By Stacey Wallace Benefiel
Published by Stacey Wallace Benefiel at Smashwords
Copyright 2010 Stacey Wallace Benefiel
All rights reserved.
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I stared at the back of Avery Adams head, imagining what it would feel like to press my face into his wavy brown hair. I longed to experience the exhilaration of running my fingertips over his broad shoulders and down his chest, of standing that close to him, feeling the heat coming off of his golden skin.
He was two people ahead of me in the line to take communion. I tried to focus on the smell of his shampoo. Unfortunately, the two people between us were my mom, and his dad. With them blocking the way, all I could smell was tea rose perfume and extra strength drain cleaner. Not a pleasant combination.
The line moved forward. The woman behind me, Mrs. Hobby, stepped on the back of my heel, scraping it with the pointy toe of her white patent leather flat.
“Ouch!” I said, way too loudly. The congregants of my white bread Lutheran church were not prone to exclamation of any kind. I flushed my usual shade of flame as everyone looked at me, including Avery. Mortified, I wheeled around, facing Mrs. Hobby, accidentally knocking off her massive white Easter hat. I caught it mid-air and jammed it back on her head. “Sorry! I was spacing out,” I whispered, like the whole church couldn’t hear what I was saying.
“Zellie!” Mom hissed at me from the front of the church.
“Uh, here we go, our turn at bat.” I ran up to the altar and knelt down, bowing my head, touching my chin to my chest.
Someone in the back of the church snorted a laugh. It sounded like Claire. A giggle shimmied up my throat. Claire was my best friend and a frequent witness to my extreme dorkiness. She could also make me get the giggles at the most inappropriate moments.
I raised my head and took the communion wafer that my dad, Pastor Paul, offered, clamping my mouth shut before the giggles could escape and embarrass me even further. I glanced down the altar, wishing that the elder would hurry up with my tiny plastic cup of wine. I always seemed to get the communion wafer stuck to the roof of my mouth and then had to engage in some major tonguing in order to get it loose.
Avery leaned forward, taking his wafer from my dad. He swallowed it in one smooth gulp and then gave me a confused grin.
Oh, God, he must think I’m looking at him! I immediately stopped trying to pry the wafer loose with my tongue and put my chin to my chest again. What could I have looked like? I tried to float above myself, picture my face. What I conjured was not a flattering image. I had one eye closed, nostrils flaring, my tongue flicking back and forth. What the hell was my problem? I looked like a cat coughing up a fur ball. Ugh.
When everyone was served communion, I got up, avoiding my dad’s bemused look and went back to the second pew where me, my mom and my sister Melody always sit.
Melody shook her head and flicked me on the back of my arm as I stepped past her and sat down in the pew. “Way to make a butt of yourself, Zel,” she whispered into my ear.
“Whatever, hose beast.” I flicked her on the knee and scooted away from her, closer to Mom.
She rolled her eyes at me. “Like I even know what that means.”
Dad stepped up to the pulpit and shuffled his notes around in his hands. He was old school, writing his sermons in longhand on yellow legal pad paper. Assistant Pastor Morris wrote his on a computer and then downloaded it onto his BlackBerry, like someone from this century.