Prose: Mr. Preacher Man

“What about you, Julia, have you been saved?”
I was caught off-guard.
“Yeah, but I have a church in Seattle I watch online.”
“Oh, ok, well, y’all don’t mind if we pray? Dear heavenly father …”
I wanted to reach out and hold hands. But none of the others made a move. Wasn’t that what you were supposed to do when you prayed with others? Do people not touch each other anymore? Are they afraid of germs? Or is it ’cause they were Southern Baptist? I don’t know what that means. Why did I say I had a church? I mean, I do, but it’s more complicated than that. It usually is. What did he mean by saved? I would have asked him, but I knew he’d probably go into some diatribe spewing everything he’d been taught, all those lies he attempted to beat down his congregation with every Sunday. We went to his church once. Afterward, Nana and I agreed it was the worst church experience either one of us had ever had. She said if it had been her church, she would have walked out. But we were guests. She said if she could have shrunk herself, she would have crawled out through the tiny crack in the door. You see, he’d been nice enough to come get most everything at our old house for their flea market. We sort of felt obligated to go once. And once is all we’d ever go. Never again.

And well here he was at her door. I didn’t really know what to say. I thought about the socks I was wearing and how they had a hole in the bottom, just one of ’em, the left one. I thought about how my hair was plopped comfortably on the top of my head, and that I wasn’t wearing makeup. Mom always liked me better when I was dressed up, so she could show me off as her daughter, the model. I don’t look like a model anymore, and I certainly wasn’t trying to this day. What were we watching on TV? Mrs. Doubtfire. Poor Robin Williams. It’s sad to see him in a move nowadays. I saw him in Night at the Museum 3 a few evenings prior. And when he said, “we’re ready, let us go,” you could see it in his eyes. Mine too. But the movies themselves are still funny.

I’m not sure I was wearing a bra. Could he tell? Why did I care? When we first met over at the house, I noticed how young and in shape he was, kind of attractive, and I’d wondered at that very moment if I could ever marry a preacher. What would have happened to me had Mom not wanted us to flee before, during and after high school? I’m glad it didn’t, I mean, happen that way. But it came back to me. That look in his eyes. I could tell he was interested. Even more so that Sunday as he spat and screamed for an hour and a half about repentance and temptation. Poor thing. It only made me want to sprout horns and undo another button from my dress, just to watch him squirm.

But not this time. He was scared, and scary. The type who would fall in lust with a woman, then cry witch and burn her at the stake. So aside from embarrassing Nana or having to endure questions and a spiel about what his idea of being saved meant, or explaining to him that we don’t go to his church because, well, frankly, we don’t really like being yelled at, I just shook his hand, shut my mouth, my eyes, my legs and the door, bidding him and his bottled up issues adieu.

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