Weeks had passed since his parents’ wedding anniversary dinner which had turned out much better than he had expected. When he and Tulia showed up, Sandy and her family were already there so he introduced her to them. They were pleased to meet her and his nephew and niece warmed to her too. Then, the rest of the family showed up and he introduced Tulia to them.
She looked lovely in the navy blue cocktail dress which flattered her figure and her lovely complexion. Her hair framed her face. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. When he went to pick her up at her flat and she opened the door, he was dumbstruck.
“How do I look?” she asked.
“You look absolutely amazing,” he managed to say.
She smiled. “Thank you. And you look very handsome.” He was wearing a navy blue dinner suit.
“You know I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes off you,” he told her as they walked to his car.
“Good,” she said with a laugh.
When he introduced her to his parents, his father said as he clasped her hand in a jovial handshake, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Yes, we’re very pleased to meet you,” his mother said, smiling and she hugged her. When she hugged him, she said, “What a lovely girl.”
The evening was a lively and engaging one. It was a bit awkward seeing Cate’s parents there but they were invited because his mother and Mrs. Hardwicke were very good friends. “How are you, Boris?” Mrs. Hardwicke after they exchanged greetings.
“I’m well, thank you, Mrs. Hardwicke. “How are you and Mr. Hardwicke?”
“We’re fine, thank you,” Mr. Hardwicke replied.
“I’d like you to meet my date, Tulia.”
The Hardwickes exchanged glances and then, they shook Tulia’s hand. “Nice to meet you,” they said.
“It’s nice to meet you too.”
Boris watched as Tulia shook hands with the couple who would have been his in-laws if Cate hadn’t broken their engagement. “Excuse us,” he said to them after chatting with them for a while and whisked Tulia away. “I hope that wasn’t too awkward for you,” he said to her.
“It wasn’t really. They seem like nice people.”
“Yes, they are.”
“Was it awkward for you?”
” A little, I guess.”
“Did you see the way they looked at each other when you introduced me as your date?”
“Yes, I did.”
“I wonder if they’re going to tell Cate about me.”
“Maybe they will. Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. Come, there’re still some people I would like you to meet.”
Overall, it was a splendid evening and he could see how much his parents were enjoying themselves which was the important thing. It was after one in the morning when he finally took Tulia home. She invited him in. “Thank you for inviting me,” she said as they removed their shoes in the foyer. “I had a wonderful time.”
“I’m happy to hear that. I had a wonderful time too.” He picked her up. “And now, I’m going to do something I’ve wanted to do all evening.”
She smiled and put her arms around his neck as he carried her to the bedroom.
He finished his jog through the park and went back to his flat. After taking a hot shower, he went to Tulia’s place. She was waiting for him. Dinner was on the table. The Stir-Fry Chicken and Vegetables looked and smelled really good.
“My mother called this morning,” he said as they sat down to eat. “She wants us to have dinner with her and my father on Sunday.”
“That would be nice. I like your parents.”
“And they like you.”
“I guess they liked Cate too.”
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked about Cate.”
“Let’s not talk about Cate or her family anymore.”
“I promise I won’t mention her or them again.”
“Good. Yesterday I stopped by Sandy’s place to drop off some books for George. I couldn’t get a word out of Gaby who usually talks my ear off. She was glued to the television set, watching some show about a family who find themselves lost in a land where wishes are free.”
“One of my friends watches that with her kids. They’re hooked on it.”
“Would you want to be lost in a land where wishes are free?”
“I don’t believe in wishes. I believe in prayers.”
“Do you pray often?”
“Yes. At least three times everyday. What about you?”
“I’m afraid I don’t pray nor go to church as often as I should.”
“How would you like to come to church with me on Sunday?”
“What time is the service?”
“All right, I’ll come. Thanks for inviting me.”
She smiled. “You’re welcome.”
“Do me a favor and don’t mention to my parents that you invited me to your church.”
“You’ll get my mother talking about how she kept a prayer vigil for Sandy.”
“Why? Was Sandy sick?”
“No. It wasn’t because Sandy was sick which would have made more sense. It was because for months, creamed corn was all she would eat. My mother couldn’t get her to eat anything else.”
“How old was Sandy?”
“She was ten.”
“Why did she want to eat only creamed corn?”
“Who knows. I always thought Sandy was a bit soft in the head.”
“How did she grow out of this strange eating habit?”
“My father told her that if she continued eating only creamed corn, she would end up like another little girl who only ate creamed corn.”
“What happened that the girl?”
“The monster swallowed her whole.”
“Who knows? The point is, the idea of being swallowed by a monster scared Sandy so much that she stopped eating creamed corn and to this day, she doesn’t touch the stuff.”
Tulia stared at him. “You’re making this up.”
“If you don’t believe me, ask my father when you see him on Sunday. Make sure you do that when my mother isn’t around.”
“That was terrible, scaring a ten year old like that.”
“Well, it worked, didn’t it?”
“I guess your mother doesn’t know what your father did?”
“No. To this day, she believes that it was her prayer vigil which delivered Sandy.”
“Your poor mother.”
“Maybe one of these days Dad will tell her.”
“I would like to be there when he does.”
Boris smiled, his eyes twinkling mischievously. “Better yet, I would love to see your face when you ask Dad about it and he looks at you as if you’ve completely lost your mind.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Why you–” she threw a napkin at him.
He ducked, laughing. “I really had you going there, didn’t I?”
Sources: All Recipes; Stockwell Baptist Church