many times do I have to tell you? I'm not going!" Fourteen-year-old
Carol Linburgh scowled at her parents, aghast at their nerve to
even consider that she would go to church. They had been trying
to get her to go with them ever since they went with their neighbor
to Fellowship Baptist Church a few weeks before. Carol had tried
to be patient and understanding with her parents at first; confident
that this "heaven or hell", "saved or unsaved" thing would wear
off eventually. But after the first week or so the church's notion
was transparent: brainwash whoever they could...including Carol
and her parents.
"You know, Carol," her mother whispered,
"that we just want the best for you, honey."
Carol's voice softened. "I know you
do. It's not your fault that these people are trying to brainwash
you. But," she raised her voice, "I will not be one of those people
who are brainwashed!"
Carol left the breakfast table and
trudged up the stairs to her room. She started to turn on her computer,
and then remembered her family's conversation two days before.
"The next time we catch you on that
computer looking at or listening to who-knows-what, we are throwing
it out!" her father, Kenneth, had very strictly made known.
"Oh yeah! Well, what are you gonna
do when you're not home? You and mom used to be cool; now you guys
are just plain annoying and embarrassing!" she had shot back. Carol
guessed she'd wait 'til they went to that church of theirs. For
now, her iPod was pleasure enough.
As she listened to the latest punk
group, Carol watched from her window as her parents' jet black Dodge
truck backed out of the driveway and headed east. Once they were
out of sight, she saw a small, slim figure slip out from behind
a tree and walk toward Carol's house. As Carol squinted to get a
better idea of who it was, the girl looked straight at her and waved.
Joanne Fowler was Carol's best friend.
Both of them were pretty popular in school and were invited to all
the cool parties their friends had when their parents went away.
"Hey, Joanne, what's up?" Carol said
as she opened the door for her friend.
"Nothing much. And you?"
"Hey, I was wondering if you're still
going to Jessie's party tomorrow night. Her parents are going to
be away, and she got the latest punk CD. Did you hear it yet?"
"Yeah, I'm going, and I was just listening
to that CD before you came. It's bangin'. By the way, how's your
Joanne scowled. "Still religious.
I thought she'd snap out of it by now. I wish dad wouldn't have
gotten a chance to spread this craziness to her before he died."
A month ago, Joanne's dad, Tom, was
in a terrible car accident, and a preacher had come to his deathbed
to tell him how to be saved. Tom got saved that day, then called
for his wife, Laurie, and told her how to be saved. Laurie didn't
listen to him then, but realized her need for Jesus at his funeral.
She then started pleading with Joanne to come to church, but Joanne
"No, I meant with the baby," Carol
said, rubbing her abdomen.
"Oh. The baby is causing mom some
cramps and pain in her side. The doctor says her due date's in August,
but they'll have to induce mom earlier if he...or she... keeps causing
"August?! That's only two months away!"
Carol gasped, clasping her hand over her mouth.
"I know. It's no big deal. Are your
folks still religious, too?"
"Yeah, still religious," Carol repeated
while rolling her eyes. "But I don't want to talk about it, so...what
do you want to do?"
"I want to go out to the mall and
get an outfit for tomorrow night. Come on, let's go!"
"Wait! I can't buy anything without
money! I'll be right back; my wallet is in my room."
Carol hastily ran up the steps and
into her room, grabbed her purse and wallet off her dresser, ran
back downstairs, and flew out the door right behind Joanne. Finally,
something to get her mind off her insane parents.