My ďsistersĒ all tell me how lucky I am. Theyíre giggling and laughing as they run the water for my bath, fix my hair, and lay out the clothes that Iíll need for this special night. Iíll be dressed in white, like a bride. I should be excited, but Iím just scared.
Iíve never been lucky before. I donít guess my life was really bad, itís just Iíve always felt like background noise. Iíve never felt like anyone really loved me. My granny did, but she died several years ago. I was the middle child, and it seemed that I was easy to overlook.
And then one day I met Marsha, and she and I became friends. She told me about Father and her ďfamilyĒ, and how Father loved them all so much. Just once I wanted to be loved like that, to feel as special as Marsha felt.
I started going to services at Heavenís Temple. It was kind of weird. It wasnít really a church like granny used to take me to. It was more of a community where everyone lived together. When I first met Father, the thing I noticed was his gentle smile and the kindness in his eyes. He sat down with me and asked about my friends, my family, and how I was doing in school. He looked at me when I talked.
I wanted to cry right there. I never wanted to leave.
It wouldíve been nice if daddy had put down the evening paper just once to ask about my new friend or if momma would have slowed down just a little and expressed an interest in what I was doing. Neither of them noticed and I felt myself drawing away from them little by little.
Then one day Marsha invited me to spend the weekend with her at the Temple. Mom and dad didnít even ask who Marsha was when I told them. I guess they figured I was seventeen and grown up enough to take care of myself.
That night Marsha told me that Father thought very highly of me. He said I had a wonderful mind for spiritual things and that I would be a welcome addition to their community.
I never went home to pack my clothes.
Father has made it a point to see to it that Iím completely educated in the ways of our faith. Sometimes after services heíll take me off to the side and sit with me, his arm around my shoulder as he talks about the revelations and insights heís receiving from God.
Everyone tells me how lucky I am to have Fatherís undivided attention. Lately, however, Iíve become somewhat unsettled in Fatherís presence. Donít misunderstand Ė he has never hurt me. Iím just not sure whatís expected of me.
Or I donít want to take that thought to its logical conclusion.
When Marsha came to me this morning and said that Father wanted to see me this evening, I wasnít entirely surprised. She told me that Father thought it was time I was fully brought into the community.
ďDo you know how lucky you are?Ē she asked. I should have been grateful, but I was only terrified.
Now as I put on the dress, I feel icy fingers of fear tap dancing up and down my spine. I canít stop shaking. Iíve burnt all my bridges with my past and thereís nowhere to go. I feel like a lamb being led to the slaughter when Marsha comes to get me.
Father opens the door to his room. He runs his eyes up and down the dress, appraising me. He smiles and holds out his hand. I take it, mine ice cold in his.
ďDo you know how lucky you are to be a part of this work Iím doing?Ē he asks as he shuts the door behind him.