After church, the tall boy with kind eyes turned to me and said, “So…you come here often?”
(This is what I maintain he said, anyway, although he argues it was something more eloquent and less like a pick-up line.)
“No,” I answered. “I’m American. I just got here a couple of weeks ago. I’m going to the university.”
“So am I,” he answered. “I’m Simon.”
“Faith,” I said, offering my hand.
“Nice to meet you. You should come to our small group. I’m in it with a few other people around our age. We meet on Tuesday nights.”
“Cool,” I answered, thankful for his friendliness. “I’d love to.”
He introduced me to some of his friends, and we left the church together, talking and laughing.
“What are you studying?” he asked me.
“Music Technology. Recording and stuff.”
“Cool. Are you a musician?”
“Yeah…I play guitar. And sing. I’m in a band, but they’re back home, in Chesham.”
“Chesham. Near London.”
“Oh. What’s the band called?”
“Phat Stanley? P-H?”
“No,” he laughed. “F. Fat. We’re not that cool.”
As we walked home together, we realized we were walking in the same direction.
“You live up here?” he asked.
“Yeah, just over on Greenfield Road. You?”
“Right down here. Crown Terrace. I live with some guys on my course. In an old house – used to be a bed and breakfast.”
“Wow, that sounds cool.”
“You’ll have to come around sometime. Meet Tom, and Kristjan – he’s from Iceland.”
“I’d like that.”
By now, we were standing in front of Simon’s front door. To the left, you could see the promenade and, beyond that, the North Sea. To the right, a street, that led to another street, that led to my house.
“So, I’ll see you at small group on Tuesday?”
“Absolutely. I’ll be there. Thanks for the invite.”
“No problem. It’s great to meet you. I mean, to meet someone cool. You know…”
I smiled. “I know.”
I didn’t have a cell phone while I was in Scarborough, so I gave Simon my house phone number. He called me one night, a few days later, and I sat on the stairs in my house, trying to decipher his accent down the phone line.
“Are you in at uni tomorrow?”
“Are you in at uni?”
“You mean am I going to school tomorrow? Yeah, I’ve got a class in the morning.”
“Want to meet up afterwards, maybe have a coffee?”
“Sure. Sounds fun.”
The next two weeks were punctuated by movies with church friends, and not-so-random meetings in the computer lab at school. (We’ve since confessed that we used to wait for hours at a time for the other one to show up, obsessively watching the door, pretending, when they finally arrived, that we’d only just gotten there too.)
At night, I’d lie in bed, aware of what was beginning to happen in my heart, and pray.
“God…am I spending too much time with him? I’m sorry…I know you want me to be single. I mean, I think I do.”
One night, I was sitting in our living room in yoga pants and a hoodie, reading, when I heard something slide through the letter slot and hit the floor in our front hall. I got up, walked to the door, and picked up a cd.
A Fat Stanley cd.
I jerked the door open just as he was walking away. “Oh, hi. I just thought I’d drop that by. You know, because you asked about it. Just so you’d know I’m not lying.”
“Thanks. I’ll listen to it. Definitely.”
“Cool…I’m just going to the pub now, to meet Tom and Kristjan. Do you fancy it?”
“Oh, um…” I looked down at my clothes. “Nah. I don’t think so. I’m kind of not dressed. And I’m reading. So…think I’ll just stay in. Thanks, though.”
We said goodbye, and I went upstairs.
“Who was that?” asked Sara, as I walked by her room.
“Simon. He just dropped off this cd. It’s his band. He invited me to the pub.”
“Oh, cool! Let’s listen to it. Stick it in.”
I handed it to her, and she popped it into her laptop and hit play.
The music started, all guitar riffs and drum beats. It sounded good. Really good. We looked at each other, eyes widening.
And then his voice came through. Deep and clear and beautiful.
And I fell on the floor.
Sara’s jaw dropped.
“Put your clothes on,” she said. “We’re going to the pub.”