‘Tell me, Alder, were you listening to The Word today?’
‘sir, i was,’ she rings out crisp clear words into the car.
we are all hot-pressed into seats. road bends away from sky, tree to tree, they reach up up up. cloud tangled, they’ve been praying all day. it’s sunday, g-d’s day. our only words are to be prayers, so every tree obeys.
‘Even the rocks would cry out,’ he loves to say as we walk.
we’d be hand-pinched into his shadow, bible verses raining down. faster than light can shed dark, his words steal all the green. when he talks, dark sinks into my bones.
sign by sign, the letters move past us.
10, 20, 35, 45, we are going going. trees dip against sky, i want their hands, their bark. but we are rough-edged into the back seats. today we learned about the second coming. today we learned more about hell, and the tribulation.
‘Are you saved? Have you truly received G-d’s salvation? I tell you now, that these are the last days. In these days there will come men who speak of G-d and yet they are liars. They will deceive you with pretty lies about grace and forgiveness. I am telling you this day has come. Are you prepared?’
everyone nods, ‘amen’ is the by-word.
‘When that trumpet sounds, when J-sus comes back, judging the quick and the dead, will you be ready? You might be walking, you might be driving, you will be doing something, that is certain. J-sus will come like a thief in the night, and you had better be ready. If you are not, you will be left here.’
‘When all the righteous have been brought up into heaven, the beast will come, and his mark will be writ large in the world. Everyone who is left behind will be brought before this beast, and marked. I tell you they will be marked with the number of the beast. You will surely die, if you are left behind. One way or another, satan will have your soul.’
the fan above me circles ’round and ’round. it is not enough to move summer from the building. it is only enough to count.
1, 2, 3….
‘Believe and you will be saved….’
4, 5, 6…
‘The heart is deceitful. Do you know for certain, without a shadow of a doubt where you’d go. If you died tonight…’
21, 23, 29, 31…
‘If any of you here today are not sure. If any of you here today have not asked J-sus into your heart…’
and it’s ‘just as i am’ until enough repenting has happened.
we leave for home.
alder slides against me. shoulder to shoulder, her face is wet. she repented today, all the way up to the altar. she prayed and prayed, everyone made the smiling faces.
‘speed limit 45. what’s that mean?’
‘Shade, are you so stupid you can’t read?’
‘Then don’t ask useless questions. They are a waste of my time.’
1, 1, 1, 1, 1, road tells secrets one by one. so i count.
‘no passing zone. what’s a no passing zone?’
‘Did you bother to listen today in church? Did you understand anything about what Preacher was saying?’
‘sir, i listened. g-d will come back and take the good people.’
‘Well, this sign means if you are here when J-sus comes back, that you can’t go. You will get left behind like you weren’t saved. But you’re not really saved anyway.’
‘that’s not true.’
‘Don’t call me a liar. I know what I’m talking about.’
white light fills the car, my face is burning. i count the seconds until we leave the no passing zone.
and i pray, i pray that g-d won’t come back yet.