Ben, the youth group leader, stands at the front of the room and claps for attention.
“Right, people – our group’s been asked to lead worship next month…”
“What, like a morning service?” someone asks.
“Yup, the whole service – it’s a special ”Celebration of Youth’ week that the church is running. So -”
The room turns into a loud babble of questions, suggestions and general chatter.
“First, how many musicians do we have? Put up your hands. Great! Now – come out the front, and write down your name, what you play, and what sort of proficiency… beginner, intermediate, advanced. K? Right… who can sing?”
Soon everyone has a job to do. I’m part of the bible-reading-choices committee, since I have zero interest in singing in front of people, don’t play an instrument, and didn’t feel like fighting over the song choices. Mark’s worship leader, because he’s the only one of us apart from Ben with experience in it.
“Worship leader, aren’t you the big cheese!” I tease as we break up.
“Just call me Maestro!”
He humphs, then grabs my hand.
“Come with me, kiddo.”
Hey, look at that. It’s only taken a fortnight, but he’s back to acting normal around me.
A few minutes later we’re at the beach on the river, and a couple of the girls take time out from their goss session to stare at Mark pulling me along the sand and into the trees.
“Where are we going?” I ask for the fiftieth time.
“Almost there!” he says, and pulls me between two thorny bushes.
Then we’re through, and in a spot I never knew existed. It’s completely surrounded by thick trees and tall bushes, as by the looks of it, no-one else knows about it either. No needles or used condoms, just some grass on enough flattish ground to lie down on. And a blanket, and a picnic basket.
“Hungry?” Mark says, grinning.
A picnic in a secluded spot? Maybe this boy isn’t as hopeless as I thought.
Dessert is a mammoth piece of cheesecake. Mark removes a sliver with his spoon and holds it out to me. I open my mouth and he slides the spoon in, grinning as my eyes widen. It’s lemon, my favourite cheesecake in the whole wide world. And that’s the end of the awkwardness I was expecting once the picnic was over, because when I’ve finished the mouthful I lean over and kiss him, like a peck but a lot longer, and we both know what we want to be doing next.
And God, no, that’s not a fade-into-black kinda moment, alright? We don’t lie down and start humping like bunnies or anything. Good little christians, remember? We just kiss, and keep kissing, and suddenly there are tongues and it’s feeling really, really good.
And next thing I know, Mark’s flinching and slapping himself, and there’s a high-pitched whining sound near my ear. Mozzies*. In droves. Well, there goes the romantic interlude.
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