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Three Rivers and a Blessing

A short fiction story

By Brandi Ashley Published 3 years ago 10 min read

It was Cecilia’s third visit to the small white church with the red and black motorcycle on the roof above the entryway. EVERYONE WELCOME the sign read, and right above that, THREE RIVERS BIKER CHURCH. Cecilia had decided to wear khaki dress pants and a simple wool sweater vest that was the hue of a bursting raincloud combined with a long-sleeve white button up blouse underneath. Last Sunday when she attended the church, she had realized that no one here dressed elegantly. Even more so, she had noticed that most everyone, including the women, wore jeans. And there was not a drop of makeup or piece of jewelry in the place. Cecilia judged by the glances of the others that her bright blue satin dress and diamond earrings were a bit much, and she had vowed to blend in more this Sunday. Not just because she was new to town seeking a home church and every other church was forty-five minutes away, but also because she thought maybe that was the reason behind the nearly seven-foot-tall three-hundred-pound biker, Kiran, intently watching her the last two Sundays.

At the far end of the church parking lot, Cecilia sat behind the steering wheel of her black Lexus. She flipped the visor down and stared into the small mirror on the back. Sighing, she closed her dark brown eyes for a couple of beats before gazing back at the aging eyes in the mirror.

“You can do this, Cil. They can’t like you any less than the people at the church back home. And they don’t know you well enough to spread rumors, either. What’s the worst they could do?”

As if suddenly remembering, Cecilia grabbed her purse from the passenger seat and dug out her makeup bag. She brushed her shoulder-blade length hair, powdered her face, and reapplied her maroon lipstick.

“Ok, let’s do this,” she remarked while flipping the sun visor back up.

Taking a deep breath, Cecilia stepped out of her car, tossed her platinum hair over her shoulder, and strode toward the church doors. The distinct clacking from her tan Jimmy Choo suede heels announced her arrival long before she made it to the entrance. Once inside, Cecelia made her way to the next to last pew on the left. She slipped into the empty pew on the far end and crossed her legs. Attempting to smooth the crease from her khaki pant leg, she glanced up just in time to meet Kiran’s bright blue eyes. Cecilia froze with her hand still on her pant leg. She held his stare for a moment longer before breaking eye contact. What is it, she thought? I wore pants this time.

Wrinkling her forehead, she looked to the front of the church where the pastor had entered. Brother Faro was a tall, slim man with a bald head except for a few sparse white hairs on the crown. His bony hands were covered in age spots and callouses. The preacher and Kiran shared the same radiant blue eyes. Although Brother Faro had thin pale lips, his smile was considerably preeminent. As his eyes settled on Cecilia, so did his smile. Her shoulders relaxed and she leaned back against the pew. She returned the preacher’s smile along with a slight nod. Cecelia let out an effortless breath. I’m glad I came back, she thought as Brother Faro began the morning service.

“Hello, er’body! Ain’t this a fine day God done gave us! Amen? Amen!”

Cecelia smiled to herself. Yes. Yes, it is. Brother Faro put both hands in his pants pockets and walked out from behind the podium before continuing to deliver his message.

“Ta-day we’re gone talk about what it means to be a community! That’s right, folks. Sometimes we need’a be reminded that church is a place for all us to come together! And to be a family of God and praise His sweet, sweet name! We all brothers and sisters her’! Can I geta Amen!”

Several Amens! bounced off the church walls in response.

“Then all th’ people’ll say Amen,” bellowed Brother Faro with a full-tooth smile! “Open y’all’s bibles and turn to Romans 12:16 with me.” He walked back to the podium where his bible sat and, with a slight lick of his finger, flipped through the pages until he found his destination. Pulling a tiny pair of reading glasses from his shirt pocket, he balanced them on the bridge of his nose and began reading.

“Live in harmony with one ‘nother. Do not be proud but be willin’ to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

Why is it so warm in here, Cecelia thought? She rolled up the sleeves of her white blouse until they rested above her elbows. Brushing her hair from her shoulder, she tried to focus on Brother Faro’s words.

“Ya kno’,” said Brother Faro, “Ya should be kind to all kinds a people no matter what ya think of ‘em. But that ain’t all this here passage is trying to tell ya.”

He stepped out from behind the podium and looked around the room at all the faces that peered at him with wonder as if he was a pioneer and perfecter of faith. He bent his head down and took a breath as he walked back to the podium.

“This passage ain’t jest talkin’ to the uns that don’t treat people of low position right. It’s talkin’ to the uns of low position, too! Truf is, some folks feel like their in’a low position and it makes ‘em not wanna reach out to good ole’ church folk! We gotta all reach out to un ‘nother! The Big Man upstairs wants us to,” said Brother Faro while pointing toward the ceiling with both pointer fingers, “can I get a Amen?”

Cecelia silently wondered if someone was out of sight controlling the thermostat. She fanned herself with her hand, but it wasn’t much relief. She sighed and glanced around the room. How could anybody pay attention in this heat, really. She started to turn back to Brother Faro, but out of the corner of her eye she spotted Kiran burning a hole straight through her with those piercing blue eyes. Cecelia felt the blood rushing to her cheeks and had the sudden urge to walk out of church.

Before she could think much about it, her vision was clipped by a short older woman that had gray curls on her head and carried a white purse under her arm. The little old woman walked as if she carried a satchel of bricks on her back.

“Hi, dear! I’m Dawn, Brother Faro’s wife.”

The words had barely left the woman’s mouth before she sat down on the pew next to Cecelia. Dawn placed her soft wrinkled hand on Cecelia’s hand and offered her a warm smile.

“We’re so glad to have you here, dear. You must come to dinner tonight here at the church. You have to come, I insist,” Dawn exclaimed in Cecelia’s ear. With a light chuckle, Dawn patted her hand and stood up.

“Don’t mind me, dear. I just really hope you’ll come. And bring a dish if you want. Or don’t—it doesn’t matter, there will be plenty. Won’t you come?”

Smiling, Dawn hovered over Cecelia waiting for her to accept the invitation.

“Yes, I’ll come,” whispered Cecelia returning the woman’s smile, “Thank you for asking.”

Dawn turned to walk back to her front row pew when she suddenly turned back around to Cecelia.

“Oh, I almost forgot.”

The woman pulled a blue paper hand fan from her clutch and handed it to Cecelia.

“I hope it helps, dear. It does get hot in here at times,” Dawn told her as she shuffled away.

Maybe I really will come to dinner, Cecelia thought. Maybe I’ll even come back next Sunday, too. Or maybe not. She didn’t hear much of the remaining message that Brother Faro preached. Instead, Cecelia thought about what she would do. Ok. I’ll go to dinner and see how that goes. Then I will decide about next Sunday. After coming to a decision, she then began to wonder if she should bring a dish. And if so, what? Surely, it would have to be something everyone liked. Cecelia imagined herself bringing a dish to the church dinner and it being something that everyone disliked. I’d be looking for another church again, she sighed.

Letting her shoulders sag, she watched Brother Faro pacing in front of the pews until he came to a stop where Kiran was seated.

“Brothers an’ sisters, folks! Family! That’s what this here church ‘posed to be!”

Brother Faro widened his eyes and looked pointedly at Kiran. Kiran quickly looked down at the floor before slowly looking back up and turning his head until his eyes met Cecelia’s. His eyes were intense and glassy and reflected what looked to Cecelia to be embarrassment. She certainly could not handle being a part of another church that was embarrassed of her. Turning away, Cecelia gazed toward the front of the church. The corners of her lips turned down. Maybe this isn’t the church for me. Maybe I shouldn’t come to dinner…

Cecelia didn’t hear another word until the service ended. As soon as Brother Faro dismissed the congregation, she was out of her seat and headed for the front doors of the church. When she made it to her car, there was Kiran standing next to the Lexus with his head down and his hands shoved so far in his pockets that his wrists were not visible. Cecelia stopped in her steps and just stared at the seven-foot biker. His dark hair hung to his shoulders, greasy and unkempt. He sported dark stubble on his chin and upper lip. Not having time to think, Cecelia whirled around on her heel and headed back toward the church.

“Wait,” Kiran stammered, “Please wait.”

Cecelia slowly turned back to Karin, wondering if this would be the moment someone would comment on her outfit or appearance. Taking a deep breath and extending her palms out, Cecelia began, “Look. I know I’m different. If it would be better that I didn’t come back, it’s no problem, really. ” She shook her head from side to side. Karin squinched his eyes and hung his mouth open staring at her.

“Dat’s not it a’tall ma’am. I jest wanted to tell ya—I jest—ya needs to know… Ma’am, th’ thang is, God put it on ma heart to tell ya somethin’. He said was a message that ya needs to here. I wouldn’t shore at first, but Brother Faro says it’s so.”

“A message from God? What is it? Tell me, please.” The words rushed from Cecelia’s mouth as she took a step closer to Karin.

“God says to tell ya, welcome home an ya can stop lookin’ fer whatever it is ya lookin’ fer cause you done found it, ma’am.”

Kiran gave Cecilia a polite nod as she stood wide-eyed.

“An’ I hope ya come to supper tonight. An keep comin’,” he told her before walking back to the church.

Cecelia smiled, feeling as if she might float away. Even though Kiran was out of earshot, she responded anyway.

“I will. I will come tonight. And next Sunday, too.”

Looking up at the sky, she knew she would be back.

fact or fiction

About the Creator

Brandi Ashley

I am a Creative Writing major at Belhaven University in Mississippi. I was focused on writing fiction, but within the last year I have developed a relationship with God. Now, I am here to tell my story of survival as a testimony to God.

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