“$1.87”—there were less than two weeks left until graduation and that was all the money left in Avila’s bank account. She stared at the ATM’s mocking screen, blinked and looked again. Avila began to cry.
Two weeks earlier, a fortnight of mid-wintery days had faded Paul’s tan. The days when the worthy state of Ohio had leaned into mid-summery weather, meanwhile, had allowed Avila’s skin to recover some of its color.
Needless to say, the two friends soon recognized each other again! And since “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” their reunion was so pleasant, the sun so warm, the tulips so delightful and the butterflies and birds so in love with life, that against all odds, the cunning influence of spring caused the two friends to become lovebirds.
Even though Paul’s charismatic friends raised their eyebrows and Avila’s traditional friends shook their heads, Romeo and Juliet skipped down the lane toward Finnegan Fieldhouse without a care in the world.
That was two weeks ago. Now, with under two weeks left until graduation, Avila only had $1.87 to her name.
That was not nearly enough to buy Paul anything for graduation! My faithful reader may ask, “well, Paul isn’t graduating anyways! He’s a transfer student as of this year!”
You would be right. Paul was not graduating; he was leaving college to be a full-time missionary at Galilee Missions. Avila Socrates, meanwhile, was graduating with honors.
Avila racked her brain for ideas of something nice to get Paul as she walked back to St. Thomas Aquinas Hall and looked in the mirror. She asked St. Anthony for help to find a solution.
St. Philip Neri must have given St. Anthony a suggestion, because almost as soon as Avila whispered a prayer in front of her mirror, the solution became as evident as the hair on her head.
Meanwhile, Paul was pacing the floor of the J.C. with a similar predicament.
He exclaimed in outrage to his co-coordinator Peter, “I’m fundraising my own salary! How will I find the money to buy my dearest Avila a nice gift? She deserves the world and I can only give her pocket lint and free hot-chocolate packets from the Caf and it’s too warm outside for hot chocolate!”
Peter, known as Symeon before his conversion from Greek Orthodoxy, was full of ideas. This had put a strain on their relationship as co-coordinators.
“Why don’t you buy her some candy from Dymphna’s Café?” he asked.[Text Wrapping Break]
“That’s ridiculous!” Paul’s old temper began to peep through his habitual virtue. “Besides, I ran out of points months ago.”
“Well,” said Peter, shaking his Greek locks, “don’t take my advice! Go pray about it. God will provide.”
Paul huffed, picked up his guitar and left the J.C. for the Port. However, before he could reach the chapel, an idea hit him like a corn-hole bag and he sprinted towards Servant of God Br. Juniper Hall.
The day of graduation came and Paul and Avila met in the Piazza beforehand. Paul was beaming with sacrificial love as he strode up to meet his lady at the gate of Aquinas Hall.
She was wearing a hoodie over her dress with the hood up. The two embraced and she looked up at him with a faint smile and a tear in her eye.
“What is it?” said Paul.
“I got this for you!” Avila said and held out the nicest leatherbound charismatic guitar music book Paul had ever seen.
“Boy,” Paul exclaimed. “Geez! That must have cost a fortune, my love!”
“Why Paul!” Miss Socrates blushed, “you looked distressed.”
“This is your gift!” Paul recovered and held out the single most magnificent mantilla Avila had ever laid eyes on.
She squealed with delight.
“It’s made by sisters from the Vatican!” Paul said.
Suddenly, Avila began to sob and shake. She pulled back her hood and put the mantilla on, only for it to slip off her shiny bald head.
Paul gaped, his eyes wide, thinking for a moment that Fr. Dave, the president of the university, stood before him. He shook off the thought and stood silently for five minutes, then began to laugh as the reality of the situation kicked in.
Avila sniffled and looked up at his bemused face.
“Hey, why are you laughing?” she queried.
Paul spun her around and kissed the top of her bald head.
“You sold your hair to buy me a guitar book!” he exclaimed and she nodded.
“I sold my guitar to buy you a mantilla!” he laughed.
They both burst into tears and laughed until they cried, all the way until graduation and during dinner with their parents afterward. They cried and laughed after they parted ways and drove home.
“Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for a friend.” -John 15:13
Oh, and reader: before you get too angry with me for not telling you where the two ended up, I must inform you that Paul became a C.F.R. and Avila married Peter. They are on their ninth child, raised in the Byzantine tradition.