The Smell Of The Grass

Shelia Loomis threw an end of summer party before her friends and classmates left for college and other whereabouts unknown.

Best friends Alexandra Calhoun and Terri Gabriel were happy to partake in the festivities, already feeling the melancholy finality of their closing summer days. There were about thirty attendees at Shelia's party and Terri, already fairly lubricated from her drinking, was surprised to see Vance Patenaude among those gathered.

She drifted across the room and gave him a grin. "What the hell are you doing here, Choirboy?"

"Was this an invitation only party?" Vance asked in mock horror.

They had once been good friends and classmates at St. Anne's Catholic School but Terri transferred to Hillsboro High for junior year and she hadn't seen much of Vance since her defection, mostly because she had burned that bridge of friendship upon her departure.

Terri gave him an amused look. "I'm leaving for college the day after tomorrow," she announced.

"Me too," Vance informed her.

"Syracuse," she proudly bragged.

"Salve Regina."

"Once a Catholic always a Catholic, huh?" A bemused Terri asked. "Goodie-Goodie to the end."

"You're still riding me about that stuff?" Vance complained.

"You're a good guy for a Choirboy," Terri let him know.

"Altar boy," he corrected her. "Altar Server, actually."

"Whatever."

He took her by the arm and led her to a couch in the corner of the room, almost pushing her onto it before sitting next to her on the springy cushions. "I was hoping you'd let go of the bullcrap," he said with annoyance.

"You're the one with the bullcrap," she said, clearly offended. "Choirboy."

"Why were you so willing to ruin our friendship over religion?" He asked, confused.

She shook her head sadly. "I would have dated you if you hadn't come across as so squeaky-clean, virginal, square and boring," Terri complained.

"I thought we were friends," he sighed.

"You were a wonderfully nice guy but you love Jesus not me."

"You're the one who started questioning your Faith," he pointed out.

"And you made me feel unworthy because you never questioned yours," She pouted.

"That shouldn't have mattered," he protested.

"It did to me," she shrugged.

"You're the one who fell for Roscoe," he said with hurt.

"He doesn't love Jesus," Terri said smugly.

"How did things go for you at Hillsboro?" Vance asked as Terri sipped her beer from the large plastic cup she was holding.

"Fine," she said.

She felt Vance studying her.

"Really," she said, glancing at him. "I'm not lying. I had a good time at a normal high school 'cause I could act like a completely normal American teenager."

"We weren't normal at St. Anne's?" Vance asked, sipping on his soda.

"A bit too normal for me," Terri said, rolling her eyes. "Plus, I didn't have to worry about AP Calculus, Probability and Statistics, Latin, Physics, Economics and Politics, and Theology at Hillsboro."

"What did you take?" Vance frowned.

"Normal stuff," Terri shrugged. "Honors English. History. Economics. Government."

"Weren't you bored?" Vance asked.

"A little," she confessed. "Hillsboro was kind of easy compared to St. Anne's but at least there weren't all the rules and prayers and crucifixes and statutes and dress codes and all that silly stuff."

"Why did you lose your Faith?" Vance wondered. "Did something happen?"

"Do you mean did I get molested by a priest or nun or something?" Terri asked with an amused grin. "Of course not. I just stopped believing in all the bread and wine stuff," she said. "I still believe in God. I just don't believe in Religion." She threw him a look. "But don't worry, Choirboy. All those hours of singing hymns and reading the Bible gave me a set of morals. I'm still nice people. I don't shoplift. I don't smoke or do drugs."

"You drink," Vance said, gesturing to her beer cup.

"Nobody's perfect," she grinned. "Look," she said more seriously. "I started noticing shades of grey in the black and white Religious world and that made me disillusioned."

"Maybe it had more to do with hormones," Vance accused.

Terri burst out laughing. "Oh, it definitely had something to do with that!" She gave him a somber look. "You weren't expecting me to become a Nun or something, were you?" She asked suspiciously.

"No," Vance said with some embarrassment. "But I didn't expect you to bail out either."

"Aren't you conflicted?" Terri wondered. "About abortion, birth control, homosexuality, and other Church policies?"

"I try not to mix my Faith with Politics," Vance said.

"How can you not?" Terri asked. "I'm mortified that I'm supposed to turn against somebody because they're gay or different. How could a loving God expect me to ignore my personal values for the Church's? I'm disgusted by such bigotry and hate and I can't believe the number of people who say they are Christian who ignore basic decency."

"Maybe you're overthinking some of this stuff," Vance offered.

"Having Faith is mostly about being a good person and having some redeeming values," Terri argued. "With my growing doubts I just didn't feel comfortable at St. Anne's anymore. I think I'm still a good person though."

"I missed you," Vance let her know.

"Really?" She asked with surprised amusement. "Even after all the shit I gave you about being a Choirboy?"

"Well, I didn't miss that," Vance admitted with a groan. "But I missed your smile. And your humor. And you pushing the rules."

"You just wanted to see me get busted," Terri laughed. "So you could be all holier than thou!"

"I miss the bus rides of our youth," Vance sighed. "The highlight of my day was sitting on the bus with you."

"I miss them too, Choirboy," Terri said with sincerity. "But we've grown up, haven't we?"

"I guess," he nodded with sadness.

"You're a good guy, Van," Terri assured him. "I'm glad we were friends."

"Terri!" It was Alex yelling from across the room. "Come here! Tell Sanders about the summer."

"Coming!" Terri yelled, before returning her attention to Vance. "It was good to see you, Choirboy. Good luck at college. I've got to go get drunk and demented with my friends."

"The only reason I came here tonight was because I was hoping to bump into you," he confessed.

"You could have just come over to the house," She laughed as she stood.

"I wasn't sure if I was welcomed," he said.

"You'll always be welcomed, Sweet Choirboy," Terri said, leaning over and kissing him on the cheek. "You're the best."

Vance watched her cross the room in her skin-tight jeans and rosy halter top, almost falling over drunkenly walking on her high heeled shoes.

"Goodbye, Terri," he whispered to himself.