Our Story: Part IV

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I made sure my Nike's were securely tied, not wanting a trip to mess up the hike on "Trickle Trail." I debated changing my shirt, but didn't want to appear that I cared. I did slap on some more deodorant though, being prone to excessive sweating in tense situations. We met at the trail head. Micah and Brandon seemed to pick up the conversation they had left off early, and I searched for something to say to Brent.

"I think we've met before." I kicked a rock with my foot on the path, still not quite confident to meet his gaze.

'"Maybe." He looked like he meant to say, "No. We haven't. I would have remembered your Afro hair."

I pressed on. "Yeah, at a church lock-in...seventh grade?...I went with my friend Rebecca?"

"Hmm... Maybe."

"I think you played racquetball with your friends most of the night?"

"Oh yeah. That was pretty fun."

"Yep." We continued walking, following the broad path that would take us to the water fall.

"So, Kelsey, do you play basketball? I think I've seen you at games before." Brandon joined the conversation and I was thankful. We continued walking and casually chatting until we reached the "waterfall." It wasn't anything spectacular, but after all I hadn't really hiked for the nature so I wasn't disappointed. We hopped from rock to rock over shallow water for awhile, finally feeling a little more comfortable in each others company.

* * *
The week was a blur of kids, and sweat, and crammed van rides, and skits, and lots of laughter. Our little Trickle Trail group had grown closer as the days swept by. We hiked that trail several times, once Brent even brought his guitar. My toes were fiercely tingling at that point. The hikes became a little more difficult when Brent pulled his hamstring. Some guys had been playing basketball on the concrete slab, and as I watched I began to see how competitive...and talented...Brent was. He ran after a ball down a slight hill and his right leg slid ahead of him and his hamstring popped. Micah was in physical therapy school, and helped him out, but he [very cutely] limped the rest of the week. He didn't let it stop him from our "hikes" on the trail.

Then something happened that would have me asking questions and wondering about intentions for a long time.

I walked into my room after the day's activities and the light was blinking on the base of my room phone. Thinking it was Micah, my sister Kali, or our trip leader, I went to the bathroom and washed my face first, before slowly meandering back to the phone. I plopped on the bed, then kicked off my shoes. Grabbing the phone, I stretched the spiral cord as far as it would go and laid down, cradling the phone with my shoulder.

"Here is Brent I****, with a song he wrote....." I shot up. The phone fell from its resting place and, fumbling, I caught it and put it back up to my ear. Sure enough over the next two minutes I listened to Brent sing and play his guitar. I sat in shock as the dial tone range. I hit the voicemail button again...and again. One of my roommates came in and the phone was still up to my ear. Dumbfounded I just pointed at the receiver and passed it off to her.

She listened, smiled, then hanging up she said, "That was Brent, right? I was just down in Megan's room and he had left the same thing on their phone." Disappointment washed over me.

* * *

I sat down my plate of jiggling pasta salad and squirted some ketchup on my hot dog. Derek, another of the Star boys, sat down next to me. "Did you get the song on your room phone?"

"Yeah." I said between bites nonchalantly. "It was good."

"We called several people's rooms and I would hold the phone up and he would play. Yeah that Brenters can really play! He's all self-taught you know. He didn't want to do it at first but I told him he should. Pretty awesome. He lives just up the street from me and sometimes..." He continued talking and I mentally made a note of the nickname "Brenters." The other guys sat down and soon Micah and a couple of my roommates followed.

About halfway into my hot dog, one of our leaders stood up and said, "While you're eating, I want you to share your testimony with a few people at your table." I volunteered to go first, and then Micah shared, our stories being very similar. I figured every one's would be, and then quiet Brenters opened his mouth to share.

"I was raised in a Christian home, but this wasn't very evident in the way I lived. When I was in Junior High I did a lot of stupid things, but then," he rolled up the right sleeve of his t-shirt, "this happened." He pointed to a massive scar that wrapped all the way around his bicep. The skin in that area was shiny and, I assumed, dead to the touch. "I had just mowed my great aunt's yard and then climbed up a tree to wait for my sister to come get me. When I saw her, I began climbing down and my arm got caught on a broken branch, and I hung there, by my arm, before I lifted my self up and off the jagged branch..."

He continued as I grimaced in shock and my mouth hung open. He told about the ride to the hospital, the blood, and the way the doctor's told him there was a piece still in his arm resting on a major artery. They explained he was very lucky to be alive. "My dad told me, as we were walking out of the hospital, that there was a reason I was alive, and that God had a purpose for my life." It was at that moment that I realized, like many times before, my sister was right-- I had judged these guys, this one in particular, way too soon. However, I had never been happier that she was.

* * *

I put on my favorite pair of jeans and was deciding which shoes to wear. It was one of the last nights of the trip and I had decided to fix my hair for our "fun night." We were going to Dixie Stampede where, I had been told, you got an entire rotisserie chicken and ate with your fingers.

We loaded the vans, now Micah and I road with the Union Star group, as did a few others. Our Trickle Trail group had grown, but the original four called ourselves "The Quad" [another one of Micah's made-up terms). We scooted our bottoms into the vinyl seats that were hot to the touch. The 100 degree July air was getting to all of us and we passed around water bottles. I sat across the aisle from Brent, and on the way to the show he began flaunting on of his skills: he could make a very accurate fart noise with his hands. He had everyone laughing.

This is hopeless, I thought to myself. I even find THIS attractive. I tried to achieve the same noise with my own hands, but Brent noticed I was failing miserably. As a girl I had practiced combing Barbie's hair, but never tried making fart noises with any part of my body. I suddenly wished I had, thinking perchance an ole' hand under-the-armpit fart would impress him in this moment. I was caught up in my thoughts when he reached over and grabbed my right hand. I prayed my palms weren't too sweaty. He cupped his hand just so around mine; I felt the warmth immediately enclose my palm. It was just a second, but I relished in it, not wanting this moment to pass. I had only held hands with one other boy, at a super bowl party in 8th grade. And then my heart had not quickened like it was in this moment.

"PHHHFFFF." The perfect fart noise had been made with his hand and mine. I was thrilled.

We arrived at Dixie Stampede and traipsed into the arena, one big moving mass of army green t-shirts. "The Quad" decided to sit together, and as Brent took his seat beside me I hid my smile behind a huge, greasy slab of chicken meat.


Brent said...

pretty sure that talent has lost it's attractivness by now huh? :)

Kali said...

Are you sure I was there?? I mean, I know I was...but I didn't know much of this was going on behind the scenes :) I guess that was the trip where you got so mad at me that you backed out of our twirling performance. But now I'm wondering if that had something to do with a certain boy and his guitar...

So glad you're writing this!