Written from the POV of a young bookworm.
621 words. Please leave a comment if you like what you read. 😊
Penny was eight years old. She liked reading so many books every week that librarians made noises of disbelief and quizzed her on volumes from the stack she was returning, only to be surprised when she gave unnecessarily detailed correct answers. She liked combing her hair quickly in the morning and leaving it to do what it liked for the rest of the day. She liked wearing faux turtlenecks in the winter, jean shorts in the summer, and sneakers all year round.
She did not like going to church, because it was the opposite of all those things. There was nothing new to read, her mom fussed about putting her hair up in stupid pigtails, and she had to wear a dress and uncomfortable shoes. Her parents wouldn’t even let her sit on the footrest because turning her back on the altar was disrespectful — not that anyone had explained why it was disrespectful. At least on Wednesday afternoons she could wear normal clothes and sneak books into CCD classes under her shirt, but Sunday mornings were just boring.
The little girl sat on the hard wooden bench with her chin in her hands and her elbows on her knees. This kept her from swinging her legs, which was somehow also disrespectful but she suspected actually just annoyed her dad. It was alright for him, because his parents further down the bench had raised him on this stuff, but Penny didn’t get why her mom was so into going to mass. Some Sundays they went to the Lutheran church across town with Grandma and Grandpa. That was more fun because halfway through the service all the kids got to go to the building next door to make art and play games. Shouldn’t Mom be more used to that kind of thing, and be just as bored as she was?
At the front of the church the priest called out, “Please rise.”
Penny hadn’t been paying attention but she dutifully stood up with everyone else. She drew the line at what everyone else was doing though, because it looked really stupid. It was some sort of blessing and involved everyone holding their right arm up towards the front of the room, fingers outstretched as though reaching to touch something at adult head level. Her dad left the History Channel on all the time and Penny had some very definite ideas about what that (kind of) looked like. Anyway, it looked stupid.
When she didn’t put her hand up like a good girl, her mom nudged her. Penny sighed dramatically and raised her arm but left her hand all droopy and floppy.
Her mother leaned down and whispered, “Penny, you know what they say about people with limp wrists.”
Penny didn’t, actually. It was the tone more than anything that made her hand snap up into place and she remembered that for a long time.
She remembered it in middle school when they moved to a different neighborhood and she didn’t quite fit in anywhere. She remembered it in high school, the quiet little mouse who had a small group of friends and never got asked out or wanted to go to school dances. She remembered it in college when she came out to her friends and family, and she remembered it as she struggled to become an author with published books of her very own and characters that she could really see herself in.
When her girlfriend of seven years slid the ring on her finger and said “I do,” it was outside in nature with a summer breeze teasing the ends of Penny’s loose, flowing hair, she didn’t remember anything — just basked in the perfect moment, and was at peace.