[continued from meet, and is part of the shunning series]
‘Shade, we’ve all agreed, that this is important to do. And, Shade, we have a list here, of all your sins. You can’t leave here until you repent. Your parents have washed their hands of you as well. If you can’t do this, I just don’t know what we’re going to do with you.’
his suit has smoothed itself against his hands. the bible weighs down his words. ‘We’ve prayed over it, and decided you need to repent. This is what the Bible calls us to do, confront one another in love. We are here to love you until you repent.’
these are my lessons now, to learn repentance, to find forgiveness. my homework is darkness.
it’s day 4, or 5, or 6. i can’t remember anymore. these days keep happening, they drip along my skin. it burns against the chair. my shirt sticks to my skin again, showing the lines of grace.
night, day, night, day. the differences have all run out. dark follows me as i breathe, all my nights have risen up, eaten me from inside until i’m hollowed.
the g-d shaped hole inside of me yawns endless with each sunrise. but g-d only comes to steal, never to fill. there is no forgiving great enough to return.
we’re in the room, the door is locked. they sit across from me, their eyes gleam with g-d’s own fire.
i hear the words, i hear the silence. i see mouths gaping endlessly, accusation running lightning from their hearts to g-d’s own ears. there is no peace. i wait for the prayers.
the papers are still stacked in front of them. lists upon lists, things i’ve done, things i’ve said. things i never knew were real, they’re all lined up. i am profane beyond hope, there is no room for me in the kingdom of heaven.
i’ve said all the verses, written all the words, yet i’m not sorry enough.
‘Let’s go over this again, shall we? Shade, I’m sure you know this is important. It’s G-d’s own work we do. You must repent. We are all heartbroken over this. Even your friends sitting over there.’
they smile and nod, neatly lined up. one of them is wiping her eyes, i can’t tell who it is.
every day it’s a different group of kids. they’re sitting there, holding all the g-d they can in their voices. even alder has come.
their faces are all wiped clean of sin, clean cleaner cleanest, no one ever needs to discipline them. all their prayers go to heaven. g-d loves them so.
they speak softly, tenderly, and i am to listen to how i offended them.
it’s a lot of work, confronting something like me. i’m lucky they’re willing to do it. they could be outside playing, but instead they’re here. because they love me.
so it begins again.
‘Our Heavenly Father, we are here today to bring repentance to Shade’s soul. She has left your side, but we know that you promise to seek and find. That you will not leave a soul in the dark. Show your power to us, find her in the darkness of her sins. Redeem her through the blood of her sanctification. Redeem her soul. Break her spirit until she listens, cleanse her. Help us to do so with love and humility. It’s in your precious name we pray, amen.’
all their eyes turn to me.
she lifts a piece of paper, ‘Here, Shade. Read this.’
the words run together, letters bleeding one to the next.
‘Well? Say it! Say you’re sorry. You’re horrible. You’re evil, everyone knows it.’
the paper clears to focus. her rounded soft letters spell out ‘you didn’t tell me you liked me’, ‘i wanted your seat, and you wouldn’t move’, ‘you smell’, ‘you’re proud’, ‘you stole my pencil’, ‘you’re an abomination’, ‘i hate you’.
the accusations grow.
i’ve rejected g-d, i’ve profaned the name of the church, i’ve lied, cheated, stolen food. there are words i’ve never heard, their meanings slip behind my eyes. my sins pile up until i choke. g-d has left me here in darkness.
‘Say the words! Say them!’ ‘i never! i never stole your pencil. i never.’
‘So, what you’re saying, Shade, is that you’re not sorry.’
my words die. the corners of the room move.
‘Here you go’ and the rod is in front of the girls. they smile.
‘Say it, Shade. Say you’re sorry. Repent. Repent.’
the world is turning white with each count, each prayer, each word. all the papers fly, dead skin, broken words, evil promise, they’ll never reach to g-d either. i wish they would, then it’d be done.
g-d would hate me, and i could just die. but it never stops.
‘Come with me, Shade. It’s time for your sanctification.’
skin on fire, the world tips sideways.