“I’m impressed you’re going through with this.” Scott spent a few more seconds in front of the mirror in the shared bathroom of their little apartment. His boy-next-door good looks had remained well into his twenties and he could easily have a date every night. Scott was the epitome of contrast to Phil. “You’re stepping way out of your comfort zone.”
“When am I ever going to have this chance again?” Phil pulled his black hooded sweatshirt up over his head, shrouding his face in shadow.
“Oh, let me think about that?” Scott lifted his hand to his chin as if contemplating. “You could just walk next door to her building, climb one flight of stairs, and knock on her door.”
“Thus, eliminating ever having a chance at a real relationship with her,” Phil said. “We invited Christine to the bonfire, now the ball is in her court. If she comes, I’ll know she’s at least curious about me rather than creeped out.”
“I’d be creeped out,” Scott said, grabbing his green and white MSU hoodie and pulling it over his head. He straightened the bottom so that it rested against his well faded blue jeans and Phil sighed impatiently.
“Are you done primping now? Can we get going?” Phil tugged at his own sweatshirt which was paired with black jeans and black shoes. He hoped to blend into the darkness and become camouflaged by the night, just as during patrols while staking out behind enemy lines. He’d been trained to disappear. Who knew he’d use these skills to pick up a hot girl.
Christine was more than just a girl. She was the girl. The way she had spoken that first day in sacrament meeting about the poverty she’d seen in Ghana while serving as a missionary. The way her voice caught with emotion and love for the people she served. The way her testimony of the Gospel reached into his heart, pulling Phil from the dark abys in which he lived.
God had sent Christine here to East Lansing, Michigan with the sole purpose of saving him. He owed her his life and devotion.
If he didn’t scare the heck out of her in the process.
Phil and Scott fell into companionable silence walking out the back door of their apartment and down the path cutting through the small grove of trees, toward the clearing where the young single adult group was having a bonfire.
“You know what she looks like, right?” Phil asked for the hundredth time.
“Of course, I know what she looks like,” Scott said. “I’ve been delivering love notes to her for weeks. I feel like a carrier pigeon.”
“What if she doesn’t show up?”
“You sound desperate. Relax.”
“Do you know the plan?” Phil was letting his nerves stir paranoia in his mind.
“I find a way to talk to her alone, you sneak up behind her and scare the bejeebeez out of her, and then we can go home to our apartment and play Fortnite until we’re too tired to work the controllers.”
They were approaching the clearing and light from the bonfire lit the path ahead. Phil instinctively left the path and disappeared into the trees, still close enough to communicate. Scott kept walking as if he’d been alone the whole time.
Before stepping into the clearing, Scott paused and looked around the fire circle. He pointed to a girl in a camp chair near the perimeter of the clearing. There just happened to be an empty chair beside her as if she were waiting for a friend.
She’s waiting for me. Warmth flooded Phil’s chest and his anxiety shifted to anticipation.
“Go do whatever it is you do to get into position,” Scott whispered. “I’ll watch for your signal.”
“Two minutes,” Phil whispered, then snuck away from his roommate as quietly as a ghost.