Looking back on my situation, I could have chosen one of two paths. At a point in everybody's life, religion will worm its way into forethought, and we'll have to decide what we believe, if not for ourselves, but for the contentment of others.
Our headmistress had made the decision when she took over the school to teach us under Christian principles. That wasn't to say it was a Church of England school, it was still classed as a private school, but convention was to meet three times a week to sing hymns and pray in assembly. In R.E class, I barely remember spending any time on other religions, it always seemed like the teachers were educating us on multiple cultures because the board of governors said so. I always remember my old teachers mocking tone when she told us about Hinduism, not stopping us from laughing when we learnt that they worshipped a blue elephant.
Before the loss of my mother finally hit me - before I noticed how different my life was going to be without her - I never cared much for my own beliefs. Nowadays, I'm thankful that my dad, or even my whole family, never brought me up on a single religion, it allowed me to become happy with my own beliefs. But then again, even if children who take on their parents' beliefs might have a lesser degree of "freedom", but it's certainly easier. There's no crossroads to face, no feeling of confusion about why you exist and what the point of everything is, it's already been decided for you.
Thinking about it, being an atheist is probably a harder path than being theistic. Later on, I was to realise how difficult it would be to maintain a lack of belief around young children who thought they knew it all.
But to go back to the two paths I could have chosen, it was either faith or hate. My mother was gone, my family didn't seem to understand anything about me, and my peers all hated me. Alongside being a girl in Year 5 - what I always remembered as the year of sexuality, when boys and girls began to realise that they were different in more ways than anatomy, it would have made sense to turn to God. To believe that there was somebody out there who loved me, not just a normal human being, but a god, almighty, all-loving, all-powerful. To think that, maybe it would have made it easier to get through the last two years of primary school.
But I had never followed convention before, and I wasn't going to start then. So, I decided that I hated God. When we prayed for Him to "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," I seethed that bullying was the greatest evil I had ever known in my life, and God had left me all alone to fight the monsters. He had forgotten about me, He didn't care about me. And He clearly hated me too.
Why else would He kill my mother?
I had decided to be atheist, and it hardly bothered my family, who made it clear that they accepted that they didn't know the secrets of the universe, or they genuinely didn't care - the latter of which I found hard to believe. This sudden epiphany manifested in all sorts of way, which after a while, were noticed.
One of my classmates - Cameron - had told me that I didn't have a mother because it was my fault. I must have done something wrong, even though I already thought that, having it thrown in my face was the worst thing in the world. I turned and ran across the field, chased by Jasmine and Charlotte - the closest thing I had to friends, Charlotte was fast, and when she grabbed me, I fell to my knees and screamed. I always was dramatic, I liked being other people, I liked throwing up an iron shell made up of different expressions and stories, but this time I felt like I was bleeding to death, filling up inside the shell and spilling out from the seams.
"God!" I screeched, "I hate you!" And I did. I thought that I hated them, hatred for them had eaten me up inside and turned me into something I despised. I thought they had turned me violent, they had shunned me, but at that moment, I decided it was all His fault. He'd taken her from me, without her I'd been alone, there was nobody to calm me down when I punched my thighs late at night, nobody to be there for me when nobody else was. When I traced back all the mistakes in my life, it all led back to Him.
The incident, the scream that everybody in the playground hurt, soon reached the headmistress, who kept a cold, grey eye on me for a few days. I noticed an unnatural involvement from my R.E teacher to involve me in discussions. I didn't want to make it completely clear that I was atheist, it was unheard of in my class. Everybody accepted Christianity, mostly from lack of information, and although I felt ostracised by yet another difference with them, I almost felt higher than them. Like I'd had a revelation, like I knew something that they didn't, like I saw behind all the lies.
One day, in our R.E class, I walked in to find paper and colouring pencils on the desks. Yes, I immediately thought, drawing. Art, something I can do. I was enthusiastic until I heard what our task was.
We had to draw Heaven.
A place that, as far as I was concerned, didn't exist. Or if it did, was ruled over by Him, and I didn't want to be anywhere near him. So, what did I do? I drew what any pre-teen would draw when told to describe the word "heaven". I drew a mall. I drew a huge shopping centre where everything was free, a pool infinitely long, and a machine which generated the perfect boy.
A girl can dream.
The point was, no golden gates, no stairway to the skies, and no giant all-powerful God ruling over it all. I saw pictures of luxurious coffins all in a row, figures clothed in white. And what did the teacher think when she saw mine?
She got angry.