Romance Drama

I walked into the youth group building, pulling my hair up into a high ponytail. Looking over at Johnny, one of our leaders, I asked, 

"What are we doing tonight?" 

"It's game night time, Kenosha!" I whooped and spun around as my fellow youth group students started to arrive. Darek high-fived me as I passed. When Nat, Jayne, and Hana walked in, I rushed over and we started talking about boys. 

"So who's your crush?" Nat asked. I felt my cheeks heat up as I said, 

"I don't have one, to tell you the truth." 

"New school, eh?" Jayne said with a laugh. I punched her shoulder playfully. 

"You should know I'm picky." They looped their arms through mine. At that moment, R.J. (another leader) walked up to us with a smile. 

"So y'all, should we play an outside game in the forty degree weather, or should we play Grog?"

Grog: the game where you have four 'grogs', who are it, who run around freezing townspeople as the townspeople try to find the pieces of a flashlight as they can kill the grogs. Oh, and the lights are all off, and there's a time limit. The grogs almost always win, but it's a lot of fun. 

"Grog," Hana said. 

"Definitely," we all chorused. It was kind of a given; Grog was our youth group's signature game. 

"Grog it is," R.J. smiled. As other kids walked in, we spread the news. A game night was just what everybody wanted. 

We all walked over to the main building, flipping lights off as we went. We all met in the kitchen, where Johnny explained rules to newcomers and R.J. hid the flashlight. Finally, it was time to pick the grogs. Almost everyone's hand went up, but I was in luck. 

"Chase, Leyla, Jeff, and… Kenosha! You are the grogs," Johnny said. A sigh of disappointment went out from everyone else as the four of us ran out into the darkened church, high-fiving as we made our plan (which consisted of not letting them get the flashlight so we could survive.) We split up and fanned out across the church as we heard the other students start to come up the stairs. I stationed myself in the nursery hallway, lying in wait for unsuspecting villagers. 

We got rowdier as we played, running around freezing people and trying to catch our breath. Several times, Jeff and I ganged up to catch kids, clapping hands with each success. 

Finally, with five minutes left, we heard the triumphant shout- they had assembled the flashlight. I quickly looked around for a spot to hide. A hand gripped my arm and pulled me into the mother's nursing room. 

"In here, they're coming!" Jeff whispered, his warm breath in my ear. I crouched down behind the couch with him, awkwardly pressed against him as I tried to stay hidden. 

"Are you sure this is the best place?" I asked. 

"People never come in here," he reassured me. At that moment, we heard people pass by. We shut up, hearing every beat of our pounding hearts as loud as thunder. We could see the flashlight beam bouncing off the hallway's walls. They eventually passed, and I breathed a sigh of relief. 

"That was close," Jeff said with an easy laugh. I rolled my eyes. Jeff was two years younger than me, but nobody could best his confidence. 

"Grogs win!" we distantly heard R.J. shout. Jeff crept to the door and cracked it open. 

"All clear," he whispered. 

"The game's over, silly," I said, walking out behind him. He turned back with a reproving finger wag, 

"Now, Kenosha, you can never be too careful." I laughed and walked over to join my friends. He split off to join his. Just a little moment in a room trying to stay quiet. It shouldn't have meant anything. But in the end, it did. 

It was two weeks later that I realized that I was slowly gravitating towards Jeff. We were picking teams for kickball. Jeff and Darek were captains. I waited eagerly to be picked, not realizing that I was hoping Jeff would pick me. 

"Kensie!" Darek called. My spirits sank. As I walked over to Darek's side, in my mind, I thought, That's disappointing. Then I caught myself, Wait, why is that disappointing? I shrugged it off and ran with the rest of my team to the field. 

As we played, I shied away from the ball and stood in the back of the line so I didn't have to kick. That was my jam; kickball wasn't my type of game. Jeff eventually noticed.

"Kenosha! Why aren't you playing harder?" I just shook my head,

"This is not my game." Jeff waved me off,

"This can't not be your game. Just do your best!" I sighed.

"Okay, okay!" Then it was time for my team to go into the field, and his team to kick. 

I walked out and stood next to Johnny, who was rolling the ball. Jeff was up first. He kicked the ball- right at me. I put my hands up to catch it, but it flew between them and smacked me in the face with a thunk. 

"Kensie? Oh my gosh, Kensie!"  I heard Jeff say as I fell to the ground, my vision filled with black spots. My sight flew back in as Johnny, our leader, and Jeff crouched in front of me. Johnny helped me sit up.

"Kenosha, are you okay?" I nodded, but then spat blood into the grass and shook my head. Jeff helped me stand up, putting my arm around his shoulders. 

"I'll bring her into the youth house and get some ice. You guys continue." Johnny looked skeptical, but Jeff already had me up and moving.

Once he had some ice on my swollen lip, he said,

"I feel so bad, Kensie." I waved my hand,

"You're good," slightly slurred because of the ice. He smiled tentatively,

"I guess Grog went better than this, didn't it?" I shrugged, grinning as much as I could. He laughed a little, the ice shaking on my mouth. 

We sat there for a while, listening to the whoops and shouts from outside. Finally, Jeff pulled the ice away with a smile.

"You feeling a little better?" I nodded, then winced,

"Eh…" Jeff grinned,

"Want me to kiss it better?" he said with a little kid voice. Yes! my brain said. I shook my head vigorously to get rid of the voice, and Jeff took it the wrong way.

"Geez, I didn't know kissing me was such a disgusting thing." I blushed,

"No, no, that's not what I was saying! You can kiss me. I mean, if you want. Ummmm, sorry, I'm a little fluste-" He leaned forward and pecked my swollen lower lip lightly. I stared at him as he pulled back.

"Better?" he asked with a raised eyebrow. I snapped to,

"Yeah, yeah." 

"Good," Jeff smiled, pulling me to my feet. "Looks like they're winding down. We better go out and catch up." I laughed a little and followed him out. People said hi and asked if I was okay, but all I could think about was the kiss still burning into my lip. 

"Kenosha. Kenosha?" R.J. said. I stopped my daydreams of Jeff and realized everyone was going inside. 

"Sorry, R.J. I guess I'm not fully here." R.J. laughed. 

"Well, Kenosha, I hope you feel better soon." 

"Thanks," I smiled. In my head, I added, But I won't be until I figure out what's happening with Jeff and I. 

At youth group the next week, everyone was gathered inside. We started to play nine square when Leyla came up to me. 

"Good job getting Mary, Kenosha," she said, referring to the children's Christmas play. Usually she got Mary and I played a snotty temple woman, but it had been reversed this year. I smiled as much as I could without cracking my healing lip,

"Thanks, Leyla. And you're going to do great!" She looked surprised that I would be nice. The truth was, there were parts of being a PK that came easily to me. Like always having a smile on my face. They weren't always genuine, though.

"Okay!" Johnny called. "Time for our actual game. Put the nine square ball away. We're going to play sardines in the main building." 

We all walked across the parking lot, our breath making puffs in the frosty air. Once we were near the entrance, Johnny told Jeff, who apparently was now it in every game we played, to go hide. He ran into the darkened church. 

After five minutes, Johnny gave us the signal and the game started. I was immediately on my guard for the smallest places I could find. As a petite person myself, I always looked for places that no one else would think of. I knew that was how Jeff's brain worked, too. 

I immediately thought of one place he might be that nobody else would think about because almost nobody knew it existed. I quietly went down to the kitchen. There were people in the fellowship hall, but nobody had ventured into the kitchen, as far as I could tell. I slid on my stomach to the far cabinets. Opening the largest, I crawled inside. Then, sliding away the floor of the side I wasn't sitting on, I worked my way down the wooden steps into the crawl space below. It wasn't completely pitch black, because of a dim emergency light that flickered on and off. 

I could see Jeff's outline leaning against the opposite wall, which meant his face was about six inches from my face (it was a pretty skimpy crawl space). 

"Wow, Kensie. That was fast." I shrugged, as much as I could while lying on my side in the dark. 

"This is my go to hiding spot, to." He laughed. We laid in silence for a moment before he said,

"So, how is your face?" 

"It's mending." He chuckled and then grew serious,

"I'm sorry if I made you feel like you had to kiss me. I wasn't trying to force that on you." I fumbled for his hand in the dark, somehow wanting to tell him the truth.

"Jeff, kissing you wasn't a chore." 

"It wasn't?" he whispered.

"No," I said, continuing. "To tell you the truth, I was shaking my head because it should be a chore. I- I shouldn't like you." 

"You like me?" he whispered, this time with a slight rasp. 

"I-yeah," I forged on, "but I shouldn't like you." 

"Why not?" Jeff asked, a little bit of nervousness in his voice.

"Because you're two years younger than me, and that will not sit well with the church. The pastor's daughter dating a middle schooler? You'd be constantly told that you weren't good enough; if not through words, then actions."

Jeff sighed, and I could feel his breath on my face, warm and pleasant. I shivered slightly as the cold of the rest of my body came to light.

"Are you cold, Kensie?" Jeff asked. Against my better judgement, I nodded,

"Y-yeah." He slowly, almost uncertainly, reached between us and slid a hand under me and around my waist, pulling me into him. His arms slowly encircled me, one coming to rest under my head and one holding me against him. I stared into his eyes (or at least what I thought were his eyes), trying to stop my rollercoaster emotions.

Oh my gosh, he's holding you!

What would your parents say?

You should always listen to your heart!

Put the mask back on, put the mask back on! 

My breathing started to come heavier, senses heightened by our closeness. 

"Jeff, I-I-" He cut me off, pressing his lips to mine fiercely. My hands, which were folded between us, trembled, wanting to hold him, pull him closer. I tried to fight the pull of his kiss and my crush and everything else, but I couldn't. I slid my cold hands onto his cheeks, kissing him back with a passion I hadn't known I had possessed, my injured lip forgotten. 

"Kensie, they just don't get it. You can't help who you feel for, can you?" I laughed a tiny bit.

"I guess not." Jeff squeezed me tightly.

"Whatever the world throws at us, we conquer it together." I nodded.

"Okay, Jeff. It's the world vs. us."

December 14, 2020 18:14

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