Casey is an average fifteen year old about to enter into the first year of high school. With an extremely Christian dad, and a deceased mom, Casey has more than academics on mind. Making new friends, creating bonds, but keeping a large secret is all in a day’s work.
Warning: This is rated M for a reason. Some of the chapters may seem tame, but it will get into sexual and adult situations. Please be aware. Do not read if these things may upset you.
I hated the teen Bible studies the most that day. All we covered was the sins a woman has in her life and how we tempt men. They used various Bible quotes to prove their point and I learned three years ago to tune them out. I read the bible with my dad, and had already formed my own opinion. I promised myself that when I turned 18 would be my last week in this church. I didn’t know what my dad would do, but I didn’t care as I struggled to pretend my two hours in the Sunday class away.
Mainly I knew that the bible never really did made females inferior to their male counter parts. Somehow through generations it came out to be as if girls were stupid. I felt strongly that Jesus was not guiding this church any more.
The class finally ended and I followed the others out into the main hall. Our parents would swoop in quickly and make sure the girls stayed away from the boys. I was sure that none of the teenage girls had apples to offer their love interests, but I was careful never to roll my eyes at the way the adults treated us.
My dad was still speaking with the director, or at least he was talking to him again, when I found him waiting for me by the front entrance. I had been shuffled off into the class room so fast before I hadn’t even gotten more than a quick peak to see my dad find the director. This meant that I didn’t know what they discussed, either. Their words died on their lips as I approached them. “Ready to go home?” my dad asked. “Yes, sir,” I answered meekly.
A couple of the boys from my age group were discussing a football game really loud as we passed by them to leave the church. I wanted to join them. My heart ached to rip off the dress, run over and laugh about the latest missed catch from our local team’s quarter back. I had thought it was hilarious, as well, when I saw the game on Friday night. The team was always good as a comedy session on Friday nights. I just wished then that I could be one of the guys.
Just as my father opened the doors for the main halls to let in the sunlight of almost noon, my name was called from behind. I turned to see Mary blushing at the realization that she had been rather loud in the church. She didn’t run over like she had at the mall, but shuffled quickly towards us. I looked at my dad as my friend grabbed onto my sleeve, “Can I talk to you for a minute?” My dad nodded and held the door open wider for us to leave before him.
I could see Mary’s parents frowning in the main hall as they watched us leave. They were talking to another couple. I’m sure everyone was talking about the fact that I was going to be attending public school, and I wondered if Mary’s parents were disapproving her choice of best friend.
She pulled me off of the cement path and toward the large ash tree that was on the lawn area of the front of the church. The golden white blocks that created our building gleamed brightly in the summer sun. She quickly looked behind me to see that my dad wasn’t following, but he wouldn’t let us out of sight, either. She whispered, “I was thinking and I think you’re making a mistake.”
“You’re going to have to elaborate a bit more,” I informed her.
“Let your hair grow out again, and stop this foolishness with the boy thing,” she hissed. She started to look angry now. It must have been sitting inside her all week, “I won’t tell on you, but if you don’t give me your word that you’re going to stop, then I cannot be your friend. I will not let you drag me into Hell for your selfish Devil worship.”
Now anger seethed into me. I started to shake as I clenched my fists at my side. I ripped my sleeve from her grasp, “Cast not the first stone unto the sinner lest you be judged yourself.” It wasn’t a direct quote, but it was enough to prove my point. “I needed a friend. Someone who could stand by me during my difficult time. If you cannot be this friend, then go and worship your false idols.” I didn’t raise my voice during the entire exchange, too afraid my dad would over hear, but I made my point. My heel pivoted and my legs stormed me off toward where my dad stood confused.
“Is everything alright, Casey?” he asked. I didn’t answer as I led the way back to our car. I could hear his footsteps behind me and I waited for him to unlock my side. My dress caught on my foot as I tried to get into my seat and I screamed as I pulled it into the car, slamming the door. I was shaking full force now from the rage I felt inside.
How could I have been so stupid to think that my longest and best friend ever would understand me? She was a sheep led to the slaughter of men through which nothing would come of her. I hated that she didn’t have a backbone. I hated that the men of this church were nothing but pigs who abused their women. How could they stay in this place and allow themselves to be belittled? Besides my dad, who wouldn’t acknowledge anything unless it was to be like the men in the church, Mary had known me during the time when I struggled with everything. I remember her holding me after my spanking when we were eight years old. I had cried as I begged her to teach me how to be a girl so I wouldn’t disappoint my dad anymore at the age of nine. She was there when my mom died when I was seven.
My thoughts ran out of order of different instances that I had thought Mary was there for me. I had thought that she was like me. She had once told me in secret that she wanted to go to college before marriage. Now at fifteen she didn’t feel that way anymore, I supposed.
We were halfway home when I finally said, “It’s the public school, huh?” He didn’t answer for a while. I continued, “That is what everyone was looking at me during the service for. Is that what the director wanted?” I was being extremely bold. Usually my dad never scolded me for talking like this, but I also had been very careful not to speak like this. Mary had opened up a dam inside of me.
“They are concerned that it will corrupt your soul,” he answered. I gave a small laugh. He glanced my way quickly and continued, “I’m not worried. Your mother went to public school and she was fine. I know we taught you well.”
Mom had died when I was seven, so the “we” he was including was Mrs. Tarnish alongside himself. When mom had died the church had been trying to convince my dad he could not raise me alone. Their answer to the problem was Mrs. Tarnish, who also had a daughter and two sons. After school and during the summer I spent most of my awake time with Mrs. Tarnish and her brood of kidlets. She had been brutal to me. I felt like I was constantly punished for being myself around her and the kids. Her one son was my size, though a year younger than me. I tried to learn quickly what she wanted from me, but Mary had been a savior in the end during those years. She was also the one who slapped me for saying I was a boy almost once a week for a few months.
When I turned twelve I had learned what to do to pretend. She still had cautioned my dad to keep an eye on me and the teachers in the school seemed to take a special interest as well. They were convinced I would end up gay and need reforming. My dad, though, spent little time with me but didn’t make me continue to live with Mrs. Tarnish anymore after that.
“Why would they think that?” I asked deeply. My voice was straining from not screaming again at the injustice of life in general.
“They think you’re rebellious, Casey. You have the mind of one who is on track toward corruption,” he sighed here as he turned onto our street. “Dear, Mrs. Tarnish, Director Thomas, and Ms. Bloom all approached me this summer.” He turned off the car in our driveway. I didn’t unbuckle as he turned in his seat, “Something is the matter with you. We can see it, but we don’t know what it is. Are you gay?”
He came out and asked. I spun shocked and offended toward him, “No!” I wasn’t gay, not in the least. I was a male and the thought of a male touching me wanted to make me vomit. Our blue eyes locked as he searched them to check for truth. He nodded, finding it there in my horror.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked that,” he shook his head, unlatched his belt and went to leave the car.
“Dad,” I said. I was going to tell him… I was going to tell him… I couldn’t tell him, as he turned toward me concerned again, “I promise I won’t dishonor you. I just want to know what it is like in public school like mom went to.” He smiled, touched my cheek and then left the car. I smiled back until his back was to me before also exiting the vehicle.
I couldn’t tell him. His expression when he asked if I was gay and the revelation of Cherish going to camp… no, I could never tell him while I was still young enough to not be able to run away. When I was eighteen and graduated from my senior year I would let him know and then disappear into the world on my own.
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Copyright: 2015 France Gamble