No.62, 2008 A Sunday in Lethbridge by Jordan Abel (AB)
The sermon was almost over. Jane couldn’t stand listening to another dry, old word that came from the priest’s cracked lips. When the Amens were concluded, she bolted from the hardwood bench, opened the heavy doors and sucked in the cool, Sunday air. It’s not that she didn’t normally enjoy a service, but today something was different.
That’s when she noticed him. He was sitting on the curb, in front of Lethbridge United, smoking a cigarette. His suit was as black as his messy hair. Jane wondered if he even bothered to shower before coming out today.
Jane straightened her dress, checked her compact for new blemishes, and, finding none, wandered over to him.
He looked up, probably hearing her heels, she thought. He took another drag and stood up.
“It’s bad for you to smoke, you know.” She immediately regretted saying this, but it just slipped out.
“I know,” he said, throwing his cigarette into the middle of the empty street.
“It’s bad to litter.” Gosh darnit, she thought.
He smiled and loosened his tie. “Do I know you?”
“No,” she said. “But, do you want to?” Dammit, she thought.
He broke into a grin, and said, “Well, when you put it that way....”
“I’m sorry,” Jane extended her hand. “My name is Jane.”
He reciprocated, shaking her hand. “Darcy.”
“Pleased to meet you.”
He glanced toward the doors that were now cramped with slow moving people in identical suits and dresses. He held onto her hand, squeezing it slightly, and led her down the street.
“Sorry,” Darcy said. “I’m not really a big fan of crowds.”
“I know exactly what you’re saying.”
She suddenly realized that she was still holding his hand, and let go. “So, do you come here often?”
“Try to.” Darcy took out another Peter Jackson, offered her one, but she shook her head. He lit it with a tarnished silver Zippo, and said, “I don’t really make it past the doors. I’ve got this thing,” he pointed to his head. “I think it’s called ..dammit, how do I never remember it....”
Jane placed her hand on his shoulder and asked, “Do you want to move farther away?”
Glancing towards the crowd he said, “We’re at a safe distance.”
She couldn’t help but smile, and then, she found herself unable to stop smiling. She looked at the ground for a moment, then back up. Her eyes met with his, and she saw something indefinable buried deep inside. That’s when she couldn’t stop herself from asking him, even though she tried to hold her tongue from merging with the back of her teeth. “Do you want to go out sometime?”
He cocked his head to the side, “We’re already out.”
“No, I mean...,” she paused, closed her eyes, took a breath. She blurted, “Do you want to date?”
Darcy laughed, but quickly stopped. “Yeah. I’m not really sure.”
Jane opened her eyes and smiled at him. “You’d have to quit smoking of course.”
“That’s not going to happen.” Darcy took another drag in protest.
“Come on. Please.” Jane twirled the tip of her hair around her fingers.
“Oh, I don’t know....”
“Don’t worry. I’ll keep you safe.”
She looped her arm through his and led him towards the crowd of people. She stopped right in front of her parents.
“Mom, Dad,” she said. “This is Darcy.”
Darcy pulled at his tie, and tried to say something, tried to figure out some way out of this situation, but no words would come out.
“I want to date him,” Jane said, nodding towards him. Darcy furrowed his brow, not knowing what else he could do.
“Well, he seems very nice, dear,” Jane’s Mom said.
“Yes,” her Dad echoed. “Now let the poor lad run along.”