Ronnie spun the straw of his drink between his fingers, looking at Dela with a sly smile.
“So he’s like Santa Claus?” he asked.
“Jesus is not like Santa clause.” Replied Dela.
“You say he’s watching all the time, though.” Said Ronnie.
“Yes, he knows everything we do.” Said Dela.
“So you could say he sees us when we’re sleeping, and knows when we’re awake.” said Ronnie.
“Stop,” she said playfully.
“I’m sorry. You know I just like to bug you.”
She smiled at him. Sitting here, just the two of them in this restaurant, it was like they hadn’t missed a day. Only hours ago, he was just a memory and a profile on social media. The last time she saw him in real life, before today, was 10 years ago. The day she broke up with him.
“I still can’t believe I ran into you.” Said Dela.
“Yeah, in a bookstore of all places, that’s crazy”
“What were you doing in the bookstore, anyway? I didn’t see you buy anything.” Dela said, then put her mouth on her straw. It made a sucking sound as she finished her iced tea.
“I was looking for a bible, but I went through the whole fiction section twice and couldn’t find it.” He said, shrugging
“Listen here mister, you can make your jokes, but if this-” She pointed at herself and then at him. “-Is going to continue. You’re going to need to accept my faith.”
“The first day seeing each other again and there is already a this.”
He repeated her pointing gesture.
“I don’t know. Some things have changed and some things haven’t.”
“What does that mean?” He asked.
“It means I’ve thought about you, and seeing you today seems like kind of a sign, so I’m just going with it.”
“Is that more of your faith thing? You never really took it seriously before. I don’t even think you mentioned it when we were dating.”
“You don’t need to be religious to have gut feelings. As for back then, I just didn’t want to mention it. I still went to church with my parents every Sunday.”
“I was a pretty vocal atheist back then, and you never said one word.”
“I-” Dela stared at him, mouth half open.
“Wait, was that why you broke up with me?” He asked.
“What?” Dela tried to deflect. That absolutely was the reason she broke up with him. Her parents were quite insistent about her being with a christian boy. She knew they could never last. And the problem was the same now as it was back then. It didn’t matter how much she missed him, so how insanely attracted to him she was. She was less religious than her parents, but it was still a huge part of her life. Dela suddenly wanted to change the subject. Why had this come up again so quickly?
Ronnie continued, dropping his voice down so she could barely hear him.
“When you broke up with me, you never really said why.”
“Yes, I did.” Dela crossed her arms and leaned back against the booth.
“You said something, but it wasn’t the real reason.”
“Maybe it was. There was lots going on back then.”
“So what’s different now?” Asked Ronnie.
“Both of us, hopefully. Are you still a staunch atheist?”
“Not as much, I guess. I’m like a 5 on the Dawkins scale.”
“The Dawkins scale?” Dela Asked.
“Yeah, this guy came up with a scale of how religious you are.”
Dela pulled out her phone and googled Dawkins scale. Ronnie continued spinning his straw, staying silent as she read the screen. She tilted her head, thinking about what number she would be. Delas’ faith had been challenged a lot lately, but she was definitely still a 3. Could they make that work? She wanted to so badly. Maybe they could meet at a 4. There was something she had to know though.
“Would you come to church with me?”
Ronnie Guffawed, “I would probably light on fire when I walked in.”
“Oh my gosh, Ronnie, you’ve been in a church before.”
“Sure I have, for a couple of funerals, but not for the big Sunday show.”
Dela noticed he hadn’t answered the question. She could feel things moving fast, at least in her head. It was like they hadn’t missed a day. She needed to escape and think clearly. That could only happen away from his deep green eyes and stupid perfect face.
“Speaking of church, I better get going.” Dela said as she grabbed the purse sitting on the seat next to her.
“Already?” Ronnie said, puckering his lips. “I’m sorry I brought all that up. We can talk about something else.”
“It’s not that. There is actually a church potluck tomorrow and I haven’t made anything yet, so I have a long night ahead of me.”
“Oh, alright, well, can we meet again tomorrow?” Asked Ronnie.
“Maybe just text me tomorrow and we can figure something out.”
“Sure, Ok,” Ronnie said, pulling out his wallet.
They waited in silence as Ronnie asked for the bill. When it came, he pulled his card out and dropped it on the table.
“You don’t have to do that,” said Dela
“I insist. I am the one who kept you from your exciting night of making church food.”
“Oh yes, so exciting. Well thank you.”
They got up and walked toward the front of the restaurant. The closely packed tables made them walk single file, and Dela took the lead. She wanted to get to her car before she changed her mind. If he asked, she was sure she would go home with him tonight.
The cold winter air hit her face as she pushed through the front door. Neither one of them had spoken a word since they left the table. She knew she needed to say something before he did. Dela took a couple of steps down the sidewalk and turned around. She let out a yelp as she came face to face with Ronnie. Their bodies and noses only inches apart. Before she could say anything, he put his hand onto her back and pulled her the rest of the distance. She felt his hand come up to her face as he pushed his lips to hers.
The feeling of nostalgia poured over her as she leaned into the kiss. The movements of their lips and bodies falling back into the familiar rhythm. Being in his arms was just like she remembered.It was like no time had passed at all. She wanted to just enjoy the kiss, but with the furious rush came the negative thoughts. All the reasons she had broken up with him were still valid.
Dela pulled away from the kiss, holding for a second, then pulled away from the embrace.
“You didn’t answer the question.” Said Dela.
“What question was that?” Asked Ronnie.
“Would you come to church with me?”
“I would be willing to check it out.”
“And then what? What if you didn’t like it? You would just stop coming?” Dela said, with more edge than she meant. The rush of the kiss was fading.
“Let’s go for a drive,” said Ronnie.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I’m not trying to take you home. I just want to show you something.”
Dela stood for a couple of seconds before answering. Ronnie was always a gentleman. From what she remembered, she actually had to make the first move, in multiple ways. It had been ten years though, people change.
“Fine, but no funny business.”
“No funny business, I promise.”
Dela shivered as they walked to Ronnie’s truck. She was excited to see it running as they approached.
“Remote start, eh.” Said Dela.
“Yeah, I use my truck a lot for work, so I need it.”
In all the time they were talking, neither one of them had brought up what they did for work. Ronnie filled her in on his job as a contractor while they drove. Dela thought it suited him. He was always good with his hands. She giggled to herself as she repeated the last part in her head. As she looked up, Dela realized where they were going. What was he doing? She prepared herself for more Nostalgia as Ronnie pulled the truck to the curb. On the right was a short chain-link fence surrounding a small playground. The chain link fence was new but the playground hadn't changed a bit.
“This is where we got back together. The first time.” Said Ronnie.
“Do you remember what I said?” Ronnie asked, turning his body completely towards her.
“I believe you begged for forgiveness.”
“Yes, but I also said we would get through anything and that together, we could solve anything.”
“Yes! Ronnie the optimist. If only it were that simple.” Dela said, facing the window.
“It can be that simple. I still believe that.”
Dela stayed silent. Ronnie waited a few seconds, then continued.
“I’m still not sure if there is a God, but if there is, if you really believe there is, then you have to believe he put us together for a reason.” He stared at her, waiting for her response.
“I want to show
something,” Dela said.
“Um, okay, where am I going?”
“Just drive, I’ll show you.”
Ronnie turned back towards the front and put the truck into drive.
“Are you going to respond to what I said?” Asked Ronnie.
“Turn right up here,” Dela pointed out the windshield ahead.
“Where are we going?”
“I’ll show you. It’s just up here.”
“And then you will respond?”
Dela ignored his question. “Pull over right here. “
Ronnie pulled over to the curb next to a large warehouse. He stared out at it, confused.
“Where are we?” He asked.
“Not that side, the other side,” she said, pointing her finger across his face.
He turned his head to look at a large white building on the other side. Ronnie moved his eyes across the building, finally finding words written over the long covered entrance.
“Center street church?” He said out loud. Then he turned back to Dela. “They know we’re on second street, right?”
“It used to be on center street, but it got too big, so it moved down here,” Dela closed her eyes, cursing under her breath. How could he always trick her into speaking?
“This is my church. This is where you would be going every weekend. If you want this to continue, this is a nonnegotiable.”
“I don’t know. I’m sure we could figure out how to do different things and still be together.” Said Ronnie.
“We can figure out our slight differences in belief; We can do that on our own, but this is a part of my life. A part of my public life. My friends and family are here. If you want to be a part of my life, you have to be a part of this. I know you felt what I did with that kiss, but things aren’t as simple as they used to be.”
“Can I sleep on it?” Asked Ronnie.
“You want to sleep on it? Really?”
“I couldn’t bear to break up again. I want to make sure I can be the man you need me to be. “
“Fine, drive me back to my car.” Dela crossed her arms again, turning to look out her window. She didn’t turn her head or say a word as they drove back to the restaurant. Ronnie didn’t speak or even turn on the radio. He just let the silence hang. Dela finally spoke as they turned into the parking lot.
“I’m the little red car right there.” She said, pointing to a car at the back. The rush had died down, and the car sat noticeably alone at the back of the lot.
“Did you want to wait in here while it heats up?”
“Ill be fine,” she said, opening the truck door.
“We will talk tomorrow, I will-” The closing door cut him off before he could finish.
“Call you…” He said to himself.
Dela pressed snooze on her alarm clock for the third time. Two hours was not enough to function. Her excuse was that she was up baking for the potluck, but in reality, she had spent most of the night stewing about Ronnie.
Truth be told, she would give up almost anything to be with him. It only took a few hours with him for all the emotions to come flooding back, but he needed to show that he wanted to be with her. He needed to commit this time.
She pressed the button on her phone to light up the screen. No notifications, just the clock showing how late she was. A large part of her expected a message from him, but the other part was not surprised. It was only one night after all, he may not even feel what she does. Dela set down her phone and got ready to go. There was no time to shower, but she would make do. Church was about acceptance, so they would have to accept her haggard looks this morning.
Dela parked at the back of the lot and grabbed her tray of cupcakes. Even with skipping the shower, she was still late. Ice covered the parking lot, so walking fast was out of the question. As she shuffled up to the door, a tall blonde woman saw her through the glass and opened it for her.
“Hi Susan. Sorry I’m late.”
“Oh, no problem, let me take that for you,” Susan said, grabbing the tray from her.
“I love your cupcakes, I’m so excited,” Said Susan.
“Oh, thank you.”
“By the way, there is a man here to see you.”
“There is?” Dela asked, scrunching her eyebows.
“Yeah, if I knew you were bringing a guest, I could have let him in, but I had to make him wait in the foyer.”
“Thanks.” Dela said as she made her way across the building. She pushed open the door to the foyer. Sitting on a chair, with a covered tray on his lap, was Ronnie.
“What are you doing here?” She whispered.
“I’m here for my girlfriend’s potluck.” He said.
“And I figured since I’ll be coming here every week, I better bring something.” He lifted the tray on his lap.
“Come on, I’ll show you where to put your tray”
Ronnie followed her out into the main hall and up to a long table.
“You can set it here,” she said, pointing to a space next to a large veggie tray.
“Thanks,” He said, and gently set his tray down.
She reached out and grabbed his hand, making him turn to face her. He grabbed her other hand, and they stood looking at each other.
“Are you sure?” She asked, looking right into his eyes.
Not only was he here, but he even thought to bring something. Dela knew they still had some things to sort out, but she felt better about the direction they were headed. As he moved his head forward for another kiss, she turned and put her hand down on his tray.
“So what did you bring?” she asked.
“Oh my gosh, Ronnie” she said, smacking him hard in the chest
“What, was that wrong?” He said, not even trying to hide his smile.
“Come on, I’ll introduce you to everyone. “
She turned toward the back of the church, and keeping her hand in his, led him toward the group standing in the main hall.
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This was cute! It started really good! I was getting excited about the possible ways the plot could go or twist but then it ended. I would totally read a full novel with these characters as they reconnect and unveil how their lives went the past 10 years. This was my first read on Reedsy. Came here looking for short stores to fulfill reading prompts for a readathon. 😊
Thanks so much for the great feedback, and welcome to reedsy! These two are definitely on my list for a longer story.
I caught your interview on Read Lots/Write Lots so I decided to give you a read. Nice work with the dialogue. That’s my bugaboo too. I heard two distinct voices and that’s 90% of the battle. Great job.
Thanks so much! That interview helped no much, I was feeling a little negative about my writing lately.