Kevin Price found himself standing tall contained with false confidence, a fake smile plastered on his face and a half attempted thumbs up. He was in this middle of scrubbing dishes for the sole reason of busy work when his mission companion showed up to give him “exciting” news. The news? The Ugandans found some dvds and were going to have a movie night using a projector that was meant for religious teachings.
“That sounds pretty neat, why are you telling me?” He asked as he set down a half washed bowl, some bits of food clung to the side. Not unlike the unreasoned fear that happened to cling to Kevin as he felt eyed by Arnold. One look at Kevin you could tell something hit him with a truck. He had dark circles that formed in creases under his sunken eyes. He was noticeably pale and never looked to be fully in reality at any given moment. For any sane person who gave a three second glance he was not even a smidge close to the Kevin Price who showed up to Uganda.
“I want you to come! You can be my plus one!” Arnold chirped back at him like he was giving away a free trip to Orlando. Kevin would never admit this but he felt a stab of guilt fester when that sentence, minus the cheerful tone, was a sentence he had told his friend years ago. The memories already were attacking his attention, blocking out Arnold’s grin and anything bright.
Kevin was 14 and his mom wanted him to take a lonely kid from the church to the upcoming fair. He of course compiled for not wanting to sin, because he had to be a incredible person to be loved by Heavenly Father. So when his mother pushed him gently to start conversation with the chubby kid holding a pair of glasses that he was aggressively trying to clean; the taller boy assumed that they were his since glasses were absent from his face. “This is for Heavenly Father.” Kevin whispered to himself as he gave a wave to catch the attention of the kid, “Oh, Hello!” was started with before bringing up a million dollar proposition, “Arnold, I was wondering if-” all hopes of this conversation being short was obviated when the glasses kid interrupted,
“Hi! Wait let me put on my seeing devices…” He had a loud laugh as he put them on, “Kevin! Wow, what are you doing here? Well this is our church so that makes sense… You were asking a question right?” It took every grain of Kevin’s perfect fiber to not abandoned plan and go for someone more suitable for success.
“Yes, you see how the fair is coming up? I want you to come, you can be my plus one.” he orchestrated that line with as much false friendship he could muster. Kevin was already planning an itinerary for this fun trip, he didn’t even need to wait for the other kid to say yes. In fact he didn’t need to ever cling on edge for an answer, who wouldn’t want to hang out with someone as incredible as himself?
“Wait! Wait! Wait..? You want me,” Arnold pointed at himself as if someone else was supposed to get asked that not himself, which indeed has occurred before, “to go with you,” once again he pointed at the person he was talking about, it was twitching Kevin’s tolerance a tad, “to the fair?” Finally the kid finished so the taller kid could speak,
“Of course! You’re just so… Unique.” Kevin mustered out of himself, the bad attempt at a compliment burned on his tongue like fire, “Who wouldn’t want to go with someone like you?” That question was meant to be rhetorical but atlas Arnold’s excitement had blinded him to a figure of speech,
“Well a lot of people actually… This one time I even asked you if you wanted to watch Star Wars movies with me and your friends laughed, it’s okay though!” Kevin felt himself tense up, he didn’t even remember that. His mother would be so ashamed if he failed her like this,
“That was then, I don’t have interested in those things so I had to turn you down. However, I’m free tonight and wanting a.. Fantastic person to come with me.” Kevin knew he was lying but he had to do this for Heavenly Father to like him. Thankfully to the sanity of himself the depressing story ended there and Arnold was more than happy to accompany a person as substantial, savvy, endearing, and other compliments that described Kevin to the fair.
The night wasn’t dazzling, but it didn’t end in flames so it was a success for the self titled hero which happened to be Kevin Price. Sure the aftermath included a week of Arnold asking when they could hang out next, but he learned to stop after a few 50 attempts.
Kevin was tossed back into reality when Arnold was saying his name, well not his name more like his title, “Elder Price? Friend? You with me?” the tone was soft and reassuring so Kevin instinctively nodded along as he took a second to readdress his current location. He was in the hut, he was 19, he was being talked to, the movie!
“Sure I’ll see the movie with you, sorry just kind of blanked out. Weird right?” The taller Mormon’s attempts at matching the others tone must of worked since the subject was immediately forgotten about and Arnold cheered before rushing off. The now left alone Kevin leaned back and sighed. Suddenly a loud clang of a dish falling into the sink reminded himself to be useful and finish up the mindless chore before struggling to grasp going out.
“You’ve got this.” He reasoned with himself in the mirror, as he was on the task of fixing his hair enough to be seen. His opinion of himself dropped immensely after all he’s been through. He really tried to get better, no one would know what happened with the general. They all gave him forgiveness and a chance at redemption but he couldn’t manage to grasp his hands around it; it was just out of reach and him trying to leap once more to hold it only left him with shaking as he excused himself to leave the room. It was so frustrating, he was supposed to be perfect, why can’t he do this? Why can’t he bother to talk to the elders? He’s always “out helping the villagers” a lame facade covering him huddling in the depths of his shared room. When was the last time he slept? When was the last time… He needed to stop this, he’s been perfect for 19 years. He can go back for not even a day. It’ll be all okay, he just needed to do this.
After a big breath of air without a shakiness to its tone he stepped outside the bathroom door, here he was, ready to face the easiest problem ever, but somehow it was dragging him down. He couldn’t think like that in the slightest, he was perfect. “I’m perfect. I’m perfect.” He repeated his mini mantra as he walked through the mission hut heading to the room where the projector was located. The door was in sight and every step brought himself closer and closer to this hope. He stood tall and proud once he stood in front of the door. It was so welcoming as he reached for the doorknob. His hand was hovering to the light. It was going to free him from this trap, he’ll be magically better. He just needed to close his hands around it. He was going to do this small task but it was going to be incredible in the end. A split second before his hand closed he heard a voice behind him, “Elder Price? It’s nice to see you.” Kevin immediately froze up the light was vanishing. He was being tossed back. No! He was so close! He should of grabbed it sooner. As if his feet were on autopilot he turned around slowly to face the familiar voice.
“Hello Elder Mckinley…”