Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Short Story: Sacred

My Dear Reader,

I wrote this piece of Mormon fiction a few months ago. Take it as you will.


My mother thinks everything is so important.

“Don't drink that!” she says, when I reach for some coffee at the gas station. I don't know why she gets so worked up about it. My friends' parents don't. Of course, they're not like us.

They're not like her.

I'm sacred, she says. Not special—sacred. Made by God. Placed here. Sent.

She says that God made my spirit, and then tailored a body for me to live in. It was crafted, she says. My body is that big of a deal—crafted by God. I'm supposed to learn how to use my body. How to care for it.

How to control it.

Controlling it, she says, it what life is all about. It's why I was sent here, or at least, that was part of it. God took all the trouble of making this body for me, and then He went and made a whole world so that I could learn how to use it. That's how important it it.

Sacred, she says.

And there's more to it, too.

My body, this thing that God created, is some kind of weapon. She says that if I learn how to use it, if I learn how to control it, to master it, all kinds of things are supposed to happen. Joy is one of those things. Not pleasure—joy. They're supposed to be different.

And then, of course, there's the devil. He always gets mixed up in this stuff. My mom says that God wouldn't make a body for him, and that's mostly what he's so mad about. So he goes around and tries to get me to misuse my body, just out of spite. For something that happened eons ago. I don't know how I managed to get messed up in it. And I certainly don't know why he would take so much trouble to mess around with me. It seems way out of his way.

When I ask her, she squeezes my hand and says that he's jealous. That he's trying to make me fail. He's trying to trick me into believing that my body isn't sacred, so that I won't realize that it gives me power over him.

Somehow, my body gives me that—the ability to beat the devil. But only if I use it right, if I feed it right, if I control it at all times. I have to watch what I do with it and what is done to it. I especially have to watch what goes into it, and what words come out of it.

At all times, and in all things, and in all places.

I have to be one who acts instead of one who is acted upon.

Because I'm sacred.

And that's why I can't have coffee. It takes her all the way from the gas station, to the car, to the grocery store, and all the way back to the kitchen table just for her to explain it to me. Like I don't already know. Like we haven't already had this conversation a million times.

Sacred. Of all the things she could say, she says sacred.

And then she takes a deep breath, stands up, and tells me to do the dishes.

I can't wait to get out of here. Tomorrow I'll wake up, go to school, and get away from Mom and her lectures.

One day, I'll be out of here for good, and I'll go far away and do what I want. No lectures involved. No guilt about being so holy. Just me, and what I want.

That's all.

The next morning in the car, she's talking about joy again. She says you have to work for it. I tell her that I'd prefer to never have to work at all. She laughs at me and tells me that it's because I'm still a child.

Laughs at me.

My own mother.

She's saying something at me, but I get out of the car and close the door. Can't let her ruin my whole morning.

You'd think that I would finally get a break from all this, but I don't. Because she doesn't drop me off at school, oh no. That doesn't start 'til eight. Instead, I'm in church. Before the sun even comes up. Church.

At least I'm not alone. They make all of us go this early in the morning. I've spent every Sunday with these kids as long as I can remember, and we understand each other. We understand how ridiculous it is. After all, not everything is a matter of life and death. Not everything matters so much.

I grit my teeth as I get through the lesson. Old Testament people were messed up, and that's pretty much all I get out of it. At least they didn't have mothers who lectured them. Or maybe they did.

It takes forever for it to be over. Fifty minutes stretched into eternity. I guess it wasn't so bad; after all, there were some interesting bits. And at least it wasn't just me.

Mom wants to know what I learned about when I climb back in the car. She always wants to know what I'm learning. I have to say something, or she'll start talking again.

It's always funny when I get to school and see my friends getting dropped off. Their morning has just started; I've been up for hours by now. A couple of them hand coffee cups back to their parents as they put their backpacks on.

They must think I come from another world.

And I do. But I try not to show it.

It's really stupid, if you think about it. Making us get up early and not letting us have any coffee. All because of how sacred we are. Sacred people never get what they want, apparently.

It's a certain type that gets coffee on their way to school. They have the hair, and the clothes, and everything. They look at me as they walk by, or rather, they glance as they walk by in groups. I'm not that different from them.

I'm only different in every way that matters.

Regards, best wishes, and I'm not sure what to make of that myself,

-Cecily Jane