The Art of Being Fake.The Journey Church (aka where I spend 75% of my life) is located in a foreclosed barbecue restaurant. Big Daddy J's Barbecue, to be precise. The story begins like this: Big Daddy J's was my favorite restaurant, but then they foreclosed. The Journey Church used to be wedged between an antique shop and a bookstore. Our landlord kicked us out, and Big Daddy J's was the best (and only) option. Plus, it had it's own parking lot.
So, our church has a kitchen, which was cool. And that kitchen is where I now am carrying a huge crock-pot full of macaroni, for the Women's Luncheon. I know, it's as stupid as it sounds. It's basically all of the women of the church sitting around a table, talking about what flavor of coffee creamer to buy for the church and what color to paint the bathrooms.
Our church, which used to be focused on God, is now focused on appearances. The one thing I could count on in my life has changed. Well, except for Zach.
Speaking of, as I walk out of the kitchen, my face smacks Zach's chest. I stumble backwards, and then look at him. His face looks so guilty and shocked that I can't help but bust out laughing.
Zach is the epitome of... awesome. He plays the drums, he draws on his shoes, and he's got great hair. It's blonde and thick, and I like running my fingers through it; it's not as creepy as it sounds. Zach has hazel eyes and he's really tall. He's only 17, 1 year older then me, but he looks like a senior in high school.
"Watch where you're going, Zachary," I say teasingly. Zach is my best friend, the bestest best friend anyone ever had ever.
"Sorry, Bentley," he says, smiling a wide smile. I can't help but smile back.
"Would you like to help me set up the pre-k room?" I ask. He nods, and we walk towards the back of the building, where all of the snot-nosed, drooly kids learn about God. He takes the chairs off of the tables, while I write the lesson on the chalkboard. When I turn around, Zach is staring at me.
"What?" I demand. I don't like for people to stare at me; it makes me uncomfortable, as I'm sure it does with everyone else.
"Nothing," he says, looking down sheepishly, his hair falling into his eyes. I sigh.
"BENTLEY MARIE," my mother calls, her loud voice filling the building.
"What now?" I mutter, walking back towards the main hall. Zach follows behind me silently.
"Yes, ma'am?" I say.
My mother turns around. She's the kind of woman this town breeds; fake nails, fake blonde hair, hooped earrings, and the constant need to appear perfect at any moment.
"Bentley, honey, would you get the bread and juice ready for Communion?" she asks, looking down at her phone.
"Yes, ma'am," I say as I wheel around towards the kitchen. Zach follows like a little puppy.
"Will you get me the grape juice, please?" I ask him. I look around for the loaf of bread, but it's nowhere to be seen.
"Where is the stupid bread? I brought it in here yesterday." I finally spot it on the top of an unstable shelf. I place my foot on the bottom shelf, and then the other foot. I stretch on my toes, reaching my arms until my fingers brush the bag holding the bread. I just barely hook it with my finger before the shelf gives way and falls on top of me.
"Honey, what happened?" my mother asks. She helps me up. I notice a couple of the church members are in here, concern in their eyes.
"Sorry to make such a mess, Mom. I was just trying to get the bread and the shelf collapsed on me." I bend down, picking up the bag with the bread. "Got it."
"Are you hurt?" she asks. I shake my head.
"No, Mom, I'm fine. Seriously. Don't worry, I fall all the time." I try to smile through the blossoming pain on the back of my head.
"Well," she says. "The service starts in ten minutes, so don't mess around." My mom turns on her heel and walks out, the church members following behind her.
"'Don't mess around'," I imitate her in a nasal voice. "Yeah, because trying to get bread for the damn communion and then falling is 'messing around.'"
"Bent, it's okay," Zach says.
"I just get so fed up with her!" I say, throwing the bread on the counter. "She wants me to do everything for her, but then gets mad at me because of the way I do it! If she wants it done so damn perfect, why doesn't she just do it herself?"
I grab a glass pitcher and pour grape juice into it, then put the loaf of bread on a plate.
"Let's go," I mumble.
The church service is over, finally, and we get home. I'm thrilled, because this means I get to escape to my room. My head still aches, so I pop some Tylenols and hide in my room.
I flop down on my bed, and a wave of exhaustion rolls over me. My eyes snap shut, and I'm asleep before I know it.
It feels like only seconds that I've been asleep. But a loud, startling noise wakes me up and sends panic through me. I hear the very distinct sound of a gunshot. I stand up, my vision turning purple as the blood rushing down my body. I sway for a second, and hit the ground.
I hear the front door slam, and then a scream.
"Robert!" my mom screams. Dad... Oh god, Dad!
I fling my bedroom door open and fly down the stairs. I'm outside in seconds.
I stop in my tracks just as I step onto the porch. My mom is on her knees, sobbing, my father's head in her hands. I can see her mouth, and I see that it is moving. She's saying something, or yelling. But I can no longer hear, I can no longer feel. I can only see what's happening.
I see my father's lifeless body, blood pouring out of a hole in his white church shirt. His mouth hangs open, with blood steadily streaming out of it. His eyes are open, a milky film over them. I see terror in his lifeless eyes.
By the time my mind has processed this image, my vision turns black and I hit the ground.