Why was it that the wrong things always seemed so right, thought Alex as she walked towards her impending error. She knew that she should not be doing what she was about to do. She could find all sorts of ways of excusing it, of dismissing it as perfectly normal, she could convince herself that it was harmless and meaningless. That it was just one person having dinner with another person.
Except Alex knew that she would not have been this apprehensive had it been as simple as that. She would not be encountering the butterflies that gave lie to her anxiety if it were as innocent as she wished it was. When the call had come she engaged in the mindless chatter that came so easily, drifting into and out of casual enquiries and questionless propositions. But all of a sudden the conversation shifted from the safe sands of small talk and onto more considered and serious grounds.
Dinner sounded like a good idea, she was desperate to be asked out on a date, but she forced herself to accept that this couldn’t be a date. He was not available. But where exactly this left her she had no idea. The safest thing would have been to say no, to run away, leave the church and find a place a world away from here that would embrace her anonymity with abandon. Yet as with so many things Alex decided, being good was never any fun. She had never known someone who made her smile with such little effort, someone her made her laugh with their most inconsequential of remarks, or whose appearance was so instantly appealing.
All in all, as she rang the bell, Alex knew she should not be here, however, she had decided to let go of her reservations and enjoy herself. She knew he would not take it any further, she granted herself some solace in the depressing reminder that there was no future for them, but which guaranteed it would not get out of hand.
As he opened the door and led Alex through the corridor and into the expansive open plan kitchen and dinning room she pushed it all to one side, trying to hide it altogether under a mountain of glee that his presence created. Alex slowly ate to prevent the evening going too quickly as well as mask her uncertainty with activity. She needn’t have worried, her reservations stilled as soon as they moved passed the awkwardness of opening exchanges.
“Alex, I think you’ve got real potential and I think you should do a lot more in the church. I see that the student team are looking for someone to lead the women’s student Bible study. Maybe you could do it?” He carefully segued from the casual conversation from the now evident purpose of their meeting.
“I’m not sure I’m really good enough to do that, I’ve not been to Bible college, or had any kind of theological training, I’m sure there are many better people, what would they think if it was just me, some of them probably know far more than I do.” Silently Alex was thrilled at the prospect as opportunities for doing things in church were pretty limited as the leadership put a very definite cap on what women could do. Leading a women’s Bible study was about as much as she could hope for.
“I wouldn’t worry about that,” he reassured her, “I could give you some help, help you prepare and go through the study plans. I’m not sure any of the woman have any formal theology training, so it will be good for them to learn from you. And you’re a natural teacher, you said last week how much you’re enjoying lecturing.”
As they sat down after eating Alex was concious that he was sitting unnecessarily close to her. And it was not a bad thing. He could have chose the separate armchair she thought, it would have facilitated easier conversation, and wondered if when she found a reason to stand up, may be for the toilet, she’d return to that chair instead of the couch she now shared. But it wasn’t a bad thing because she liked him beside her.
As the sirens whistled past the house, and the music came to an end, his arm stretched behind her. And she knew that this was always going to have happened. From the moment she answered the call and he asked her to come around. Through the prevarication of casual conversation and faux formality of church organisation. After the prelude, and the interlude, after acts one and two, came the climax. Alex looked at him and his hand froze, almost as though he was ready to remove it from her shoulder but not until she actually asked him to.
In an instant she relaxed into his arm, leaning towards him, giving up the fight that she knew she would always concede. He clearly was unsure about it, but had been so deliberate in his actions Alex thought. As she clasped her hand in his she wondered why other guys were not like this. Why had none of the eligible bachelors made such a move, why were they so hesitant, so unsure. Why were they so satisfied with platonic companionship, or so afraid of putting themselves on the line that they settled for that pleasant but limited alternative and repressed their true feelings.
He leant towards her, but backed off to choose to rest his head against hers instead of the kiss she thought had been his intent. Was she kidding herself to imagine that maybe at least some of the guys who were so ostensibly content with friendship would actually desire more?
Her mind whirred so that she barely noticed when he stood and suggested that perhaps he should be getting to bed, the cue for her to take her leave. Perhaps he had rediscovered his senses and realised the road that he had embarked on needed to be squashed before it got out of hand.
Alex walked towards the door sensing everyone of his steps as he followed her. And at the door as she donned her coat and opened it to leave he closed it before she could exit onto the street. He took her arm and spun her in the way that had appealed to her every time he did it. He drew Alex towards him and hesitantly moved to kiss her. In an instant he withdrew and bid her goodnight before ushering her out of the house.
Alex was rooted to the spot as the door closed behind her. She knew it was not what should be happening. She resolved to have nothing more to do with him. The winds forced the trees from side to side as the bus refused to arrive leaving her lingering in the street dredging her mind for any semblance of sense. But she found that only sensibility was there. Attraction had ruled over her better side, it had pushed it into oblivion and now here she was following it into the steep descent. She should be joyful, excited, passionate, but instead she started to cry.