Linda thought hard about benefiting both her soul and her community as she filled a bucket with water, grabbed a roll of paper towels, and lugged the load into the sanctuary to wash the windows. They were high, and she hadn’t seen a ladder in the cleaning closet. The sill was just deep enough for her to stand on. Linda parked the bucket of water and paper towels in a corner of the first window, then jumped and pushed down with her hands to get a knee on the sill. She whacked her head against the window and told herself that it was good for her soul.
Linda finished one wall of windows, then, looking at her watch, realized that she had spent an hour and a half at the church already. She turned to leave the sanctuary and came face to face with Reverend Monck. She lowered her eyes.
"So Linda," he said slowly as he crossed his hands in front of his privates. "Do you feel that your first gesture of helpful community service was useful for our church?"
"Yes, sir," Linda squeaked.
"And you hope to continue to be this helpful every week?"
"Uh . . . yes, Reverend."
"Good. I'm sure you are aware that, besides making a good Christian gesture, you are saving the church money in cleaning services. So there's a secondary advantage."
"Good. See me after service on Sunday, I'll be able to suggest a time next week when you can come back. Oh, and Linda?"
"Be on time for confirmation class on Saturday."
Linda swallowed. "Well, . . . last time I was late because I stopped to ask an old lady if she wanted me to help her rake up the leaves in her yard."
"Was it one of our church-goers?"
"I - don't think so."
"Then you had no business offering, or even talking with her. You won't do it this time."
The Reverend bowed slightly, stiffly, sniffed, and strode out of the nave. Linda put away her bucket, said goodbye to the grumpy secretary as she silently unlocked the door to let her out, and walked home.
Linda went through the front door and there was her father. Swaying worse than ever. She stood stock still.
"You know you're late for dinner?" he slurred.
Linda looked down. "No, sir, I didn't. I was at church, . . . "
Before she could continue she felt the burn against her left cheek, then heard a strange thump. She sank into blackness.
published 23 November 2011