Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: One
Title: It Was Time
Timothy marched into church at God’s First Baptist on Sunday morning promptly at 10:55 AM. He knew the service started at 11:00, and he intended to cause one hell of a disturbance during the service.
The morning had been fun. He had laughed more than he could remember laughing in months, maybe years. The hardest parts were getting his hands right, and getting those damn fake nails to look right on his fingers. He remembered shaving his hands, one at a time. The right one had been easier to shave, he always used his razor with his left hand anyway. But shaving his left hand had been a bitch of a problem. He been extra careful to not cut himself. Cuts wouldn’t have looked right.
After he’d shaved the hair off his hands he’d had to deal with the fake nails. God, he’d never imagined the torture women had to go through to deal with those things! Took him hours to get it right. Put one on, then pull it off, ‘cause it was friggin’ sideways, or crooked. Try it again. He’d burned through half the night to get them on. He still didn’t like the one on his right ring finger, it wound up a touch crooked, but at 03:00 in the morning, he wasn’t in any shape to deal with it.
Pink. He searched his brain cells for a better description, but could only come up with pastel pink, which he was pretty sure wasn’t right. Timothy his hands before himself, examined his nails, and somehow managed not to break out laughing.
He’d shaved his face then put on a wig. It was the same pastel pink as the fingernails, “Perfect!” he thought. That wig reached half-way down his back. He’d tied it in a ponytail using a bright yellow scrunchie.
The thought, “God’s First Baptist is getting what it deserves this morning!” echoed repeatedly in his head. “Serves ‘em right, the way they treated Mary.”
Mary was his best friend. They’d grown up together. Gone to Kindergarten, and all 12 school grades together. Of course, in school Mary was Maury, but that was all detail stuff. If Mary said she was Mary then Timothy said she was Mary.
Of course, God’s First Baptist had a cow when they heard what Mary had done. They threw her out of the church. Took her story before all the deacons, and the pastor, and had her name and all her pictures lopped out of the history of the church.
This was Timothy’s farewell to the church. March in at the last-minute, dressed like a guy, but with girly hands, and girly hair. He knew it’d piss off everyone in the building, and that’s why he did it.
He sat on the front row. Marched in, proudly marched down the center aisle, then picked a place in the exact middle of the front row. It was like he was Moses parting the sea, the way everyone scattered when they saw him. The head of the Deacons raced up to him, and demanded he leave, “Nope.” Timothy sat down.
“You’re sick! You disgust me!”
“Why? ‘Cause I’m different than you?” Timothy loved the look of outrage on the old bastard’s face. “‘Cause I don’t look like you think a proper Christian boy should look?”
The entire front pew emptied, so did the second pew. Timothy sat and enjoyed listening to the voices running wild in the sanctuary. “Disgusting!” and “He’s fallen to Satan!” “Maury got to him. Corrupted him.” “May they both rot in hell.” “Imagine! Coming here dressed like that! Knowing what would happen!”
The choir entered, then the pastor, and everyone stood up for the opening music. The pastor looked at Timothy seated on the front row, and nearly choked. “Get that heathen out of our church!” And chaos erupted.
Timothy sat quietly through it all, put his hands together and held them up to pray. He bowed his head and belted out the words he’d practiced a million times in his head.
“Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing. They’re too afraid, to driven by fear, to even see what’s happening here.” His eyes nailed the pastor, “They profess to follow your words, your ways. But you welcomed everyone. Forgave their sins. Helped them start their lives again.”
He faced the top Deacon, “But they only help those they feel safe around.”
“So, I decided to wear a wig, and do my nails. Probably half the people in this room do their nails for Sunday every week. What’s wrong with wanting pretty nails?” He eyed the people of the congregation, “What’s wrong with trying to learn a bit about what women and girls deal with every day?”
He stared at the pastor once again, “I bet you haven’t got a clue how hard it is,” Timothy held up his hands for the world to see. “For you wife to fix her nails so they look the way they do.” He pulled his ponytail around his neck, “Or what it’s like to have to brush the tangles from her hair.”
The pastor screamed in rage, the Deacons all did too. The biggest, strongest men in the church started moving toward the front pew. Timothy knew it was time to leave. “OK! OK, Christians! I’ll leave, so you can feel safe and secure again, in this country club you members of.”
He pointed straight at the pastor, extending the pink nail of his index finger like an arrow-head, “And I won’t be back. I’ll spend my Sunday mornings with my best friend, Mary. She’s more grown up than you.”
Timothy proudly marched out of the room, down the middle of the center aisle, like he owned the building, and could do anything he wanted to. He’d done what he’d set out to do. He’d caused chaos, disorder, and panic too. But in his heart he knew.
It didn’t mean a God Damned thing. Not one soul within that room would ever change. They’d keep going on their merry way. Removing from their lives anything and anyone they didn’t understand. Anything and anyone that wasn’t just like them.
He’d wondered once, if he should cry for the lost souls in that room. If he should pray to God above to not give up on them, to find a way to wake them up. But he’d had to learn the awful truth.
They’d never change.
They’d never grow.
And he was no longer one of them. It was time for him to go, to move on with his life, to become what he needed to become. It was time for him to let God be God, and let God deal with them.
When he reached his car, he pushed Mary’s button on his phone, and arranged to have lunch with her. “At least she’s real, and knows what she feels.” He looked at the building for God’s First Baptist Church, and laughed. “She’s not hiding in a world that isn’t real.”
That Sunday was the last day Timothy would ever go to church. He was too grown up for them.
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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.