#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni
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.

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#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni
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.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #422: Harmless

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The Weight of Words

If words were harmless,
there would be no speeches,
no debates,
no letters,
no newspapers,
no books,
no poetry,
no music that tells us how to feel.

Though actions speak louder than words,
works,
louder than prayer,
words can explain away
a multitude of actions,
for they often precede action.

Lo, if words were harmless,
then how could the words in the Bible be so powerful
that many have sought to destroy them,
even absent of their original delivery?

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-422

 

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #421: Password

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It Came Without Ribbons

That gift, which was eternal life,
could not be unwrapped
until she redeemed the redemption code–
stored in the DNA that formed
the strands of His blood.
All she had to do
was answer one question correctly:
Who do you say that I am?

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-421

2017: My Year in Review

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(Inside cover of inweekly–one of Pensacola’s local magazines)

It was the best of years, it was the worst of years.  It was a time of trial, and a time of triumph over that trial.  It was a time of change, and a time of recording that change.  It was a time of deconstruction, a time of reconstruction.  It was a time of friendships lost, a time of friendships found.

It was bad luck and no luck at all.  It was false hope mixed with hopelessness.  It was a culmination of every right and wrong decision my husband and I had ever made.

*

Twenty-seventeen will always be the year my family and I lost our house (security), our car (independence), and a Precious Moments snow globe I’d had since before I married, which I’d kept close in an attempt to keep my daughter’s bedtime routine familiar.  I’d lugged it around for the same reason I lugged her ladybug light around–so that wherever she slept, if it was dark enough and she closed her eyes, it would be like she was back in her old room.

It would be like nothing had changed.

*

I must have foreseen our situation more than three years ago. Not the displacement, necessarily, but the constant financial struggle which bled into everything else, and almost destroyed my marriage.

This, this was why I had gone back to school at the age of thirty-two.

*

Through this experience, I found out who my fair-weather friends were, as well as my stormy-weather ones.

I also realized that my husband’s church family had become like-minded acquaintances, but I guess it’s like that with any family–you have to go to the reunions (i.e. services) every once in a while.

I’m very blessed that my family—all of whom had gone through a degree of what we had—were there for us.  Someday, I hope to be able to repay them tenfold, just as I want to repay the other people (including the pastor who married us and is now retired) and the entities and organizations who helped us, be it through time, taxes, or donations.

Though we’re estranged from what’s left of my husband’s family, my husband and I have made it past the worst. “For better or worse” was in my vows, and I believe the better is coming.

I couldn’t go on if I didn’t.

As it states in the Mormons’ Thirteenth Article of Faith (and I am only quoting part of it), “we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things.”

During this time, I felt that everyone else had it all together, but it was towards the end of the semester that I realized I wasn’t the only one going through, for lack of better words, “really bad shit.”

Knowing this made me feel less alone.

*

Through the infighting and the angst of not knowing where we might be sleeping a week hence, through squatting in the Publix Wi-Fi area where we didn’t feel we had to buy anything and to avoid being stuck in that depressing shelter, through sneaking in to the hotel where my brother worked to eat dinner, I still managed to conquer the one class (or rather, the class that was a pre-cursor) to the class that I’d let keep me from finishing college the first time:  Intermediate Algebra.

I not only passed it, but aced it–all while my world fell apart during final exam week.

What others might have allowed to destroy them, I could not because my life wasn’t just my life anymore. I had a family, and I needed this degree to pull out of the quagmire that was poverty.

My “unhoused” (that sounds so much better than “homeless”) experience didn’t change who I was, but it changed my perspective.

When I see the homeless on the corner, I think, if only they had a family, or a family that cared. True, I don’t know their situation, but I do know we weren’t far from it.

I’m still a strong believer in self-sufficiency (for I am working hard, or rather, studying hard, towards that), but I also realize that to be against the very things that have helped me pull myself up would make me a hypocrite.

There is no shame (nor pride) in accepting help; it’s what you do with that help.

It’s why I chose to major in healthcare rather than English—I wanted to be a good steward of the gift I received. There’ve been times I was sure I’d chosen the wrong major, but I like to say it will be my healthcare degree that will pay for my creative writing degree (something I’ll be working on while I work in the medical field).

I’ve learned, albeit the hard way, that doing things in the right order is essential for success.  That’s why I didn’t choose to major in English first.

When I look at what little money my husband and I brought in, I realize that my family got our Christmas miracle early.

Because a Man fed 5000 people 2000 years ago, my family and I were taken care of, so that we could live to fight (or simply live) another day.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

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?

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #420: Elevated

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Exaltation

For I was sculpted from the dust of the earth,
given form,
solidified,
by the Living Water,
sustained,
salvaged,
with the Bread of Life.

My blood can save another person
temporally,
though it cannot save the world
spiritually.
It has not the magical properties
of the Divine.
It never washes away
that which is scarlet to bleach white,
but rather,
it possesses the power to illuminate
any crime scene.

And yet,
I am elevated by the Divine’s
claim on me—
this Deity who chose me
over His Only Begotten—
the Son who sacrificed Himself
so that I all I had to do was ask Him
to forgive me
for forcing Him to make
an impossible choice.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-420