This is an ongoing, ever-evolving piece of fiction. There’s a list of “episodes” at the bottom of the post if you’d like to start at the beginning. Not into fiction? Want to read my personal writing instead? Check out my first book: Becoming Tasoni.
“Alright, Jane. You asked me to come over, and I’m here. You offered me a chai latte, and I drank it. Then you insisted I taste these cookies you baked, and I tasted,” Marina raised an eyebrow. “When, dear Jane, will we get to the point of this little visit?”
Jane scratched at her nail polish. She took a deep breath and brought her knees to her chest on the couch.
“I’m seeing someone.”
Marina froze and turned towards her. “You mean a guy?”
Jane chuckled. “Yes, a guy! Not from the church… Well, anyway… my parents found out.”
“You were keeping him from your family?”
“Yes! You know them! You know how they go off at the smallest thing!” Jane stood and paced the living room of her small apartment. “What I just can’t get is why they don’t want me to be happy!”
Marina laughed. “Uncle Murad doesn’t want his only daughter to be happy?”
Jane looked over at Marina, sitting cross-legged on her couch. Her carefully placed auburn extensions cascaded down to her waist in stark contrast to the boxy grey sweatshirt.
John had told her to get Marina over and hash out the Shane situation once and for all. “She’s your voice of reason,” he’d said.
He was right, of course. Since Marina had moved to their town in the 4th grade, she and Jane had been the best of friends and the strongest allies. They’d grown apart a little in recent years, but… the loyalty remained. And Marina was always the reasonable one.
“Listen,” Marina said when Jane didn’t speak, “Is Shane the guy who’s going to make you happy?”
“I don’t know! How am I supposed to know that if I don’t even give the relationship a chance!”
“How long have you known each other?”
“We’ve known each other a year… We’ve been together a little more than six months.”
“Well, does Shane know about your parents and that whole situation?”
Jane made a face. “Absolutely not! You know how it is–they don’t talk about parents until they’re planning the wedding!”
“They are not us, Jane! Is your family not important to you?”
“My family means everything to me,” she replied quietly.
“The way I see it, Jane, until you explain it all to him, you’re being awfully unfair–to him and to you.”
“What do you mean?”
Marina huffed, “Right now, you are so torn because you are dealing with three different Shanes! There’s Shane A, Shane B, and Shane C. Which one have you got?”
“I’m not following?”
“You go to Shane. You explain it all to him–the family, the faith, the whole shebang! Then you wait for a response.”
“Shane A will say, ‘Jane, I don’t know if I’m ready for marriage yet, but I know that you’re the one. What can I do to make you mine and no one else’s? I love you.’
“Shane B will say, ‘Jane, you’re a wonderful girl. But I don’t know if we’re compatible enough yet. Like, let’s get real… We haven’t even done it yet, and that’s already a little weird. I’m not even sure I believe in marriage. We’re having a really great time though, right? Let’s go for another few months and see what happens.’
“And then there’s Shane C.”
Jane winced. “What will Shane C say?”
“Shane C will say, ‘Oh, is that what you thought was going on? I thought we were just friends with benefits sort of a thing. *Snort* You believe in God? *Snort* You think people should be married before they have sex? What planet are you living on?'”
Jane dropped on the couch laughing, and Marina laughed with her. When Jane’s laughter turned into sobbing, Marina patted her on the back.
“What if that’s what he says?”
“Jane, until you get REAL and HONEST with your Shane, you will never know which he is. And to be totally frank here, Shane A is the only option. Shane B is a Shane who needs a mommy. He doesn’t know his own mind. If you want to be his babysitter for the rest of your life, cool, cool, but God’s not cool with that. What kind of love does Shane B really offer? God Himself said, ‘I wish that you were hot or cold, but because you’re lukewarm, I’ll vomit you out.’ At least Shane C knows himself. You know exactly where you stand with him, and you make that call on firm ground.”
“Shane A sounds like fantasy though, Marina. Isn’t that so naive to think that he’ll say something like that?”
“And isn’t it naive to be in an intimate relationship with a man who doesn’t even know what he thinks about his own life? Or you? Any idiot can see you’re brilliant and beautiful and kind and smart. So Shane B? Probably not the guy you want raising your children.”
“But, Marina–what if I never get married? What if no man ever loves me?”
Marina took a deep breath. She closed her eyes.
“I ask myself that question all the time, Jane. All the time.”
“What’s the answer?”
“The answer is,” Marina’s voice shook a little, “that God loves me. I’ve experienced that love firsthand. It’s overwhelming, and it’s beautiful. There’s no darkness in it… and I don’t want to settle for less.”
Jane looked away. She stared out the window where rain had begun to drizzle. “Now what?”
“Now… pray for courage.”
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