Aaron nodded from his bench on his side of the path. “Looks like you survived Halloween and the couple’s costume conundrum relatively unscathed.”
Holly’s big, beautiful eyes lit up in surprise. “Why did you say relatively? Do I look scathed in some way?”
She gave herself a panicked once over while her best friend chuckled and took a sip of his Snapple.
“I’m just messing with you,” he assured her once he had derived enough pleasure from her confusion. “Did you have a nice Halloween?”
“I did,” she replied. “I broke up with the Man of the Moment during the week, so I didn’t have to worry about that stupid couple’s costume yesterday.”
He held up his bottle in salute, and she raised her coffee cup in response.
“Happy All Saints Day!” Aaron wished her sincerely. “I’m sorry another one bit the dust, but I’m sure you’ll find Mr. Right eventually.”
She rolled her eyes, but didn’t say anything. Both because he was right to tease her about her dating life, and because she simply didn’t want to talk about the latest in a long string of break ups.
So she changed the subject.
Aaron snickered. “That was what it used to be when I was a kid. Actually, it was just more of a day off from school/rest day to recover from a late night of trick or treating and candy eating. I never really called on the saints back then. Now, however, it’s the day I pray to every saint in Heaven to bring the country a much needed positive result on Election Day.”
“Who is the patron saint of Election Day?” Holly asked as she looked longingly at the river behind her.
Just the mere thought of the current state of politics in America made her wish she could jump in the river and swim to New Zealand, the one country in the world that seemed to have its act together.
“How am I supposed to know?” he grumbled defensively.
“You’re the one with the Catholic school upbringing, raised by the Nuns to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, and to act as my living copy of the Catholic Encyclopedia,” she shot back without hesitation. “Why else do you think I keep you around?”
He shrugged. “I assumed it was to impress your hoity toity friends with my quirky, introverted view of the world.”
“It’s a little bit of that, but mostly the knowledge of Catholic stuff,” she admitted. “I never know when I might need to call the Pope and ask for help.”
“So if you had to put that big brain of yours to the test, who would you guess is the patron saint of Election Day?” she challenged.
She loved to put him on the spot like that because she knew her best friend could never back down after such a gauntlet had been dropped. And she always preferred it when he didn’t actually know the answer, but came up with something funny to make it seem like he did.
Aaron hemmed and hawed to buy some time. Then he took a long sip of his Snapple. He knew exactly what his best friend expected of him, and he couldn’t let her down. Especially not after she’d been through yet another break up. She went through men like he went through bottles of Snapple.
“I’d have to guess it’s St. Jude,” he answered more confidently than he expected. “Growing up, my strict Catholic stepmother always made us pray to St. Jude when something was lost, things looked bleak, or she just felt like we hadn’t prayed enough that day. Apparently, Jude the Obscure was the patron saint of lost causes. I grew up thinking he was the official sponsor of my life.”
“Awww,” Holly consoled him from her bench over six feet away. “I didn’t mean to send us spiraling down the rabbit hole of Tales of the Stepmother.”
“It’s alright. I’m okay,” he assured her. “I have the power of all the saints watching over me today.”
“I can tell you’re smiling, even though your mask is on,” she informed him. “Your eyes get all squinty when you smile.”
They really did know each other well.
“Do you really think Election Day is a lost cause, hence the need for intervention by St. Jude?” she followed up with some concern in her voice.
“Saints preserve us!” she declared fittingly given the holy day of obligation.
St. Jude, if you’re not too busy, could you please keep an eye on things this Tuesday? Thanks!