You are not everything bad that ever happened to you
Hayley Scrivenor (University of Wollongong, Australia)
You home-school your two girls. They are getting too clever for you. They know so much, and there is still so much they want to know. I don’t need to tell you how old they are. Ruby has breasts now, and Eleanor isn’t far behind. Every morning is the same. The girls rise in the room they share and make their beds.
Plain. Cheerful. Devout. They know you love them.
Today you begin by asking them to memorise John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
Suddenly you think of the words:
They will not grow old as we who are left grow old. Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn.
It’s not from the Bible but the phrases make you think of one another. Something in the cadence. In the ways the words slip into each other. Not words anymore, but connected sounds.
He called you a whore. Called you a liar. That was long time ago and you are not those things. You are not everything bad that ever happened to you. You remind yourself as you roll out the dough for a pie you are making. The pie will be strawberry. You think that the pie is like a dessert version of the wine and the bread, the blood and the body of Christ. This makes you smile. You always had an imagination. You tell the girls to go and play outside once they have recited the passage back to you. They say the words in unison together, standing side by side on the linoleum floor of the kitchen.
You lick jam from your fingers. It is sweet and the inside of your mouth is warm. You notice today a crack in your pie plate. You do not need to be afraid now. Broken things are only broken. Later today you will walk into the town. There, you can buy another pie plate.
Hayley Scrivenor is currently undertaking a PhD in creative writing at the University of Wollongong. She is fascinated by voice and point of view, and is currently researching the first person plural in literature. You can find more of her fiction at her website.