“NEXT!” the man ordered through the microphone when the man walked out.
Almost immediately, a tall woman burst in; dress barely clinging onto her svelte body for dear life as her high heels clunked on the hardwood floor with every step she took, her face ghostly in appearance. Nothing new for Aunty.
“Yes, my dear. Great night?” she started, chuckling at the distraught youngster.
“I need your help,” she started, struggling for breath.
“Run here? Yes, at least I tried,” she interrupted as she slid off her heels, relief flooding her face.
“What can I do for you?” she asked, the lady plopping herself onto the chair as she explained her situation.
“There’s a guy.”
“Isn’t there always?”
“I really like him. He’s smart, funny, really good with kids and sensitive.”
“But?” Aunty asked, eyeing the girl. She looked up, sighed and went on.
“He’s not really my type. I want him in my life, but we’re so different, and I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“Well, why do you want him? You’re still relatively young…”
“Relatively?” she asked, taken aback by Aunty, who spoke with a stony look.
“I’m yet to see a younger girl in my store. Now, why him? What’s so special about this one?”
“I think I’m tired of this life. I’ve had enough of nights with different strangers, I’ve had my fun and now I’d like to settle down with a nice guy. Someone reliable and trustworthy, the kind that you can raise a family with. And he’s someone like that. We’ve been friends for the longest time, he’s always been there for me, and I think I’d like to do things right with him.”
Aunty kept staring at her, a smile slowly breaking on her wrinkled face.
“I am glad you have come to your senses, child. Now, I hate to tell you this, but he would probably not go for you, not the way you look.”
“What’s wrong with me? How do I look?” she asked, looking down at her figure.
“Not like someone he would want something with. Fortunately for you, I have just what you need. It’s a long procedure, but is proving to be one of my bestsellers.”
“Great!” she brightened up as she stood, leaning on the table.
“So, what is it?”
“Go into that room and have them take your measurements,” she instructed her, pointing to the brightly lit room behind her, where two attendants were waiting for her.
“I don’t understand. What’s supposed to happen?”
“Is he a believer?”
“You mean, like prayerful? Yes, very much so.”
“Where does he worship?”
“On Angel’s Hill.”
“Perfect. Now go on, they’re waiting,” she said as she hobbled to her office, slowly pressing the dials on the phone…
The men lugged the chairs across the large hall, placing them in a concentric manner around the podium, where the others hurriedly threw the ribbons.
“How many more of these?” one of them, John, asked his friend Damian.
“We still have a few more rounds to go,” Damian replied, tucking in his checked shirt as they headed back to the entrance, where the chairs were situated.
“Anyway, how was your Saturday? Did you do anything fun?”
“Not really. Just classes then visited my parents. In fact, this is the highlight, boring as it is,” Damian replied as he picked up two more seats.
“Classes? You haven’t finished them yet?”
“Oh, I did,” Damian replied, eager to explain his life plan to someone, “Those were the night classes. I got the certificate, and I’m going for the job interview on Thursday.”
“So, what are these ones for?”
“Programming. I want to go all the way, not just web design. Maybe start building apps, and who knows, maybe I’ll become a billionaire someday.”
“Focused boy, aren’t you?” John said, eyeing his friend.
“We’re the same age, John.”
“I know, it’s just that you seem to know exactly where your life is headed. No wonder Emma is so into you.”
“She’s not into me,” Damian said, his cheeks puffing out.
“Of course, she is. How long have you guys been talking now? A few weeks?”
“Funny thing is, we’ve known each other since high school.”
“Really?” John asked, motioning his friend to sit down.
“Yes boss, imagine that. I used to have a huge crush on her back then, and I never imagined that a girl like her would ever be interested in me, so I agreed to be her friend.”
“For over 10 years? Nothing happened between you two?” John asked, winking at him.
“Ai, no!” Damian convulsed, “you know where I stand on the matter. I was there for her, listened to her stories and provided a shoulder to cry on.”
“Good guy Damian, always there to save the day,” John muttered.
“I don’t really consider it saving anyone. We were only friends, though I sensed that she wanted more. She always joked that I’d be her backup husband,” Damian said, laughing at the fond memory.
“Well, if all goes well, you’ll be her actual one.”
“A dream come true, man,” Damian said as they went on stacking chairs in preparation of the service.
They sat at the back, as was the normal for the Ushering team. The church was packed to the brim, with ladies draped in flowery dresses, the men in matching suits and their children scampering outside to play. They waited in anticipation for their favorite pastor, the Heavenly Daddy, to come up. And as soon as the trim, white suited man of the cloth stepped onto the dais, the whole congregation stood in applause.
“Praise God, church!” he emphatically declared.
“Amen!” the people responded.
“Praise God again!”
“AMEN!” they roared, cheering and clapping as he raised his hands to them.
“Brothers and sisters, the Praise Team has blessed us with their wonderful session. Now, I want you to give an Angel Hill’s welcome to someone you all look up to. Because of her, we have this lovely Hall to worship in, and now she only asks for a moment of your time to preach the Word to you. Is that okay?”
“Yes!” they shouted.
“Then why don’t you give a warm welcome to Aunty Jessie!” he said as he pointed to the elderly woman, shaking with every step she took to the pulpit, where she was received with hundreds of screaming and whistling revelers.
“Thank you so much, Angel’s Hill. But not too much, you might make me go deaf in my young age,” she spoke rather confidently, to the laughter of everyone.
“Sit, please. I have quite a word for you today. Firstly, who among you is married? Let them stand!”
On her left, the crowd of about thirty people stood.
“So few! Now, how many would like to be married?” the entire central section of the church stood up, all bright eyed.
“Fantastic! Now, I have noticed you are significantly more than the previous group. Why is that? Is it possible you have too many standards?” the crowd laughed heartily at the elder’s sentiments.
“I mean it! Ladies, how many gents have you passed here waiting for the one? You pray to God to get you a good man, yet when he comes along, you’re not ready for him, or better yet, you ask him to wait for you. You know, you’re not getting any prettier,” she quipped as the men cheered vigorously as many of the women awkwardly laughed.
“Do not hold too high an opinion, my children. If you do, you may miss out on someone special. Young men here, some of you may be tired of waiting for that woman. But there is a time when your dream girl will get tired of all these games, then she realizes: he was right there all along. Then, you become her priority, the main one in fact. The time comes to do things right, and who is better than the one who was right for her all along?” she spoke as the ladies applauded her, many of the men nodding in agreement, more so Damian.
“So what if she has a few miles on her gauge? The more the merrier, because she knows how to takes things slow, and how to speed them up. Besides, isn’t the future you two build together more important than the past? Will you throw something good away for a few miles on the gauge?” at this, the ladies stood up screaming, some nudging their boyfriends and many pointing at their male friends who were all nodding in agreement.
As they did so, Damian and John were speaking in hushed tones, barely noticing the lady, clad in a white, flowing dress joining them.
“Oh, hi boys,” she said as she looked at Damian, her hand extended.
“Emma! Wow, you look amazing!” John started.
“In a modest kind of way,” Damian added, his eyes popping out.
“You’re a regular here?” John asked her as she sat next to them.
“No, I just started. I figured I might as well, since my husband here has been pressuring me to come,” she answered, poking a ticklish Damian.
“Well, it only took a few years to do so,” he retorted.
“Yes, but better late than never,” she said as she faced the pulpit, leaving the boys staring at her in amazement.
“My sermon was short and to the point,” Aunty Jessie went on,” I know you young people have an attention span shorter than some of your marriages. But, I’d like to have the ladies stay for a few minutes. Is that okay?”
“Yes!” the church cheered.
“Alright then. Young men, please take a breath as I speak to your future wives,” she said. With that, the men stood up and made for the doors as the ladies gathered at the front, where Aunty sat with the pastor.
“I though you said all the men,” one asked as she pointed to the pastor.
“Don’t worry, he’s the one you’ll be clamoring to marry you soon. Now, look how smart you look! Don’t you all look lovely?”
“Aunty,” Emma asked as she stood, “we’re still waiting on your help to win over our guys out there. How is this helping?”
“My dear, you’re wearing the help!” she chuckled as many of them looked at their dresses, wondering what she was talking about.
“What do you mean?” Emma went on.
“My dear, I saw how that boy looked at you when you sat next to him. He saw someone who came to her senses and is now ready to do the right thing, and my sermon helped deliver that message home. This is my help, one I have been administering for years on end to thousands of women. I call it the Sunday Best. It’s a bit more practical, requiring a two-part approach, but it is highly worthwhile. After all, it helped Passie here, didn’t it?”
“I owe the woman of my dreams to Aunty here,” he responded happily as the ladies beamed with hope.
“What if they start asking questions?” another lady asked, many nodding furiously.
“I did the same thing,” the pastor went on, “one time I even broke it off with her because an argument ensued. But seeing her in her Sunday Best, her true self that grew up from her past made me realize that she was the one for me. Aunty here told me that although she loved the wrong guys, she was not in love with them, not like she was with me. She literally kept her best for me, so I was to count myself lucky to even have her. So, I apologized to her and years later, we’re still here, stronger than ever.”
“See, girls? It works! Now, go be with your men, but always remember to don your Sunday Best. A virtuous wife will always win over a good man.”
‘At least the appearance of one,’ she mused as she watched them scurry outside to the men, who were just as excited to see them. Damian and John watched Emma strut out to them, clutching her Bible close to her chest.
“Hi boys,” she started. Damian reached out for a hug, but she withdrew and extended her hand.
“Wow, handshake. Are we in a meeting?” he asked as he shook it.
“Well, we are in this place, so…”
“I’m kidding. So, what did Aunty Jessie have in store for you?”
“It was…quite nice.”
“Yes, why don’t you tell my friend over here about it? I have to rush somewhere, so I’ll probably hear it from him,” John said as he tapped Damian’s back and ran off, winking to him as he did. Emma wrapped her hand around his as they walked to the café.
“She was advising us as her daughters on relationships. On how to actually do them well”
“Is that so? So you weren’t doing them well?” Damian asked as he chuckled, while she responded with daggers.
“I’m joking, Emma,” he reassured as he began pulling away. Instead, she held on to him and went on.
“Well, I thought that they did, but after a while the partying, drinking all gets boring, and the things that start to interest you are picnics, movie nights and walks in the park. Turning up isn’t nearly as interesting as settling down, especially with someone worthwhile. I was trying to find myself in hopeless places, but now that I’m grown and past it, I’m ready for a fresh start.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“Yeah, it’s like an epiphany of sorts. Out with the bad boys, in with the only good one,” she went on, squeezing his hand.
“Hmm, good,” Damian responded with a smile on his face as they sat, sipping coffee as they talked more.