Monday, January 24, 2011

Chapter Thirty-Three

I made it!! I didn't get a chance to write all day today--busy with family business and letting people know about a amazingly cool event I get to participate in this weekend at Changing Hands, the most wonderful bookstore in the Valley of the Sun.

If you're in the area, I'd encourage you to try to come. On Saturday, January 28th, starting at 4 PM and going until the last game is played and the final book signed, Changing Hands is hosting YAllapalooza 2011. They've got a great line-up of authors from Arizona and Utah. It's going to be great. Here's the list from their webiste:

Attending authors include Lisa Mangum, Bree Despain, Karen Hoover, Cameron Stracher, Jessica Day George, Obert Skye, Janette Rallison, James Owen, Angela Morrison, Tom Leveen, Jon Lewis, Adam Rex, Laurie Brooks, Lisa McMann, and Kofi O. Okyere.

Find out more on the website at .

Anyway, I thought about waiting until tomorrow to write this, but I now I would have tossed and turned all night and gotten up cranky, so I sat down and got to work.

I didn't proof this at all, so forgive all the typos! It was a tricky scene to write. Transitions are tough. Do you think this works? I don't think I've got the rhythm of the last few lines right yet. I'll work on them. I promise.


Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  07/26
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            “So, Brother Walden, would you like to seta date for your baptism?” Elder Kitchen is from northern Arizona. He was stoked when I told him I’m from Phoenix. “My I don’t know how many great grandparents pioneered in Mesa.” They went south from Salt Lake when Leesie’s dad’s ancestors went north to Idaho. Elder Kitchen punched my arm and said, “Coll. I come all the way to Grand Cayman to teach a bro from Phoenix.” He grew up in Snowflake—tiny place, mostly Mormons, up on the UT/AZ border. They have winter there. Not sure why you’d want to live in Arizona where there’ winter, but Elder Kitchen loves it—misses the place like crazy.
            I look from him to his companion, Elder Quincy from Ohio, to Leesie. She’s holding her breath, turning blue at the edges.
            “Breathe, babe.” I reach for her hand. “You think I’m ready?”
            Elder Quincy, who has only been a member for a couple years—and one of those was spent on his mission, rolls his eyes. “Dude, you’re a lot more ready than I was.” His family cut him off when he got baptized, but his ward (ie. Mormon congregation) back in Ohio is paying for his mission.
            Leesie sets our hands on her knee and places her left hand on top. Her ring catches the sun that streams in behind us. “The question is—do you think you’re ready?”
            After the fourth of July holidayers left, business really slacked off out at East End. It’s not as dead as it will be in August when hurricane season starts to heat up, but I’ve only been working one dive day—sometimes not even that. Gabriel can instruct, too. He’s been taking all the students—training Alex. They want to buy a place, maybe over on Cayman Brac, and go into business together.
            I’m the only guy the elders are teaching. They’d much rather teaching me and eat free fish than pound on doors ortry to talk to people on buses or the streets. Beach missionary work is against the rules.  So we’ve spent hours every day this month, except Mondays when they get a day to do laundry, write emails home, and play basketball and on their community service days, running the fans full blast on Aunty Jaz’s back porch trying not to melt without A/C and talking about Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father and what He’s got planned for me.
            I close my eyes and look inside. Am I ready? Can I ever be ready? My eyes drift open. “I’m not done reading the Book of Mormon.”
            Leesie pats my hand. “You’re close.”
            Elder Kitchen leans forward with his hands clasped, his eyes serious. “Have you prayed about it?”
            I nod.
            Elder Quincy mirrors Kitchen’s pose and speaks with a solemn voice. “And you know it’s true.”
            I swallow and look at Leesie. Her eyes are on my face. I whisper, “Yes. I do.” Those three words bring a powerful surge of warmth, a feeling I’ve come to crave.
            A grin grows on both elders’ faces. Elder Kitchen sits up. “Then let’s set a date. When are you leaving?”
            Leesie and I are lost in each other. Elder K’s questions doesn’t register. Happiness makes Leesie glow. Joyful. That’s what she is. I know it sounds corny, but that fills me up, too.
            Elder Quincy clears his throat. “Are we in the way here?”
            Leesie gets pink and turns to them. “We’re leaving the tenth of August.”
            It was going to be sooner, but Gabriel and Alex are going to Cayman Brac t o look at a dive operation that might be up for sale soon and convinced us to go along. Gabriel and I are staying with a friend of his who works on the Brac. The resort is comping Alex and Leesie a room. Leesie made Alex promise Gabriel would not be allowed in that room before she agreed to go.
            Leesie’s parents were disappointed at the delay, but they were cool about it. Her dad has been cool about everything.
            I put my right hand on tops of Leesie’s to complete the stack on her knee. “Do you think Leesie’s dad could baptize me?”
            Leesie leans her head onto my shoulder. “He’d love, too. Call him.”
            Elder Quincy’s face falls. “Oh, man. We wanted to dunk you.”
            Elder Kitchen elbows him. “It’s okay, Elder. We’ll survive.”
            I realize what they’re saying. If I wait until we go home, these guys who I’ve come to love like brothers, can’t be there. “I could fly them all here. Leesie’s family and Gram. I want her to be here—to feel this.” I put my hand on my heart.
            Leesie lifts her head. “It’s getting close to harvest.” Her voice wobbles. “Dad can’t leave the farm.” I can tell she’s thinking that he’ll be doing it alone this year. No Phil to help. She turns to me. “I’d like to drive truck fro him while we’re there.”
            “Whatever you want, babe.”
            Edler Quincy stands up and puts his hands on his hips. “You cal him then and set the date. We’re not leaving until you do.”
            Elder Kitchen stands, too. “We want a wedding invitation, okay?”
            Leesie releases my left hand, pulls her phone out of her pocket, taps “home” on her favorites. “Hey, mom. Is dad around? Michael wants to ask him something important.” She listens to her mom’s reply and hands me the phone.
            I walk over to the far side of the porch, wait for Leesie’s dad to pick up, keep my back to Leesie and the elders. What am I doing? A voice that’s been gnawing at me for about a week now takes over my brain. I’m not religious. Never have been. Like my parents. We believe in diving. That’s it. How do I know these feelings and thoughts I think are from God are real? Maybe it’s all just crazy Mormon voodoo.
            “Hello? Michael?”
            The sounds of his voice brings me back to my purpose. “Hello, Bro. Hunt.”
            “What did you want to ask me?” He doesn’t happy. There’s strain and sadness in his voice. Grief. How long did I sound like that? I think I still do sometimes. Maybe I always will. He probably thinks I’m calling to ask if I can marry Leesie. Does that make him sadder?
            I close my eyes and rest my forehead against the porch post. “Would you baptize me?” My throat is dry. I croak the words.
            “When Leesie and I are back in August—will you baptize me?”
            His reply shuts that gnawing voice up. “Of course, I will, son. Of course, I will.”


  1. Wow! This just keeps getting better and better. I love that he still has doubts. It makes it more realistic. Can't wait for more. Keep it coming.

  2. OMG i love the last conversation.
    I am crying rite now !

  3. I'm so glad he's asking her dad... poor elders! Michael says her dad sounds sad at first -- does his voice change after Michael's question?