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May 16
11:15 a.m.

Gwen and Mitch are back!! Yes!! Life is good again. Weekends are good again.

Anyway, I have been merrily meandering along my way doing my own thing. My routine has set in, so I haven’t really paid much attention to what was actually happening in my life. You know how that is? Your life goes into auto mode, and you find yourself drifting from one day to the next…

So it’s late Saturday morning, my one day to sleep in, and Gwen has made us breakfast. I help myself to scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, biscuits, and potatoes. I’m starving.

“Let’s eat on the balcony,” Gwen suggests.

I find my favorite chair, and sit down to enjoy my meal. The water is particularly beautiful today. The swans, the ducks…very nice. Peaceful.

“How’s work going?”

“Good.”

“And Frankie?”

“Good.”

I haven’t heard from Frankie. And I actually have forgotten that I haven’t heard from Frankie.

“Frankie and you are doing good?”

“Frankie, of course! Yes! Awesome. He is…awesome.”

I just want to eat. I always want to eat. And I would really like not to think about Frankie and prefer to deny reality instead.

But Gwen’s not giving up. “Frankie and you are doing fine. And work is good.”

“Well…I’m only doing this until…”

“Doing what? Until what?”

Now that she had put it that way, I didn’t know what to say, so I concentrated on eating once more. And she did have a point. I had…um…kind of forgotten about Frankie.

“Frankie wants to come and check out the area. He might like to move here.” I act like we’ve had daily contact, while trying to rack my brain as to when I had last spoken to him.

“Frankie?” Gwen chokes on her coffee. “Here?”

“Yes…” I did think that Frankie might not quite like it, but had tried to ignore that thought.

“When did he mention that?”

“We kinda talked about it when I was back home.”

“Before you came here?”

“Yes. I just have to call him and let him know.”

“But…” Whatever Gwen was going to say, she must have thought the better of it. “Sounds like a good idea. Can he stay with someone from your church?”

“No! No! No!” The idea of Frankie meeting the church staff sent shivers up my spine. I’m not sure why. Gwen saw the shock on my face and thank God she’s not pursuing the whole lodging-with-a-church-member idea.

“Okay.”

“Well, he had said he could only be around for a weekend. He was going to drive down on his way to his Uncle Joe’s.”

“Hmmm… He could stay with us. I’ll ask Mitch.”

“No. He could stay at the B and B. It’s not that far.” I don’t want Mitch to give Frankie the third degree. What’s your job? What are your intentionssssss?

I don’t even know what mine are.

_______

May 18
9:45 p.m.

I’m bored. And alone. There are only reruns on TV. Whoever thought that the season would end so soon? Seasons of TV series used to be longer and more fulfilling. Money. It’s all about money.

And I need some for a vacation that I can’t have because I don’t haven’t “accrued” enough time for a vacation. Accrued? Whoever says “accrued” any more? It sounds old.

Gwen and Mitch have gone out with their friends. I passed on what I secretly considered an I’d-rather-be-dead evening. I also didn’t feel like being asked if I had met the right man. Again. Why is it that all married people want to know if you’ve met the “right” man? It’s like being single is an addiction or a disease. Maybe there’s a Singles Anonymous Group. Hi, I’m Nat. I’m single. Do you have the cure?

Okay, I’m feeling sorry for myself. It was into my misery that the home phone rang. When the home phone rings, it’s usually a sales call, our friends only call us on our cells. Usually, I wouldn’t answer it, but I was thinking that asking the salesperson if they had found Jesus would be a form of entertainment. I need to get out more. I understand that.

“Hello.” Nothing like an aggressive tone to intimidate the caller.

“Hi Natalie.”

Huh?

“I was thinking that you might be feeling alone so thought I’d call and cheer you up. I know what that feels like. Many times.”

Seriously. It couldn’t be. Familiar voice.

“Sorry, whom did you say is calling?”

“I didn’t. But I thought you’d recognize my voice by now.”

It is. I’m glancing at the clock, it does seem a bit late. A church emergency perhaps?

“Walt?”

Quiet laughter, which sounds very scary when you’re listening to it on the phone and…are alone in the house.

“Yes. I found your number in the white pages. It’s not under your name, you know. It’s your brother-in-law’s. But I found it. Hope you don’t mind.”

“No. That’s fine. Just surprised. Is everything alright?” How does he know who Mitch is?

“Yes. Praise Jesus.”

Dear Jesus, I hope he isn’t standing at the doorstep wanting in. “Where are you?”

“Not too far.”

“Oh.”

“I just wanted you not to feel alone. If you need anything, just give me a call. It won’t take me long to be over.”

“Awww…thanks. I’m doing great. My sister and brother-in-law are on their way home.” I hope.

Where was he?

“Praise Jesus. You’re really nice, Natalie. Thanks for letting me help you.”

I hang up the phone feeling thoroughly creeped out and…guilty. I wish Walt wouldn’t be so nice. Don’t you hate it when people you don’t really like are nice to you? Then you have this whole God guilt thing where you feel this is a test from God and you’re going to fail it. Which I probably just did because I should have invited him over. What if this was the test of the neighbor at midnight thingy? I’m wondering if that’s the right Scripture. He’s lonely. He said he was, too.

I’m a doomed, failed Christian.

________

May 19
2:45 p.m.

“First Church. May I help you?”

“You can always help me.”

“Frankie! It’s so good to hear your voice.”

Why are men calling and surprising me?

“Glad to know that you still think about me!” Frankie is all happy and so…Frankie.

“Always!” Well, that was somewhat true. Not actually, you know, true true, but…

“I can’t wait to see you! I’ve missed you so much.”

“Me too! I was just talking to Gwen about you.” Okay, I’m caught up in the joy of the moment.

“Gwen? How’s she doing? Are you busy?”

“Not too busy to talk to you.”

“Oh Nat, I’ve missed you so much. Will it work to visit you soon. It’s seems like months since I’ve seen you.”

A sudden nostalgia for home and I’m all choked up.

“Absolutely.”

“Cool. Till then.”

“Frankie, I can’t wait to see you.”

“Ditto.”

“Natalie?” Frankie sounds like he’s going to ask an uncomfortable question. I want to avoid it.

“Yes?”

“Why aren’t you on Facebook? Or did you block me?”

“Silly. Never.”

Oh, wait. Yes. I did. That’s because I hadn’t heard from him and was mad because I had seen him comment on Cilla’s post and thought that they were having an affair or something. And it wouldn’t have bothered me, sort of, except that I was hurt that he hadn’t told me about it. I mean it’s not like we were committed to each other, but still. And I don’t like people to know when I’m hurt. Especially if it’s a guy, so I pretend to be happy and all okay. Other than blocking them on my phone, Facebook, Twitter…and every social media outlet. Ugh. Ugh. So complicated.

“Cool. Nat, just wanted to make sure, you know. Say hi to Gwen and Mitch.”

“Uhm. Yes. All cool.” Liar, liar, liar. I’m a liar.

I’m now wondering if I overdid the “can’t wait to see you.” I mean I did…do miss him. “Soon” can mean anything, can’t it? Maybe when the staff has all gone away on vacation and we have the exchange pastoral couple here. That way no one has to know about Frankie.

Not that Frankie isn’t cute. He is. But he’s also so Italian. Not that Italian is bad—very passionate. I love Italian food.

Okay, it’s Tav.

And Frankie.

I don’t want them to know about each other.

“What?” Pete’s in my office watching me hang up the phone.

“Life is unnecessarily complicated. Why can’t we just be honest with one another? I mean why can’t I like two people without feeling like it’s some sort of huge failure on my part.”

“Tell me about it.” Pete shuffles away.

Hmmm…not the best person to ask about liking two people at the same time.