Marilyn woke next morning to her mother carrying a breakfast tray into her room. Toast with chocolate spread. Marilyn sat up in bed, confused, as her mum laid the tray down.
"My birthday's not til the weekend," she said. She was usually only allowed to have chocolate spread on special occasions.
"That doesn't matter sweetie," her mum said, sitting down on the bed and stroking her daughter's hair. "What matters is that you are a very special little girl who was very very sad yesterday. And from now on, you don't have to be sad anymore."
Marilyn was about to tell her mum that she knew everything would be fine - but stopped herself. Her mum would definitely be mad if she knew about her chain of cross. And if she knew Marilyn wasn't upset anymore she might take away her chocolate spread toast.
"Eat your breakfast, sweetie," said Mum, standing up and heading for the door. "Then we're going to the cinema."
She smiled tightly as she left the room.
Guilt hacked at Marilyn's brain as she sat in bed, slowly chewing her toast. Her young mind knew how much trouble she was putting her parents through.
If only she had the courage to tell them the truth. If only she could just open her mouth and say no.
As Marilyn bit into her toast, she heard a thump from the other side of her room. She jumped, letting her toast fall onto the bedspread. She barely cared. What had made that noise?
As she scrambled out of bed and across the room to her bookshelf, Marilyn's heartbeat slowed so much that it almost stopped. She froze, eyes on the large brown object on the floor before her.
Her copy of the Holy Bible.
Marilyn's hands were shaking as she scooped the book up and pushed it back onto the shelf amongst her cartoon-illustrated novels and girls' magazines. Still flustered she returned to her bed and finished her toast.