The first thing the girl had to admit was that her co-teacher had gotten past her defenses before she could figure out an appropriate course of action. It was a little hard for her to believe, because those things she used to say to her siblings… one of them was that she would not marry someone younger than her. Four years! It was even worse than she had anticipated it could be.
Oh, the irony. Because she had to admit that she liked him, as in really enjoyed spending time with him, hearing what he had to say and giving her opinions in turn. He was an exceptionally good listener. It was quite dangerous, because she found herself confiding ideas and thoughts that were actually sort of private.
She squirmed to think that he might catch on just how much she liked him, and feel pity for the desperate older girl. There was only one thing to do: retreat and rebuild her walls. She quit the casual conversations for a while, staying at her own desk, doing her checking. It was boring, but it worked. After about six weeks of this, they had fallen into the habit of easy camaraderie again. She wrote in her journal, “I doubt he is actually interested in me, because I am too old for him, but if I do marry, I want someone like Gabe.” It was as much as she would admit.
About this time, the upper grade teacher took the younger one out and gently suggested that he be careful not to make the girl teacher like him too much. He didn’t think it was fair to be such buddies and enjoy her company without any plan to pursue her further. That was when the younger teacher said, “What if I told you the feeling is mutual?” So right there in the coffee shop the beans were spilled between the two guys, but the girl had no idea what was going on.
At Bible school that spring she told a circle of her friends that she didn’t think her future husband was even on the horizon yet, because really, her co-teacher had treated her so respectfully that she couldn’t tell what he was thinking in the line of love. She couldn’t imagine that the age difference didn’t make her practically a spinster in his mind. He had a lot of dreams, things he wanted to do and places he wanted to go.
Just friends. That was the mantra she kept repeating to herself.