*Fiction Friday: Micropoetry from the Book

Sister Wiley bought extravagant gifts for herself,
saving the posh bags to toss in dollar store presents
that didn’t even pretend to be knock-offs
for the endless showers that rained on the parades
of the unattractive & infertile women
whose hope for salvation through a husband or children
dimmed as their looks & eggs degraded further.
This woman, this Sister Mindy Wiley,
who dazzled the men & bedazzled the women,
held the bag that was a lie
in the palm of her hand for all to see,
pointing to it with her other hand like Vanna White
pointed to the letters on Wheel of Fortune.

The shower included a toilet tissue wedding dress contest.
Following the mysterious rule of three,
we were divided into teams of such.
Perhaps each group represented the unholy trinity
of an earthly bride of Christ:
a goddess,
a goddess’s daughter,
& the spirit of the goddess—
for in each team,
there was a woman,
a young woman,
& a woman-child.
Donna Marley had called the game sexist & refused to participate.
To her, dresses were as oppressive as make-up & high-heeled shoes.
Everything Donna saw as feminine & anything she saw as something
that separated the sexes, was, to her, sexist,
& through her eyes,
I began to question my worth to the world—
not as a person but as a woman
who was undeniably, happily female.

We were like little children,
scouring the living room for the scavenger hunt,
looking for plastic eggs containing a coupon for some food or beauty item
in hopes of finding the golden egg,
in which was nestled a 5-course meal prepared by the silly goose
known as Sister Wiley.
Donna deemed the game as lame,
saying something should have been done with power tools—
something that mattered—
which, for Donna, was always something
that pertained to manhood or masculinity
& was a curious form of sexism itself.

We finished up the farce
with a memory game that screamed housewife.
On a serving tray covered with a new-looking dishtowel
were 17 hand-held kitchen items
(most of which came from the pink breast cancer line,
making them harder to distinguish).
We were given 5 minutes to memorize them,
then 2-&-a-half minutes to recall them on paper,
& I wondered if this activity was a mere memory game
or some type of social conditioning that dictated
what every good wife should have in her kitchen.

You could tell a lot about a person by the gifts they gave:
Mother’s gift from Sister Wiley was a book:
The Lost Art of Homemaking.
David would love it.
Sister Page’s was a crocheting book.
None of us would love that.
Plenty of how-to books were given—
books that looked as if they were Dick & Jane-era throwbacks.
There were plenty of not-so-powerful kitchen tools,
several items with the As Seen on TV logo,
& a funhouse mirror toaster no one claimed.
When I looked at my reflection in the appliance,

I couldn’t help but think that perhaps I was looking at myself
on the inside.

Logline for Because of Mindy Wiley An Irish-Catholic girl coming of age in the Deep South during the New Millennium finds her family splintered when two Mormon missionaries come to her door, their presence and promise unearthing long-buried family secrets, which lead to her excommunication and exile.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

At the age of 18, I was finally getting my driver’s license, when I had been content to tag along with David wherever he went.

Food Storage Inventory Exchange was like a cookie exchange, except instead of swapping cake balls for brownie bites, it was rice for beans.

I knew God didn’t care whether I could cook, bake, or sew, for He had given us each different talents, but in the Church, the fluidity of gender roles had frozen in retro time.

I’d accepted Mother just the way she was, even as she had accepted that though I loved her very much, I loved David more.

I’d been given the gift of the Holy Ghost at baptism, but perhaps I hadn’t been worthy enough to unwrap it.

Had I a testimony, my heart would’ve been closed to Elder Roberts, & my heart would’ve been opened for another.

My mother’s home style was minimalist, her color, monochrome. It wasn’t till the Mormons came that our lives were infused with vintage color & became a sort of Pleasantville.

Leann & I worked on our sugar cube temple for Relief Society Enrichment Meeting, & I thought how much the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth resembled a glistening piece of Candyland.  A gingerbread house, without the warmth or frills.

Our fridge had never been cluttered with magnets holding up candid pictures or childish artwork or the hundreds of little notes that tiled Leann’s fridge.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

The distinguished-looking man sat with the woman who would pull the thread that would help me come apart at the seams through an unholy act.

Sister Wiley wore a mask of syrupy sweetness, but the mask didn’t cover her eyes that emitted a cold, calculating glare.

Glancing in Sister Wiley’s direction I saw, as she looked at Mother, something that resembled fear, for Mother’s new faith overshone her old one.

Like the kapps Mennonite women wore, both sexes wore sacred garments under their clothes, where only God could see them.

Mother had never had any use for girlfriends before, & I wondered why she had let Sister Wiley choose to be hers.

I saw something in Elder Roberts then that I often saw in David: tolerance; but it would fail him when I needed it most.

Sister Wiley watched us from across the room, plucking a prune from a pewter platter & taking a bite, smiling that Mona Lisa smile.

David wanted me to go to University, but the Relief Society (or, as Caitlin said, the Sisterhood of the Raveling Dresses) had me rethinking such an endeavor.

The day our Little Miss stopped being a drama princess was the day we would know her personality had finally split.

I’d never seen our secular, nuclear family as isolated, but rather insulated from the world. The Mormons made me see that we were the world.

Fiction Friday: Novelines from the Book

Elder Johnson lived life 100%, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, like the little children Jesus spoke of.  The world was amazing to him.

The Mormon chapel was set back from the main road, tucked away in a subdivision where the doctors & lawyers of Green Haven lived.

There was no pastor, for everyone in the Church spoke, or gave talks rather than sermons; even the women, for it wasn’t a shame that they do so.

My eyes drifted around the austere room at the men in their suits & ties, the women in their modest dresses.  They looked positively godly.

David never understood how Christians could pretend to consume the flesh & blood of another human being, no matter how out-of-this-world He was.

Rather than guests visiting the Church, we were investigators visiting the ward–the evidence sought being a mysterious “burning in the bosom”.

Mormons began & ended each meeting with a prayer.  They prayed without ceasing, but always to Heavenly Father, never the Lord Jesus.

“The missionaries…well, it was as if they had found something wonderful, & wanted everyone to have what they had,” was Mother’s testimony.

Last hour, the men went to Priesthood, the women to Relief Society.  Being barred from the men’s class made her curious about what went on there.

The lesson was on food storage, & I wondered if this was where the urban legend had come from that Mormons hid food under their beds.

I knew the Mormons had once practiced polygamy, & even though they no longer practiced such on Earth, they did in their Heaven.