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Pen Your Pride

Before It's Too Late

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“Where are you taking me?” Kaoru asked nervously. I smoothed out the wrinkles on my dress and tugged him around the corner. “Why the random kidnapping? What’s going on?”

                “Do you know what day it is?” I asked. Steam swirled from my lips as I spoke. I shivered, and out of reflex, curled into his body. He tensed.

                “It’s Sunday, right?”

                I gave a dull nod and smiled. “Sunday.” I repeated. I’d been in Japan for a month and I refused to do the one thing that was most important to me, even more important than singing. I stumbled along the sidewalk toting Kaoru along with me. I recognized a few faces from school. A group of girls paused to stare at Kaoru exchanging confused looks before giggling and waddling away. I let their faces warp into the back of my mind.

                “What’s gotten you so worked up? Are you still thinking about the performance on Friday? Listen, Indie, I thought things had gotten better between the three of us. I made Hikaru promise to leave you alone, he can’t hurt you anymore.”

                I froze.

My dark hair dangled over my eyes.

I touched my choker.

Letting out deep, uneven breaths,

I smiled.

                “I’m over it. Really, I would’ve done this even if Hikaru was my best friend. Can you please just trust me?”

                He opened his mouth then snapped it back shut. I laughed and pulled him in front of a tall, traditional Gothic styled building. The both of us gaped up at its structure. Gargoyles beamed down at us, water poured out of their mouths as marbled angels bowed down before iron crosses.

                “A church?” Confusion captured his voice. His lips twisted into a tight, crinkled oh. “I didn’t even know we had one of those, let alone an English styled church. Where’d you find this?”

                “I believe the better question is ‘when’ did I find this.” I corrected. My insides fluttered to life. I couldn’t contain my excitement. “And to answer that, this is the church my Mom used to go to back when we lived in Japan a long time ago. I’d been looking for it for a while, but couldn’t really remember where it was. After spending hours looking for it on the internet, I was finally able to contact the Pastor who gave me directions, so, yeah. Ta da!”

                Kaoru looked at me sideways. I blushed. I hadn’t even asked him if he was a Christian, and up until now, the thought that he might hate me for dragging him to a church without his permission didn’t even occur to me. Oddly enough, I wasn’t worried. There was something different about Kaoru.

Something really amazing.

                “Well, what are we waiting for?” He asked with a smile. “Let’s get a seat.”

                “Really?” Joy exploded through my body and tickled me from the inside out. I started bouncing up and down, grinning a wide Cheshire grin for ear to ear. Kaoru smiled back and lead the way inside. He found us a place in the middle of the room, apart from the traditional elderly women at the front of the building. I folded my hands into my lap and waited for the Pastor to return. From the far corner of the room, he entered clutching a thick Bible in his hands. He placed the book on the podium and gestured for us to rise. Kaoru and I stood.

                “Thank you. Please join me in a word of prayer.” He smiled. I took note of his face. He seemed so much older when I talked to him on the phone, but looking at him now, he appeared younger. No older than fifty. He had fine salt and peppered hair and tanned skin. His eyes were tiny and hidden by thick horned rim glasses. He wore a traditional black suit and shiny black shoes. My smile widened. “Father in Heaven, we gather here before You to thank You for all that You are. Blessed be Your name. Please lead us and strengthen us in times of need. Protect our hearts and touch us in a way that we’ve never felt before. Father, we apologize for the sins that we have done, but we rejoice in the fact that You have already forgiven us and love us all the same. Father, I know that Your people are hurting and I pray that You heal them from the inside out. Let them know that they are not alone, that You are always by their side. Heal them, Lord, like You have healed so many. We pray this in your name, Amen.”

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