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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)

TITLE: Sanctuary Shenanigans
By Rachel Burkum
09/07/09


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I held my breath and looked to the right. All clear. Shifting my head, I glanced to the left, into the center aisle. Someone was coming. I waited until the shoes passed, before I allowed my lungs to deflate. Then, I zeroed in on my target. Straight ahead and down. It wasn’t much of a slope, really. Probably just enough to send a wheelchair to the pulpit on its own if one would offer a little persuasion. Not that I’d ever thought about doing such a thing. Though come to think of it, there always was a spare wheelchair in the coat room. I wondered how quickly I could make it down the aisle if I used bungee cords like a slingshot.

The sound of voices brought my attention back to the task at hand. So far so good. None of the grownups knew I was here. My lower legs rested on the cool wooden floor, my pink skirt having ridden up to my knees. My palms made little steam marks in the shine, and I kept my head low. One couldn’t be too careful in these positions. To sit up too quickly would either bring my head directly into the underside of the pew, or worse, banging into those little book and pencil holders on the backs of the pews. I always thought they should put those things in between seats instead. As they were, they seemed a bit hazardous. At least if they separated the seats, one wouldn’t wind up squished between Mother and aunt Sally.

The back door closed, echoing through the still sanctuary. Finally, the countdown began. I looked back to the left to see my opponent on the other side of the aisle. My older brother grinned back at me. He hadn’t been spotted either. And then...we were off. At the imaginary sound of a gun, my sibling and I began our army crawl. Under the pews we went, slip sliding on the waxed floor. My legs got caught up in my skirt, and I felt the jealousy again that my brother was able to wear pants, making this great trek easier for him than me. Nevertheless, I was not one to give up.

Another pew passed overhead, and another, and another. The stage was coming into view. Yes, yes! There was the front row pew - the glorified finish line. Slithering like a cat stuck under a couch, I pulled myself under that final pew and onto the carpet, panting.

Still on my hands and knees, I looked over to my brother. It was then we realized we didn’t know who had won. But we didn’t care. In a fit of giggles, we both collapsed, making it impossible to catch our breath.

When we heard that back door squeak open again though, you’ve never seen two kids off the floor and into a seat so fast. I noticed a little spot of dirt on my skirt and brushed at it quickly to remove all traces of our excursion. At the time, I didn’t realize my flushed face and tangled hair would provide question as to where I’d been. Thankfully, Father didn’t ask. I was his angel, after all.

“Are you two ready to go home and have some lunch?”

My brother and I jumped up, nodding vigorously. We’d worked up quite an appetite while Father had been speaking to Mrs. Bradley in his office.

On the way out of the church, I waved at some smiling faces. Some people pitied us - being the preacher’s kids and “never allowed to have fun.” But those were the kinds of people who never noticed the skirt threads caught on the edges of the pews, the leftover bulletins with crayon drawings all over them, or the little nicks in those book and pencil holders from when “someone” sat up from the floor too quickly.

Sometimes I wish I could have just one more under-the-pew race. Maybe I’d remember then, what it was like to have nothing more to worry about than bumping my head.


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This article has been read 620 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dianne Janak09/10/09
I loved this memory. The details, the humor, the sentiment that I could certainly relate to! I felt like I was there with you.
Allen Stark09/10/09
Hey kid, I was there with you. Maybe not crawling under pews, but I was splashing "holy water" on my school buddy and racing him to see how many candles we could blow out as we made our way through a church we had always been afraid to enter. Then after the organ began playing loud in the balcony, we ran out the side door and to a nearby water culvert where we tried to catch our breath and resolved to never to do that again. Thanks for the memories!
Jan Ackerson 09/14/09
Oh, I loved this! My dad was, for a time, a traveling preacher, and my brother and I used to do exactly those sorts of things in the churches he visited while he was talking to the pastor. We called it "exploring".
Liz Beal09/14/09
I love this! You did a great job. It really brought be back to my own childhood and growing up as a preachers kid. Thanks for the great memories!
Gregory Kane09/14/09
This was delightful. On a second read hrough I couldn't decide whether the pews were still occupied during the race or if the people were milling around outside. Either way, the story was captivating.
Bryan Ridenour09/14/09
As a PK I can totally relate. I participated in some shenanigans myself. I really enjoyed this. Well written. Nicely done.
Chely Roach09/15/09
What a hoot! Great story; absolutely LOVED the last line. :)
Sharlyn Guthrie09/15/09
So cute and fun to read!
Mariane Holbrook09/16/09
What a great story! I can relate because my dad also did this kind of thing. Thanks for the memories, told with such skill! Kudos!
Laury Hubrich 09/16/09
Very cute. I was a church secretary. My kids spent lots of time at church, too. I'm sure there are stories I don't even know about:) Love your story and your title!
Joy Faire Stewart09/16/09
I could see brother and sister racing and having fun. This is what memories are made of. Very enjoyable story and writing.