Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: Sanctuary Shenanigans
By Rachel Burkum
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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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