I had to repent. Mama always told Papa to repent when he did something wrong so that he could be forgiven. I did something wrong, so I had to repent now. The evidence scattered the floor at my feet. I began to run away from the scene of my horrible crime. I had to get away first, so that I could properly repent!
I stopped when my legs hurt, and I looked around. The town all around was bustling, and people hit me a lot. They must have known I was a horrible, unforgivable wretch. I let them, and slowly walked along the long, crowded road to the west. The sun was going down behind the grand church, and it looked like it had a halo, just like the saints did.
The church was the most beautiful building in town. It was painted white like a winter snow, with colorful windows that made pictures. The doors were big and painted with gold, and the knobs and lots of other parts were made of gold. Lots of things on the inside were red, gold, and white. It was really pretty. The red was supposed to mean life and blood, and the gold was glory. The white was purity and hope. I just thought it was pretty, though.
Someone kicked the back of my knee, and I fell. A few people almost stepped on me, and several kicked me all over as I covered my end. Someone noticed me and helped me up. He was an old man, and his smile looked kind.
“Thank you, mister.” I stammered. I guess I sounded nervous, because he patted my head.
“You’re welcome, son. Where are you headed this late?” He looked concerned as he tilted his head to one side. He looked toward the church. His wrinkled face very friendly in the red light of the sunset. He squinted like an old sailor.
“I’m going to the church. I have lots of questions, and they’re very important.” I explained. “I have to hurry, too.”
The old man chuckled. “Well, that does sound important. I’ll walk you the rest of the way. People are hurrying around, and it’s getting so dark. Little boys shouldn’t go out on their own so late at night.” He nodded. “Some people are very mean, you know.
I nodded and lifted my leg so I could rub the back of my knee. “I know. Someone kicked my knee. It hurts a lot.” It wasn’t quite true. I was sure I could walk, so it wasn’t too terrible. “I can walk, I mean. It’s not too bad. It’s just sore.” I winced. My hand felt sore. I looked at my palms. They were all scraped up. “Ow.” I scowled down at my hands.
“Scraped up your hands landing, huh?” He shook his head. “You probably scraped your knees, too.” He leaned down and picked me up. He was surprisingly strong! “What’s your name?” he asked.
“I’m Elroy. Elroy Jackson.” I told him, then frowned. “Who are you?” My chin jutted out as I realized that I was letting a stranger carry me.
“Well, Elroy, I’m new in time. My name is William Adams.” He sounded friendly enough.
“Why did you come here, Mr. Adams?” Not many people came to this small town, even if we did have a very fancy church.
“Why? I came here because I heard my daughter was sick and can’t travel. She lives in the top floor of the bakery.”
“The bakery!” I gasped. “You mean Missus Nicole? She’s nice. She likes to give me cookies when I go shopping there for Mama!” This man was Mrs. Nicole’s father! He must be nice, if his daughter was as nice as she was. “Will you please take me to the church, Mr. Adams?” I asked.
Mr. Adams nodded and began to climb the steps that led up the side of the hill to the door of the church. I could smell the sweet scent of sun-warmed wheat blowing in from the northern fields. As we climbed the hill, I looked behind the church. The field went on a long way, and it looked like it was made of gold that was smeared with cherry juice.
I licked my lips as I thought of the cherry trees nearby that might still have some overripe cherries clinging to the branches. The fat, juicy fruits always stained my clothing with their juice, but I was wearing some of my work clothes, so Mama wouldn’t worry. “I think after I talk to the preacher, I’ll go to Mr. Cliff’s orchard and ask if I can pick some cherries…” I murmured. I was getting sleepy.
The door opened as Mr. Adams pushed it. It made a familiar squeak, and I looked around. It was empty inside. The preacher was not there at all, and as we explored, neither of us found him. “I guess he doesn’t really live here, does he?”
“No, most preachers have a house they live in, just like everyone else does.” Mr. Adams smiled, and I felt a little less silly.
I spent a few moments building up my courage. “Do you know a lot about church things?”
“I used to be a preacher, so yes, I know a lot about church things.”
“Woohoo!” I whooped with a grin as I clenched one of my hands into a fist and drove it upward into the air. I might get an answer! I paused. “Wait. I can’t remember what I was going to ask.” I shook my hand. It stung when I did that!
“Well, for now, let’s take care of your scrapes. All churches have first aid kits.” Mr. Adams carried me to one of the pews in the front and sat me down on it. It was cushy! I never knew the front row was where the soft seats were. All the other pews had no cushions at all. Mr. Adams walked away, and I became distracted by tracing patterns in the weave of the cushions.
Eventually, he came back with a white box that had a painted red cross on it. He opened it and got out a ball of cotton and a brown bottle. “This will sting,” he warned. I closed my eyes, and I felt cold pins all over my knees!
“Ow!” I shouted. I kept my eyes closed. He pressed the wet balls into my hands, and they began to sting too. I could feel tears forming in my eyes.
I felt the familiar weird sensation of sticky bandages, and finally opened my eyes. They were skin-colored, with holes, and they looked like they were made of cloth. “Thank you.” I managed. “That hurt a lot.”
“I know it did. That part is important, because it makes sure your scrapes don’t get dirty.” He nodded. “Do you remember your questions yet?”
I shook my head. “No. I should go home, though.” I looked toward the windows. They were really dark. I could barely see the colors in the dim light of the single candle that burned near the rafters. “I want to go home now.” I yawned. “I’m sleepy.”
“Change your mind about those cherries, did you? I’ll walk you home. There are still those pesky crowds, after all. Lots of people are coming home from factory jobs.” He winked and closed the white box. He picked me up again and began to carry me out. “I need you to tell me which way to go.”
“Well, first we leave the church!” I laughed, and so did he. I liked him a lot.