“Don’t cross your legs,” my mother demands. She eyes my posture up and down. “Sit straight, shoulders square, chin up. He will accept you no other way.” I do as I am told. Shuffling in a long cloth dress made by my mother, I adopt the pin straight stature of my brother who is sat beside me. I catch his pearly smirk and roll my eyes when mother isn’t looking. She weighs my shrugging shoulders down with the heels of her hands.
“Ninety degrees,” she orders. “He will-”
“-take you away from us if you are not perfect,” I hiss, lapping up the end of her sentence before she can spit it. Instead of preaching back at me, my mother sheds tears. I stake a glare at my brother and stew in my detest of his perfectly carved symmetry. I follow the stare of his eyes to the double doors of the chapel. Wisps of white robes flow in with the gentle breeze. The elder adorned in them approaches me.
“Young lady,” he wheezes from the dry cave of his throat, “your judgment will free us of the devil’s presence.”
“Pastor,” my mother pleads, “I have tried to raise her by His teachings, but she simply will not listen.”
“The fault is not yours, child,” the pastor says. “He will come and take her to meet with the beast who cursed her in the womb.” My mother cries after his affirmation.
“He isn’t real, mother!” I bark. “You’re all brainwashed! Crazy!”
“Silence, girl,” the pastor’s voice echoes through the atrium. He turns to my mother and whispers to her. She clambers up on the altar and takes my brother’s hand.
“Come along now, dear,” she says. I do not see her eyes before she leaves.
The vacancy around the altar dances with refractions from the stained glass. Tens of portraits of Jesus stare half-lidded at the me sitting alone. The pastor watches me from the isle, hands folded behind his back to keep them clean of my presence.
“You cannot summon God,” I taunt. “Even if He does exist, you’re just a man in a white cap.”
“You do not follow on His path. Your actions are cause for damnation in the Holy Book.” The pastor’s eyes glaze over. “He comes for you now.” His eyes rolled back in his head and a guttural din lolled from his throat.
I stand and stomp the stage. “You’re just making a mockery of yourself!”
The halls silence. The walls and multi-colored glass melt. The swirling amalgam pools at the pastor’s feet and twist around his body, engulfing him. I am blinded by the glaring white beyond the melted walls. The mass swirls and grows. It towers over me and takes form. A hand. His hand. Two spectral eyes watch me. Their stare peels my skin. My hair falls out. A five-fingered shadow engulfs my form.