First Chapter of Heartsick

Just because I like to share!  Will you read it when I publish it?  😀

2D(1)

“It’s all about You, Lord … “ Blessing Spivey sang out cheerfully, closing her eyes and lifting her hands, along with about half of the other students in the chapel. She looked over and noticed her new friend Sadie had her eyes closed contentedly as well. The girl chose to sit with her even though it seemed that she knew almost half of the two thousand students who went to John Adams Bible College. Blessing smiled and felt her heart soar a little more. She wasn’t at college to have a social life, but a friend or two definitely wouldn’t hurt. Hitching up her long skirt, she stepped out from her end seat, and slightly into the aisle, to have a bit more room to sway to the music.

The chapel band, “Lovers of God” weren’t disappointing. They weren’t anything spectacular, and their homemade cds weren’t going to sell out at the local Christian bookstore, but they were just what Blessing needed that first evening at college. Their loud guitars and crooning lead tenor seemed to pick up the joy in her heart that had been stifled under a blanket of uncertainty and apprehension.

Back home, in Ensenada, Mexico, they had really worshipped, truly felt the music in their heart of hearts – sometimes the only thing that one could cheer and smile about in a week of eating only cheap beans and rice, and drinking warm, flat Cokes. Blessing missed crying out to the Lord in Spanish, but she found the English words came to her lips quite easily.

Blessing wasn’t paying attention to anyone else in the room, asking God to take her focus off of herself and the other students so that she could settle her heart in His for the day to come. She had just achieved this, her soul feeling satisfied and content, when she looked back at the front of the room.

A tall young man, standing two rows up, turned to the girl at his left and nudged her with his shoulder. The girl, who looked thrilled to be next to the guy, was out of place among most of the students around her. This young lady was definitely pushing the dress code. Her shirt was spaghetti-strapped, and there was very little back to her tank top. Her skirt, which seemed to be at least five inches above her knee – Blessing could see the backs of her thighs above the chairs — was black, torn, and strung with chains. When she turned to mouth something to her neighbor on the other side, Blessing could see a large skull pendant dangling from a chain around her neck. She had painfully big studs in both ears, and her dyed, neon red hair was in pigtails. The two girls sitting next to her also wore clothing that pushed the rules, but they were toned down from Pigtails. Did they have this sort of people at small, strict Christian schools too?

Blessing shifted her gaze to the back of the guy’s head. He certainly seemed comfortable sitting with them, even though he looked nothing like them.

And then he looked back, right as Pigtails whispered something in his ear. He caught Blessing’s eyes. His mouth gaped open and shut like his jaw was broken. His neck muscles worked hard as he swallowed a bunch of times. The light hit his eyes and there was a glint like they could even be tearing up. In an instant, he was up out of his seat without even a word to the girl next to him. Stepping out of his seat and making a beeline for a side exit door, he was gone before the song was through half of the chorus.

What on earth had the scary-looking girl said to him?

Blessing’s happy mood dissolved. She sat down with Sadie at the end of the chorus, her mind abuzz with classes that were to begin the next day, and the students occupying those classes. Nervousness trickled back into her consciousness like a leak that slowly but surely saturates a carpet. She bit her lip and turned to Sadie, desperate to return to her joyful and excited state of mind. “Who’s the punk?” she asked, trying to crack a joke.

Sadie didn’t even need to ask. She barely lifted her head from where she had it stuffed inside her giant purse, finally coming up with a stick of gum. “Randall.”

“Her name’s Randall?” Blessing muttered, surprised. No wonder the poor thing dressed like she did.

Sophie Randall,” Sadie explained. “But only her friends get to call her Sophie. Pretty much she’s known as just Randall around here. The teachers cringe when they see her coming. She’s always trouble. And trouble finds anyone else with a smidgen of rebellion in them. The other two play at rebels sometimes. Everyone wants to strangle them… in the most godly way possible.”

“Why doesn’t she get kicked out?” Blessing asked, chuckling at Sadie’s irony. “If she’s trouble and all,” she quickly added.

Sadie looked at Blessing with a kind, but bemused look. “You’ll have to tell me where you transferred from, you alien. This is college. You have to be put on academic probation or really do something wrong. It takes a lot to be ‘kicked out.’ And Randall’s a decent student. She just thinks differently and likes to show it. She enjoys pushing buttons. She’s still a Christian.” Sadie shrugged, “I think.”

“Oh, I didn’t doubt that she was or anything,” Blessing reassured, confused, and a little embarrassed about needing basic college mandates explained to her. “I’m an MK. Transferred from an online college. Grew up in Mexico.”

Sadie looked puzzled.

“Missionary kid.”

“Ahhh! MK! Of course! I have too many high-falutin’ things I’m storing up in this baby!” Sadie pointed to her head, with an apologetic smile. “That’s wonderful! I envy you!”

“So this is all a bit confusing!” Blessing explained, tapping herself with a fist to the forehead as well.

“Oh, don’t worry! You’ll get the hang of it! You’re smart. I can tell! And don’t mind me. I’m so corny I’m full of corn.” Sadie beamed.

“No way.” Blessing laughed, patting her friend on the shoulder.

The girls smiled and then Blessing realized that chapel was over as the music suddenly ended. She led the way out of the pew and almost ran into a girl coming out of the row across the aisle from her.

The girl came to a dead halt and leaned over her shoulder to her friend behind her. She meant for her voice to be soft, but failed miserably. “Whoa, doesn’t she look like Tessa?”

The friend’s eyes bugged out a little as she stared unbecomingly at Blessing. “Yeah!” she agreed. Giving Blessing one last look over, they continued on, whispering to each other with serious expressions.

Blessing smiled at them politely and continued in the single file line of young people shuffling along towards the door. She was about to jump ahead to ask Sadie another question, when a guy forcefully stepped in front of her and clapped a hand on her shoulder.

“Holy c…” he muttered, his words disappearing before they left his mouth. His pupils were huge.

Blessing rapidly and automatically moved out from under his hand, which went limp and dropped to his side.

The guy gulped and shook his head, shutting his eyes for a split second before opening them even wider than before. He lifted both eyebrows. He wasn’t bad looking. Blessing sized him up in an instant without realizing it. Did she look that funny? She had a feeling she shouldn’t have worn the multi-colored skirt her first day.

No, there had to be a different explanation than her skirt. Was this the new way guys hit on girls – acted shocked and then played a corny line? Like, “I’m sorry, but did you just fall from heaven?” How stupid.

Blessing rolled her eyes. “Excuse me?” she tried, hoping to prod the good-looking guy out of his stupor, as well as edge her way around him so she could leave.

Two other guys stopped behind him and stared at her as well. “What’s your name?” one of the new guys asked, his mouth hanging open a little askew.

“Blessing Spivey,” she answered immediately, kicking herself. One just didn’t give their name to the opposite sex in a first conversation back in Mexico.  Was this the way Americans did things? And why tell these overly friendly guys her full name? This was going to be an embarrassing pick-up scene, wasn’t it?

The sounds that formed her name seemed to leap through the air and slap them out of their stupor. They instantly relaxed, although the confused look never fully left their faces.

The guy who had asked the question gave a friendly grin. “Blessing? That’s really your name?”

Blessing nodded quickly, used to the patronizing smile she often got when introducing herself to Americans. She tried to move away.

“Cute,” the third guy said.

The two most recent additions grabbed the first guy’s shoulder and half pulled him away from her, opening up a path for her to escape. “Sorry, Blessing,” the most talkative guy said as they turned and walked off. “You look like someone we used to know.”

Caramba! Blessing thought in Spanish. Wbat on earth? That was what this was about?

She realized Sadie was long gone. She could just see her head bobbing out the door. She pushed forward to reach her and fell in step with her by the time they hit the pavement. “Sadie!” she cried, breathless. “Who’s Tessa?”

Sadie spun to look at Blessing, her nose wrinkling, eyes squinting. She put a hand on her arm. “You might want to come with me.”

There was an ominous feeling that bounced off of Sadie and into Blessing’s brain – intrigue and dread. Something dark. Blessing couldn’t put her finger on it. Gaping-Mouth-Guy’s face came back to her. The look that had transformed his face seemed to be trauma and shock dipped in pain. The girls, as well, sported hard expressions when they looked at her. Then there was the handsome blond guy. Maybe he left because his eyes had met hers. Maybe it had nothing to do with Punk Girl. Were all of these things connected? Could she really be the doppelganger to this “Tessa” the girls had mentioned? Could that be who the guys were referring to when they had lamely excused their borderline rudeness with a backward glance and one sentence of explanation? Or did Blessing just have one of those familiar faces?

Yeah, didn’t think so. Strange guys, who weren’t flirting, didn’t stop in the middle of the aisle and look as if their guts were panicking inside of them if she only had an everybody’s-cousin sort of face.

Sadie found an out of the way table outside of the campus café. No one was within fifteen feet of them as they lowered themselves into the wrought iron chairs. Sadie dropped the duffel-bag-like purse she carried into an empty chair and then turned to Blessing. She was about to open her mouth, when she closed it again, cocking her head and biting her lip as she examined Blessing’s face with her eyes. “Oh tartar sauce! You kinda look like her.” She gasped and put her hand over her mouth. Clearing her throat, Sadie then composed herself and interlaced her hands. “Yeah, wow. Did you hear her name because someone told you that you looked like her?”

Claro,” Blessing murmured in Spanish before catching herself and translating. “Bingo.” She leaned back in her uncomfortable, cold seat.

“Yeah… Man. Wow. Sorry about that. That’s no fun. Too bad you can’t do something drastic to change that, like cornhusk your hair or something,” was Sadie’s apologetic reply.

Rather than try to figure out what “cornhusk” was even supposed to mean, Blessing thought about what Sadie was implying. It’s a bad thing to look like Tessa? Her stomach got queasy. Ay de mi!

“Yeah, see…” Sadie seemed to struggle with her words. She lowered her voice to a hushed murmur. Rubbing her eyes with her hands wearily before looking up with a sad expression, her words came out like a funeral home director speaking to a bereaved child. “…See, Tessa… Tessa Lyme was her name. She was a junior last year. She died just this last spring.” Sadie bit her lip. “It was suicide. See… It was so sad… She… she filled her stomach with sleeping pills and drove her car off Highway 1.”

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6 thoughts on “First Chapter of Heartsick

  1. I meant to comment over the weekend but I really enjoyed this opening chapter. It strongly reminded me of my days attending Toccoa Falls College and our daily chapel services. And I’m very intrigued to see where the story is going!

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