31 Days, 31 Dates: Chapter 1

There’s a rumor I’ve heard that at a certain point in your life you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.  I’m not sure what age that is, although I have my suspicion it happens about two minutes before you pass through the veil.  Despite what teenage girls everywhere think, it’s definitely not the age of 25.  If it were, I wouldn’t be standing outside an institute building on a Sunday morning in Laramie, Wyoming, staring at the front door.

The sign invited visitors, but I wasn’t a visitor.  Technically, I was one of them.  This is where I was supposed to belong.  But I didn’t belong.  Not anymore.  I used to.  But that seemed like a long time ago.  And a different girl.

I bit my bottom lip.  Of all the feats and impossible acts mankind has performed, opening a door is not one of them.  Yet, there I stood unable to perform the simple task of opening a door.

I heard giggling behind me and turned to see a girl who looked barely old enough to be in the singles ward.  She smiled, and leaned toward the guy who walked with her.  His dark hair was slicked back and his suit pressed.  His short frame made him look like he wore his father’s suit.  Her blues eyes danced in amusement as her short, curly blond hair bobbed up and down.   As she past me, I noticed her cheeks imprinted with dimples.  He held the door open for her and as she went in, she stood on her tiptoes and said, “Thanks, Darren.”

He beamed and looked like that moment was the proudest moment of his life.  He looked at me as if I was intruding on his personal triumph.  “Are you coming?”

I looked around trying to think of a reason not to follow.  Unless I wanted to pose as a crazy person that stalked church buildings, there was no excuse.  “Thanks,” I smiled politely and walked in.

I had never been in that particular building before in my life, but it felt familiar.  A painting of the Woman at the Well hung above the couch.  I glanced to the chapel.  The couch looked more inviting and I wished I didn’t promise my brother I’d sit with him.  I walked into the chapel and noticed it was decorated in the purple theme.  Huge windows on the sides of the stand allowed light to flood in.

My instinct was to go to the back of the chapel.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t early enough to procure the coveted back seat.  At least I wasn’t so late that I had to sit in front.  I got a spot in the middle on the side.

I looked around nervously.  My goal was to find my brother without making eye contact with anyone else.

“Hey, Grace,” I heard to my right.  I breathed a sigh of relief to find brother, Matt putting his scriptures next to me.  “Glad you made it.  I don’t feel like walking home after, can you give me a lift?”

I nodded my head.  My brother’s attempt of going green prompted him to sell his car. During the week he used public transportation to get to and from work.  For the most part, anywhere else he wanted to go he either walked or rode his bike.

“I’m passing the sacrament, so I’ll join you afterward.”

I nodded.  A huge sigh of relief escaped as I watched him walk to the front of the chapel.  As I watched him, I noticed a guy stop him to talk to him.  Suddenly, they both turned in my direction.

Uh-oh, this can’t be good.  I picked up a hymn book and started to flip through it anxiously.  However, I could tell they were walking in my direction.

“Gracie,” Matt said, “this is Wyatt.  Wyatt, this is my sister Grace.  She just moved here.”

“Nice to meet you,” Wyatt said with a smile.  He stuck his hand out for me to shake. “Unfortunately for you, you picked a bad time to come.”

My eyebrows furrowed.

He laughed.  “I’m speaking today.”

“Oh,” I said forcing a laugh.  Got to love that Mormon humor.  “Maybe I should leave,” I turned to leave.

“Stay,” Matt commanded and I resented being treated like a dog.

Wyatt thought we were performing some kind of comedy routine and laughed again.  “Only if I can leave with you.”

I smiled weakly.  Matt held his index finger at me as if that held the power to keep me on the bench.  Which, it must have worked because all I did was glare at him.

“I better get up on the stand,” Wyatt said and shook my hand again.  “I’ll see you later?”

Apparently, with Matt’s mighty finger, I wasn’t going anywhere.  I nodded my head.  They walked to the front of the chapel.  I decided to continue flipping through the hymn book until service started.


I paced back and forth in the foyer of the church.  I looked at my watch for what seemed like the bazillionth time in five minutes.  “C’mon, Matt,” I muttered out loud and flopped onto the couch.  Just then, the chapel doors opened and two men walked out.  Quickly I sat up straight and made sure I was sitting ladylike in my skirt.

The two men were deep in conversation.  One was wearing an expensive suite and was tall, well over 6 feet because he had to duck coming out of the chapel.  The other was shorter, probably not even 6 feet tall, with thick brown wavy hair and he smiled at me.  It was Wyatt.  As he conversed with the taller guy, he kept glancing over at me.

I smiled politely at him but was trying to use mental telepathy to get Matt to come.  It wasn’t working.

“I’ll see you later, Connor,” said Wyatt.  He started walking toward me.

Oh no.   I really didn’t want to shake his hand again.

“Oh, Wyatt,” Connor said in a deep, low voice while turning around.

That’s it, keep him occupied.

Connor mumbled something to Wyatt but his voice was so low, I couldn’t understand what he said.

Wyatt stopped walking and looked at him.  Now was my chance to run.   I looked down the hall and looked at my high heels. Maybe not.

“What are we doing again?”  Wyatt asked Connor.

Connor mumbled a reply.  I thought I heard volleyball mentioned. Connor pointed at him.

“Yeah, I have a lot of work to do, but I’ll try and make it.”

“Right on,” Connor said and for the first time noticed me sitting on the couch. He mumbled something to me but I didn’t understand.  Which was okay because he didn’t wait for an answer.  I looked behind him down the hall willing my brother to come at that moment.

Wyatt sat down next to me.  “So,” he smiled.  “How did I do?”

“It was good,” I smiled my most polite smile.

He nodded slowly.  “So, you’re new in the ward?”

“I’ve been here about a month,” I tried to nonchalantly check my watch.

“I don’t remember seeing you,” Wyatt ignored my watch check.

I shrugged.  “I haven’t been the most active.”

“Oh,” he said not wanting to dive into such a personal topic on the first conversation.

“I enjoyed your talk,” I said.  “It was very…” I wanted to say long, “informative.”

“Informative?” he laughed.  “If by informative you mean spiritual or I just gave a long winded narrative of the virtue of keeping the Sabbath Day holy?”

I forced a laugh. “I meant, it was something I needed to hear.”

“Oh,” he said perking up.

Perhaps I should have let it go with that, but I couldn’t help but add, “Over and over and over again.”

He looked at me and I smiled.

“Hey Wyatt,” a voice to the side of us said, “good talk today.”

I stood up as Wyatt turned around.  “Thanks, Matty.”  He looked at me as if I were going to disagree.

I rolled my eyes.  “I was just kidding you, it was a good talk.”

He nodded but didn’t look like he believed me.

“Wyatt is the Elder’s Quorum president,” Matt explained.

“Well,” I said because I wanted this conversation to end so that we could leave.  “It was nice to meet you,” I again smiled. Then feeling bad about my earlier comment, I felt like I needed to reassure him.  “And it was a good talk.”

“Thanks.” Wyatt smiled unsure of the sincerity.

“Listen, we better go,” Matt looked at me.

I rolled my eyes.  He knew I had been waiting for him for fifteen minutes.    “Ready when you are.”

“Later,” Matt nodded at Wyatt.  “I’ll probably see you at dinner groups.”

“See ya,” I gave one last parting smile to Wyatt.

“Hey Grace,” Wyatt said as Matt opened the outside door for me.

So close to freedom, I turned around.

“Will I see you at FHE tomorrow night?”

“FHE?” I asked.  Matt nudged me with his arm.

I wanted to say no.  “Sure,” I smiled.

“We’ll probably play volleyball.”

“Oh,” I said again.  My mind raced with excuses to get out of going.

“Great, see you then,” he nodded to Matt and we walked out the door.

As I climbed in my car I couldn’t help but mumble, “Oh no.”

31 Days, 31 Dates: Prologue

I pushed the scan button on my car radio searching for a radio station.  All I heard was static.  “C’mon,” I said to myself and pushed again.  “There’s got to be something.”  My old Buick Oldsmobile was crammed with all my earthly possessions and I was tired of driving.  Interstate 80 from Provo to Laramie seemed a little desolate and I felt lonely.  I needed to hear some music to get my mind off of things and I couldn’t find a radio station.  Unfortunately, my car was so old it didn’t have an mp3 player or even a CD player.  A broken toothpick was stuck in the side of the on button to hold it in place.  “C’mon,” I muttered again.  Suddenly, a song broke through the static.  “Finally,” I sighed.

After a moment, I could make out the strains of a country song bewailing a relationship that had come to an end.  “Forget that,” I said and took out the toothpick.  “I need something to get my mind off of that, not on it.”