Some Things Never Change

May 4th, 2014

 
 

Some things never change. He used to find comfort in that idea. Having something solidify his life with permanence gave him a feeling of control (or at least the illusion of it) that never seemed to last for very long.

He walked into the church and heard the same songs from two years ago ringing through the overly ambitious ceiling architecture. He quickly filed into a seat, making friendly nods to the standing churchgoers as they glanced his way. Everyone looked the same, with the same contented expressions masking their faces, as if none of them had left since he was there two years before. The pastor stood at the front, wearing what looked like the same shirt and tie that he wore two years ago.

The worship ended and the same two-year-old piano music drifted through the air as one of the pastors opened the service in prayer, with the same words that he’d used two years ago.

As the service continued and the sermon began, his mind wandered, the way it did two years ago before he’d left. It always wandered during church. He wondered if that meant something was wrong with him, or something was wrong with the church. He guessed that it was something wrong with him, but he wasn’t concerned enough to consider it for very long.

The service ended and the crowd dispersed. An older couple sitting in front of him turned and smiled a friendly southern Christian smile, the kind that he’d actually missed a little in Los Angeles.

“Hello, there. How are you?”

“Uh, good. I’m good – How are you?”

“Oh, we’re doin’ great. Are you new here?”

“Yeah. I mean, sort of. I mean, no, actually.”

“Oh?”

“Well, I went to school here. In Roanoke, I mean- but I moved to LA last summer, and just moved back last week.”

“Oh, that’s great. We have a niece who is in LA. She’s doing acting. She really…”

The couple continued talking, but his mind started to wander, just like during the sermon. He wondered again if something was wrong with him, or wrong with them. He guessed that it was him, but he wasn’t concerned enough to consider it for very long.

“-That reminds me, let me introduce you to Rachel – she’s good friends with our niece, and she knows a lot of kids your age.” The older man said. He turned and beckoned for him to follow them, toward a group of younger folks his age.

Rachel?

He scanned the crowd, quickly.

“Oh, I actually should be going, I’ve got to-“

Rachel turned and locked her subtly disheartening eyes with his.

“Ben. What are you doing here?”

“Oh, you two know each other?” The older fellow chuckled, “Well, isn’t that great? I’ll leave you two to catch up. Great to meet you, Ben!”

He extended his hand.

“We’re glad you’re back from LA!” The older woman added. They shuffled off through the crowd of cheery churchgoers, leaving him caught in an obdurate situation.

Silence like the pause before a prayer stunted his words, but not hers.

“So. How was LA?”

“Good.”

“When did you move back?”

“A week and a half ago.”

His mind wandered to the last they saw each other, when she’d begged him to make out. His mind quickly raced away from the discomforting reflection, but wondered again if something was wrong with him because of his wandering mind.

A smile-ridden hunk bumped into their conversation and put his arm around her. She smiled coyly and rested her head on his shoulder, affectionately. He extended his hand and introduced himself with a booming voice that would’ve only fit on a football field or a weightlifting gym.

“Travis. Good to meet you.”

“Ben.”

He turned back to her and smiled.

“We’re headed to lunch, you ready to go?”

“Uh huh.” She nodded and smiled.

She took his hand and led him away, with the same seductive and manipulative smile that he’d seen a year before. She turned back.

“Good to see you again.”

“You too,” he lied. His mind wandered to the first time he met her, when they went to lunch right after church. The same smile on her face. The same curl of her lips. The same playfulness in her eyes.

Some things never change.
 
 

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