By JD Rockel
The week flew by, and Thursday morning came quickly for Ella. She stayed in touch with Jerry throughout the week but like most school days there were only brief times during the day by her locker when they could see each other. Each moment with Jerry was wonderful though, and she treasured how God was blessing her.
“Ella, Rosa, it’s getting late.” Renata was always the best mom you could have by making sure everyone was ready on time. “I don’t have time to drive you to school today.”
“Coming, Mom.” Ella was out first. It was such a blessing to have a mom who had breakfast ready. There was always something that could be grabbed if necessary while running out the door.
“Mom, you are amazing,” Ella said as she grabbed a pancake.
“I’m ready, Mom.” Rosa was just moments behind her sister. Renata never ceased to be amazed at how the two of them remained identical, sometimes right down to their socks and necklaces.
“Alright you two, whose who? It’s scary how you manage to dress identically. I’m glad you don’t do it every day.”
“It’s a gift Mom.”
“No, it’s not. It takes a lot of work.”
“OK, please tell me the truth. Which of you is which?”
Ella spoke first between pancake bites. “I’m your favorite daughter, Ella.”
“No, you’re not. I’m your favorite daughter, Mom. I’m Rosa.” She stepped up to her mom and kissed her on the cheek as she grabbed a pancake.
“I have two things to say,” Renata replied as she flipped a couple of pancakes for herself and Tony. “One, God knows if you are lying, so be careful. And two, I love you both equally. Remember I had nine months to get to know you two before you came into this world.”
“Aww, Mom. We both love you too.”
“Definitely!” Ella joined Rosa by their mom and kissed her on the other cheek.
“Thank you, now get outside, the bus should be here in just a minute.”
“Bye Mom and thanks for another wonderful breakfast.”
“What she said.”
They grabbed jackets and ran out the door. Their book bags were always placed by the door the night before, so they didn’t have to look for them in the morning. Tony had come up with this idea years ago after too many fitful starts. It still wasn’t easy. Remembering to take the bags to the door after putting homework books into them was the challenge. Truthfully, remembering to put the books into the bags was hard enough.
Renata was right, the bus came around the corner just as they got to the end of the driveway. They got on the bus and found a seat together about midway back. They often sat together as it allowed them to catch up on their lives.
“Ella, how have your activity nights been going? This is Thursday again and I’m just wondering.”
“It’s been fun, sis. I usually hang out with a few kids who play board games. Nothing exciting but I get to learn what’s going on around school.” Ella knew she was lying and felt very uncomfortable. But she didn’t want the truth about the time she was spending with Jerry to be revealed. Even though they spent most of their time talking, the fact that they were kissing might portray impropriety.
“I’m glad you’re having fun. Do you think there is anything there I would like?”
“Probably not. But I’ll keep that in mind and let you know if I come across something.”
“OK, just curious. I didn’t get to hear how Saturday went with Jerry. You guys watched movies, right?”
“Yup, with Mom camped out at the kitchen table. She was good though and let us have our space. I enjoyed my time with Jerry so much. He seemed open and honest when we talked. We both ate too much though. I couldn’t eat anything afterward for supper. That’s why I asked to go to my room.”
“That makes more sense. You didn’t look sick. I’m so glad you found someone that respects you. I know you know this, but sisters are supposed to remind one another… he’s a guy with hormones. Be careful.”
“Sis! I know you’re right and I remind myself of that. I truly believe I’m on guard, but he hasn’t tried anything. I will admit that we have kissed, but that’s it.”
“Again, I’m very happy for you. Keep up the good work of being cautious. I will keep praying for you two also.”
“Thanks. It’s been a short but exciting ride so far.”
Their bus route had only a few stops on the way to school, so their conversations didn’t last long. They went straight to their adjacent lockers and got books for the morning. Rosa spent very little time at the locker and Ella was always apprehensive that Jerry would show up. Ella still didn’t want him to meet her sister. Am I crazy to feel this way?
“Good morning, Beautiful.” Ella didn’t see Jerry coming. He often popped up while she was still facing her open locker.
Turning around and showing a huge smile Ella said, “Good morning, Jerr. Tonight’s your big surprise, isn’t it?”
“It sure is. Are you still OK with being surprised?”
“I sure am. I will want to talk with you briefly beforehand like we normally do.”
“Certainly. I am your servant, fair maiden.”
This was a whole new Jerry. He even bowed a bit making a flourish with his right hand as though he had removed his hat for her.
“How chivalrous,” Ella giggled, feeling her face blush. “You’re making me blush, gallant knight.”
“I am your knight now and shall be forever more. This is NOT a fairy tale. This is a True Lie.”
Ella got the connection from the movie on Saturday and laughed. She reached out and squeezed Jerry’s hand.
With great theatrics, Jerry said, “Thy knight must take flight. But come the night you shall alight and shall swoon in the arms of your love. Until then, ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’.”
Jerry took off and Ella stood there her mouth agape. Who is this guy, really? How would she be able to focus on any of her classes waiting for her big surprise after school? It then occurred to her that being able to focus was a repeating problem. I need to be careful. Jerry said we don’t want to mess up our schooling.
Ella went to her first-period Algebra class and sat down next to Emily. Since they met the first day, Emily had stayed connected. Ella didn’t mind as she was very reserved about their relationship.
“Hi Ella, I have a question for you.”
“Sure, Emily. But first, what color am I today?” Ella and Emily laughed together.
“You are definitely sunshine yellow today. You must have had a good encounter with Jerry this morning.”
“That’s for sure. So, what’s up?”
“My parents have been looking for a church to attend and none of them have been very accepting. I mean the people are friendly at first, but it is so hard to make friends and feel accepted. From the way you talk, I suspect you go to a church. If so, can you recommend one for us?”
Ella hadn’t talked to Emily about God or Orchard Hill Church at all. The way I talk? “Sure, Emily, my family does go to church. We go to Orchard Hill Church. It isn’t too far away either. Very easy to find. I like it there. I’m sure you will find it easy to make friends.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful. Can you text me the address, please? My parents will be so happy.”
“I’ll send you the address and the website once I look them up. I just know how to get there by habit.”
“Thanks again, Ella. You have been a good friend helping me after the move. Someday we must go shopping together.”
“That would be awesome.”
Emily smiled a big grin. “And I hope you stay sunshine yellow for a very long time.”
Ella avoided her sister as the school day ended. She thought of Helen Tasker and pretended to be stealthily avoiding the enemy as she met up with her secret agent. She was the first to their meeting room. She arranged two desks to faced one another and then ducked behind the teacher’s desk to wait.
Jerry walked into the room and Ella jumped out with her hands formed like she was holding a gun. “You can’t hide from me anymore Harold Tasker. I know your secret. You’re mine and you will tell the truth no matter what. Now sit down in that seat.” She pointed to the desks with her fingers.
Jerry’s eyes were wide with surprise and he grinned with excitement to see this side of Ella. “You got me, Helen. I can’t hide my secret life from you anymore. I am completely under your control.”
Still pretending to point a gun at him, Ella continued, “Harold, there are rumors that you have a secret hideout. There are some secrets I must reveal to you first, but then you WILL take me to your hideout so I can know YOUR secrets. It is futile to resist. Let’s get started…”
Ella sat down at the desk across from Jerry. She pretended to put the gun down in front of her. “There are rules you must adhere to for this mission to be successful. Rule number one, I am always in control and have the last word in any decision. Two, we can hug and kiss. Three, there will be no other touching unless I permit you. Finally, our physical relationship will NOT get out of hand.”
Jerry was transfixed, looking deeply into her eyes. Ella could only guess what was going through his mind. Being in control like this was exciting. Ella changed her character and became herself. In very quiet, clear words she said, “No matter what Jerry, we will not have sex.”
“I must admit I didn’t expect those words, but I completely agree. Let’s not spoil what we have. I am so glad you have communicated your boundaries to me so clearly, Beautiful. That means so much to me after we discussed honesty and trust on Saturday.” Changing into the role of a spy, Jerry said, “I accept your terms, as difficult as they may be. Is there anything else or shall I take you to the hideout?”
Back in the spy role, Ella picked up her imaginary gun and said, “It’s time. I can’t have this weapon seen by anyone along the way but be assured, you are completely under my control, Harold.”
“I am your servant, Helen. We need to go this way.”
Jerry took Ella by the hand and led her to the door. Looking up and down the hall, spy fashion, he whispered, “It’s clear. Let’s go.”
He led her down the hall and around the social studies rooms on the second floor. At the end of the hall was a stairwell where they descended. The stairs came out next to food services and the cafeteria. From there, Jerry led Ella into a part of the school she had not explored.
They stopped in the hallway passed the gym. The entrance to the pool was there also. Jerry paused and looked around. “The coast is still clear,” he whispered. He continued straight down the hall that led to the field house. Entering the field house, Ella saw several students working out and practicing gymnastic routines.
Jerry still led the way, holding her hand. Turning left they followed the wall of the field house to the far end at the front of the school. In the middle of the front wall was a door. Jerry quickly opened the door, looked inside, and then pulled Ella in.
It was dark. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, Ella could see some basketballs, an old stationary cycle, nets for volleyball, and other miscellaneous items. It was clear they were in a large but messy storage closet. They continued along the wall and came upon a nook with tumbling mats stacked up very neatly.
Coming around the mats to the other side, Jerry stopped. He whispered, “We’re here. The secret hide-out.”
Ella was confused. “I can’t see anything, Jerry,” she whispered back.
Jerry took his cell phone out of his pocket and lit up the screen. The screen’s light showed what could only be described as a cave in the stack of tumbling mats. Ella stepped closer and Jerry moved his phone so she could see inside. There was a mat on the floor, mats stacked up to form two of the walls, and a few mats on top to make the roof.
“It’s a secret cave,” Ella said with a smile in her voice. “I would have never found it on my own.”
“It is OUR secret cave, Beautiful.” Ella had knelt at the entrance to peer inside. Jerry was bending down to hold the phone so she could see inside. Ella turned around, reached up, and grabbed Jerry by the shirt.
“Come here, you spy, and kiss me.” Jerry lost his balance and fell next to Ella on the floor mat. She threw her arms around him and kissed him on the lips. Together they lay down and hugged each other. The kiss did not stop for a long, long time.
Ella didn’t know how long they were in the embrace, but she finally came to her senses and was concerned. “Jerry, we can’t miss the bus.”
“Don’t worry, Beautiful, I have an alarm set on my phone. We will have 20 minutes to get to the bus.”
“I’m afraid someone will hear the alarm, Jerr.” Ella was talking in a very hushed and concerned voice.
“It’s only on vibrate. We will feel it when it’s time.”
“Be careful, Jerr. We can’t get too excited when it vibrates.” With that, Ella pulled Jerry close to her again and kissed him all the more.
Vrrrr… Vrrrr… The alarm vibrated and they were both startled. Catching their breath, they hesitantly crawled out of their cave.
Jerry looked around first. “We’re safe. Let’s go.”
Retracing their steps, they made their way back to the door. Jerry looked through the window in the door before opening it. He opened the door slowly and carefully making sure no one would see them.
“It’s clear.” They backtracked and made their way to the main hallway. When they got to Ella’s locker, they saw a few students leaving activities.
“Do you need anything from your locker, Jerr?”
“I do. Get your stuff and I’ll meet you here at your locker.”
It occurred to Ella that she didn’t know where Jerry’s locker was. I should find out someday soon. It didn’t take long for Jerry to return. Together they went out the door to find their bus. Getting on board, they made their way to the back where they usually sat.
“That was amazing, Ella. I don’t know if I could handle all that every week. Pretending we were spies was fun though.”
“I agree, Jerr. You were wonderful to me all night. We may not do it every week, but you better make sure our cave is always ready for us.”
“I will do my best. I can’t guarantee they won’t disassemble it for actual tumbling. But if they do, we can find another secret place.”
“I can’t wait,” said Ella as she stole a kiss on Jerry’s cheek.
Ella’s intentions to only go to the cave occasionally were thwarted by her desires. Their trips to Jerry’s cave occurred every Thursday. They were both enjoying the time together and Ella permitted a little more touching each week. However, they were being very careful not to get too involved. Each Thursday brought new delights. How long could this continue?