Keeping her head down, Kylie pretended to read the rice paper thin pages of the book open on her lap. By concentrating on the words, her lips moving as she sounded out each syllable, the six-year-old could filter out most of what the man was saying.
Dressed in a white chasuble, a gold tasselled shawl hanging around his neck, the cleric held a microphone in one hand and a book like her’s in the other. He paced from one side of the chancel to the other, emphasizing his sermon’s message by raising the leather bound bible over his head or gesturing with it toward the congregation.
Ending his pacing at the pulpit, he laid the book open, so he could face the worshippers. His speech becoming louder, shriller, and more frantic, working up to a crescendo of condemnation.
She felt the rumbling through her seat, and risked a sidelong peek at her mother. She had her bible clutched to her chest in white knuckle hands. Her mother’s lips were moving too, but she wasn’t reading, she was repeating the same phrase over and over. Tears, tracing down her cheeks, dripped onto the red velveteen padding of their pew, and splashed on Kylie’s arm.
“We are all wretched sinners, unworthy of salvation… We are all wretched sinners, unworthy of salvation…”
Reaching toward her mother, Kylie jumped when the cleric slammed his fist down on the altar. Looking up, she saw he was pointing directly at her.
“Are we sheep being led to slaughter,” he railed, leaning over the edge of the lectern, shaking his finger at Kylie. “Remember, if you go to hell, it’s your fault!”
Trifecta, a weekly one-word prompt, challenges writers to use that word in its third definition form, using no less than 33 words or no more than 333. The week’s prompt is: Wretched [adj.\ˈre-chəd\] 3: being or appearing mean, miserable, or contemptible
The above sign is one of thousands of wooden and concrete signs crafted by Henry Harrison Mayes which he planted along heavily traveled roadways beginning in 1917, and continuing for nearly 60 years. These signs and crosses were seen from Chicago to Atlanta, to LIttle Rock to West Palm Beach – eventually being displayed in 44 states. Several of Mayes signs are now on display at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, TN.