"Some are foxes, others are poxes," droned the taunting voice of Suicide, years after Jane's long forgotten bout with the chicken pox. While the memories of those tiny dots had faded into nothing, the social hives had not.
In fact, her current blemish problem proved far more chronic than that icky, picky, itching disease.
Jane brushed a thick red curl from her forehead, looked into the bathroom mirror, and sighed. Her hair matched her cheeks. How ugly could a person get?
"Like I said, some are foxes, others are poxes. Guess which one you are?"
"Ugh, I'm such a pox," she groaned, hating to admit the striking truth that disgraced her face. How she wished she was a fox! Maybe then people would like her. Then again, who was she kidding? Even if she was a fox, would that make her any less a chicken?
"You are SUCH a disease," sneered Suicide, making another dig. "Toxic, pox-ic, and totally un-fox-ic!"
A hideous claw reached toward her chin and poked a pimple.
"Ow!" cried Jane. "Rachel's picking me up in five minutes and here I am itching with warts!" She smoothed her blouse, adjusted her skirt, and picked up the hairbrush for a little more styling, completely unaware of the spiritual struggle going on behind her back.
"So there you are," scowled Suicide, glaring at the unwelcome intruder. "What are you doing horning in on my territory?"
"Excuse me," sneered Shame, "but I don't recall ever turning this patient over to you."
"Hah!" laughed Suicide. "Everyone hits the self-destruct button sooner or later. It's only a matter of time."
"Everyone?" mocked Shame. "Seems to me you've lost quite a few victims lately. No wonder you've been trying to steal so many from me."
"Why you - ?" growled the bloated one. His throbbing hand went for the throat.
But got bitten this time.
"Yow!" cried Suicide. "That hurt!"
"Aw, don't be a wimp," said Shame. "You did it to yourself."
"But not on purpose," whined Suicide. "It's that lousy noise downstairs. It threw me off."
"You mean that roar from the abyss?"
"No, I mean the doorbell."
"What about the doorbell?"
"What do you mean, 'what about the doorbell?' That rotten little clamor jammer is the sound of death!"
"Then it should be right up your alley."
"You just don't get it, do you? It's that disgusting girl! I'd know her footsteps anywhere!"
"What girl?" asked Shame, his face a maze of unsolved puzzle pieces.
"Well, duh. She's the one blot on your so-called perfectly stained record, Mister I-know-every-nook-and-cranny-in-this-neighborhood! Who's the failure now, huh?"
The sound of fading footsteps filled the hallway.
"Oops!" said Shame, suddenly aware that his prize trophy had gone downstairs without his consent. If Blame Game knew, he'd have him tarred and feathered!
Suicide frowned at Shame. Shame frowned at Suicide.
"Last one to the front door's a rotten egg!" cried Suicide.
"You're on!" yelled Shame. He took a step forward, tripped on a loose floor board, and went flying face first into the bathroom wall. In a hurry to fly over him, Suicide banged his head on the ceiling.
"Stop picking on me!" yelled Shame.
"You stop picking on ME!" countered Suicide.
Dashing for the stairs, they bumped into each other and tumbled down the steps with ten loud ouches. Collecting themselves just in time to...
Where did that blinding light come from?
"Ya!" cried Suicide. "Don't hurt me!"
"Please!" cried Shame. "Don't embarrass me!"
In less than a nano second two mighty angels had bound the devils and gagged them well.
Jane felt as if a cool refreshing breeze had just entered the house, clearing the air of smoke.
It was Rachel. What a lifesaver! Jane said a quick goodbye to her Mom and headed to the car, where her friend's parents Mr. and Mrs. Joyspringer had their motors revved for a special Wednesday night meeting down at the Church on the Rock.
Jane was excited. She had never been to church before, thanks to all those flashy TV evangelists promising untold riches "for every dollar sown into the ministry." To her parents that spelled POX with a capitol P. They avoided like the plague any hint of "preacher feature." Yet they saw no harm in anything, even church, that got their daughter out of her coop and around a few social butterflies (as long as she kept her allowance at a distance).
As it turned out, Church on the Rock was the least pox-y place Jane had ever been to. It was full of smiling faces, warm handshakes, and genuine embraces. These were the sort of folk who when they said "Glad to meet you" really meant it. No one picked on you or treated you like the plague. To Jane that was a breath of fresh air.
When it was time for worship, Jane joined in as best she could, though she didn't know many songs (except for the few she'd heard Rachel sing). This made her feel a little pox-y at first, but the people there were too busy worshipping to point a finger at her ignorance. Soon she began to relax. To feel at home. To believe she'd found a resting place at last.
Until Pastor Forthright stood up to give his message, which he titled "Overcoming Shame."