Starting Fresh

Thank goodness I brought knitting, I think. I sit in my pew, keeping the yarn taut, feeling my gauge tighten. At least it’s just another horrible prayer shawl. It doesn’t matter. None of this matters.

It’s been two weeks. Two weeks that I’ve been back in this town, coming to this building on Sunday, feeling it stifle me and suck the life out of me. Four years away at university and one more to try and make it work with my boyfriend. Four years of heaven and one year of a new kind of hell. He dumped me; I moved home. Back to the old hell.

I sigh; my mom jabs an elbow into my ribs. Keep it together.

If only it had worked out with Jayden. I tried so hard. But he said the desperation was the worst part, in the end. He said he couldn’t solve my problems for me. It hurt so much; I wasn’t trying to let him solve my problems. I was trying to solve them myself. But in that last agonizing month before our lease was up, when I spent hours on the phone trying to find a place I could afford, after we had broken up but before I had fully given up, something clicked and I saw more clearly than anything that I was using him. He was right. I thought I would shrivel up from all the tears I cried.

I hate it here. I hate that my dad is the pastor and everything I do has to be so careful and perfect, because he is careful and perfect. He screwed up once; he thinks he’d never get a second chance. I think his god is an asshole if that’s true, but I already know that people are assholes and god is more or less a fabrication by people as far as I’m concerned, so he’s right too.

What’s with all these guys being right? I hate that they’re right.

Dad drones on and on about the blood of Jesus and the way it solves all the problems. I could probably preach his sermon for him, just as emphatically. I could pretend to be that holy.

I want to walk out, but I’ve got nowhere to go, and as much as I hate church and God and this town and having to live here again, I love my parents and it would hurt them too much, so I keep my mouth shut and my knees together and my eyes down, glaring at my boring knitting.

Finally church is over and we all file out. I shake hands with my dad in the foyer with overenthusiastic pomp, our pathetic running joke that I do because it makes him smile, and he always looks so tired on Sundays.

I do so much to keep everybody else happy. I should get over it; nobody does a damn for me.

I step out into the bright June sunshine and breathe a sigh of relief. I feel closer to some sort of higher power just two steps out of the church than I have ever felt inside.

I jump when I feel a hand on my shoulder, then feel a blush pour over me. It’s Anna, my childhood best friend. We stopped seeing each other when our friendship changed and we were both terrified of being found out. I didn’t know she was back. I didn’t know my feelings hadn’t changed.

“Welcome home,” she says, and her voice strikes a chord that vibrates in my soul. “What’s new with you?”

Everything, I think. Everything.

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