A Learning Experience Part 3
Renee ran the dampened rag over the shelf and then sank down on the soft, pink comforter. The queen bed sat in the middle of the guest room, it’s headboard nestled against the right wall. She dug her bare toes into the soft, beige fibers covering the floor. Renee stood and headed for the door, pausing for just a moment to glance back at the room. There was plenty of space for luggage on the window seat. The faint aroma of oranges and vanilla filled the air. The guest room was ready. Mama’s high-school friend was coming to visit for two months. Renee glanced at her Apple Watch. Wow! She would be arriving very soon!
Renee slid the knife through the organic cucumber as she finished preparing vegetables for the large salad. She was excited to see April again. She usually visited every year, but never for as long as two months! Renee crossed the kitchen and placed the large wooden bowl on the table in the dining room. Movement out the window caught her eye, and she moved closer to inspect. A medium-sized, silver SUV rolled to a stop outside the garage. A trim, petite woman in her fifties stepped out of the vehicle. Her dirty blonde curls were swept back into a messy ponytail, the ends playing at the nape of her neck while small wisps graced the sides of her slim face.
“Mama! She’s here!” Renee hurried back to the kitchen to grab tongs for the salad. A light tune sang through the house announcing the presence of an individual outside the front door. Pooh Bear trotting in from the living area, yapping, was at Renee’s heels when she opened the door. April stepped in and Pooh Bear quit barking, instantly sniffing the hems of her jeans. The little pink bundle held snugly in her arms started squirming. Creamy ears poked out from the fuzzy blanket and then a little black nose. The chihuahua’s round eyes looked like marbles in her small head. April leaned over and gently set the dog down on her three delicate legs. Instantly, Roo and Pooh Bear bounded off, playfully tussling.
“It’s so good to see you again!” April wrapped her arms around Renee in a tight embrace.
“It’s good to see you again too!” Renee headed over to the kitchen and began lifting plates down from the cupboard. As she approached the table, she glimpsed out her eye, April pulling the silverware drawer open.
“Oh! You don’t have to help.” Renee started placing the dinnerware around the table.
“Oh, but I’m going to.” April winked. “Besides, you have to tell me all about this guy you’ve been chatting with.” Renee blushed as she grabbed a few glasses from the cupboard.
“Well, he loves horses and dogs. He trains them, actually.” She began setting a glass at each place setting.
“Your mom already told me that much.” April shared a conspiratorial glance with Mama. “What do I not know about him?”
“He likes going for long walks with his dogs.” Renee went on to relate quite a few details about the man.
“Have you exchanged real names yet?” April questioned. Renee shook her head.
“We’re going to tonight.” She placed a napkin under the last fork. “Maybe. It has been about month since we started talking.”
“That’s right, though.” April gave some wise advice. “It’s smart to go slow; especially with online dating.”
“I totally agree.” Mama treaded carefully into the dining room. With oven mitts covering her hands, she carried the steaming pan of en papillote salmon and asparagus and placed it on the metal potholders in the center of the rectangular table.
Following supper, Renee carried a stack of dirty plates to the kitchen. Later tonight, she was hoping to talk with Horsemanship15. She was somewhat nervous too, though. She had to ask him a few hard questions that were necessary for the relationship to continue. How is he going to respond? Using the spray nozzle, she rinsed the leftover food off the plates before placing them in the dishwasher. April walked in, a couple glasses in each hand.
“Ooh, serious face.” April set the glasses in the top wrack of the dishwasher. “What are you thinking about?”
“Just wondering how he’ll respond to some questions tonight.” Renee glanced at April.
“I’m guessing these are serious questions.” Her friend placed a handful of silverware in the dishwasher’s tray.
“Yes. I have to ask him about politics and money.” She removed the wrapping from a dishwasher tab and placed it in the holder.
“That is important. You should try to get to know him as well as possible before dating.” April wiped her hands on a dishtowel. “Now, let’s see what your family is getting up to over there.” She gestured towards the living area. Her brothers and father were perched on the edges of the furniture, many different game boxes covered the coffee table.
“Looks like they’re gearing up for a family game night!” Renee hurriedly pressed the on button on the dishwasher and then followed April to the living area.
“We picked out a lot of games!” Bobby bounced up and down on the loveseat. Her fourteen-year-old brother was full of energy. His teachers had recommended taking a medication, so Mama had taken him to the doctor for evaluation. She had advised putting him on an ADHD medication. Mama decided, though, to try healthier methods, such as essential oils, vitamins, and exercises to help him focus.
Renee sat on the couch in her usual spot. April sat next to her.
“As soon as your mother gets here, we’ll pick a game.” Dad relaxed in his easy chair across from the couch.
“I’m coming!” Mama called from the bedroom. She soon emerged and slid her small frame onto the love seat next to Bobby.
George and Jay lounged on the floor. Once everyone was assembled, Dad began the vote.
“I vote Apples to Apples.” He leaned forwards in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees.
“I vote with Dad.” Bobby sat on his legs, and eager expression spread across his face.
“Well, I vote for Phase 10.” George sat up, spreading his long legs across the floor. The voting continued around the circle. The votes were then tallied.
“The winner is Apples to Apples!” Dad gave a fist pump. George dramatically flopped down on the carpet, rolled his eyes back, and stuck out his tongue.
“Okay, Okay!” Dad laughed, “Crazy boy!” Renee’s eighteen-year-old brother sat back up, laughing. Jay, nineteen years old, grabbed the game box during the silliness and began passing out red cards. Then they drew straws for who went first. Renee drew the short straw. She grabbed a green card from the stack on the coffee table.
“The word is ‘dirty.’” She laid the card face up on the arm of the couch next to her.
“Ooh!” Mama gave a mischievous glance. “I have a good one.”
“So do I.” Bobby pulled one of his cards and handed it to Renee. Once she had gathered all the cards, she shuffled them, and then read them aloud.
“Goats, Pigs, My Room, My Brother, Hiking, and Dirty Dishes.” Renee grinned. “Wow, you guys picked some really good cards!” All three of her brothers groaned halfheartedly.
“Okay, so My Room, and Hiking are out.” Renee grinned again. All three brothers rolled their eyes. “Um… Let’s see…” She drew it out. Everyone sat perched on the edges of their seats.
“I pick… Dirty Dishes!” Renee held up the winning card in her left hand.
“Yay!” Mama stood up and did a little victory dance. Everyone laughed as Renee handed the green card to her mom.
“I should have won with Pigs.” Bobby fake pouted.
“Oh, well. Perhaps next time.” George poked his brother in the knee.
The game continued, everyone taking turns picking green cards, until they all had various numbers of green cards. Mama and April were tied with the most: four cards. Five cards won the game. It was Renee’s turn again to pick a green card.
“The word is ‘silly.’” Renee set the green card down on her leg. Everyone let out a collective groan.
“I have horrible cards for that!” Jay voiced. He shuffled his cards around, trying to pick something. Everyone soon hesitatingly handed in their cards.
“We have…” Renee spread the cards out in front of her, “Chickens, Ducks, Dogs, My Brother…” Everyone burst out laughing. “Okay, we also have, Movies and Popcorn.” She slowly tossed out cards until she came down to only two left, Chickens and Dogs.
“I choose… Chickens.” Renee held up the winning card.
“Yay!” April bounced on the couch next to her. Mama rolled her eyes.
“That was fun!” Bobby started gathering up the cards. “Let’s play again!”
Just at that moment, a phone went off. Mama jumped up at the sound of her ringer. Her phone was in the kitchen and she hurried over to check it.
“Oh, hey!” Mama answered the phone eagerly. Dad stood and went over to her.
“Lucy, who is it?” Dad whispered. Mom held the phone away for a second.
“It’s Andrew!” She whispered back.
“Aha, my namesake son.” He grinned and then grabbed a mug from the cupboard. He gestured to Renee as he placed a hazelnut coffee k-cup in the Keurig. Renee rose and ambled over. She leaned her elbows on the marble island.
“Should we make some dessert to cap off Friday night?” Dad’s eyes twinkled.
“Oh, yeah!” She kept her voice low to not bother Mama’s conversation. “I’ll go ask the others.” She pushed off the island and moved quickly back to the living area. Jay and George were laying on the carpet, while the two chihuahuas snuggled with April, and Bobby was perched on the edge of the loveseat egging on his brothers.
“Who wants dessert?” She inquired. All hands went up. Renee laughed. “Okay, give me ideas.”
“Brownies!” Bobby bounced up and down on the loveseat.
“Chocolate chip cookies.” Jay sat up from laying on the floor. “I beat him arm wrestling.” He poked George in the shoulder.
“Barely!” George countered. He returned his attention to Renee. “Um… everything?” Mischief twinkled in his blue eyes. Everyone laughed.
“Okay, Brownies it is!” The blonde young woman returned to the kitchen.
Renee pulled the gluten-free flour from the top shelf. She measured the amount the recipe called for and sifted it into the batter, along with the rest of the dry ingredients. She wiped her hands on her apron and then grabbed a nine-inch by thirteen-inch glass baking dish from the cupboard and greased it. Renee loved baking. She had taken some culinary classes when she attended college, as well as some piano lessons and music classes, though her major had been in the Christian ministries, for women. The major for women did not include pastoral classes. Women pastors were against scripture. She set the timer on her phone and joined April on the couch.
The rich aroma of dark chocolate wafted through the air. Renee, using potholders, pulled the brownies from the oven and placed the pan on a cooling rack on the counter. Pulled by the irresistible deliciousness, Mama and Dad hurried out of their bedroom.
“Who’s getting out the organic ice cream?” Dad called as he strode through the living area.
“I will!” Bobby jumped up from the loveseat and scurried to the freezer. He came galloping back and plunked the French Vanilla on the counter next to the brownies.
“Well, that will have to soften some.” Mama’s eyes glinted conspiratorially. “So… lets play another game!”
Renee savored the last forkful of warm, gooey chocolate and smooth, cold ice cream. She loved Friday nights. Of course, they didn’t eat desserts every Friday night, but they always did something fun. She stretched and Pooh Bear jumped next to her, his eyes gleaming expectantly, tail wagging.
“You’re right, bud, it’s almost time for the movie, so that means blanket time!” Renee pulled the soft fleece blanket off the back of the couch and spread it across her legs. The chihuahua snuggled underneath the softness, just his nose peeking out, resting on the edge of the couch.
“Looks like everyone is ready.” Dad walked into the room. Everyone else was spread across the room. He quickly put the Christian movie in the player and switched off the light.
Later that night, Renee pulled up Christian Courtship on her laptop. She had a message from Horsemanship15. How was your day? Her lips curled into a gentle smile as she replied. It was good. She went on to give in detail her whole day’s experience. Then she started with the hard questions.
So, what is your opinion on abortion? She dove in deep. His reply came quickly. I’m totally against it. Renee grinned. Yes. She asked a second question. What do you believe about dating? A long moment passed. Was he going to answer the question? She a waited a few more moments. The little bubble began at the bottom of the screen. Soon his answer appeared. It is not for anyone who is not ready for marriage as it is not to be entered without that possible end goal in mind. Another yes! She started typing her last question. What is your opinion about debt and money? She tapped her fingers on her bed while she waited for his answer. Soon it appeared. He agreed with her again! They continued chatting about money and dating and politics for a little. Then the conversation steered towards real names and phone numbers. They were ready. Renee felt safe. They exchanged information and she entered it into her phone. She closed her laptop and typed a text to him. I’m enjoying getting to know you, David. She smiled to herself again. And I you, Renee. She plugged in her phone and switched her lamp off. Snuggling under the covers, she closed her eyes. I really hope this works out, she thought as she drifted off.
© 2020 Tori Leumas