Later that morning, the heat in the little church pressed against the congregates’ lips, neck, eyes, and apparently, foreheads. The priest swabbed at his greasy brow continuously through the sermon.
“And Abraham said unto… said to Issac…” he droned on.
Reed was trying with great difficulty to sit still. His mother had told him to think about being immersed in the cool lake a mile from their home, but this had only served to frustrate him further. He wanted to run screaming out the immense doors in the back, letting the stagnant air rush by his face, and keep running until he reached that lake and jumped in. What freedom would be had in that action. He thought perhaps that’s what God would want him to do anyway. But according to his mother, God wanted him to listen to this sweaty man for several hours, but hear nothing, until he was allowed to leave. Then he could play in the lake.
The new Father Paulson was even more monotonous than the last. He’d arrived from Atlanta, and had replaced their last, Father Jackson, who had at least taken into account the children among the worshippers. Father Paulson seemed to have a youthful flavor at first, being a man of twenty seven, but as the weeks had crawled by since he’d joined them during Christmas church had become less of an event and more of a chore for Bobby and Reed.
Bobby shifted so that their mother couldn’t see them, and brushed Reed’s hand to get his attention. Reed looked along Bobby’s line of sight and had to stifle a giggle. Several pews in front of them Ashley Louise Baker was fighting a nap and losing. Her head kept bobbing and then at a critical moment it would snap up with a start and she would shake her head and shift her weight in her seat. After a while they noticed that she was in actuality embracing sleep but to such a degree that she couldn’t conceal it. Her head took a particularly low dip and this time when it snapped back up she knocked her head into the wooden headrest with a resounding crack. The boys unsuccessfully worked to muffle laughter and Ashley Louise turned around, smiling and rubbing her head. She mouthed “Ow!” at the boys and their laughter erupted anew. They were quickly silenced by their mother and returned to their solemnity for the remainder of the service.