The Color of Ordinary Time

The Color of Ordinary Time by Virginia Voelker

Book: The Color of Ordinary Time by Virginia Voelker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Virginia Voelker
“They keep popping off my clergy shirts. Which looks more official?”
    “What size are the buttons on your shirts?”
    “I don’t know. About medium, I guess.”
    I snorted. “You need to know before you buy buttons. I usually just bring in the button I’m trying to replace,” I said.
    “I should have thought of that.”
    “If you’ve never done it before, why would you?”
    “Cold hard logic?”
    I chuckled, and the tightness in my chest loosened. The feeling of rage and despair letting go. “Totally overrated,” I said.
    “Are you going over to the church today?”
    “Nope. I’m going to grab some breakfast at Boyd’s. After that I’ve got plans with Ivy for the rest of the day. I’ll probably take care of the paraments on Thursday.”
    “Haven’t eaten myself yet this morning. Mind if I join you?”
    “Sure. The company would be good.”
    I quickly found what I needed, while Pastor Brett put the button rack back in order. At the cash register the owner, Mrs. Sank, made odd faces at me. Lots of winking and grinning. I thought she was losing her mind until I got out on the sidewalk with Pastor Brett strolling along beside me and realized she’d been trying to offer me encouragement. Bah.
    “I guess I should clear the air up front and tell you I’ve heard quite a bit about your father and his church,” said Pastor Brett plainly.
    “I’m not surprised.”
    “I’m sure most of what I’ve heard is exaggeration.”
    “It’s not.”
    Again, the transparent nature of his personality let me see the depth of his shock, but he recovered quickly. “You don’t know what I’ve heard.”
    “Try me.”
    I watched him mentally catalogue the stories, and suspected he decided to start in the medium range, leaving him room to work up and down. “He yelled at your kindergarten teacher for using a stamp pad to stamp the back of your hand.”
    “True. He has always felt they were indoctrinating us to take the mark of the devil without question.”
    “Wouldn’t let you cut your hair.”
    “Mostly true. I could get it trimmed, but I had to keep it waist length and wear it up in a bun. All the women in the congregation do.”
    “But why?”
    “If a woman has long hair it is her glory.”
    He sighed deeply. “First Corinthians.”
    “And taken out of context, too.”
    “Then why not have the women cover their hair?”
    “You’re a pastor. If you don’t know now, you’ll soon find out, there is only so far you can push people before they rebel. My father knows how to push people right up to their limit. He’s a master at it.”
    “Publicly shamed you when you left his church by following you around, calling for your repentance.”
    “Still does sometimes when he gets the chance.”
    “Tells people they are going to hell.”
    “Yes.”
    “Are you going to hell, Keziah?”
    “Me? Probably not. You?”
    We paused outside of Boyd’s and I looked up at him. He looked sad. Deeply, deeply sad. I could have confused the look on his face with pity, if I hadn’t been looking closely.
    “No, I’m not going to hell.”
    “Are you sure?”
    “Yes, I’m sure.”
    “Interesting.”
    We went inside and found a booth at the back. He sat across from me. Except for two regulars at the counter, we were the only customers. Mary Ann, the owner, approached us and took out order. Coffee, eggs over hard, hash browns, and toast for me; coffee, oatmeal, and bacon for him. I made sure to ask for separate checks. No point in sullying his reputation right out of the box.
    “So, what made you leave? Or — maybe a better question — what helped you leave?” he asked, after Mary Ann left to put in our order.
    “Lots of things. Most of them not at all noble.”
    “Like?”
    “I wanted to go to college, and he wouldn’t let me. I wanted a job, and a house, and a life. I didn’t want to wait around until he found somebody for me to marry, and then take care of three people instead of just two for the rest of my

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