Janet’s solo at church goes really well. She spots Diego with her family, and it makes her more brave.
The minister launched into his sermon, speaking less time than he usually did. His words were stirring and inspiring, as he spoke of the love God had for his people. What eyes had been dry after the song, weren’t after he finished.
The service eventually wound to a close and the congregation stood for the final hymn. Instead of preparing to walk out, the choir stood, setting their folders on their seats. The music began suddenly, startling the congregation. The organist had moved to the piano. Choir members pulled out tambourines, wood blocks and one of the tenors sported a guitar. They stood up front, singing, playing and dancing to Give Me That Old Time Religion.
The minister stood at the podium, clapping and singing with them as the congregation joined in. Four of the men formed a quartet, taking the lead on the verses. The women sang a soaring harmony around them, shaking their tambourines. Everyone left the church smiling.
After the congregation left, the choir filed out. When Janet came out of the choir room, her mother, sister and Diego were waiting for her. Even Sookie was smiling and hopping up and down excitedly.
“That was so cool!” she said over and over. “You were so good, Janet!”
“Thanks, squirt. I’m glad you liked it.”
Her mother also congratulated her, then walked Sookie to Sunday school. Diego took her hands.
“You were amazing. Totally blew my mind when you started to sing.”
“Thank you. I didn’t know you were coming. I thought you had to go to Mass, don’t you have to sing or serve?”
“I talked my way out of it. I told Father the woman I love was singing for God, and I had to go hear her. It was beautiful, Janet.” He took a step closer, lowering his voice. “If I didn’t love you already, I would have fallen for you the second you started to sing.”
Several of the young men from choir knew Diego well. They came up, thumping him on the back.
“Hey, buddy. What you doing here?” one of them asked.
“Slumming. What you think? I came to hear my lady sing.”
“You’re dating?” The bass who’d helped her up the steps looked disappointed.
“Yeah. Got a problem with that?”
“No. Kind of wish…. Never mind. Janet, you get tired of him, I’ll be your rebound guy.”
She giggled, patting his arm. “Thanks. I think I’ll keep him a little while.”
“Just so you know….”
Diego put his arm around her shoulders. “Enough of that. You’ll make me forget we’re in church.” He was only partially kidding. “Come on, babe. I’m taking you and your mom to breakfast.”
“Well, I didn’t. So you can drink coffee and I’ll eat.” He kissed her cheek as he put his arm around her neck.
They met her mother by the side door downstairs and went to a nearby diner. Diego ate a huge breakfast while Janet and her mother had coffee and pie.
“I’m surprised you’re so hungry,” Ilene said.
“You forget, Catholics don’t eat before church. I’m starving. I’ve been up since six.”
“Why so early?” Janet asked him.
“I had to help my dad fix some stuff. He doesn’t sleep much since he hurt his back, so he’s up at odd hours. Which means I’m up at odd hours to keep an eye on him, so he won’t hurt himself more.”
“How’s he doing?” Ilene asked kindly.
“He has good days and bad days. Today was a good day.” He smiled.
“I’m glad. I’ve been meaning to call, I just stay so busy….”
“My folks know that, Ms. Yarkowsky. You’ve got your hands full.”
©2020 Dellani Oakes