Chewing absently on the inside of my cheek I glance up at my mother. Her hymnal, which has portions of today's service bulletin disected and reused as bookmarks poking from its edges, is open to the appropriate place. She is buried in the text before her, focusing more on the flow of the song than the words themselves. My father's deep voice vibrates through me, echoing into my bones the emotional tone of the song, though he sits far ahead of us with the church choir. His voice stands out, by far, among all of the church goers in the crowded building. One voice, rising above all others.

But I'm too young to appreciate the symbolism my father provides, instead focusing on the intense pain the pew presents to my backside.

I've long since learned that fidgeting isn't wise. I've pushed my mother to the limits of her patience before, in church. Swinging my legs to alleviate the ache that forms behind my knees from the angle of the hard wood. Slipping the prayer pencil from its holder and drawing on the pads of paper meant for well wishes and glad tidings. Braiding the ribbons hanging from the hymnal during Easter so tight they are crinkled and won't go straight again. All of which invoked "the look" from my mother. Some of these inspired hissed whispers or painful grasps of limbs.

I strain my neck to see past the old ladies that surround me to no avail. There's nothing to look at but the pew and hymnals before me and the back of heads swathed in purples and greys that smell of mothballs drenched in cheap flowery perfume.

Sometimes I giggle at an unchecked tag poking from the neckline of the lady infront of me or the funny giant nose of the old guy that usually sits next to me. These giggles are becoming more and more rare as they seem to bring about the stern gaze of my mother more often.

I've seen other kids come in with coloring books and crayons and occasionally cookies to munch on, but not me. That's not appropriate for church. My mother would die before she allowed me to not listen to the important lesson the pastor has to teach us.

Not that I do really. Listen, that is. I mean, I'm sure she's talking about important God things and how we should all be good people, or something. I'll listen one day, when I'm older. For now it's just too boring. Although, sometimes I understand what she says. Sometimes a little bit seeps in. That's when I start to wonder what it'd be like if I invented a time machine and went back to the time this Jesus guy lived. I could watch it all happen, see what really went on and how much of what they teach in Sunday School is actually true.

I'm a doubter, even at this young age. I want to know if he was real or if he is just a myth like my older brother tells me. I want to know how they know this is what really happened. I want to see it unfold before my eyes, tell this person to not bother. We aren't worth saving.

I can feel the dirty leers of the old men, hear the bitterness in my mother, feel the anger of my brother and mourn the injustice of baby birds falling out of nests.

If what the pastor and my parents tell me is true, then why would God kill the baby birds?

My 8-year-old body's been touched, pinched, smacked, punched, kicked and twisted too many times for me to believe there's a being out there who loves me.

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