The Pastor Comes A Courtin’
Pastor Jason shook hands with Momma and Daddy at church. Momma asked what such a fine young man was doing without a wedding band? He said he just hadn't found the right girl yet. He looked to me and smiled.
He never asked me out, but he asked Momma. Momma agreed, and he took me on a date. He took me on a walk down a nature trail and talked to me about God while he did things to me I thought God should never know about.
I suffered morning sickness on my wedding day.
I sat down on a toilet seat that was cold and wet with his urine. Before going to bed, he put a fresh roll of toilet paper on the roll. He made it go under. I prefer the paper to go over.
Still newlyweds, he would not come to the hospital with me. I was there all alone while I miscarried that first time. It was the same the other three times. He said his parishioners needed his comfort, and he had God's duty to perform. My stillborn infants' dead eyes never saw their father. Perhaps that was for the best?
Cathy Jacobs, a single mother, kept having children out of wedlock. All three of her children looked like Jason.
There were recurring dreams of my children. They looked like me, not Jason. They looked nothing like Cathy's children.
I woke up sweating and feeling an empty pit in my stomach. I touched the scars from my last C-section, and went to the bathroom to cry. Once again, the toilet seat was wet and the toilet paper went under, not over.
I asked for a certificate of divorce the next day. He quoted, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." I mention that divorce is permitted in the case of infidelity. He claimed there was no infidelity, and even if there were, a Christian woman would forgive.
He refused the divorce. I talked to Momma, and she told me I was being ridiculous, that Pastor Jason had opened up so many doors for the family. She told me to stop being so selfish.
"Besides," she reminded me, "you don't have a job. What would you do?"
I had no answer.
Jason moved us to a big house in the country. I was only allowed to leave the house on Sundays. I sat on the front pew, listened to him preach, and forced a smile on my face.
He no longer slept with me. The only time he touched me was when he hit me. As lonely and isolated as I was, I made him hit me a lot. I know it was wrong, but I enjoyed the touch.
A New Day
There was a new parishioner. A middle-aged man named Charley. He was a tall blonde with an athletic build. Despite his age, he looked younger than me. Before coming to town, he used to play football in the city. He's retired now.
He smiled at me. I smiled back and uncrossed my legs.
A Second Request
I asked for a divorce again. Charley promised he would provide me a way out.
My husband refused, quoting "And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery."
He hit me and called me a sinner before leaving me alone in the house. Jason drove away to be comforted by his parishioner.
Reading the Bible, looking for a way out, I read "And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into Hell." I didn't want to sin. I understood I had to cast off the hand.
I got up to go to the bathroom. The seat was wet and the toilet paper went under, not over.
I had enough.
I took the roll of toilet paper into the bedroom. I straddled Jason, used the sheets to hold him down, stuffed the toilet paper roll into his mouth, and lit it on fire. His screams were muffled as the sheets caught the flames.
The firemen found me laughing in my nightshirt while I watched the blaze burn the house to the ground.
The Caged Bird
On Sundays I am surprised by how free I feel despite being enclosed in my cell. I sing and write long love letters to Charley.
He never writes back.