that sentence out there. Again.

Then Tav walked in. And this was going to be fun! I was now vastly entertained by the entire situation.

“Hi Pastor Tavish! I was just passing by and thought I’d stop in and see if you’d like to grab a quick bite.”

“Actually, Pastor Tavish, I was here before Faith to take you out to lunch. My treat.”

Busted. Not sure how he’s going to get out of this one.

“That’s very kind of both of you. Hate to miss it. But I really need to get Natalie lunch. I have already taken too much of her day.”

What was this? What was he doing?

“I…really…” I stutter helplessly.

“No, I insist. Let me know what to get you. Just call my cell with your order—anything you want, Missy.”

Missy? He called me Missy? I hate feeling caught in the middle. I hate that I am at a loss for words.

Most of all, I hate the fact that I liked that he called me Missy.

The looks I got. There are no words.

This is not going to go well. I can feel it.

11:00 p.m.

Another Friday night rolls by. These are the best years of my life—I should be out, having fun. But I just don’t want to do anything. Working at the church and all the dynamics of the week have worn me down.

And for some reason I’m sitting here dreamily thinking of Frankie. He texted me last night, explaining he has been so busy but is coming to town next week or so, just to see me. I can’t help smiling. It’s amazing how just hearing from him and I forget how badly he treats me. One can change, and maybe he’s realized how much he misses me. He did say it was empty without me. This could work. Maybe this will be the rescue I’ve been dreaming of, and he’ll come here, and whisk me away from all this…and my confusing boss…and we’ll live happily ever after. Not my boss and I, but Frankie and I will. Or at least happily for some time into the future. I’m not sure how far along my thoughts are going, really…

Natalie Taylor
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