February passed rather uneventfully. The most interesting thing that happened was when I got a bad case of strep during Valentine’s Day. And then I passed the sickness onto my family.
I also found out about something: Lilian was a whole different person than I expected her to be. She was fun, nice, and had a good sense of humor. But during school hours, we decided not to get to know each other. Anyway, Saige and I were lowdown dorks next to Lilian’s high status, and I’m sure she didn’t want to lose it.
I also didn’t care. My friends and I don’t like the popular group all that much. I mean, sure we find them cool, but we don’t go around drooling over them. We also agree that they are just a bucket of snobs.
Then March appeared around the corner. It was still a frigid forty-one degrees outside and it hadn’t snowed all winter. Yet school continued and so did violin practice.
“Hey, can we meet up to practice later,” Saige asked us on our first practice of the month.
I looked at my watch for no reason. “Today’s a Thursday, right? No, sorry. I can’t make it. I already promised Trinity that we’d do our Pathfinder requirements, and then we’d go to Pathfinders together.”
“Yeah,” Lilian nodded. “I won’t be able to make it either. Say, Aspen, what’s Pathfinders? I hear you and Saige talking about it a lot.”
I nodded. “Well, it’s sort of like Scouts BSA, but in the Adventist church. Basically you go camping, do activities with other kids your age, earn badges, and the sort.”
“Oh,” Lilian looked intrigued. “I was in Girl Scouts a while back… Um, before my – I, uh – I moved to Tennessee.”
Saige smiled. “I think it might be a lot better than that. Every five years you go to an international camporee, and your club hosts a club from another country. You even get to stay there for a week, and the evening programs have really cool plays. I heard there is a Talent Show as well.”
“And,” I added. “Kids get baptized by the hundreds, if not thousands.”
“Baptism? Isn’t that like when a priest sprinkles water over your heads? Lilian asked.
Saige and I shot each other a bewildered glance. “Ask,” Saige sighed. “Our youth pastor. He should know. We don’t. Sorry, we really don’t.”
“That’s OK,” Lilian chuckled. “But when can I ask?”
“Hey,” I said. “Maybe you can come to Pathfinders sometime. It’s a whole lot of fun.”
“I don’t know,” Lilian sighed wistfully. “My mom’s a nurse and she’s got the night shift on Thursdays. And so I’ll have to check with my baby-sitter, and she’s kind of picky about my whereabouts.”
“And your dad,” Saige asked. I shot her a look.
“My dad,” Lilian looked alarmed. “Um, uh, he, uh, well, uh, he’s got, uh, work too?”
Saige looked slightly embarrassed. “Are you telling me or asking me?”
“Telling,” Lilian said quickly.
By this time, we were in the atrium, and about to walk out the door. We said our goodbyes and I hopped into the car. I waved at the girls as Lilian waited for her baby-sitter and as Saige lugged that elephant of an instrument home.
“Hi, Daddy,” I greeted as a drop of water splashed on the wind-shield.
“Hi, Aspen,” Daddy responded. “How was practice?”
“It was pretty good. Saige and I told Lilian about Pathfinders. She told us she was in the scouts. Girl Scouts, that is,” I said, observing the new drops.
“So is she still in Girls Scouts?” Daddy asked.
“No. She stopped when she moved.”
“Why did she move?”
“Dunno. She didn’t say anything. It seems like a touchy subject for her. Every time she sort of mentions it she changes the subject.”
The wind-sheild wipers squealed at a fruitless attempt to remove the now pelting rain. “Oh,” Daddy responded.
“It’s raining hard, huh?”
“Yes, it was raining before you woke up.”
“Oh, so that’s why it was so wet this morning!”
“Just like they say, ‘April showers bring May flowers.’”
“Daddy! It’s March!”
“I get disoriented, especially with your growth rate, I must think it’s April next year!”
I giggled. “Daddy!”
“And with Ginny so big, I think she’s fourteen!”
“In fact, I sometimes confuse Caddie with your mother!”
I laughed loudly. “Your sweet Charlene — oops, no, Caddie!”
Daddy chuckled. The rain was now extremely hard, slowing us down. “I hope we don’t slip.”
“Daddy, don’t scare me!” I giggled nervously, but I couldn’t help feeling a little scared.
My Daddy in Heaven, please calm the storms. You’ve done it before. Any way You can do that now? I prayed silently.
I quickly glanced ahead of me. Somewhere in the distance there was a dark cloud, black like charcoal, that looked like gravity was pulling it down: kind of like an ice-cream cone covered in swirling chocolate. And then it hit me. It was coming toward us, and we had to move quickly.