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A Girl Named Mister
By Nikki Grimes
Zondervan Copyright © 2010 Nikki Grimes
All right reserved.
Chapter One Mary: When Gabriel Comes I. A bright light turns the night of my chamber into day and pries my eyes open. What do I see? A being lit from within, a giant whose voice is quiet thunder. "Fear not," he says, too late. I quake, rubbing my eyes anxious to wake from this dream. "I am Gabriel," says the voice, more soothing now. "I bring a message from God." Trembling, I rise ready to listen. Still, what am I to make of his amazing words? That I, a virgin, am to be mother of Messiah? II. All things are possible with God. The truth of it falls on me like rain. I slowly drink it in, then lift my arms, surrendered. "I am yours, Lord. Do with me as you will." He wraps his light around me. I am never the same again. Mister: First Touch How did it happen? I told myself it's only touching. I told myself my clothes are still on. But who was I kidding? Even through my rayon-cotton blend his touch burned the world away.
Cave quicquam incipias quod paeniteat postea.
"Be careful about starting something you may regret." -Syrus, Maxims
A Girl Named Mister Blame it on my mother. She's the one who named me Mary Rudine. The name is some throwback her old-fashioned thinking came up with. Nobody but Mom has called me Mary Rudine since forever. First it was Mary, then it was M.R. Mister is all anybody calls me now. My boyfriend used to think it was cute, a girl named Mister. Used to think I was cute. Used to be my boyfriend what feels like a million years ago. Then again, I used to be a good Christian girl, the kind who would never, well ... Just goes to show how little people know. Even I was surprised by me. Now, I close my eyes hoping to see exactly where I went wrong. When It Was Good Was it that long ago? I remember one morning sitting in church, keeping my eyes on Dante, the cutest boy in the band. Mom caught me. "Quit eyeing that guitarist like candy," she whispered. I laughed easy. In those days, Mom and me, we could talk about anything.
Temple of My Redeemer A second home, as familiar as skin. Crammed inside its walls memories of Sunday school, all-church picnics, and vacation Bible school Sword drills. My youth group meets there, and choir, of course. Even my old Girl Scout troop once hung out on holy ground, meeting in the church basement. I could always count on the deacons to take dozens of cookies off my hands. I'm just saying, God's house was cozy territory, no question. Until this last year. Don't ask me why, but something in me started pulling away. Choir For as long as I can remember, I have loved to sing in the choir. "Sing, Mister" folks call out as my voice does a high-wire reaching for heaven's hem. I don't know what my friend Sethany concentrates on, but whenever she sings about the Lord her face gets this inside-out glow. That's all I know. Something's Missing Ankle deep, my faith a thing I wade into now and then. Not like Sethany. She's mid-sea and thinks I'm right behind her.
For Me I'm not sure when it happened, but one Sunday I woke up and for me, church was mostly about hanging out with friends at God's house. And for the longest time, that seemed to be enough. After worship, Mom would flash me a smile that said "Good girl!" as Seth and I trotted off to youth group. Restless I turned the music of the world way up, my feet itching to dance to a new rhythm, something other than gospel. Sophomore Shuffle Mom calls volleyball my new religion just 'cause I practice every day. How else will I get better? Let her razz me all she wants. I figure since I was good enough to make the team, maybe volleyball can help pay my way to college. It could happen. You know what they say about miracles. Then Came Trey It was a Tuesday. It was almost cliché. He raced round a corner, rushing to class, and smashed into me. My books went flying and so did my temper. Thanks to this bonehead I was going to be late, which put me in no mood for his apology, and I was all ready to cut him down to size with my eyes, until I caught his. Those long lashes got me, the way they softened the hardscape of his face. One look, and they softened me too. "Are you okay?" asked Trey. I said something, I think, or maybe I just nodded, or smiled. It's not my fault I can't remember. Blame it on those stupid lashes. Outsider I asked around, found out Trey is one of those guys who hangs out on the fringes of our group. He doesn't go to church but seems to like Christian kids, so I figure he probably believes in God. That's one point in his favor.
Just Friends I never thought he was perfect. I won't tell myself that lie. But he was fine, had a twinkle in his eye with my name on it. And when he smiled I fell into him headfirst, got lost in his laughter. I saw no danger. After all, we were just friends. Trey's Girl I remember the first time he claimed me. We were at a party with a bunch of kids from school just after Thanksgiving. I'd gone with Sethany. Trey had shown up on his own, like always. Seth and I were chatting away when some guy from a school 'cross town came up to me for a dance. Before I had a chance to speak, Trey threw me a look, then got all in this guy's face, smiling though and saying nice as anything, "Excuse me, but this is my girl." Dylan Thomas Trey found me in the library, surprised me with a kiss on the back of my neck. The heat of it ran up and down my spine and I'm thinking, Dylan who? "See you later," Trey whispers. distracting me a little more for good measure. So, of course, I had to go back to the top of the page and start reading "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night" all over again. Into Him I can't usually stand know-it-all b-ball players, but I liked the way Trey committed to steering clear of drugs, and how he talked about keeping his body pure- something we had in common, even though I know it doesn't mean the same for him and me. Maybe, one day it will. Date Trey said he'd be happy to hang out with me wherever, so I invite him to video night at church. Soon as the lights wink out in the rec room and Princess Bride blinks onto the screen (never mind that we've all seen it a gazillion times!), Trey whispers in my ear that he wants me all to himself. No more of these group dates on video night, or lame trips (his words) to the local skating rink for spins around the ice and cups of hot chocolate. "Why can't we, you know, go on a real date, just you and me?" Yeah, why not? I start thinking. Why not? Don't Remind Me "Careful," Seth warned me. "I see the way you look at Trey, the way he looks at you. Remember, we both promised God we'd wait." "We're not doing anything," I told her. We're not doing anything, I told myself. Still, I couldn't help but notice how the purity band on my ring finger seemed loose lately. Like any day now, it might just slip off. Just Us Alone at his house, his parents I don't know where, we sit on the sofa, the TV watching the heat rising between us. I tingle all over as Trey closes the distance. It's okay, I tell myself. I won't let it go too far. But before I know it, his hand is rubbing my inner thigh, racing toward my waist, reaching underneath my- What am I doing? "Stop!" I tell him using what little breath I have left, too trapped in my own frustration to worry about his. Exposure I switch on the TV, see this boy and girl plastered against the wall of some fictional school, kissing their brains out, then sneaking inside the boys' room. Together. I shudder, slightly disgusted, and turn away. Still, I start to wonder if all the other kids are right. Am I Miss Priss? Am I making too big a deal about waiting? The "L" Word "You're so beautiful," says Trey, his hands busy with my buttons. I finger the cross round my neck. A voice inside me chides Remember: You're saving yourself for true love. Trey must've heard. How else to explain him suddenly cupping my face in his hands and whispering, "You're killing me, girl. You know I'm falling in love with you." MTV Nelly's "Body on Me" filters through the window. I close my eyes, wait for the music to end, but I still can't sleep. The beat of my thoughts a rhythm I can't get out of my head. I just want you. I just want to be your addiction- lines from a song stirring in me and the CD isn't even on. Losing Ground Like a summer shower falling in silver sheets thick as curtains, love rains down on me. Love and love and love and Trey are all I see. In the Name of Love I can't explain it. I think Trey and feel as if I've swallowed warm honey and a spoonful of sun. I'm not that pretty, still I'm the one he wants. Don't ask me why. I only know it makes me happy. And isn't that what love is? And isn't love what God is? So how can wanting more of this be wrong? Amnesia Trey strokes my bare shoulder and I shudder as once-familiar words burst like fireworks in my brain. Something Pastor said about temptation, and God's help. What was it? I start to push away, to study the words before they fade. "You're sweet as a chocolate Sunday," whispers Trey. I smile, close my eyes, and wait for more. Before I know it, my eyelids are screens flashing the words Your body is a temple of the- "Silk wishes it were as soft as you," Trey interrupts, blowing hotly in my ear. And after that, I swear I don't remember much of anything. Trey's Place Oh, God, oh, God! His hands mapping every inch of me, journeying where they shouldn't be but, ooooh! Lord, I know you'll understand. You made my skin, Trey's hand. I never knew it could feel so- What's he doing? Mmmm. He's tracing my name across my belly, Mister, each letter wet from his tongue. God, I'm sorry but I can't stop, don't want to- Oh God, oh God, Oh God will forgive me, right? Right?
Excerpted from A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes Copyright © 2010 by Nikki Grimes. Excerpted by permission.
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