Thursday, December 9, 2010


Daddy didn't forget. She should've known he wouldn't.

Madison set her Holy Bible beside her on the backseat and snapped her belt buckle into place. Daddy and Momma slid into the front, but Daddy didn't start the ignition. Instead, he swiveled to face her, one arm flattened along the bench seat of the Cadillac. His pose implied a casual undertone, but his eyes crinkled at the corners and his mouth pinched in a white line of displeasure. Maybe anger. Either way, she was about to find. She clamped her teeth together and waited for his explosion.

"Even after I singled out your despicable behavior, you still failed to modify it."

Madison's hands trembled as she laced her fingers together in her lap. He'd pointed out his shame, but she still didn't have the foggiest idea what blame lay at her feet. "I'm unsure of which behavior you speak, Daddy."

Momma sighed dramatically in the passenger seat, flipped the sun-visor down and popped open the mirror. Madison caught her gaze in the mirror as Momma pretended to peer at herself, running the pad of her middle finger along the outer edge of her mouth as if she corrected her lipstick. Her lipstick was perfect. It was always perfect because Momma didn't settle for less than perfect.

"Are you guilty of so much you pretend not to know your sins?" Daddy asked. His hand curled into a tight fist and she held his stare, not daring to lower her eyes for fear the action would indicate acknowledgement of guilt.

"Bruce, women are inherently sultry creatures," Momma said in her silky voice, the one reserved for when she wanted something pricey and Daddy pretended they didn't have the money. Madison flashed a surprised glance at her because she'd used that voice and Momma rarely defended her. Momma's reflection winked and executed a slow, assured half smile, as if they shared a provocative secret.

And then her brain snagged on the one word in the sentence that answered all her questions…sultry. She wasn't sultry and she wasn't trying to be sultry. Is that what Daddy thought she was doing? She wanted to be average and unnoticeable, but no matter how hard she tried, five-foot-nine girls were always noticeable.

"Half the men in church were lusting after her, Celeste. I saw the way she licked her lips at Harold Beeker, how his eyes widened, his nostrils flared and—" Daddy's voice lowered to a scandalized whisper, "—how he adjusted himself!"

Adjusted himself?…Oh, gross! She sure hoped Daddy didn't think Harold Beeker got aroused because of her!

"I didn't—" she said, but Daddy's withering glare terminated her argument.

"It's embarrassing to have such pious men fornicating with her in their mind," Daddy said in a horrid whisper to Momma as if he didn't want to air family laundry to any of his pious church goers—bunch of uppity-ups if anyone asked her. Not that any church members were present, they'd all vacated over an hour ago. "The Wescott dirty little secret," he sneered. "My daughter's got the devil in her and my church members—women included—want a piece of her ass!" Madison gasped, but Daddy didn't acknowledge her shock. "It's a lot like trying to manage Sodom and Gomorrah."

Tears stung her eyes, she tried to blink them back, but Momma's reflection smirked. A strange reaction, but she couldn't focus on her odd behavior because what Daddy said not only horrified her, but terrified her too. It couldn't be true. Couldn't! If it was, she couldn't face anyone in church ever again without dying of mortification!

"Bruce…" Momma said in a placating tone. She ran her fingertips across Daddy's jaw and into his hair. Daddy visibly shuddered as if Momma's touch eviscerated him with exquisite pleasure. "You're being melodramatic and you sound ridiculous. Madison is a good girl. She is your daughter," she said, scrunching her features into a brief disgusted expression. Did Momma think being a 'good girl' a bad thing?

"I don't want to be bad," Madison said, her voice hitching on her final word and she fought to hold back tears.

Daddy snorted and looked at her. "Madison, your soul is so damned, I would suggest you pray and pray hard."

Momma rolled her eyes and snapped the sun-visor shut. "Bruce, e—nough," Momma said in a tone neither of them ever dared to gainsay. Daddy huffed and jerked around to face the front of the car. As he jabbed the key in the ignition, Momma looked at her and said, "Madison, you're soul is destined for eternity in the ultimate kingdom." She reached across the seat and squeezed one of Madison's hands as she tried to wipe away the tears with the back of her other hand. "Do you believe me?"

"Yes, M'am." Not really, but Momma didn't want to hear that any more than Daddy wanted to hear her arguments.

© Gracen Miller 2010 ~ No part of this site may be reproduced in anyway whatsoever without express written consent by Gracen Miller.


Carrie said...

You're building this story up very well!

Now, in my family - probably because we live up in WI - everything was considered "god" given. Which meant that beauty was just god's way of testing the male race and not the work of the devil.

I'm curious to see what happens next. The shorter posts make it easier for my hurting head to read right now. I just wanted to keep up and not get too far behind! Time for some Imitrex (the naproxen 500 didn't work).

Gracen Miller said...

Hey, Carrie. Thanks for the comments and for reading, especially since you aren't feeling well.

It wouldn't be common here for folks to think her beauty is the work of the devil either. But her father's beliefs that she affects his congregation unnaturally is true in this sense. He's not just an over-the-top, whacked out preacher. Why she's affecting folks unnaturally is explained in Pandora's Box. Her father thinks it's the work of the devil, but everyone will have to read Pandora's Box to find out exactly what is going on. =D

I hope I can continue to keep ya entertained. And I hope you get to feeling better.

Carrie said...

Okay, I missed the part where he was a preacher. It kind of makes a little more sense now.

Can't wait for lesson #3!

Kathleen Ann Gallagher's Place to Reflect said...

Gracen, I'm starting to root for Madison. Great story telling. Thanks for the 2nd lesson.

Gracen Miller said...

Thanks, Kathleen, I'm glad you're enjoying it. I don't know why, but I'm just as nervous about how folks perceive these snippets as I am the actual story in Pandora's Box. So feedback is MUCH appreciated!


Cindy said...

It was almost painful to read this excerpt. As a parent my heart breaks for her. At 15 she's very vulnerable to the changes in her body and obviously her mother isn't supporting her. And on top of that she is affecting people in a way that she can't comprehend and doesn't have control over. Loving it so far!

Gracen Miller said...

I'm with you, Cindy. As a parent, this type of "mental" abuse gets under my skin. She is affecting people for a reason, but you won't find out what that is until you read Pandora's Box.

Thanks for the comment and the interest!


Betty said...

After lesson 1 I wanted to kick her dad lol. Now i can tell there's more to the story, but I still want to kick BOTH parents, for not telling her what's going on.

stina6891 said...

This is making me want to get my hands on Pandora's Box really bad! Luckily, I still have quite a few life lessons to go!

K.T. Bishop said...

I can relate. I didn't have my parent's support. I did my own thing!

Gracen Miller said...

Sorry you've had that problem, K.T. My dad is a baptist preacher and, like you, I've never had his support and still don't. At present, we haven't spoken in over a year and I hope to keep it that way.


Mindy fangedmom said...

How did I miss this one? I am so glad i came back to check!

This makes me want to hisssss and beat the holy crap out of him. not cool at all! I wanted her eyes to turn red & for her to go all hellish on him in this scene for real!!

Heather Powers said...

Makes me want to jump in and throttle her father....

earthsbooknook at gmail dot com

Nicole H. said...

What sticks with me is "It's embarrassing to have such pious men fornicating with her in their mind" OMG can I smack him? please?

Andie said...

Hmm. I still want to kick her father's ass, but i dunno where to put her mom, she's acting wierd i think im not gonna knock her out yet its getting interesting! :D

Robin said...

Oooh, her parents are so messed up! Interesting that there is more to her allure than her father's twisted mind... Must find out more!

Robin D
robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

rhonda said...

wow poor Madison. She is getting a bad rep. I feel bad for her. I love the story, I can`t wait to read it!