#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

White, Protestant, & Republican were the dominant demographics of Green Haven, & those that fit into all 3 categories tended to be the most successful.

Such talk of homes for unwed mothers made me feel as if I had been blasted back to the Fifties, but the Mormons were a relic of bygone days.

Strange how grandmothers would pretend their daughters’ illegitimates were theirs, yet I felt maternal towards my sister, rather than sisterly.

The Schafer home was a Mormon version of the Cleavers, complete with pictures of Ronald Reagan & the WASPy-looking Mormon Jesus.

I imagined Sister Schafer’s mind was like looking at a crazy quilt through a kaleidoscope.

I knew not how to help my pregnant friend, for I’d never even kissed a boy.


What we both knew was that God already knew this little stranger, for the child’s bones had been knitted in the womb by the needles that were God’s fingers.

The idea of hidden pregnancies & secret adoptions was like removing a shiny dust jacket, only to see a stained & battered book.

If a man chose not to go on a mission, he was partly responsible for the souls he could have saved. Salvation was a shared responsibility.

I always wondered, if you were married, how did you keep from outgrowing one another, but then I realized, you grew together. You were grafted into the family tree.

I was one of many girls, all vying for the affections of an elder from the Mormon Corridor. I wanted to be taken away, & then taken.

I shelved the thought of Elder Roberts, like a book I had read as a child & had gone back to, finding I had outgrown it.

I imagined the Holy Spirit spoke through me, but how could that be, when I wasn’t worthy? When I’d yet to be baptized, not born in the covenant?

In my new life as a Mormon, I began to do other things girls my age did. I got a job, working for boiled peanuts; I learned to drive.


#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

The Green Haven Ward was austere compared to the facilities of The Mount of Olives Baptist Church, but then, the Mormons had their temples.

Like little children, we played ping-pong & Ultimate Frisbee, had cookies & Kool-Aid, & talked about our friends. We were the unmarried Mormons.

One temple marriage a month was Green Haven Ward’s average, & Kath, Leann, & I were expected to contribute to it. The girl least likely would.

The notion of going to Brigham Young University or on a mission, of marrying young, & having many children was foreign to me.

I’d seen what I wanted that hot July day, & so I spurned all others, ultimately saving my hand, if not myself, for when he returned.

The R.M.s (returned missionaries) were considered a real catch for the Y.S.A. (young single adult) women.

I had never been casual about sex, but I’d never considered making love outside of marriage as tampering with the sacred powers of procreation.

Elder Roberts, for me, was a cool drink on a balmy day. Tony, for Kath, was a wildfire without hope of abeyance. I knew love, but not passion.

When Kath asked me if I’d ever been in love, I said, “I am in love,” for I’m in love with an elder, who is out there, making himself worthy of me.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book


The prime of Miss Annie McCarrick had passed,
but the prime of Miss Laurie Nolan was coming fast.
Unmarried, Mother had always been at her prime.

Mother & David’s pasts were a mystery,
their presents, uncertain,
their futures, set like a precious stone
in a tiny, golden halo.

Their churches were called wards,
their youth groups, institutes.
They served funeral potatoes at
lively potlucks.
Peculiar people, these Mormons were.

I was asked to pray in public,
when I had never prayed in private.
I was asked to do unnatural things
for the sake of the supernatural.

I prayed from memory,
& not from my heart,
for my heart had no memory
of prayer.


#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book


The piano, for my mother, had been a prison of many keys, the wordless sounds emanating a chilling dirge.

Mother had been forced to play the piano.  Having never been given an opportunity to choose it, she was forced away from it.

Mother & David’s mysterious past, once so enigmatic, now seemed to disappear altogether when I looked at their unquestionable future.

David had grown up an only child, as had Mother, & their parents had died years ago. We were a tree with roots, but no branches.

Mother had never tried to get David to convert to Catholicism, for her arrangement with him had been accepted; with Mormonism, it was not.

I hadn’t been aware that David had known my mother before her marriage to my father; for 1 day, those 3 lives had intertwined.

My father’s family had never come to see us, & I wondered for the first time if Mother & David were running from something.

There was no poor child who suffered for the sins of the Mormon community as in Omelas, except the little child in each of them.

I was like an immigrant, coming to the New World, for Mormonism was uniquely American. It was the Ronald Reagan of religions.

For years, I’d thought my mother had redefined herself, but rather, she had deconstructed herself, leaving some parts of her behind.

Mormon converts had chosen the Church, but those born in the covenant had the choice made for them, for what child of 8 would refuse baptism?

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book


From Annie McCarrick to Laurie Nolan,
my mother had redefined herself,
though I had to wonder–
was the redefinition a stripping off
of a mask,
or was it an unveiling?

David had freed Mother from the music
her fingers had made,
& had passed that which she had loathed
to the daughter who danced to it.

The genesis of my life:
My fifth year–
when David came.
The exodus–
the year the elders came.
The revelation–
when I came the first time.

As a Catholic,
God was my Father,
& that was enough.
As a Mormon,
I began to wonder about
my earthly father,
the concept of a
Heavenly Mother
strange & wonderful
to me.

David was Welsh,
without a pinch of Irish in him;
I was an Irish trio—
Northern, Scots, & Black;
but Caitlin?
She was Jaunty O’ St. Mick.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book


A restlessness began to stir within me that winter. I began to change as the leaves did, feeling myself unraveling from my tight-knit family.

If the Church was true, God would not answer my prayer. The only comfort I had was in knowing that God’s will was not always done.

Mother had Church now, Caitlin, her piano & dance, David, his art & professorship, but I had always been content with just enjoying life.

Once upon a time, Mother played the piano, but now she played the strings of our that held us up like marionettes.

David had painted Mother, but her pale, oval face was shrouded by her hair, cloaked in dark mystery, for he’d loved her from afar.

Long, luxurious dark hair fell not in waves, but in ripples, just as I imagined the notes that flowed from her fingers.

My mother had gone by Annie McCarrick then—a blue-collar girl from a Catholic family. She was now Laurie Nolan—a Southern Audrey Hepburn.

Mother had many forms—the one I’d known & the one only she knew. I’d loved the one who’d never existed.

He was still staring at the picture, or rather past it, and I knew that’s where his thoughts were—in the past he rarely shared with us.

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book


My friends thought David dreamy,
& I began to see him through their eyes,
as I never had through Mother’s.

For a man left his father & mother
to cleave unto his wife,
even as Elder Roberts would someday
cleave unto me—
finding his life in mine.

“Find a man worthy of you,”
David had said,
even as Mother told me,
“Be worthy of such a man.”

From Yankee blue to Southern gray
Mother had gone from a New England transplant
to a Deep South Mormon debutante–
her bleeding heart conservatism turning to God.

The Church had made me want more,
& I had to be more to get it all,
even though I wasn’t quite sure
I wanted what they considered “all.”