She sat still and quiet on the impossibly hard pew. She could feel each of the five welts that cut across her skin from thigh to the curve of her buttocks. She arched just a little trying to find relief for the white hot burning that simply sitting was causing. That he made her come to church this morning and sit for these hours was a punishment worse than the initial beating with the hickory cane. Ezra stood in front of the congregation preaching of wickedness, the damnations of purgatory and the fires of hell. She thought then that perhaps she was already in purgatory as she shifted slightly and felt the burning start anew.
She was alone on the small pew. Ezra did not allow others near her unless he was standing guard. He did not want anyone influencing her with their weak or wicked morals. Speaking to that man in the mercantile while Ezra ordered new hymnals had earned her the burning welts. So she suffered alone and in silence as his voice filled her with shame and dread. Then he said from there beneath the stained glass in front of the church for them all to kneel in prayer. She was relieved to shift from the hard bench, but dreaded the time she would now spend on her knees. Ezra's prayers for their souls could take so very long.
Her head was bowed, her hands clenched in a tight ball in front of her, her knees now hurt more than those lines raised across her backside. She rocked forward to try and find relief and pressed against the low back of the pew in front of her, pressing her hands against her most wicked of places, as he called it that first night. Her eyes flew open at this. What was that feeling that was suddenly stronger than the pain in her knees or the pain in her bottom? She rocked again back towards her heals and then pushed forward and pressed her thighs, her belly and her clenched in a ball hands tight against her. Her eyes fluttered a bit. Ezra droned on and on about evil and torments of the soul. Her breath came a little faster, she rocked again pressing her bottom against the back edge of the pew behind her, feeling the pain there as the welts from Ezra's beating radiated a warmth that seemed to grow and grow, and then forward again feeling the pain in her knees that seemed to flow up into her thighs in a way that was somehow was and was not pain anymore. And then pressed again against that seat back in front of her. She took one more ragged breath before holding it. She looked up above the pulpit, above Ezra, to the top of the stained glass window and in that moment a single shaft of sunlight shown down through a beautiful pane of rose colored glass, down past all of Ezra's words of evil and wrong and lit her face, and she shuddered and cried out.
Minister Samuel looked down from the pulpit at his beautiful, young wife, her head again bowed, hanging low, the sunlight haloing her exceptional pureness. Her cry of Hallelujah at the exact right place in his prayer had pleased him. Perhaps she was not as evil as he had first feared.
Written for MicroFantasy Monday at the Sweltering Celt.
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