• Kimberly Moore

Fiction: Sanctity by Kimberly Moore

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My sister, Tildy, still looks the same even though I haven’t seen her in a week. In that time, she got married and became one with Brother Jonah and God. I thought she might look different. She is wearing the dress that the married women in the pavilion wear and it is poofed out in the front because she hasn’t filled out yet. Other than the dress, she looks the same as always.

This is our time of tribulation. The devil sent the police to our home today. Brother Jonah said it would happen.

Tildy is still peering through the window into the noisy part of the police station. She turns her head to look at me. “You haven’t told them anything, have you?”

Tildy knows I won’t tell them our secrets. The devil wants to convince us that what is right is wrong. Brother Jonah has told us all the devil’s tricks. Taking us from the pavilion was meant to scare us. Next, they’ll tell us that we have been mistreated and abused, and no matter what we say, they’ll never believe the love and happiness that fills us. They won’t believe until they’re dead and in hell, wishing they had lived right and done what Brother Jonah said.

“Whatever happens, do not turn your back on God,” Tildy reminds me.

“I know.”

Tildy looks into the busy scene outside our room. I was afraid we were in jail, but the officer told me I wasn’t in trouble, and he called me sweetheart like my father does. He brought me a snack – some kind of yellow cake wrapped in plastic with a white, sweet filling. When the officer left the room, the door was open long enough for me to hear the comment about my dress. “Why do these crazy cult people always put little girls in ugly dresses?” an officer said. The insult didn’t spoil the snack, but my dress isn’t ugly. It was a gift from the mothers of the pavilion, and they chose these pink flowers to highlight my complexion.

The devil’s people dress like they’re in a gang. In the car ride to the police station, I saw girls in tight clothes, showing their evilness to all the men. Daddy says my mother is one of the evil women and he loves Tildy and me too much to let us be seduced by Satan.

“Can you see Daddy?” I ask, but Tildy doesn’t answer.

I stand on a chair to see out the window. Tildy isn’t talking because Brother Jonah, handcuffed, is being escorted by three of the officers. Brother Jonah looks smaller in this building than on his flower-covered pulpit.

“He always said he’d be persecuted,” I tell her.

Tildy is crying, watching her husband. Across the room, Brother Jonah’s other wives are also crying as he is led past them to his persecution. I don’t know why they’re crying. Brother Jonah is becoming more like Jesus today. We should be happy for his transformation, the way everyone rejoices when a sinner is whipped and sees a vision of God.

The officer who called me sweetheart brings three more kids in – Michael, Boly, and Jericha – but they are all younger than me and they’re too scared to move from the bench where he places them. He tells them what he told me, that they’re not in trouble and everything will be okay. He asks them if they need anything, but they won’t answer. At their ages, we were all instructed not to speak to the devil.

The officer notices my sister. “Don’t cry, darling. You will be taken care of.”

He doesn’t understand. Tildy shouldn’t be in this room with the kids. She’s a married woman, sanctified by God in a holy union with Brother Jonah. I see rage in her red, wet eyes. She looked at me with that anger on her thirteenth birthday two weeks ago when I whispered to her to please tell me what a man’s thing looks like when she gets to see one. I thought it was funny. Tildy slapped me and threatened to tell Daddy that I was talking like a whore.

It backfired on her. She told Daddy and I was called a sinner and whipped. I saw God, though, and Daddy loved me even more after my vision made me holy. God was light, and each lash across my back opened my soul to let Him in.

Back at the window, I finally see Daddy. He is with Brother Will and Sister Tonya, handcuffed and seated by a desk with a fat, talkative officer.

“No,” Tildy whispers. “It’s Mom.”

I follow her eyes. Mom. I haven’t seen her in four years when I was six. She looks like Tildy, but with a grown-up body and makeup. Mom is one of the devil’s followers. I have learned not to love her because she is going to hell and I will be in heaven without her for eternity.

“I’m not going with her,” Tildy says.

“We’re going home with Daddy,” I remind her. “He won custody.”

“I think he just lost it. We’re in the devil’s world now. Right is wrong and wrong is right.” Tildy knocks on the door and the officer appears. “I have to use the restroom.”

Tildy runs instead, through the police station, past Mom. I run, too, but the officer stops me and holds me back. I can see Tildy being chased by two officers and Mom outside on the sidewalk. I hear tires screeching and people screaming. Mom falls to the sidewalk, looking like a turtle.

Tildy is with God now. Jesus has taken her, making her more sanctified than even her holy bond with Brother Jonah. We should rejoice.

I turn to see Daddy, who has collapsed like Mom. Brother Jonah, so close to Jesus, hangs his head, closes his eyes, and his lip quivers without a hint of joy.

Kimberly Moore is a writer and educator. Her short works are published in Typehouse Literary Magazine, MacroMicroCosm, Fleas on the Dog, Word Poppy Press, and 34 Orchard. She lives in a haunted house where she indulges the whims of cats. She may be contacted at kimberlymooreblog.com or on Twitter @Kimberlynwriter.