BY GALE ACUFF
Copyright is held by the author.
Sunday School today I got thrown out
for asking if Adam had a navel.
He has whatever God gave him was what
Mrs. Harper answers. What the Hell kind
of answer is that, I ask. The other
children gasp. You’re going to go to Hell
says Lucy Smucker. You’d better repent.
I’m only 10, I say. I haven’t lived
long enough to repent of anything.
That’s where you’re wrong, Mrs. Harper says. And
the more you sin the harder it will be
to get God’s Grace. I’ll give you that, I say.
But why can’t I just sin and sin and sin,
then ask to be forgiven when I know
I’m going to die, and be off the hook?
No, says Mrs. Harper, you can’t fool God
like that. Just how can I fool God, I ask.
That’s enough, Gale, says Mrs. Harper. Go
home. Yes, please go home, says Lucy Smucker.
I’m sweet on her. She’s got red hair and
could light up a dark room, I’ll bet. But now
I don’t have a chance with her. Unless I
repent. Awright, I say. I’m sorry. Faith,
says Mrs. Harper, is the evidence
of things not seen. She even says the words
that she leaves out. Yes ma’am, I say. I steal
I look at Lucy to see if she sees
me seeing the light. I apologize
for saying Hell, too, I say, in the way
I did, and not just as the opposite
of Heaven, which is how Lucy meant it.
Well, that’s fine, Mrs. Harper says. Let’s all
pray for Gale. She and my classmates bow heads.
I’ve never seen Lucy with her eyes closed.
I like it. O Lord, Mrs. Harper says,
we give thanks unto You that You have shown
Gale the error of his ways. Amazing
Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch
like me. I’m no wretch, you damned old devil,
I cry. Get out of this classroom, she yells.
I’m going, I say. But I’ll be back
next week. I look at Lucy. She’s smiling.
She doesn’t look at me but she believes.