Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Of The Day - Church Ain't A Showplace for Saints by Angelia Vernon Menchan

Chantelle sat on the side of her bed feeling exhausted. Glancing at her husband, Stanley, made her eyes water. They had been married for eleven years and the sight of him made her sick. She was almost twenty-nine when she met him and had to have him. As a church going woman, she felt she needed him to fill her up. She had struggled against her flesh so long and had made a few slips along the way, though that was her secret. Stanley offered marriage and she took it. For ten of the eleven years, she pretended all was well but it wasn’t. Stanley was a cheat and he worked when he felt like it. She just didn’t understand why God would do this to her. She had done all she was supposed to; she was in church, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday nights. She paid more than her share in tithes and she was a good woman, she knew she was. What the hell happened? She didn’t admit or own any of her own transgressions. She was a saint after all, wasn’t she?

Anise woke up exhausted. She had spent the night before drinking and felt like she was dipped in a bottle of tequila but the one thing on her mind was going to church. She had dreamed about her grandma, mama and aunt in one night and they each told her, "Baby, the Lord is still waiting."

It had been years. She was thirty-seven, and more than half her life had been spent since then. Standing in the mirror, she took her own measure and knew it was only God who kept her. The fact she looked halfway decent was a miracle and as her grandma used to say, "Proof that Jesus was real."

She remembered the last day she attended church. She rolled out of bed after a night of debauchery but no matter what, she went to church.

Strolling in that morning, the first person she ran into was Sister Chantelle. Chantelle Myers, who would later be Chantelle Rodgers, was the personification of a church girl. Her dress was proper, her stockings opaque and she even wore a pillbox hat and was only three years older than Anise, which made her twenty-five. Chantelle's lips tightened as Anise tried to walk past her and she grabbed Anise's arm, literally pulling her into a side office.

"Anise Silvers, I cannot believe you coming in here smelling like liquor and midnight. You ought to be ashamed." Chantelle hissed and Anise could smell the peppermint on her breath. She knew there was a supply in her handbag.

"Chantelle, last time I checked, church was for everybody. Go on, now."

"Church is for those trying to live and do right, it's not for those who just rolled out some man's bed and coming in here. This is church and that tight dress and bare legs is just plain sinful. Sinful. I know your grandmother is rolling over in her grave." Her words felt like Ginzu knives slicing through flesh.

Suddenly, Anise felt weary and ashamed. Maybe Chantelle was right. Chantelle was as pure as the driven snow and had spent her life in church. Surely, she knew better. Turning on her heels, she fled and hadn't been back in fifteen years.

But that day, that morning, she was going to church. It was past time...

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