Helping Tyson


He called me “Mormon Michele.” I’m just glad he also called me his friend.

Helping Tyson

I used to have a monster crush on Tyson Davis. Used to. I mean, he’s gorgeous. But he knows it. Besides, he’s kind of a jerk.

I am not going to call him. No way.

But …

Last Sunday I saw Tyson at church. It was the first time he’d been there in about a year. He looked really sad and miserable. He was sitting in the back row, and if I didn’t know better I’d say he’d been crying.

He didn’t stay for the whole meeting. I sort of wish he had. I wanted to talk to him. He looked so sad.

Ever since I saw Tyson, I can’t get him out of my head. I feel like I should call him. I’m not going to, though. When Tyson first moved into the ward, I called him all the time. I invited him to do things with the Young Women and Young Men. He never did anything with us, though, and he treated me like a pest. He made me feel stupid.

I am not going to call him.

Besides, I’m late. I’m going to the church dance.

I make it all the way to my car and start backing out of the driveway before I finally sigh. “Okay, I’ll call him.”

The urge to do it is too strong to ignore. And I grumble to myself all the way to the phone. I’ll call him, and he’ll make me feel like an idiot. But at least then I can go to the dance in peace.

“Hi,” I say when his little sister, Kari, answers the phone. “Is Tyson there?”

“Uh, I’m not sure,” she says. “Who is this?”

“It’s Michele.”

She’s silent for a moment. “From church?”

“Yep,” I tell her. “Michele from church.”

“He’s probably not here, then,” she says. “But I’ll check.”

I hear her put down the phone. I’m almost positive she is going to come back and tell me he’s not there. Apparently he’s having the six-year-old screen his calls. So I’m pretty floored when a minute later Tyson picks up the phone.

“Hello,” he says, “Michele?”

“Yeah.” He sounds friendly. Weird. Maybe Kari didn’t give him the whole message. “It’s Michele from church.”

“I know,” he says. “Hi.”

“Hi. Well, I was just calling—well, wondering, um, I saw you at church Sunday and you seemed really sad.”

Tyson is silent for a moment. “Yeah, I was.”

“I’m calling because there’s a dance at the stake center tonight. Maybe you should come.” I feel sort of lame inviting him, knowing how he feels about the Church. He’s been pretty clear he doesn’t want anything to do with us. Still, I can’t get my mouth to shut up. “Maybe it could cheer you up,” I tell him.

“Yeah, maybe.” He sounds thoughtful. “I’ll meet you there, okay?”

I nod, even though I’m talking into the phone. “Okay.”

“And Michele?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for calling.”

When I hang up the phone, I stand staring at it in amazement. Did I dial the wrong number? Was that really Tyson? Tyson Davis? Mr. I’m Too Good for Church Dances?

When I pick up Audrey and Shawna they don’t believe me about the conversation. “Tyson actually said he would come? Tonight? To the dance?” Shawna asks.

I nod. “That’s what he said.”

“He was being sarcastic,” Audrey decides.

When we get to the dance, we look all over the building. No Tyson. I dance for a while then go back to the parking lot—not really to wait for him but just because I have the feeling I should check it out. There I find Tyson sitting in his car.

I knock on his window, and he gives me a sad kind of smile. “Hi,” he says. He looks sort of embarrassed.

“What are you doing out here?” I ask.

“I couldn’t go in,” he says. “I was going to but, ah, I don’t know. I was hoping you would come out. I wanted to talk to you. Is that okay?”

I shrug. “Sure.”

I get in the passenger seat, and I’m surprised to see that he’s dressed up. I can tell he planned to go in. “What did you want to talk about?”

He’s silent for a moment. “When you called tonight it was weird. I’d been praying. I hadn’t done that in a long time—prayed, I mean. And then you called.”

He explains that his best friend, Seth, had died two weeks ago. He wasn’t from here. He lived in Florida where Tyson used to live.

“Seth was drunk and ran into a car,” Tyson says. “He died and everyone in the other car—a family—died too.”

Tyson wipes away a tear. “Seth messed up. He really messed up his life. I have too. I’ve messed mine up really bad. But I want to change. I really do. That’s what I was praying about, see, but it’s hard. My friends are partiers. That’s what we do. We party.”

Tyson’s silent for a moment. He looks tormented. “And I don’t have other friends. I mean, friends in the Church. I blew them off a long time ago. I was so mean to you. But then tonight you called.” He sounds full of wonder.

I didn’t know what to say. “I just felt like I should.”

“Yeah, see, that’s it,” he says. “You’re really close to God. He talks to you and you listen.”

Tingles run through my body. “Yeah, but Tyson, you can have that too. It’s the Holy Ghost. If you listen, He’ll talk to you.”

Tyson shakes his head. “I’m not like you. You don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve done bad things.”

“But Tyson,” I protest.

“Look, you don’t have to bear your testimony to me. I know what you believe. You live what you believe. I watched you all last year. You can’t know how it is for me. You don’t do things wrong.”

“I do too!”

“Well, not like me,” he says. “Anyway, I’m glad you’re the way you are. I needed someone to talk to tonight. I’m glad it was you.”

I blush, feeling totally complimented. “So, do you want to go into the dance?”

“I don’t know if I’m ready for that,” he says. “I thought I was. I want to change my life around. That’s what I want. But it’s harder than you think.”

“I don’t think it’s as hard as you think,” I tell him, pulling him out of the car. “It’s just a church dance.”

I take his hand. “Don’t be scared. I’ll be with you.”

“Mormon Michele, protector of the inactives,” Tyson says with a grin.

“That’s right,” I tell him. “And don’t you forget it.” I give his hand a squeeze. “I mean it, Tyson. Don’t forget it.”

Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh