Chocolate ice cream.
Jeff Bradshaw was in heaven on earth right now. The weather for the past few days had been hot and muggy, and it was only now, being on break from his part-time job at the library, that he'd finally found the time to stop by the ice cream parlour.
"Well worth the wait," he thought out loud to himself, and took a lick from his cone.
"What is?" Kelly Dean sat down beside him on the wooden bench.
"AHH!" Jeff nearly fell onto the sidewalk. "Don't do that!"
"Sorry." Kelly apologized but her eyes danced with laughter. Not that Jeff minded. It was pretty funny, now that he thought about it.
They'd met and become friends when Jeff became a Christian, 4 months ago. Kelly was the daughter of devoutly Christian parents, and had gone to the same church from her conception onwards. Jeff couldn't explain it, but somehow Kelly always seemed to know what to say whenever somebody had a problem. It seemed as though God had given her the gift of wisdom. A gift Jeff couldn't help feeling a tiny bit jealous of, sometimes.
"Ice cream.I think it has to be the perfect dessert. Cool, milky, and sweet." He turned his gaze towards her. "What're you doing out on a hot day like this?"
"I had to take my little brother to swimming class." Kelly flicked a strand of red hair out of her eyes. She leaned back in her seat. "But to be honest, I'm wondering that myself." They both laughed, and talked about homework, TV shows and the upcoming missions trip they were raising money to go on.
It was at that moment that one of Jeff's other friends from school, Fred Price, sat down at a bus stop across the street. Jeff watched as he searched his backpack for a bus ticket, emptied it out, finally found it,refilled the backpack, then turned on his Ipod and closed his eyes.
Jeff didn't really notice that. He was too busy looking at Fred's clothes. A dirty, paint-stained shirt, ragged, ripped-up blue jeans, and running shoes that were full of holes and covered in mud and leaves.
"Would you look at that?" Jeff pointed Fred out to Kelly. "Can you believe he's actually wearing something like that outside of his house? He told me in math class he had a job interview today. Now what kind of an impression is he going to make dressed like that?" Jeff stifled a laugh, but Kelly heard it in his voice.
"I don't think he'd find it very funny." Kelly's face grew very serious.
"Aw, c'mon Kel, what must be going through his head?" Jeff took a bite out of his ice cream. "He's been wearing those same clothes all week, and every day they look even worse. I know he can afford to at least go to a coin laundry."
"So can you."
"What are you talking about?"
Kelly looked down. Jeff followed her gaze to his clean white shirt. Or rather, his formerly clean white shirt. A big splotch of chocolate ice cream now decorated it.
"Ergh!" Jeff moaned, dropping the rest of his ice cream on the sidewalk. "I can't go back to the library looking like this!" He checked his watch. 12:50 pm. "Ack! I've only got 10 minutes to get back to work and my house is half an hour away!" He leaned over, his head in his hands. "Now what?"
Kelly checked her own watch and stood up. "Hey, I've got to go get some milk and bread for my mom. See ya, Jeff." She grabbed her purse and began to walk away, but suddenly stopped and turned around.
"Y'know Jeff...maybe that's how it started. Fred, I mean."
After a few seconds of still silence, she continued on her way. Jeff watched her walk down the street. He looked up, and saw that Fred was gone, too.
12:57. Jeff ambled slowly towards the library, with a damp spot on his shirt and a lump in his throat. And as he walked up the steps, he couldn't help thinking,"She did it again."