Jordan walked slowly down the crowded hallway toward his locker. Her stomach writhed--eagle-sized butterflies warring within. One last deep breath and a brilliant smile, "Hi, Brian."
Warm brown eyes swam into focus. "Hey Jordan. Having a good day?"
She played casual. "Oh sure, but Rookwood just assigned a killer project for Critical Thinking. How are you?"
"Not bad. What's the project?"
"We have to read Plato's Apology and defend or refute his ideas in a persuasive paper."
"Me too." Jordan laughed. He was so nice. "Um, Brian...I was wondering...would you come to the Sadie Hawkins dance with me?"
"Thanks for asking" he said, hesitating. A red glow tinged his cheeks.
He's going to say no. She could feel it. She wished she could sink through the floor into oblivion.
Brian looked earnestly into her eyes. "Jordan, I don't date. At all."
"Why?" She was shocked. She knew Brian had never had a girlfriend. Some of her friends had suggested he was gay after throwing themselves at him unsuccessfully. Her gut told her they were wrong.
"Have you noticed how much trouble dating causes in this school?" Brian asked. "Our friends go out, swap partners, gossip, backstab, make out, have sex, get pregnant--it's ridiculous" he sighed. "I'm a Christian, Jordan"
The bell rang. They were late.
Jordan turned away, her cheeks flaming. She wished she'd never asked him.
"Jordan, would you meet me at lunch? I want to explain. I like you. I hope we can be friends."
Friends. She hated that word. Still, maybe it would be easier if she understood. She really liked him...she couldn't help it. "Okay," she whispered without looking back.
Morning classes were a blur. Jordan jotted a note to her best friend, Taylor, in English. "He said no. He wants to talk to me at lunch."
"Are you going to meet him?" Taylor wrote back.
Jordan nodded at her friend across the aisle; Taylor grimaced back.
"Brian watching" had been Jordan's favorite hobby for two years. He was tall and athletic, easily the smartest guy in their class and completely unattainable. Most of the girls in school had tried to snag him. He was kind, but seemed immune.
Jordan fought her attraction longer than most. She became Brian's friend; also kind and apparently immune. Only Taylor knew. Jordan was determined that he would love her.
What Jordan wanted, she usually got, but Brian was different from anything or anyone she'd ever wanted. He frightened her.
It's over, she told herself. What was it he said--something about being a Christian?
She felt lightheaded as she entered the cafeteria. Brian immediately led her to a corner.
"I'm so glad you're willing to listen, Jordan. Most girls won't. There's something special about you."
Jordan's eyes filled. She focused on the table. No, she screamed inwardly--don't you dare cry!
If Brian noticed, he pretended he didn't. "I take dating seriously. I try to please God with everything I do. I'm only seventeen," his words were jumbled rush. "I'm working toward a scholarship for college, serving my church, playing baseball...there isn't time for much more. I'm not ready for more. But that doesn't mean I don't need friends. I hope you'll still be one of them."
His words rolled over her. She wasn't sure what to think. Did she want to forget Brian? Was she his friend or had he just been a challenge?
"Thanks for talking to me Brian," she said slowly. "It helps. I...I'm not sure how I feel. It was hard for me to ask you out. I've wanted to ask you for a long time."
"I'm sorry. I hope you believe me."
Jordan looked up, surprised. "Of course, I believe you. I know you've turned down most of the girls in school. I'm just disappointed. I hoped I'd be the one to change your mind."
"Jordan, you're amazing. You are the most honest girl I've ever met."
Jordan laughed a little. "You know, you aren't easing the disappointment by being so nice."
"Sorry...should I be mean?" He smirked at her, a glimmer of hope lighting his eyes.
She wadded her napkin and threw it at him. He grinned and caught it. "Jordan, do you go to church?"
"Not often. Easter, Christmas...here and there."
"Would you like to come to a youth meeting with me? It's fun."
"Are you asking me out?"
Brian laughed. "In a way, yeah. I guess I am."
Debbie O'Connor lives just north of New Orleans with her husband, Jim, and their two children. Jesus has been her savior for 18 years. Contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org.