to rent a cabin up in Russian River together. She'd told her parents she was going on an “outing” with her drama class. I'd told my parents the truth. Well, I told my mother anyway. By that time my father had been living in Virginia, where he’d been stationed, and where my mother had refused to join him (another long story). I’d told my mother where I was going, with whom, and gave her the phone number to the hotel. She gave me an extra $50 bucks, the keys to my dad’s Jeep, and told me to have a good time. I could tell she wasn't pleased, particularly about the “with whom” part, but most of all I could tell that she loved and trusted me.
That had been the most wonderful weekend I’d ever had before or since. Faith and I had had sex together dozens of times, but that was the longest, uninterrupted time we had ever spent in each other's company. We thought it would be the first weekend of the rest of our lives together.
We had both been accepted into UC Santa Cruz. We’d even discussed what program and courses we would be taking together. Yet, on the way driving back to Oakland, I had a premonition that things were about to go terribly wrong.
“Whaddya say we just keep on driving, straight down to Santa Cruz, and say our goodbyes later?” I suggested.
“But, Darling, I have to go to graduation,” Faith replied, squeezing my hand. “My family is having a huge party for me. The invitations have already been sent out. Plus…,”she winked, “I think they’re planning to give me a car for graduation!”
I reluctantly agreed with her that our “getaway vehicle,” may as well be the shiny new Toyota she’d been dropping hints about instead of the rusty old Jeep my father was planning to turn over to me upon graduation.
That’s about as far as our common dreams ever got. When I dropped Faith off at her house and went to help her carry her bags inside, we were met at the door by an intervention.
A dark suited man had blocked my path and told me, “Come no further, young lady. We’ll take it from here.”
I had never seen the man before, but the stiffness of his body, the hatred in his eyes, and the bible in his hand made it perfectly clear that he must be the pastor of her family's church.
Then with the preacher on her one side, her parents on the other, and several church members praying in the background, they’d led Faith into the house. She’d gone without protest. In spite of her feints toward rebellion, and her sincere desire to be her own person, it turned out she was her parent's daughter after all. Or, so it had seemed to me at the time.
At 2:30 Faith sent me a text that read, “On the bus. CU soon!” I replied back with a smiley face, but only because my phone did not have a smiley sufficiently complex to sum up all my conflicting emotions.
A little while later, Elston walked by my desk and startled me out of my reverie. He gave me a funny look and asked, “You are your old self again, aren’t you?”
“Sure,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”
He pointed down at my desk, where I had absentmindedly strung the entire box of paperclips together into a long, tangled chain.