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Anna's Crisis

Young Adult (1319 words)

With Anna, everything is a crisis.

"Pleeeeeease, Jenny, I have to talk to you after school."

"You can't tell me now?" I asked her.

Anna's eyes flickered to the students milling around us. "Not here."

More melodrama. I stopped myself from rolling my eyes. "I already have plans after school."

"Oh." Everything about her drooped--her eyes, her mouth, her shoulders. I felt like I'd kicked a puppy. "Maybe you can call me later." She disappeared into the crowd.

I closed my eyes and banged my head against my locker. I can never win. But no way am I missing out on outlet shopping today.

"I don't understand why you're friends with her." I turned. Brittany stood there with Cheri and Jolene. "Anna's always whining to you about something."

I couldn't argue with that. Anna's intense loneliness had led her to date that slimeball Wesley, which led to their constant arguments, which led to her inferiority complex . . yadda, yadda, yadda. And guess who heard about it all?

"She talks to you so much that we never get to spend time with you," Cheri piped up.

"I'm trying to point her to God--"

"Not even God can solve her problems!" Brittany and Cheri giggled.

Jolene looked peeved. She and I sit with Anna at Youth Group meetings on Wednesday night. "Underneath all her drama, Anna sincerely desires to follow Christ."

Unlike Brittany and Cheri, who drag themselves into Sunday School and forget about their faith the rest of the week. I fought a ripple of guilt. I shouldn't let them put Anna down like that.

Brittany and Cheri stifled their laughter as Anna's older brother Brad walked by. Brad is dishy. He attends Youth Group, but otherwise he's never around when I hang with Anna. I've exchanged all of five words with him. He saw me and gave an impersonal, "Hi."

Brittany followed him with avid eyes and a sly smile. "Maybe I should be friends with Anna."

Cheri chortled and poked her. "Brad may be a hottie, but he thinks his younger sister is a basketcase and avoids her whenever possible."

Hey, that was mean. I should say something . . . But I hesitated too long and lost my chance to defend her.

"Oh, my cousin David will drive us to the outlets." Brittany chatted on about what she'd buy.

Jolene gave me a disappointed look. I remembered the caustic remarks about Anna and felt my heart drop thump-thump-thump to the bottom of my stomach.

A part of me resented how much time Anna demanded from me. But another part realized how much she needed me, and that I might be her only friend.

God would want me to be nice, and not just to her face. I shouldn't let my friends malign her. I should be a true friend--not just flitting in and out of her life whenever I feel like it.

I was acting like a jerk. As if I was more important than anyone else. As if my time was more precious than gold. As if Anna should be grateful I spend time with her.

"Brit, I can't go today."

Did I really say that? I must have, because Brittany and Cheri stared at me like I'd grown another head.

Jolene's eyes gleamed as she broke the shocked silence. "That's okay, Jenny. I have an essay, so I can't go either. You two have fun!"

And with a wave, Jolene pulled me away. "You go talk to Anna."

So I did.

As I walked Anna home after school, her hands shook and her skin had turned a dull white, as if frost-bitten. But she refused to tell me what was wrong until we got to her bedroom.

She couldn't speak at first. She sat on her bed, biting her lip until blood streaked across it. Then she raised huge eyes to me. "Jenny, Wesley wanted to sleep with me."

She spoke so softly, at first I thought I heard her wrong. "You didn't, did you?"

"No. But . . . it was so hard!" And then she burst into tears.

Anna can cry at the drop of a hat, but these tears were different. Her entire body heaved as if trying to sob the guilt and shame out of her.

I was speechless. I've never had a boyfriend or been tempted in this area. I couldn't even imagine what it would be like. So I just put my arms around her and rocked her. Dear God, please help Anna. I don't know what to do, but You do . . .

She quieted, and I grabbed the tissue box. She blew her nose delicately. Some girls get all the luck. Her large, beautiful eyes glistened while her skin glowed like a pearl. When I cry, my nose swells up like a red plum and I look like somebody socked me in both eyes.

She still looked unhappy, but what could I say? I wanted to smack that loser Wesley. "You did the right thing, Anna."

She smiled, looking like one of those ethereal paintings of Mary, the mother of Jesus. "Thanks. I needed to hear that."

We talked for hours. She whined, and cried some more. I did my best to just show her Jesus's love. I really didn't know what to tell her.

Finally I had to leave. "Are you going to be okay?"

"Yeah...I think I'm going to pray a little while."

"That's a good idea." God would know what to say to her. Unlike me. "I'll see you later."

I left her house, hitched my backpack over my shoulder, and started walking home. Going to the outlets seemed so trivial now. Thanks, God, for letting me be here for Anna.

"Hey, Jenny."

I jumped and shrieked. I whirled, backpack swinging.

Brad stood behind me. My heart pounded like it would pop out of my chest, although I couldn’t tell if it was latent fear or his exciting proximity.

"Hi Brad." His hair was tousled, and an old T-shirt hung over his jeans. Languishing sigh. He also had his glasses on. I must be the only girl who thinks glasses can make a guy look cuter.

"You leaving?"

"Yeah. I've got homework."

"I'll walk you home."

"O-okay, thanks." Oh my goodness, did he say what I thought he said?! Okay, here's your chance to WOW him with your conversation.

But isn't it always the case that when you want to say something interesting and witty, your brain farts?

We strolled in silence for a few minutes before he said, "Jen, can I ask you a question?"

"Shoot." I hoped my voice came out sufficiently disinterested.

"Um . . . uh . . ." Wait a minute--he actually looks nervous.

We stopped moving. His eyes dropped to the ground, then back up at me. "I was wondering . . . would you like to go with me to the dance next month?"

My jaw dropped open. I couldn't speak. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't even close my mouth. I think I looked like a dead fish.

Luckily, he kept talking. "You spend a lot of time with Anna, and she's not the easiest friend to have. It says a lot about you. I'd . . . like to get to know you more."

My heart rocketed to my throat. "Really?" I croaked. Oh, brilliant response.

But then he smiled, and all coherent thought drooled out of my head. "Really."

I stood there staring like a goofball. He reached over and took my backpack.

"C'mon, let's get you home."

Dear God . . . please make my vocal chords work . . .

Philippians 2:3-4 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."