This is part of a continuing fiction story I’ve been working on and sharing each Friday for Fiction Friday.
To catch up find links to the past parts below:
I didn’t want to lie to Daddy and Mama but I liked being with Hank. I liked how we could talk all night about all kinds of things and I liked how he seemed interested in what interested me. And I liked that he wanted to kiss me and hold me when there were so many other girls who wished he was doing the same with them.
“Where is this Bible study?” Daddy asked lighting his pipe.
“The pastors house?”
“Well, no, it meets at the social hall, not at the house.”
I was a horrible liar.
Mama looked at the Bible in my hand. I couldn’t read her expression at first but then she seemed pleased and smiled.
“I think that’s wonderful,” she said. “We should let her go, Alan. Learning more about God’s word can’t be a bad thing.
The words stung. Mama was right. Learning about God wasn’t bad, but I’d abandoned learning about God to learn about Hank. I hated that Mama thought I had chosen something noble over something frivolous.
“Do you need me to drive you?” Daddy asked, laying his pipe down.
“No sir,” I said quickly. “Emmy’s mom is going to pick me up at the bottom of the road.”
“Okay then. We’ll see you later tonight,” he said, eyebrows furrowed, a sign he still wasn’t sure about this Bible study thing.
Mama took my face in her hands and kissed my forehead.
I thought I saw tears in her eyes as she hugged me and I immediately felt the urge to blurt out – “I’m a liar! A horrible liar and you should lock me up and throw away the key!”
But I didn’t say anything. I just smiled as she told me she loved me.
“I’m so proud of you, Blanche,” she said softly.
I was so ashamed of myself. I could barely keep from crying as I walked down the the road toward the covered bridge.
A sharp whistle cut the silence and I looked up and saw Hank sitting in his red, Chevy truck. He motioned me over, leaned across the seat and opened the passenger side door.
“Climb in,” he said. “I’ve got a different idea about what we can do tonight.”
I climbed into the front seat and looked at him, confused. I swallowed the tears I had been fighting back a few moments before and laid the Bible on the seat between us.
“I thought we were going to the movies,” I said.
Hank winked at me and shifted the truck out of park, pulling on to the road. “I changed my mind,” he said. “We’re going somewhere exciting tonight. Somewhere not too far away but far enough that no one who knows us will see us together.”
He glanced down at the Bible and laughed.
“And somewhere you’re not going to need that.”
I felt a twinge of guilt as I looked at the brown, leather-bound Bible my grandma had given me for my 13th birthday. My name was engraved in gold on the weathered front cover.
My heart started pounding. Going to a movie was one thing but driving with him somewhere outside the area was entirely different. My hands felt slick with sweat as we drove and I tried to dry them discreetly on my skirt.
“I’m not really dressed to go anywhere else.”
My voice sounded high pitched and hollow.
“You’re dressed just fine don’t you worry about that.”
Hank glanced at me and I felt my body grow warm as his eyes traveled up and down. He reached over and laid his hand on my thigh as he drove.
When we pulled up outside of a bar I’d never seen before, I felt even more apprehensive. I thought of all the times Edith told me I needed to have more fun I knew she was right; I needed to at least try to have fun for once. I’d simply chalk this up to a new experience.
I slid my hand into Hank’s as we walked in. He looked delighted to introduce me to his world.
The interior of the bar was dim and the music coming from the stage was loud. The singer reminded me of the music Edith had played for Emmy and me.
“You want a drink?” Hank asked.
“No, thank you,” I said. I’d never even sipped alcohol and wasn’t interested in trying now.
Hank ordered a beer. He gulped down half the bottle before grabbing my hand and pulling me toward the mass of people dancing in the center of the room. The girls, mostly my age and older, danced around me. The boys, dressed in blue jeans and white shirts with hair slicked back, danced with them, surrounding us with a swirl of colors and noise.
“I don’t dance!” I tried to shout over the noise.
“It’s time to try!” Hank shouted back.
From the stage a man wearing a black suit coat, buttoned down to reveal a white dress shirt sang an upbeat song about rocking around the clock.
Hank pointed to his feet, then, to mine. I could barely hear his voice over the music, but I knew he wanted me to try to repeat what he’d done. I shook my head firmly and he laughed.
“Come on, just try something new,” he yelled in my ear.
I shook my head but started to laugh as I watched him swing his hips. He held his hands out to me.
I tried the dance, stumbling and stepping on his feet, laughing at each mistake.
We were laughing and spinning on the dance floor and I was trying my best to keep up. Other people were bumping into us, laughing and smiling while dancing with each other. Together we were a mashed-up mess of youth and I loved it. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had so much fun.
When the song ended, people dispersed to either their tables or the bar. A woman with long, dark eyelashes leaned back against the bar, watching Hank.
“Hey there, cutie,” she said. “Here alone?”
Hank grinned reaching for his beer and seemed to be pleased with the attention.
“Not tonight,” he said, winking at her and sliding his arm around my waist.
The woman smirked, barely looking at me.
“Well, if you get sick of that little girl and want to hang out with a real woman, you let me know,” she said in a husky tone.
She pushed herself off of the bar, walking past Hank, bumping her hip against him as she walked.
Hank watched her walked away and shook his head, laughing as he took a swig from the bottle.
“Hey, can I get a water for the little lady?” he asked the bartender.
He held the bottle toward me. “Unless you want a sip?”
I shook my head, holding up my hand.
“No, thank you,” I said, guilt about lying to my parents already weighing heavy on my mind.
“You never have any fun, Blanche,” Hank said grinning. I knew he was teasing, but in his voice I heard my sister and the boys at school mocking me.
I snatched the bottle from his hand, sucking the liquid down fast, the gagging as the bitterness stung my throat and left a burning sensation in my stomach. I thought I was going to throw up on Hank’s shoes. I coughed, my face hot, while Hank laughed.
“You okay?” he asked breathless from laughing.
I nodded, still trying to catch my breath.
“We’ve got to toughen you up, kid,” Hank said, draining the bottle.
The man on the stage began to sing and strum a gentle, slow melody on the guitar.
Hank took my hand and I followed him to the center of the bar, feeling unsure of myself. He leaned closer as he turned to face me.
“You don’t have to know too many steps for the slow songs,” he said in my ear, placing a hand on each side of my waist. “We just have to learn how to move together.”
I didn’t know where I was supposed to place my hands for a slow dance, so I looked at all the other couples. I did what the other girls did and hooked my arms around the back of Hank’s neck, which only pulled me closer to him. He looked down at me and smirked, as we swayed to the music.
I’d never slow- danced with a boy, let alone a man like Hank. My heart was pounding as he leaned his forehead down against mine and then tilted his head to kiss me.
“See? Isn’t this better than a movie?” he asked, his lips grazing mine as he spoke.
I nodded and he kissed me again as we danced.
In the truck, his kisses were longer and harder. I knew he wanted more, but I pulled away quickly.
“My parents are going to question my story if I don’t get home soon,” I told him.
I heard frustration in his voice as he turned the key in the ignition.
“Darn those parents of yours, girl.”
He grinned despite the tone of his voice. I felt like a silly little girl and wished I was older, with no parents to rush home to. I wondered how much longer Hank would want to spend time with a child like me.
My question was answered when pebbles started hitting my window again two nights later.
The Sunday morning after I went dancing with Hank, Lillian pulled me aside at the end of the service.
“Blanche, your mother just asked me how our Bible study went last night,” she said softly, so no one else could hear her. “She said you told her you enjoyed it very much.”
I couldn’t meet Lillian’s gaze. I immediately felt ashamed.
“Blanche, you know the problem with all this is that we don’t have Bible study on Saturday nights, right?”
I nodded, my hands feeling numb like they always did when I was anxious.
“Can you tell me why you lied to your parents?”
I shook my head.
“I know it was wrong,” I said quietly. “I’ll never do it again.”
I looked up at Lillian, frightened.
“Are you going to tell my parents?” I asked.
Lillian’s eyebrows were furrowed, and I recognized the maternal concern on her face.
“No, honey, I’m not. I’m going to leave that to you,” she said. “But I am going to let you know you put me in a very difficult position. Luckily your mother and I were interrupted because I was not going to lie for you.”
“I understand and I apologize. I’ll talk to my parents today,” I told her, but I knew I was lying. I had no intention of telling my parents anything about why I lied or about Hank.
“I’m glad that’s settled,” Lillian said with a smile. “I am sure you feel you had a good reason for what you did but remember, God has commanded us to honor our father and mother.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said.
“And also know that we have a women’s Bible study every Wednesday and we would love to see you there this Wednesday,” Lillian said.
Somehow, I felt the invitation was more of a directive rather than a kind outreach for womanly fellowship; maybe in exchange for not telling my parents I had lied to them.
Lillian’s expression was somber.
“Don’t forget, Blanche. The Bible tells us that our sin will find us out. I don’t say that to scare you but to remind you that God does not ask us not to sin because he wants to punish us, but because he wants the best – His best – for us.”
My chest felt tight and the numbness in my hands was spreading to my arms.
“Yes, Miss Lillian I understand.”
She hugged me.
“I know you do, and I know you are going to do the right thing.”
I didn’t know how to do the right thing without giving up Hank.
Lillian wasn’t the only one who knew I’d been lying about the Bible study.
“Jeffrey Franklin told me he saw you at the Mountain House with Hank,” Edith smirked, resting her elbows on the bed as she leaned back.
I wanted to slap the smirk off her face.
I tightened my jaw.
“Are you going to tell Mama and Daddy?” I asked.
Edith’s legs were crossed, and her foot was bouncing again. I hated that bouncing foot and the smug look on her face. She shrugged.
“I dunno,” she said. “Maybe.”
I turned away from her to face my desk and snatched up my journal.
“Do whatever,” I snapped, but hoped she wouldn’t.
Edith threw her head back and cackled – it’s the only way to describe the noise that came out of her.
“Little Blanche out partying with a bad boy,” she said. “What would Daddy think of his little bookworm running around with – not a boy – but a man like Hank Hakes?”
I scribbled in my journal, pretending to ignore her taunts.
“Whatcha writing in there? ‘Tonight, Hank kissed me. It made me weak in my knees!’?”
She laughed and I reached towards the bed, grabbing a pillow and roughly tossing it at her face.
She giggled, falling back as it hit her.
“Oh, Blanche, calm down. I’m not telling Mama and Daddy anything. As long as you tell me all about your night out . . .”
“It was just some dancing.”
“Not well, but yes.”
Edith smiled, startling me as she suddenly stood to give me a hug.
“I’m so proud of my little sister,” she said. “She’s finally having some fun.”