25 August 2009

The Music Starts, Chapter Three

Tim had never been so eager for Monday. Good-hearted but oblivious Elder Hemsworth was nearly tone-deaf and not thrilled with the prospect of sitting around a chapel for a couple of hours on his day off while his companion sang. So Tim arranged for Hemsworth to go with Rayburn's companion that day, while he and Rayburn went to Birmingham together. A neat bit of conniving, Tim thought, especially since it looked like simple efficient planning.

They met at the train station, and it was just like before. The same beaming smiles, the sparkling eyes, the not wanting to let go of the hands. The other two peeled off and went their own way as Tim and Aaron boarded the northbound train. It was crowded so they were a bit squeezed together on the seats. For a brief moment he remembered how strange and confusing this all was, but he couldn't ignore that buzz, that electricity, that seemed to pass between them as they sat, shoulders and arms and sides pressed together as the crowded train rolled on. Never in his life had the mere touch of someone else affected Tim like this. He was elated, intoxicated, almost short of breath.

Worried that Aaron would be able to feel his heart racing, Tim struck up a conversation about events of the past week. Normal missionary stuff. But eventually Tim couldn't hold back; he threw caution to the wind and began to tell Aaron what he was feeling, about the instant recognition and all the rest of it. His journal entry described it later:

"We talked about the impressions of meeting someone for the first time and recognizing them somehow. And amazingly, he said that the very first time he saw me he recognized me from somewhere too, even though we'd never actually met. And that the feelings I had expressed were the same way he felt about me. I sure wish I knew what was the source of this something that binds two souls together so closely so quickly. Why does just sitting next to him make me feel like this? Why did I begin to love him almost from the moment we met? Maybe we were good friends before this life? I don't know. But what a feeling when we shake hands and look straight into each others' eyes and smile. I still feel good all over from that. I can hardly believe my luck that he feels the same thing too."

Tim practically floated from the train station to the mission office. The practice went perfectly; Tim had not sung so well in years. Probably because he was singing to someone in particular. Someone who stood right next to him and didn't leave his side the whole day. Not that Tim would have let him if he'd tried. The train ride back was a blur and the conversation fuzzy in Tim's memory; all he could remember later was the buzz, the glow, basking in the silly happiness of Aaron next to him, and Aaron's smile when they looked at each other.

That week Tim decided he wasn't paying enough attention to the districts in his zone. They needed more of a hands-on approach. One district in particular, where Tim's visits became more and more frequent. And it was time for some zone activities and outings too, a chance for all his missionaries to meet for something other than work. One Monday he organized a zone-wide outing to Lichfield Cathedral, so he and Aaron could spend the entire day together. More glow, more basking, more smiles, more arms around shoulders. Tim loved big cathedrals, and having Aaron beside him as they walked through that magnificent church was almost sensory overload.

Though he didn't presume to flat-out ask the mission president, Tim began to pray that he and Aaron would be assigned together. One night in his journal he wrote "If I could go back to Leicester [his favorite area] with Aaron as my companion, I would die completely happy." But it didn't happen. You weren't normally made a zone leader after being out only a month or two. So Tim and Aaron contented themselves with phonecalls, visits, companionship swaps and meeting up on Mondays whenever they could. Neither one ever thought of doing anything that would even flex, let alone break any mission rule. But talking and simply spending time together was not off limits, and they savored every precious golden moment. The delight never faded, the sparks never failed. Every day, every moment together was brighter, clearer. Aaron and Tim were two puppies playing, two stars swirling round each other as they raced together through space. Tim had never felt so happy in his life and he prayed it would never end.

Then suddenly, it was the last week. Tim's time had run out. His parents would soon be arriving to take him away from Aaron and the country he had grown to love as his own. One Monday left. Tim knew he had to make it count. So he picked up the phone.


Ned said...

I'm betting that after the 2078 revelation, this piece will be serialized in the Ensign.

Beck said...

Just getting caught up with this story. You have no idea how close to home this hits...

Ezra said...

I think that this is a fantastic story, but it serves only to prove to me how confused and broken I must be. I've never met anyone who makes me feel this way. At least not with any sustainment.

Something is terribly unfair about not being able to love.

El Genio said...

I'm starting to wonder how much of this story is autobiographical.

As a funny aside, I actually re-arranged my picture on the assignment board one morning as a joke. I was shocked when the president asked me if I would like to serve with elder x, and quickly stated that I really just wanted to serve wherever the Lord wanted me. That answer wasn't good enough for my president, so he pressed me until I admitted that I would like to serve with said elder. I was shocked when transfers rolled around and that joke became reality.