Billy was right, Becca did attend church. Even Rosemary went, inviting Malcolm every week. He always declined, politely. Until the day Rosemary’s invitation was a bit louder: “Oh come on Malcolm, I don’t bite. Chalk it up to one of your American cultural experiences that you can tell your friends back home all about.”

Before he could reply his mother stepped out. Wearing a flowing summer dress that only made her slight frame look smaller; she gazed up at them both and said, “That would be lovely. We’d both like to come.”

He was stunned. He still hadn’t regained his power of speech by the time they arrived at the church door.

“So glad you and your mother could join us,” some old woman said, grasping his hand as if they were acquainted.

It wasn’t too bad. But was odd. Especially with Becca sitting in front of them, next to Billy, acting as if they were not there. At one point the preacher asked them to hold hands with fellow worshippers, and he was forced to hold Rosemary’s. Far too intimate, but he couldn’t see a polite way out. She had just reached out and taken his left while his mother took his right.

He couldn’t help but notice how much rougher and stronger Rosemary’s hand was than his mother’s: soft and delicate with long, tapered fingers, fragile like bones of a bird. If his father didn’t come soon she might break. She needed a friend. Somebody other than Althea. He glanced at Rosemary. It seemed too childish to suggest, “Perhaps you and my mom could be friends.”

He wondered how Rosemary felt being here. He knew that cult was awful. But weren’t all Christians out to burn homosexuals at the stake? Although everyone here seemed friendly. Then again, maybe everybody was talking behind Rosemary’s back while quietly praying for her soul. What if they were praying for his? Malcolm shuddered at the thought.

The minister told them: “Let us bow our heads and pray.”

He didn’t understand what that meant. How? And to who? He knew of ‘God’, of course. But that was simply a concept. There was so little substance to the word. So there he was, with Becca sitting right in front while the guy at the pulpit spouted off about thinking about your sins. He could do that, at least. Thinking good and long about all the time he’d seen Becca with most of her clothes off. Which didn’t seem right. Not while sitting between her mother and his. Not while sitting in a church.

He tried prayer again: God, if you are really there, get my black butt out of here and back to Cape Town.


Tell us what you think: Is what Malcolm and Becca have been doing ‘sinning’?