Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Gossip/Rumors (either or both) (10/28/10)
TITLE: Oh, Brother!
By Angie McTaggart
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Yes, I thought, the flowers definitely help. Now, a little fresh paint…
I had moved into my new home two weeks ago, and enjoyed sprucing the place up.
Mine was a pretty, quiet neighborhood. Several people had already come over to welcome me. Henrietta Klack, from just across the street, was the first.
She had bustled up as I was unloading the U-haul.
“Are you new?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Wasn’t it obvious?
“I’m Mrs. Henrietta Klack. I live opposite,” she said, gesturing. “You’re not married, are you?”
“Nope,” I said easily, though rather surprised by her abruptness. “Not yet.”
“I see. Well, let me invite you to Sunday services. You go to church, don’t you?”
“Yes, but I--”
“Good. It’s next to the market on Chestnut. Worship starts at ten”
And that was that. Mrs. Henrietta Klack bustled back the way she had come. She hadn’t even asked my name.
So I had gone to the service, and, though the message was good and the pastor a funny, genuine type, it just didn’t seem to be a very good fit. However, I was too busy with my house to look into other churches.
My phone suddenly rang out a blast of music, interrupting my thoughts of Mrs. Klack and the church that didn’t fit. I glanced at the screen. My brother, Jeff.
“Hey, Katy, I’m on my way to my company meeting in D.C. Could I crash at your place for the night? It’s a good halfway point.”
“Absolutely! It’ll be good to see you.”
“Great! Oh, gotta go. Boss is calling through.”
Jeff got in late. As I opened the door for him, I saw a thin bar of light flash briefly from across the street. It was Mrs. Henrietta Klack peeking out of her blinds.
Early next morning I walked Jeff out to his car and gave him a hug.
“Wish you could stay longer, Bro,” I said. “I miss you.”
“Hey, I’ll be back this way Thursday. I’ll stay a couple.”
“Ok.” I gave him one last hug. Over his shoulder I spotted Mrs. Klack out watering her shrubs. What a strange lady. It was barely light out!
That Sunday Henrietta accosted me in the church foyer. She had some friends with her, Bev and…was it Wanda?
“As your neighbor and an elder Christian woman I feel responsible for you. I must tell you to stop this sinning!”
“Wha--!” I gasped.
“For the wages of sin is death,” Bev reminded me.
“If you resist the devil, he will flee from you!” Wanda added helpfully.
I began a slow burn, but I was still mystified. “What on earth are you ladies talking about?!”
“Oh, you know exactly!” Henrietta trumpeted. Several people turned to look. “You should go and confess to the Lord, who will cleanse you of all unrighteousness.”
Well, this was embarrassing in the extreme. I turned and walked into the sanctuary without another word.
I didn’t talk to Henrietta Klack again until the following Thursday. Jeff pulled up mid-afternoon with a bag of groceries and a big smile.
“Celebration time! We got the contract!” he hollered.
“Whoooo!” I hooted back, pumping my fist in the air. Jeff had been so nervous about that company contract, but he had done it! He grabbed me in a bear hug just as I heard rapid footsteps coming up behind me.
Mrs. Klack’s face was a study in indignation. “I won’t allow this! Right in front of my own home! Good heavens, girl, don’t you have any sense of shame?” She pointed rudely at Jeff. “I saw his car parked here all night Saturday! I saw him sneaking out at dawn--”
The realization of what she implied suddenly hit me and Jeff and I burst out laughing.
“Jeff’s not my boyfriend, he’s my brother!” I gleefully informed her.
I wish I could have caught her expression on film. “Oh…” she said. There was no apology. She just turned on her heel and marched back to her own home.
I went new church shopping on Sunday. I was unsuccessful that week and the next, too, but the third Sunday I found one that really seemed to fit. I also hit it off with a very nice, good-looking man who goes there. Josh has taken me out several times, but someday I’d like to take him to meet Henrietta Klack.
Just to give her something to talk about.
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