Fiction, Maranatha (novel excerpts)

Maranatha: Chapter 12.

catch up with a visit to the archives.

– Chapter 12 –

It was glass, delicately blown from the breath they held, on each other’s approach. A paper-thin pane, their friendship: fragile and crystalline and spotless. But there it was: hanging in those spare, unnoticed moments when they glanced and looked away to grin to themselves before or after class. It was widening, this glass, during those first few months as she wrote elegant op-eds for the school paper, as he gingerly critiqued the poems and photographs she’d submitted to The Manna Quarterly. Every conversation, a vibrant stain. Every smile, a beam of color through the glass.

By late winter, when the worst of the snow had fallen and she knew that more of senior year was behind her than before her, Maranatha began to let slip tiny bursts of excitement every weekday morning. And though she absorbed more than enough customarily sour stares and nose-upturns each day to dampen her high spirits, Gideon was there in the afternoon, waxing practically romantic about Steinbeck and Fitzgerald and her lips couldn’t help but perk up at the corners.

She’d been collecting a sack of happy incidents: that time he’d caught her crying on a side entrance step and dropped his briefcase to sit beside her, silent, till she stopped; the poem he wrote and read during class, about Jesus as a swashbuckler; how close he’d stood so close in the cafeteria line once that their trays almost touched.

He was the kind of teacher she’d never thought she’d encounter till college, the kind she feared might only exist as myth. He was free-thinking. He wasn’t afraid to reference other religions and knew how to cast his lot with one, without disrespecting the others. Though he rarely referenced the bible in lessons, his voice took on equal parts ecstasy and reverence whenever he cited it. She recognized the tone as near identical to her own and knew that the great joy of Gideon’s Christian life had been approaching the bible as poem and story and surprising himself with how easily he accepted all its accounts, however horrifying or fantastical.

Sometimes, in class, Maranatha found herself wanting to run with him, to grab his hand and spirit him away to some reckless space where her crush made sense and she didn’t feel self-doubt singeing its edges.

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Fiction, Maranatha (novel excerpts)

Maranatha: Chapter 6.

get caught up. visit the archives.

– Chapter 6 –

Gideon found himself zoning out quite often: in the morning, as he waited on a slice of bread to leap up from the toaster; at stop signs on near-empty residential streets; in showers, where he stood under the steaming deluge until he exhausted his hot water; in roundtables at the agency, while his colleagues cooked up copy for new ad campaigns; in restaurant booths sitting across from lovely women he’d rather drop off than dine with.

But it was particularly bad in churches, where the entire setup—half-hour of praise and worship, twenty-minute pre-offering sermonette, forty-five-minute sermon—seemed designed as a license to let his mind wander.

This was why he still went.

He’d chosen a place that didn’t remind him of home, an emerging church with all-White members, lax interpretations of biblical edicts, and a name ambiguous enough to belong to any number of businesses. It was the kind of place where you’d attend men’s bible study and, afterward, meet back up at bar for beers. Sometimes, rather than preaching, the pastor would screen a short film, shot by his Visual Arts Ministry, and the congregation would laugh and gasp and lift its hands, as actors played out some hardship on a scripture could fix. Once there was even popcorn.

They liked Gideon at The Lighthouse. When he wasn’t there, a twenty-year-old hipster whose actual birth name was Megatron shot him the occasional “Where ya been, bro?” text. When he was there, they worked hard to include him, asking him to offer his opinion on the design of their promotional material or trying to convince him to create an oversee a “Marketing Ministry.”

Gideon assumed the attention had to do with him being Black. This had happened to him a few times since he’d moved to Bellevue. He’d enter an all-white setting and either people were overly enthusiastic about his presence or they averted their eyes when he entered. The Lighthouse seemed really eager to have him there. Sometimes, if he stuck around long enough to have a conversation, he’d zone out while the person was talking, imagining himself grinning on their next brochure, standing between Tron and some bright-eyed girl with pink lip gloss and long blonde hair.

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