Story written by Franklin Rayeski — Please do not use without crediting me
My family rarely talked about God, but every once in awhile, we still ended up in church. I remember sitting, flipping through the pages of the holy book when the pastor rattled off the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not commit adultery. My father smiled to his new wife. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s property. Maria told me about Heaven and Hell once: if you do good things, you go to Heaven, if you do bad things, you suffer in Hell. God decides what’s good and bad, she said.
They owned a statue of a golden corpse. His frail body was nailed to a wooden “t” and his face was always suffering. They took the ornament out a few days before Easter and put him back in a box after supper. There’s a sign in the living room that reads: “Have Faith. Love Often. Enjoy Family.” Mom and Dad used to yell a lot. Dad and Dad’s wife yell a lot too.
Over the years, I hopped between my parents. One was sad to see my go and one was sad to see me arrive. Maria liked to test her husband’s faith. She got him to do all sorts of wicked things. And all sorts of things against me. My soul was covered in stains. My spirit swelled and bled. Her grace was even kind enough to give him a small choice one day.
I carried the bed frame out of my room. It was chopped into little pieces. I hauled it to the dumpster outside just as my father asked. He drove me home in our Genesis Sedan and stayed silent. I didn’t really have a choice, he’d say later. My heart was shattered. You wouldn’t understand, he’d say. He clenched a fist full of hair and lifted a lofty blade above me. I don’t understand why you’re upset, he’d continue.
There were a lot of cards that appeared on my front porch. Empty cards filled with empty cash and empty words. All year round from Abe. Congratulations. Have a great Christmas. Congratulations. Have a great Easter. Congratulations. Have a great birthday. To Isaac, Love Dad. A whole pile of nothing. He’s proven his faith to the Madonna. He’s shown his faith to the devil.