Rules

“I don’t know,” she said, “It’s like driving circles in an empty parking garage.”

With that I frowned and looked the other way.

“So is this the college you’re going to?” I asked, pointing to a slick looking folder that was lying on top of a stack of papers. The name of the college blazed across the front, just above a picture of a metaphor that was trying way too hard. Tracy just nodded. I leaned over, picked up the folder and leafed through the contents, noticing that she had filled out the full application–except for one part.


“I don’t know,” she said, “It’s like driving circles in an empty parking garage.”

With that I frowned and looked the other way.

“So is this the college you’re going to?” I asked, pointing to a slick looking folder that was lying on top of a stack of papers. The name of the college blazed across the front, just above a picture of a metaphor that was trying way too hard. Tracy just nodded. I leaned over, picked up the folder and leafed through the contents, noticing that she had filled out the full application–except for one part.

“How come you didn’t fill this out?” I asked, pointing to one of the sheets. She rolled her eyes when she saw the form I was holding.

“I wasn’t sure if I was ready to sign my name to that yet,” she answered. Looking up and down the form I realized why.

“What is this, some kind of code of living?” I asked, sitting up.

“Basically.”

“You mean to they tell you what you can and can’t do? That’s nuts.” I knew she was getting herself in over her head.

“Damon, it’s not as bad as you think. I told you I wanted to go to a Christian school, and they expect certain things of you–”

“Certain things?! They won’t let you drink, Tracy. You can’t smoke. Damn, it sounds like they want to approve the movies you watch, too. You know what this sounds like don’t you?”

“Dammit Damon, why do you have to start this?”

“Facism. Hitler did the same thing.”

“Yeah, but the Jews didn’t sign their names to be executed. This is different, Damon. They assume that if you’re going to their school you’re a Christian, and they expect Christians to act a certain way. Don’t you think it’d ruffle a few feathers if a few students didn’t act that way? C’mon, Damon, it’s not the end of the world. And it’s not like I’m asking you to go.”

I hate it when she looks at me like that. It usually means I’m getting carried away but something stupid.

“Well, if that’s what you want to do.” I managed. It was a little weak. She noticed and sighed.

“C’mon, Tracy, I admit it’s not as bad as I make it out to be, but don’t you agree it’s a little constricting?”

She looked to the carpet. I had her on this one.

“Yeah, it is. But maybe that’s good for me.” Good for you?

“Do they actually enforce this stuff?” I asked, trying to sound a little less confrontational.

“Yeah, they haul you into the office for a caning and then take you out to the courtyard for a public flogging,” she said with a smile. “Seriously, I talked to the girl I stayed with when I visited and she told me they handle it pretty civil. If you break a rule and get caught they sit you down and have a chat.”

“Oh, that sounds like fun.”

Ignoring me, she continued, “It’s kind of like counseling. There’s a pretty good reason why you shouldn’t be doing most of the stuff on there and they want to help you through it.”

“Why shouldn’t you have a beer?” I asked.

“I’m not 21, Damon.”

“That never stopped you before.”

“I know,” she said quietly. I could tell now wasn’t the time to keep score.

“Damon, this is something I want to do. A few legalistic rules aren’t going to keep me from that.” Her blue eyes were looking deep into mine.

“Are you planning on following the rules?” I asked. Again, her eyes fell. She simply nodded. She must be more serious about this than I thought.

“Some things need to change, Damon,” she said after a moment of quiet. It was my turn to nod.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t love you,” she said with those blue eyes. I know.

“It’s okay, Tracy. If you want to follow a few rules, it’s okay, really,” I said, trying to be as supportive as I could. There was another long moment of quiet. I pulled her towards me and leaned back on the bed, resting her head on my chest and running my hands through her hair.

“Tracy?” I asked after a few minutes.

“Yeah,” she answered, turning to look up at me.

“Does this mean…” I trailed off, not wanting to say it out loud.

“Yeah,” she answered, knowing where I was going. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t.

“I wish I could explain it to you. I wish I could put it into words…” she started, but I shook my head.

“You already have.” I said. Her blues eyes looked up at mine, and then she buried her face in my chest and I could feel her arms snaking behind me to hug me. I just stared across the room and wondered what I was getting myself into.

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