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by rachie
Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #1993541
how we get free
The spice box
Before the priesthood was established the men and women were friends. After that, the men had a holy mission to save the worthless female soul. Young mothers received special treatment. If a child got sick the priests had to interview the mother in order to expose her sin that caused the illness! This was so she could confess and be saved. My twins were born premature and had bronchial difficulties. I did a lot of confessing! Sometimes I made sins up…just so the priests would go away. They could knock on your door anytime…and they did.
This was just how it was in the “group” otherwise known as The Children of the Heavenly Virgin, or Soldiers of the Crucifix. Like I said it wasn’t always like this…at one time we were just a bunch of hippie like Jesus freaks wanting to know more about God. Things changed and by the time women were barred from making eye contact with men, the men didn’t want to meet our eyes anyway. I was fortunate, I was married to a man who could no longer stomach the behaviors and was planning to leave. I was even luckier he was willing to take the kids and me with him. That was his option. We would leave in the middle of the night to avoid confrontation and tears. We were not sure we would not end up in hell so we couldn’t influence the decisions of others. I could not take everything so I had to select what to leave behind. I was scared. We were taking our children to my husband’s family home in Las Angeles.
Los Angeles was 1100 miles away from Parkland and it was a whole different world!!! I did not know what I was getting into. I was only concerned with what I was getting out of. What I knew of LA, I had only learned from Judy aka Smiley. She was by best friend and cousin in law and I was one of the few people who continued to call her by her nickname. The name no longer fit. The memories she shared with me about LA were that the people went to college and took numerous family vacations. Many had pools in the back yard and “pool men” that cleaned them. It was warm. That was pretty much all the information I had. What I knew for sure was that almost any place I could imagine was better than this. We lived in Parkland right smack behind the Piggly Wiggly! The house was small and the mold was black….and the priests were always present. That is why I only took what was vital for a couple with 3 babies. I left the rocker and the box of spices in the middle of the living room floor with a note for Smiley. I knew she would understand and I knew she would use the spices.
It would be several months before we heard from Smiley , by that time I was established in a LA surrounded by opulence, but still very poor. My in-laws had a pool man and a dog that was trained to relieve himself quite far from the house. It was a financial struggle to work and pay the rent, but somehow we managed.
I managed something else also. I had my hair cut. At a solon, a gift from my mother- in -law. Not trimmed, not trimmed to the waist, or trimmed to the shoulders. I had it cut just below the ears and it was fancy too. This was how I knew I would never go back! I was a self-shorn woman! I could handle what LA had to offer, even the heat.
It was hot, like I had never experienced as an adult….if you walked on a sidewalk where gum had been spit out, it would get on your shoe and eventually anywhere you crossed your legs. On Easter, chocolate rabbits would melt. I discovered cock roaches. Smog was a daily measurement…like rain in Washington. But it was good. Even in the presence of bugs and the absence of spice…because there were no priests.
I had learned to love to cook and bake in Parkland (it was like therapy), so the spices were very important to me. I can still see them sitting, where I left them in the living room visible only because of the light from the kitchen. I can remember my heart was beating fast and I was beginning to get dizzy. I was leaving my friends. I was leaving some family. I was possibly placing my children in the hands of Satan, or saving them from him. I took a deep breath; I backed out of the room and closed the door behind me. Spices create a texture in life; they can turn something drab and tasteless into an experience far beyond just eating. It is also true that they can be costly and rare. As it turned out my spice box was a very small penance to pay for my journey toward freedom. I am not the only free person, more than a decade after my departure from Parkland, Smiley and I celebrated our freedom with a cinnamon and mint mocha. She was sporting a brand new short haircut.
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