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Catherine Zickgraf
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lockin.jpg
Art by Lonni Lees 2009

The Lock-In

 

Catherine Zickgraf

 

 

          On her way out the door in her pretty church clothes, Mom gave me a note.  That was a highlight, since she hadn’t talked to me for a day.  And my brothers and sisters had laughed at me in the hall as they took turns to and from the bathroom to brush their teeth last night.  This morning, Dad, hands full of coffee mug, tie, New King James, was the last out the door.  I rushed to close it against the cold, but instead he executed an awkward finagling with his little finger.  He didn’t need my help.  

 

          “Fold and put away the load of whites,” the note began.

 

          I went upstairs to stuff Dad’s socks and handkerchiefs into his sock and handkerchief drawer.  He always had the tall dresser, and Mom had the wide one.  The tall dresser never had enough surface.  It was home to the TV and alarm clock, to his coins and keys. I’d polish and organize it from time to time, but he didn’t see the benefit of keeping it that way.

 

          I put down the laundry basket when I saw the yellow legal pad.  It had loops scratched into the page — I myself could never find a pen with sufficient ink in that house — and two words:  “Sexual Dysfunction.”  It was an anomaly, I guess, that I wanted sex.  It is a fifteen-year-old’s duty to practice self-control. 

 

          The Senior Pastor’s office was on the second level, above the gym.  A dark hallway, secret-passage-like, led us there.  The gym lights flowed through the window that spied down on the basketball-playing kids.  Those lights reflected the embossed leather of concordances and commentaries organized by book of the Bible.  Books in tall cases and red carpet.  I love red carpet.  It reminds me of our neighbor’s warm basement.  Their kids weren’t homeschooled and were allowed to watch TV and discuss Top Forty hits in earshot of their parents. 

 

          Scott was on the Senior Pastor’s red carpet, his back against books like Free Will and Losing Your Salvation.  I could read those titles while rubbing my jeans against his jeans and biting his neck.

 

           My cheeks were hot.  The Senior Pastor, of course, wasn’t there.  It was late, and he was at home, probably imagining inserting foreign objects into the misses’ orifices within the sanctity of marriage.  Her dishes were most likely drying on the rack, her coupons lined up with her shopping list, ready for tomorrow’s errands.  That was yesterday, her shopping day. And while she was comparing canned goods, I spent Saturday sleeping off the all-nighter lock-in hosted by the church youth group.  The Associate Pastor organized the event to reach out to unsaved neighborhood kids. Letting them interact with saved kids made us missionaries, but the unrepentant kids were happy to spend a Friday night shooting hoops in the church gym. 

 

          It was late afternoon when I woke up Saturday — sweaty and oily, hating my bed but afraid to leave my room to empty my hurting bladder.  Accepting one has to urinate is a sign of maturity, so I forced my feet on the floor and cracked open the door. 

 

          Associate Pastor was downstairs on the sofa.  If I could find a disposable cup, I wouldn’t have to alert them to my presence by the traditional thunder of urine hitting toilet water.  

 

          I saw coasters placed around the cherrywood table and saucers holding used-up tea bags, teaspoons, and such.  Mom was crying into a napkin, and Dad was writing on his yellow legal pad.

 

 

 

 

Catherine Zickgraf is a former Northerner excited about growing her roots into the red Georgia clay.  Her most recent credits include a forthcoming poem in Journal of the American Medical Association’s “Poetry and Medicine” section.

In Association with Fossil Publications