We stepped inside the vestibule of a pink-bricked Church of Christ, the size of a small Laundromat. Air conditioning replaced morning heat, lifting all the hairs on my arms. I hid them with my palms. We stood waiting to have our hands shaken by a smiling man in brown polyester and cowboy boots. I smelled chalk and the fruit of the vine (grape juice, actually), the soft waxy scent of someone’s favorite lipstick, and the insides of songbooks.
The man in brown said, “We’re so happy to have such a lovely family visiting this morning.” I smiled from under dark bangs. “Please be sure to fill out an attendance card so we can keep in touch.”
“Okay, thank you,” my mother said as she guided us into the auditorium. People turned from their pews and smiled at us. “Hello,” they said softly. We exuded innocence. The fundamentalist marriage has the effect of keeping women youthful until their resentment finally takes over, swelling them up and giving them unflattering hairdos. My mother still radiated her virgin motherhood. She wore an empire waist dress handmade from the same pale blue cotton of my own dress, the baby’s hat, and David’s Sunday shorts.
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