“The Ice Cream Prayer:” A Sequel to “They Preached With Fire”

(Hey, hey! So, I debated about writing a follow-up to “They Preached With Fire.” With some encouragement from fellow blogger, Lianna of  Sunflower Sojurn , I decided to go for it. Thank you Lianna! 🙂 This sequel is a flash fiction piece that’s from Simon’s perspective. Of course, I posted one of my favorite songs after the conclusion of the story. Please feel free to let me know what you think of the characters: “Amelia” and “Simon.“)

Flash Fiction _2

An assembly line. My two sisters and my mom did each other’s hair in this way. Every couple of weeks, they brought out the relaxers. They combed the white smooth substance throughout their hair, which would take them from what they called “nappy” to “straight.” When they saw the slightest curl popping from their scalps, they would complain and plop gel onto the stubborn strand. Once, I texted my sisters a picture of Amelia’s thick curls and encouraged them to get rid of the chemicals in their hair. Yet, they argued that natural hair was “too much” and that only certain women looked right with it. They referred to Amelia as “naturally gorgeous.”

Amelia and I stood outside of a locally owned ice cream shop. Amelia often ranted to me about how we should support local businesses, as they contributed positively to our community. The usual statements about how these businesses improved the economy and gave people jobs. I agreed with her.

Amelia looked different. She’d explained that she had her hair layered. I didn’t really like this look, but her hair was still natural.

“Maybe, I can pawn the ring. Or something. I don’t know,” I stated.

“Oh…I hate that you have to do that,” Amelia responded.

“Well…too much time passed by. I’ll look at the receipt again. See if I can return it.”

“I hope you’re able to return it.”

The ice cream shop was busy. It was a popular hangout for college students. A large and racially mixed group of young men and women, laughed and trampled into the shop.

“I guess I’ll have to talk to Pastor and let him that I won’t be at church anymore. Revoke my membership. I wish I didn’t have to,” Amelia said.

“Then don’t do it, Amelia,” I grumbled as I hit my cardboard bowl with my plastic spoon. Amelia arched her arms, and her bowl flew into the garbage can.

I was tired of explaining to the church kids on why Amelia wasn’t at church. I had an assortment of excuses. There were a few younger girls at church that pretended they didn’t admire her. But they sat behind her pew each Sunday and played with her hair. Now, I had to tell these girls that Amelia and I broke up. I wasn’t excited about “taking a break” when she suggested it at our last meet up. But I hoped the distance would make her rethink things. Maybe even decide to marry me.

“I’m sorry. I told you that I didn’t want you to deal with my stuff. Daddy is driving me up the wall right now. He’s chasing Mama all over the city. He just needs to stop, “Amelia exclaimed.

“He still loves her. That’s why he’s chasing,” I tossed my cup into the trash.

“Well..that’s love. Uck..she’s a mess.”

I exhaled and squinted at Amelia. “I think you forget that’s your mom. That she’s struggling and needs your love. She needs you to pray for her.”

“I do pray for her. You don’t get it!”

“Okay, I don’t get it all. You got a point. But I do think I try my best to understand parts of the situation.”

Amelia glared at the red walls and the black and white checkered floors of the shop. She loved vintage designs and classic movies. Her favorite actor was Sidney Poitier, and she forced me to watch nearly all of his movies. She was so bewildered when I confessed that I hadn’t seen his Oscar winning performance in “Lillies of the Field.”

“Yeah, you do try. You’re much better than other people,” Amelia answered. Her eyes scattered from the hipster male cashier to the group of students we’d seen earlier.

“Well..I had to try. It was important,” I answered.

Amelia rubbed her eyes. “I’m not going to be able to come here anymore.”

“Why?”

“Didn’t mean to say that!” Amelia looked away from the shop and then looked at me. “Umph..I can’t come back here. It won’t be anything. Won’t be good anymore. Just the place where we broke up.”

“Or the place you broke up with me. I mean, I didn’t want to break up. But I agreed. You wanted this,” I exclaimed.

“Simon, you don’t have to get all loud about it. We had to break up. Nothing else that could be done. Really!” Amelia flared her arms.

I moved to the edge of the sidewalk. I wanted to go away. My old Honda was across the street. But I also wanted to grab Amelia’s hands and pray. I didn’t know what prayer request was the most important: her parents, us, or the girls at our church who’d miss her presence. I could see the girls saying something flippant when they heard about Amelia’s departure. They would say something like “She wasn’t all that anyways.”

Amelia’s arm wrapped around my own. Her face was forlorn. I pulled away and sat down on the sidewalk. I scratched my full beard. The older church members barked that it was “out of control.” They preferred “the other thing.” My goatee.

Amelia’s eyes scattered again. From the people bustling out of the shop to others who walked down the street, she watched them.

“I’m goin’ to leave, Simon, “Amelia spoke in the other direction, as though one of the pedestrians were involved in this conversation instead.

“Okay..take care!” I huffed.

Amelia wiggled her foot around her blue TOMS shoe. Her light, flowy dress stopped at her knees. I arose and patted Amelia’s back. Then, I embraced her.

“I’m sorry again. Please keep up the preaching. You’re a great preacher. I liked hearing you,” Amelia quickly released her arms from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They Preached With Fire: A Flash Fiction Story

(Hey y’all! I am experimenting with different kinds of short stories, and I decided to write a flash fiction story. Usually, a flash fiction story is considered to be anything under 1,000 words.  And please listen to the music video after you have read the story. Thanks!)

Flash Fiction

On the second Sunday of the month, Simon preached. He married real talk with humor in his sermons. He was relatable to the young people without being too corny yet he appealed to the older folks with his Old Testament teachings. Simon preached how Daddy used to preach.

Daddy told jokes and left the pulpit so he could see the laughter. The congregation exploded at his jokes like they had watched a scene in an Eddie Murphy movie. Once, the laughter softened and left the sanctuary, Daddy asked the congregation to stand up and open their Bibles. Daddy used to preach so hard that a church nurse would have to wipe his glistening forehead.

Simon was like my Daddy. When the sweat dripped into Simon’s mouth and down into his neck, he wiped his face. The older folks said, “Lord, this boy can preach.” When I heard their words, I tried not to smile. I bit my lips, but they curved. “Miss, your boo is preaching,” the teenagers pointed at me.

As Pentecostal as I was, I liked to be at the church when it was empty. I took my mismatched socks and black Chuck Taylors off. Simon walked to me and softly tugged my nose.

“You’re always trying to hide that smile, pretty lady!”

“I’m not smiling.” I placed my hand on my mouth and watched Simon rub his goatee. I loathed this addition to his face before, but I realized that it made him extra handsome. Simon’s almond shaped eyes focused on my bare feet and then my afro. My lion’s mane was getting larger, and I needed to find a patient hairdresser to explore my dense, black curls.

Simon held the ring in front of me, and I looked at it again. I forced myself to examine the simple, golden band. The ring was as simple as my jeans and sneakers

“I’m still thinking, Simon.”

“Thinking? Have you prayed about it?” Simon squinted at me.

“Yeah, I’ve prayed and I don’t have an answer.”

“I’m just confused, Amelia. I thought you wanted to get married. You talked about how you wanted your dad to marry us. You wanted to walk down the aisle with no shoes.”

For two weeks, I ignored Simon’s texts and phone calls. Simon’s handwritten note in my mailbox made me meet with him. Simon’s persistence reminded me of Daddy. Before the divorce, Daddy bribed Mama with fish and chip dinners, so she would take her medicine. He read Bible verses to her during her times in the hospital. Daddy constantly called my Mama’s family to figure out where she was.

Daddy never wanted to divorce Mama, but the church leaders were concerned when his sermons became choppy. His light jokes transformed into snide remarks.

“Simon, you should leave me alone. Find someone who doesn’t have a crazy mama,” I walked over to the pulpit. My back was turned to Simon, but his dress shoes banged towards me. Simon pulled a strand of my hair and stared at me.

“You’d want your mom to be at the wedding too. It makes sense. She’s not crazy though. Just going through some stuff now.”

I swatted Simon’s hand. “She’s schizophrenic. You wanna marry the daughter of a schizophrenic?’

“Yeah, I wanna marry you. But don’t talk about your mom like that. I don’t think she wants to deal with all of the confusion in her head. I wouldn’t want to,” Simon shook his head.

“I know she doesn’t want to deal with it. We don’t want to deal with it either. Don’t take this mess on! It’s too stinking much,” I huffed.

“Amelia, its fine. I’ll take it on. I believe that God heals and restores. I pray for you and your family. All the time.”

“Goodness. You’re such a preacher, Simon.”

“Hope so. I’m spending a lot of money on seminary,” Simon laughed. He pulled my face towards him and kissed my cheek. Daddy used to kiss Mama when she carried on. Daddy sung to her, off key. His ragged notes covered the tears he would not allow to pour out.

Simon was a singing preacher. I joked with Simon, because he and Daddy didn’t have a lot of differences except the singing. The older folks at our church talked about Simon’s anointing. His voice directed the congregation to praise God. Our own raw voices and our spinning bodies moved into the aisles. After such services, both the teenagers and older folks saluted Simon or shook his dark, brown hand. But Simon pointed at the ceiling and stated, “It’s God.”

I didn’t want Simon to have to leave the ministry. When Daddy told me that the church leaders asked him to stop preaching, he didn’t cry or yell. He guzzled creamy coffee in the kitchen of the house that I was raised in. Then, he dipped a ginger snap in his cup and asked me if he should get something for Mama for her birthday.

Simon kissed my cheek again, and I twitched. Simon frowned, and he dropped his hands into the pockets of his wine colored slacks.