Observations from a Pew in Church

Lacey is on her knees in the front row as she sings, her arms reaching for something that Mary knows she’ll never catch, eyes squeezed shut and brown hair stuck to her forehead from sweat, rocking with the pulsing of electric bass. Lacey has recently returned to ‘walking with Christ’ having been shown by the Holy Spirit that her drinking and participation in casual sex were contrary to God’s will. Mary has noticed that all of her friends tend to move through their faith in cycles. She thinks she might, too, but for her the appearance of devoutness is always there. Her father’s job as a youth minister means she can’t rebel quite as obviously as those around her, can’t confess to her sexual sins like Lacey does to ask for absolution.

Sex. Mary gets a thrill from thinking such a taboo word in church, allowing her mind to wander to the word’s application and how Lacey would look laying down on a bed, a similar look of ecstasy on her face. Lacey has turned back to Christ three times since entering high school, an impressive number for someone just about to turn twenty. Most people take a few years to cycle through, like Grayson, the man standing next to Mary. He’d spent his four years of high school in a drunken stupor but was re-baptized his first year of college. For whatever reason, Lacey is able to move through the process of complete debauchery to perfect piety in a matter of months.

“She needs someone to hold her accountable,” Mary’s father had told her just this morning. He only said this to Mary because he wanted her to be the one to lead Lacey down the path of righteousness. Mary is proud of herself for fooling him. Knowing who she is would only upset him and Mary doesn’t want to do that. He deserves better.

Mary doesn’t need to do anything for Lacey, though, because no action can change Lacey’s trajectory. She will bounce back and forth between sin and repentance until she marries a sinful or repentant man. It’s what Mary had done in her own subtle way, taking kisses from whomever was interested in dark corners of wild parties.

Mary looks over at her fiancé and gently twines her fingers with his, thinking of all she’ll have to do for their wedding. Flowers, food, a dress, a bachelorette party where she can have some fun without getting caught, and then another more appropriate bachelorette party with her friends from the church. All of the years after that, she’ll have to find a way to live how she wants to without her husband noticing. When Lacey gets married, she’ll have to pick a path. But Mary knows how to get away with both.

This piece originally appeared in an online literary magazine that I now don’t support. Email me if you have questions regarding which magazine, and why I no longer advertise them.

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