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“You’re morally damned, Madison Grace Wescott!” Bruce Wescott screamed the outraged whisper into his daughter’s face. “It shames me to recognize you as my daughter.”
Madison shrunk further into the corner of the church bench, wishing she could shrink out of sight. Maybe if she were out of Daddy’s sight, she’d be out of his mind too, she thought as she blinked back the stinging tears. A hurried peek around the church sanctuary confirmed no one else witnessed her setback.
Unsure what she’d done to receive his censure this time, she offered a weak, “Yes, sir, I’m sorry, Daddy.”
Not that an apology ever appeased him.
“It’s not me you should be apologizing too, young lady, but the Lord,” he snapped drawing to his five-foot six stature. “If you don’t repent and alter your ways, God’ll see you burn in Hell.”
“Yes, sir, I understand.” She hoped she sounded meek enough to suit his temper or she’d find herself on her knees after church service praying for her soul. Depending upon his mood, she could pray for hours without a restroom break or a knee break. And boy, oh, boy, could her knees suffer brutal agony in that position.
It would be great if she knew what to repent so she could avoid the burn of Hell. She didn’t want to burn any more than he wanted her to burn. A typical complaint centered on her appearance. Her hair was too blonde, her eyes too blue, her boobs too big and her figure too lush for her too-tall frame. At 15 she was already three and a half inches taller than him. All these complaints apparently forced men to sin against God by lusting after her. Not that she encouraged men to lust after her, mind you, but on the off chance that they did, it was still her fault in Daddy’s eyes.
“Brother Wescott,” Becca Slayter said with her hand extended to her father, cheap red lipstick smeared outside the lip-line of her saggy mouth. The over-abundance of lipstick did not give her the appearance of fuller lips. Reminded of another one of her father’s complaints—her lips were too full and sensual—Madison pinched her lips together. “I wanted to extol how much your sermon last Sunday enriched my life this week. Why I was telling Cynthia Jones…”
Madison stopped listening to Becca Slayter’s conversation with her dad because she didn’t much like ‘Sister’ Becca or her high-pitched annoying voice. And she was old, like thirty or thirty-five, and all Sister Becca ever did was brag about some new object she’d received or would soon receive.
She peeked around the sanctuary and took special care not to openly snag the gaze of any man. Opening her worn leather-bound Holy Bible to the Gospel of Luke, she began to read and mentally pray God would forgive her for whatever sin she’d committed. If she were lucky, by the time Daddy finished his morning sermon he would forget all about her morally damned soul. She sure didn’t want to spend her Sunday afternoon praying on her knees.
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