Monday, August 9, 2010

The Day Izzy Lawrence was Judged in the Calvary First Freewill Baptist Church

Katie Justice was to be baptized today, the first of many that would have occurred during the revival. Katie was crouched under a pew, thirteen years old, clutching her mother’s dress. Her breathing, I could tell, was the same as all of them, pushing and pulling from her chest, pinwheeling in her throat, both tragic and blessed.

The complete silence that dropped on the church when I pulled the 9mm from the waist of my pants had been the emptiness and wonder left in the air from an echo.

Izzy closed her eyes when I pressed the barrel just above her eyebrow, made a halo on her forehead. It looked out of place. Too small and too holy of a thing to be on that skin.

When the baptistery glass broke, the waters came in one great wave, slamming to the floor and jumping into wave again, rimmed white and dark at the ripples.

I heard the people making for the door, pushing pews aside. The water took very little time to splash and lap and spread through the whole church.

Izzy was gone and the deacons, too. I turned slowly in a half circle and watched the people crowding the front doors, turned again and faced the altar and held my arms out. The gun jerked inside my hand and dropped, black and dead, alive only under the shifting movement of the water.

To my knees and then down, the water holding me in place. Stretching myself tight, arms, legs, stomach, everything inside me floating there and forgotten, a pebble knocked around in a dark river’s silt. And there, too, floated my heart, safe from the burning places of my mind, broken piece upon broken piece.

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