When the World Crumbles

The church pew was cold and hard, much like the preacher's face in front of his congregation. The people around her dozed as their 'shepherd' droned on about sin and hell. Jane found herself daydreaming as her gaze drifted around the sanctuary. The place was decorated with expensive chandeliers and stunning glass windows. So this is where our tithe and offering goes... she thought. Startling her, the preacher banged his fist on his podium, puncuating his point. What point that was, she had no idea.

This was routine to Jane. Go to church, pretend to care, sing "I love Jesus", go home, live her life in a way God would deem acceptable, and repeat the whole process next Sunday. Her soul was saved from eternal damnation, and that's all that mattered, right? She lived her life right, that way God wouldn't strike her with cancer or AIDS or something like that. But inwardly, Jane sighed. This life was colorless, bland, unattractive, boring. This life was religion.

Then one day Jane's world fell apart. Her Christian boyfriend dumped her, her friends stopped talking to her, her parents began looking at divorce, and she felt lonely. When Sunday rolled around, she went back to church and sat in a back pew.

If she had thought the idea of a loving God felt ludicrous before, she didn't recall it being this bad. Bitter words screamed in her head as the preacher went on about God being the God who, "gives and takes away." The old coot up front had no idea what Jane was going through, and his impersonal message of God's punishment made Jane want to scream. This is God's fault?! The reason I feel so alone is because HE saw it fit to tear apart everything I love?! What kind of God do I serve anyways?!? Her heart ached as the thought filled her mind.

Laying in her bed that night, Jane began to cry. Softly, she whispered her bedtime prayer and stared at the dark ceiling. Then a thought came to her mind- a crazy, insane, completely out of character thought. I should take a walk in the woods.

Quickly, she got out of bed and slipped on a jacket and sneakers. She grabbed a flashlight and tip-toed down the stairs and out the back door. Turning on her light, she scurried to the back woods, her heart quickening with every step she took. When she entered them, she looked around. The trees loomed overhead and the moon peaked through the branches. It seemed like something from a book, the moonlight casting shadows all around her. She glanced down and saw flowers with their petals closed. "I should probably be asleep too..." she said aloud.

"But you weren't, so I invited you out here to visit me." Jane spinned around when she heard the other voice. She didn't see anyone, and fear quickly gripped her throat, constricting her breathing. "Don't be frightened, you know me." She was still afraid though. She didn't like strangers, especially not in the night. "I know you don't like strangers, but maybe if you weren't so busy reciting cliches to me and actually tried to get to know me, you would recognize my voice."

Jane's brow furrowed. Had she accidentally said that out loud? The other voice laughed. "No, baby doll, you did not say that out loud. But your thoughts are easy to understand, I'm the one who gave you the brain to have them in the first place." She suddenly gasped. Who was playing such a trick on her? This was absurd!

Then a figure formed before her eyes. He had deep brown eyes, and laugh lines around his eyes. He brought his hands up to her face and brushed away a few stray hairs. Jane was so captured in the man's eyes, she couldn't move away from his touch. But when his fingertips met her skin, an electric shock ran through her veins...

And that was when she knew.

To be continued...

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