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I slowly release the doorknob and turn around. Brent is within four feet, looking fairly determined to have this conversation, but also looking slightly different than usual. Different, but safe to talk with, so I give in.
"We can go outside," he suggests. I throw on my coat and barrel out the door. The cold immediately seeps through my outer layer and a suck in a quick, startled breath. "Wow…here…" He opens up his car door for me and I tumble in. He slides into the other side and starts the ignition.
David Crowder Band pours out of the speakers, Lift my eyes to Your sky, rid my heart of all I hide…So sweet this surrender. He fumbles with the heater and I fumble with the bible in my hands. I search my mind for small talk, anything to postpone the inevitable, "Kels, we're just friends. That's all. Okay?" But nothing pops up. Nothing. He turns the music knob to the left a hair and then looks up at me. I give him a shy smile, then he grips the wheel as if we were driving and looks out the windshield.
The February wind is howling around us but all my hopes at the moment are right in this old, red VW Passat.
I try not to move lest I look too eager, too scared, too needy.
"I've been wanting to talk to you for awhile now." He stopped.
"Okay. What's up?" I try to urge him forward to end my agony. My body is now unbelievably warm.
"Well, the thing is," he grips the steering will with both hands then sets them in his lap. He looks up at me, then back at his lap. "The thing is, I've liked you for about 3 years."
I don't know if I am supposed to respond yet, so I hold my breath, not wanting how I react in this moment to negate the past three years.
The car starts making a grating sound under the hood. "And," he continues, "I don't know what that sound is, and I don't know what all this means, and I don't know where it will lead, but I just thought you should know." He looks at me.
I want to be articulate in this moment because this moment is what I have prayed for, dreamt of, for 3 years. "Umm…okay…well…huh…I've liked you for about 3 years too." I let out a nervous giggle. And he laughs under his breath and smiles at his hands.
"Well, I just wanted to let you know and now I guess we'll see where the Lord leads us."
And with that he flips off the ignition. He looks over at me and I smile at him. A smile that no longer has to hide. I open the door, he says he'd email me tomorrow, and he runs back into the church as I make my way to my car. I sit inside, waiting for things to warm up, and his words echo inside, I guess we'll see where the Lord leads us. US. Us. Brent and Kelsey. An us?
I begin to replay the conversation over and over in my mind as I drive the twenty minutes home. The gravel crunches under my tires as I pull into my driveway, my cheeks nearly aching from the constant smile. I waltz into the kitchen and my dad catches a glimpse of me. I can see in his face he is wondering what is wrong with me.
"Brent said he LIKED me! ME!" I blurt out. Oh my goodness. I just told my PARENTS. Before anybody else.
"Well I could tell by that twitterpated look on your face and the little love birds floating around your head," Dad jests.
I walk upstairs and flop onto my bed. I smile up at the ceiling. Brent said he liked me. Me! Thank you, Jesus.
* * *
I roll over and hit the snooze. It's been a nearly a week since the conversation in the car, and I am still waiting for Brent to call and tell me it's a big joke. Today is Valentine's Day. I, like I always have in the past, have made plans to babysit so someone else can go out and enjoy the evening. I never thought I'd have had a conversation with a boy and been on the brink of something like a relationship.
I groggily get out of bed, pull on sweat pants and a hoody, and make my way downstairs. As I'm slowly waking up the phone rings and I grab it.
"Hey Kels, it's me."
Him. "Hey. What's up?"
"Uh, well, I know you have plans to babysit tonight, right?"
"Yeah. Avree and Rylie at about 5."
"Okay, well, what if I swing by around 4 after I get off work. It will just be for a minute but I want to bring you something."
"Oh. Okay. Yeah. That's fine. I'll be here."
"Sounds good then, I'll see you around four."
I hang up the phone, panic rising in my throat. I hadn't even thought about getting him something for Valentine's Day. Not even a card! And he wanted to drop something by? Oh great, I hope he didn't get me roses. Surely he knows me better than that!
* * *
I hear footsteps on the front porch and glance out the window. I see Brent…carrying his guitar? Opening the door I flash a smile and invite him in. This is the first time he's been to my house by himself and, though we have rarely ever been openly nervous around each other, the nerves are slightly evident to us both.
He sets his guitar down behind the couch then grabs a seat. "Are your parents here?"
"Not at the moment but they should be back any minute."
"Well, I want to be respectful of them and I didn't know if they would want me here if they weren't."
Seriously? This guy is too perfect. Although, he's probably still on just phase one of liking me whereas I'm on at least phase 53. "They normally don't, but I let them know and, like I said, they'll be back soon. And I have to be over at the house to babysit in about 40 minutes so…"
"Well, I just wanted to acknowledge that it was Valentine's Day so…" he hands me a cassette tape, "I recorded a few of the worship songs I sing on Sunday nights for you on here, since you'd mentioned something about that a while back."
I flip the tape over in my hand, cherishing it already. "Thanks. That's awesome. I didn't get you anything though…sorry."
"I didn't want you to. Don't even worry about it. Oh, and one more thing," he says as if it's an afterthought. He stands and moves to grab his guitar case. He begins to unclasp the gold hinges and I simply sit, waiting, afraid to say too much. He grips the guitar in his hands now, strums the strings lightly, making a few adjustments to the toners. "I started working on this about a month ago, and then last week after I finally had the guts to talk to you I wanted to finish it." He passes me a piece of folded notebook paper.
Taking the paper into my hands, I look at him. He cues that I may open it. As I unfold it, I can see that the lines are heavily creased, as if it's been opened and closed many times. I see his handwriting and then my mind begins to organize the fact that it appears to be a poem? No… a song…
I look up at this realization and Brent places his fingers across the frets and begins strumming. A song I've never heard before. A song, I'm slowly realizing, that was born because he met me.
When I look into your eyes, the beauty captures me like the morning skies…
Born because of our friendship.
And when you smile it makes my day, and all my pain just melts away…
Born because of the past three years of longing for one another.
You laugh with no fear of the future, when you speak your words are wise. There's kindness when you give instruction...
Born because of a cold conversation in an old, worn out car.
I hear the laundry room door open and I glance that way just in time to see my parents walking into the house. Here I am with a a guy they barely know, sitting on the couch, listening to him sing me a song he wrote. They quickly gather what is happening and walk quickly towards their bedroom. Brent barely misses a beat and sings right through the intrusion. As he finishes I find I am speechless.
"I added that to the end of the cassette tape too, in case you like it."
He is so unassuming and endearing and I can't help but get butterflies all over and I'm smiling like a fool.
"Thank you. So much. Really. Thanks."
"You're welcome. And I know you need to babysit so I'm gonna take off. Glad you liked it."
And with that, he packs up his guitar and heads back out the door. No lingering. No hug. Just a song and good bye. I run upstairs and throw the cassette tape into my player in the bathroom. I slide onto the cool tile and cling onto the lyrics in my hand. I fast forward and find the song, my song, and has his voice fills up the room I lay my head against the cabinet and let a single tear slide down my cheek.
The possibilities with this amazing guy leave me speechless.
* * *