Grace and I walked into the store that I had seen the cute purse in. I was a little disappointed to find out that it was sixty-five dollars. We walked around the other stores, but I wasn’t really interested in shopping anymore. My mind was fuming from Ryan’s incredulous behavior. His rude actions had ruined my mood, and clearly Grace could tell- she kept asking me if I was okay.
“C’mon, Ells. I’m your best friend. Please tell me what’s wrong.”
I sighed and gave in.
“The guy that I ran into when I was throwing away smoothie cups was Ryan.”
“The one you ran into at church? Weird. But, you didn’t tell me he was so good looking!”
I rolled my eyes.
“It didn’t really bother me that I ran into him. I mean, I guess I do find him a bit attractive.”
“Ha! I knew it!” Grace shouted loudly. A few shoppers turned their heads and gave us some strange looks.
“Anyway,” I said, trying to continue my story. “I didn’t want to make a fool of myself like I did this morning.”
“That’s ‘cause you like him,” Grace teased.
I glared at her. She just gave me an apologetic smile. I decided to keep talking.
“So, I stood up, and I was about to turn around and walk away. But, as I was falling, my phone had fallen out of my pocket. He picked it up for me, and asked if it was mine.”
“Aww!” she said.
“Will you stop interrupting?”
She hung her head like a sad puppy, and then nodded.
“Thank you,” I said. “He didn’t give me my phone back, though. He stood there messing with the buttons. When he gave it back to me, he had put his number in my phone. He told me I was pretty and nice, blah, blah, blah, and wanted me to text him sometime.”
I had finally finished recounting the events, and Grace had nothing to say. She just looked at me with an expression of utter shock. Then, she decided to speak.
“You’re kidding right? What an arrogant person! That was so incredibly rude it’s not even funny. If I had know that’s what was happening, I would have had some not very nice things to say.”
I laughed at Grace’s threat. She didn’t even know how to not be nice, let alone have the courage to talk bad to someone’s face.
“Well, I’m glad to know that you will back me up if I ever get into trouble or something,” I said to her sarcastically. She just rolled her eyes.
I completely forgot about Ryan for a while after that. Telling Grace my issues helps me to clear my head- I started to feel much happier.
We walked around the mall, and then went into the Coach store. We both laughed about how ridiculously overpriced the purses were. After that, we went to the Clinique counter at Macy’s, and asked the makeup specialist to put makeup on us that she thought would look good. Once our makeovers were finished, we each bought a lip-gloss, so that the lady wouldn’t feel like she wasted her time on us. We were about to leave, but we walked past a dress store on our way out. Grace saw a really pretty one that she wanted to try on.
I followed her inside, and a purple dress caught my eye. It was a dusty purple homecoming dress that was cinched tightly at the waist, with jeweled beading along the waistline. It was strapless, and had more beading along the top. The bodice was pleated symmetrically across the front. While Grace tried on the green dress she like, I slipped on this one.
It was the only one of that kind, and it was a perfect fit. I walked outside the dressing room to look in the bigger mirror. Grace was already standing there, admiring the way the emerald green fabric hugged her slight curves. She saw me, and she took in a breath.
“You look absolutely gorgeous!” she gushed.
I stood next to her and fell in love with the dress as I saw it in the mirror, but one look at the price tag, and I didn’t love it anymore.
“Two hundred and seventy dollars?” Grace exclaimed after we had changed at left the store.
“It was beautiful and all, but not worth that amount of money. I don’t want to be one of those girls who spends that much money on just a piece of clothing.”
“I don’t blame you,” she agreed.
We sat in silence most of the way home. I relaxed with my head against the back of the seat, and closed my eyes. I nearly fell asleep, but my phone started to ring.
“Hello?” I said.
“Hi sweetie,” my mom said. “Are you having fun?”
“Yes. We are on our way home now, so I’ll see you soon.”
“Okay. I just wanted to let you know that dinner is ready, so you can just reheat yours when you get home. Is that alright?”
“That is perfectly fine.”
“Alright, see you soon Ella.”
I hung up the phone and wondered what was wrong. My mom doesn’t usually check on me. I didn’t worry about it too much though. I reclosed my eyes, because I was really tired, but before I knew it, we had arrived at my house. I gave Grace a hug and told her I would see her at school the next day. She backed out of my driveway as I walked in the front door.
The smell of garlic greeted my nose, and then shrimp and asparagus soon followed. This was Ethan’s favorite meal. When I got to the kitchen, I was surprised that there was more than enough for me to eat. Usually, every last morsel is gone. My brother usually eats fourths when my mom makes garlic shrimp.
I filled up a small plate with asparagus and shrimp, and put it in the microwave for a minute. I went upstairs in the meantime, to put my purse on my bed. I noticed that Ethan’s light was on down the hallway. He wasn’t downstairs, and it was only six o’ clock, so I didn’t think that he would be going to bed. I was a little confused. I walked to his room and saw my mom sitting next to him on his bed rubbing his back. There was a trashcan next to his nightstand, and I knew exactly what that meant.
“Stomach bug?” I asked.
“Not yet,” my mom said. “He hasn’t thrown up; he just said he feels really nauseous. He didn’t eat dinner.”
That explained why there was so much food. I walked towards Ethan and squatted at his bedside.
“You alright, buddy?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” he whispered.
He looked really tired. I gave him a kiss on the forehead, and went downstairs to eat my dinner. My dad was coming up the stairs as I walked down them.
“Where were you when I got home?” I asked, curious why I didn’t see him earlier.
“I was in the basement getting a couple more blankets for your brother. He said he was really cold.”
I remembered his forehead being warm when I kissed him. He probably had a fever. It was most likely some stomach virus that was going around. I just sat and ate my dinner at the table alone. I prayed over it first, of course, and then I dug in.
When I had finished my meal, I went up to my room to get ready for bed. I wasn’t going to sleep just yet, but I wanted to get ready. I brushed my teeth and then jumped in the shower. I need to rinse out the curls that I had in for the day. Sleeping on them would be a big mistake. I got out, put on my pajamas, and wrapped a towel around my head. Then I sat on my bed and read another chapter in my Bible. Verse thirty-five of Luke chapter six really stuck out to me.
‘But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.’
The first thing that I thought of when I read that verse was Ryan. He may not be an enemy, but certainly not someone I particularly liked. I decided to do what God would want me to do, and treat my neighbor like myself. So I got out of bed, and grabbed my phone. I sent a text to Ryan saying this:
Hi. It’s Ella. I’m just texting you ‘cause you told me to.
I figured that was okay. I pressed send and a few minutes later, I got a reply.
Hi, Ella. I just wanted to say that I am very sorry for my rude behavior in the mall today. My worldly desires took over, and I forgot to think about what is right. I hope that you can forgive me for the way I acted. I already asked for forgiveness from God, and I now I am asking the same of you. I completely understand though, if you don’t.
My heart just about melted at his sweet words. The last thing I expected was him apologizing for his behavior. And, what I thought was even sweeter, was the fact that he told me that he had asked for forgiveness from God. I know a lot of people would find that really cheesy, but it meant a lot to me that he shared that. Most guys are very personal with their faith, especially as teens. It was very nice that he told me that. I immediately texted back that I forgave him. I didn’t really know what else to say, so I put my phone down and continued reading my Bible. I figured we probably wouldn’t talk again, but I was wrong.
My phone buzzed a few seconds later, and I thought it was Grace, but instead, it was Ryan.
The text read. So he was planning on just having a normal conversation with me. I told him that I was reading my Bible. He asked what book, and I said Luke. He said that was his favorite of the four gospels. I told him that I thought so too, but Matthew was a close second. We continued talking for the next two hours, about our other favorite books of the Bible, and I talked to him about my church. He said he did like it there, and his parents had agreed to start coming to see if they liked it too. Then, I asked him about school and what classes he was taking. He said that he was taking Social Studies, Literature, Chemistry, and PE. It sounded like a pretty normal schedule. We didn’t really talk about much, just some stuff to get to know each other. Before I knew it, it was ten o’ clock, and I had to tell him I was going to bed.
I put my phone on the charger and pulled my covers up around me in my bed. I stared up at the ceiling, wondering why I wished that I hadn’t had to say goodnight to Ryan. I thought about the teasing comments Grace had made earlier, and I was thinking about if they were true or not. I did find him an attractive person, but liking him? I hardly knew him! I changed my thoughts and began to say my nighttime prayers in my head. I asked God to help me sort out me feelings for this boy. Just as I said ‘amen’, my eyes closed and I fell asleep.
My alarm went off at six-thirty the next morning. I jumped out of bed and began getting ready for school. I ran a brush through my hair, and put a headband in to make it look stylishly slept on. I didn’t really care about what it looked like today. I found a pair of jean capris, and paired them was a pink shirt with green polka dots down the front. I slipped on a pair of Old Navy flip flops, and then went downstairs for breakfast.
Ethan was not at the table, so I assumed he was still sick. My brother is hardly ever sick, so I guess it was about time his immune system gave way. I poured my bowl of Cheerios, and said a prayer that they would help me get through this Monday at school. I also prayed that my brother would feel better, and would be back to his same old self tomorrow. I finished my cereal, drank a glass of orange juice, and then skipped up the stairs to brush my teeth. When that was done, I grabbed my backpack and my purse and walked down the hallway to my brother. He was awake, but laying on his bed, curled up under a mountain of blankets. I went over to give him a hug, and discovered that his pajamas were wet. They smelled like sweat.
“Do you want your blankets off, Ethan?” I asked him.
“N-no. I’m r-really c-c-cold,” he managed to chatter.
I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion, wondering why he was cold if he was sweating. The answer eluded me, so I just gave him a kiss and then went downstairs. My dad was pouring a cup of coffee before he left for work.
“Did Ethan throw up last night?” I asked.
“No, but he still feels nauseous. He said his head kind of hurt last night.”
“Well, he is up there shivering, but his pajamas are soaked with sweat. I don’t know what that is.”
“I’ll tell your mom, and she can figure it out. She’s usually better with that kind of stuff than me.”
I walked over and gave my dad a hug. I looked at the clock on the stove and realized it was already seven-twenty.
“I gotta go, dad. I’ll see you later!”
“Okay. Have a good day at school, Ells.”
I went out the front door, and walked on the sidewalk to the top of the hill I lived on. A few other kids were already standing at the bus stop, and one of them was Grace. She had her own car, but her parents didn’t want her driving to school. Neither of us know why, but she just follows their rules. I gave her a hug when I saw her and we stood in silence, waiting for the bus to come. One more person walked to the bus stop, and I recognized him immediately.
“Oh, hi Ella.”
Why was he at this bus stop? I have been coming here ever since I moved here.
“I know you’re about to ask why I’m here. I live a block away, and my friend usually takes me. But he just transferred to a different school last weekend, so obviously he can’t drive me anymore.”
I just nodded, not knowing what else to say.
“It was nice to be able to talk to you last night,” he told me.
I blushed, and wondered why I couldn’t get a word to form in my mouth. My tongue felt as heavy as a rock. Just then, the bus came, and I quickly got on and sat in a seat with Grace. Ryan waved to me as he walked past, and he went to the back of the bus to sit with a friend.
“That boy is not a good thing,” Grace said.
I laughed at her attempt to trash talk him.
“No, he’s actually very nice,” I said.
Grace arched an eyebrow at me.
“Well, I texted him last night and he apologized for his rude behavior.”
I pulled out my phone to show her the text he sent me.
“Aww! That’s really sweet,” she said.
I nodded enthusiastically.
“You look like you like him,” Grace told me.
I just shrugged. I still hadn’t decided what I felt about him yet. I guess I will eventually find out.
The bus got to my high school soon, and the day passed pretty uneventfully. I had a test in math that I completely forgot about, but it seemed rather easy, so I thought I did okay. I had to take a lot of notes in chemistry, and I didn’t understand half of them. Then, I went to art, and felt very at peace. We were working on the pottery wheel, and it was relaxing to work with clay. I was very sad when art was over and I had to go to Spanish. I love learning a different language, but I preferred my art class. When the day was over, Grace and I rode the bus home, and Ryan was not there. I was slightly happy, because I hated the way I felt around him. I got butterflies in my stomach, I could hardly talk, and after he walked away, I would feel all giddy.
I walked with Grace to her house, after we got off the bus. She drove us to the Christian dance studio we had talked about. We were going to sign up for our class today. When we got there, I first noticed the beauty of the building. It was a plain white front with small murals all over. One of Jesus’ crucifixion, one of a cross at sunset, one of Jesus calming the sea, and the last was just a painting of ballet shoes. We walked inside, and went over to the woman at the front desk.
“Hi,” she said. “Welcome to Blessings Dance Studio. My name is Karen. What can I do for you ladies?”
I let Grace take the floor.
“We are interested in joining a dance class, but we’ve never danced before. Are there any beginning ones for teens?”
Karen nodded and brought out a pamphlet of all the different classes they offered. After much thought, Grace finally settled on the beginning teen lyrical class. This surprised me, because I thought she wanted to do ballet. I didn’t care either way.
“Okay. Well your classes will be on Wednesday nights at six-thirty. They will start this week. There is an intermediate teen lyrical class going on right now if you would like to watch.”
I followed Grace into the next-door room, and watched a bunch of girls our age spin and sway across the floor. A beautiful Casting Crowns song played from the stereo, and the dancers floated with the music. I fell in love with the dancing, and suddenly could not be more excited about started the class. I told this to Grace on our way home, and she smiled.
“I knew you would like it,” she said.