Sunday Psalms: Fictional Narratives Inspired by the Psalms, Proverbs, & Other Biblical Works
The suitcase on Molly’s bed bulged with more items than could mathematically fit within the confines of a closed lid. Molly had never been good at math. Science either. For that matter, she had little knack for formal learning of any kind.
If she’d been a shy, unattractive girl, Molly’s educational progress might have suffered. But when she was in school, her brown hair resembled those of photo-enhanced women from shampoo ads. Her long hair and uncanny ability to seduce her college professors managed to earn her a degree in psychology. Go figure.
“What’s it like to be so beautiful and so dumb?” The question came from the last professor she ever slept with.
“I don’t know. What’s it like to be a fat adulterer?” she had retorted. Molly wasn’t surprised when she earned a D in that course.
In addition to the company of older men, Molly’s high school and college years were packed with the companionship of various mood-altering substances. Not all of them had been illegal.
Now Molly was twenty-seven. Three weeks ago, she had traded a night in bed for a bottle of pills from the dealer in her apartment building. “You won’t feel the same,” Bugs had promised. As far as drug dealers went, Bugs was a man of his word, and he had been right. When she woke up again, her head didn’t feel the same. When the ambulance finally came, she was sprawled out on the bathroom floor. No one knew how long she’d been like that.
“You’re lucky to be alive,” the emergency room doctor (Dr. Monotone to Molly) had been grave. He told her the injury from hitting her head on the bathtub had to be her last. “Another blow like that and it’ll be brain damage.”
“Oh, a little brain damage won’t change much. I never was very smart to begin with.” She had tried her best at flirting with the doctor, but Molly didn’t look like she had in college. Lately, the sheen had worn off her dark hair, and her skin had lost its luster. Men like Dr. Monotone were no longer impressed with her. He gave her a frown and left her to ruminate on his words.
And she did. She thought about it during her week in bed and behind the conveyor belt of the discount grocery mart. Every beep of the scanner was a tap-tap-tap on her shoulder. One more blow. One more blow means brain damage. One more bad pill meant life could stop.
“You’re kidding me. Molly Revolver. It is you.”
Molly was scanning toilet paper and milk for frantic winter shoppers when she heard the voice she thought she had escaped. A heaviness fell over her chest, and she tried the slow-breathing that would keep her from hyperventilating.
“Hi, Bart,” she muttered and scanned his groceries. She refused to make eye contact. Bart Hooper was her mother’s third husband. He started calling her “Molly Revolver” when she was fifteen and routinely involved herself with neighborhood boys.
“Some day, one of those bullets won’t be blank. Is that what you want? A baby in your belly?” That had been Bart’s drunken explanation when he gave her the nickname. He thought it was hilarious. He’d been sitting in his lounge chair, dressed in nothing but briefs. Even with all the drugs and alcohol, it was an image she’d been unable to eradicate from memory.
When Molly’s mother finally discovered that some of those bullets belonged to Bart, he’d become her third ex-husband. Two weeks later, she emancipated Molly and moved to Reno. She hadn’t seen Bart or her mother since.
“How long you been working here, kid?” Bart asked as Molly scanned his case of Budweiser.
“A while,” Molly told him and wrinkled her nose. She could almost smell the disgusting scent of boiled hot dogs. Back in those days, Bart would boil a pack of Ballpark franks and consume them with a half-dozen beers. She hadn’t eaten a hot dog since 2004.
“Looks like you went through a war zone, Kid. Too bad you never amounted to anything.”
Kid. She hated that even more than Molly Revolver.
“Here you go,” Molly said, shoving the groceries away from her. “Snow’s started.” She pointed towards the storefront windows as the first flakes of snow floated down. The weathermen were predicting a doozy of a storm. Like everyone in D.C., Bart had bumbled in for last-minute rations.
“See you around, Kid,” Bart said and gave a meaty chuckle. She could hear him muttering “Molly Revolver” to himself as he walked away.
“Hello! We don’t have all day!” A woman with a red wool cap was next in line. She seethed impatience. “Storm’s coming. Can you move it?”
Molly turned to the woman and narrowed her eyes. She leaned both her arms on the conveyor belt and thought about all the times Bart had called her Molly Revolver. She remembered how her mother had forced her take a handful of pills that would make sure Bart hadn’t gotten her pregnant. Like exploding cannons, the memories bombarded her — the ones of all her mother’s boyfriends and husbands hitting her then snickering after. She’d always been too afraid to fight back.
“You want me to hurry? Here you go. Is this fast enough for you?” Without any foreplanning, Molly sprung into action. Like softballs, she systematically tossed each of the woman’s groceries into an empty cart. Bang. Rattle. Crash. That last one was a salsa jar exploding on the cold tile floor.
“Manager! Manager!” The woman yelled at the top of her lungs.
“Go ahead. Get my manager. And next time, try the store down the street. Instead of employees, they have robots who can meet your demands more efficiently!”
Five minutes later, Molly was unemployed.
“It’s alright. It needed to happen,” Molly told herself on the drive back to the apartment. Snowflakes escorted her to the door. The lines of the parking spaces were already buried under a layer of white powder. She needed to hurry.
In less than twenty minutes, Molly was ready to leave. She stared at the suitcase that held no hopes of closing.
“I guess you stay behind,” she told her graduation cap and set it aside, along with several other items she decided could stay behind. Molly couldn’t remember her college graduation. Pictures from classmates were evidence that she had been there. She had received a diploma from Virginia Tech, but Molly had no memory of that day. The diploma never made it home. She always figured she had left it in some bar or some stranger’s apartment. That sort of thing was not uncommon.
“You going somewhere? You know it’s snowing?” Mr. Griggs lived in the adjacent apartment. He was lurking in the apartment lobby when Molly tromped down the stairs with her suitcase.
“Yep,” she said and kept moving. Mr. Griggs had the ability to trap her in mindless conversations about Antarctica and foreign oil and the Supreme Court. Most of the time she tried to be polite, but not today. Today there was no time. If she was going to outrun the storm, she had to move.
“Feels like Antarctica out there,” Mr. Griggs hollered after her. Molly did not bother to remind him that he had never been to Antarctica. In fact, Mr. Griggs had never been to Canada or New York. Mr. Griggs had never even left the boundaries of Washington D.C. All the more motivation for Molly to get out of the city.
“Going for a drive?” A gas attendant lumbered up to Molly’s window. He was the first grown man she’d ever seen with a coonskin cap as his hat of choice. He wore hiking boots with shorts. She felt his bullet eyes were too eager for comfort.
“Yep,” Molly said and stoically handed him a twenty-dollar bill. She yanked the nozzle out of the pump and shoved it into the tank of her Oldsmobile. That would send him the message.
Molly had been driving all afternoon when she finally pulled into the tiny gas station outside Richmond. It had taken two hours to get out of D.C., but it seemed she had managed to outrun the weather.
“D.C.? Kinda far to be traveling alone. ‘Specially with the storm riding your tail.” Apparently, Bullet Eyes was disregarding her “back-off” message. He kept throwing out questions and comments while she kept her hand on the gas trigger. She briefly considered spraying him with it like you would spray someone with a hose, but since it was gasoline, she decided against it.
“You know what time is it?” Molly asked as she topped off the tank. She’d left her phone back in D.C., and the clock on her dashboard was broken.
“I figure it’s about four, give or take.” He took her question as an indication of relationship. “Where you headed?” he asked, nodding his chin to the suitcase on her passenger seat.
“The future,” Molly said and climbed back into the Oldsmobile. She wasn’t about to tell anyone where she was going, especially not Bullet Eyes. Sure, he probably had maps inside. Without GPS, she was having to feel the route. She briefly considered buying a map from Bullet Eyes, but that would mean going inside the tiny station with him and his coonskin cap. She’d rather risk getting lost.
It was seventy degrees and just after sunrise when Molly pulled her car onto the scenic overlook. It was a good feeling. The only other time she’d been in Florida was when she was three years old, and that hardly seemed to count. This was the farthest she’d ever driven on her own, and there was something to be said for that.
“Your time has come,” she told the suitcase and snatched it from the passenger seat. She set it on top of the hood and snapped the locks open. The suitcase sighed in relief, as if it had been working hard to stay shut.
“What shall we start with?” Molly perused the various articles and decided that the first item to be lobbed into the water was her makeup bag. It was stuffed with bottles containing pills of every shape and color. Like a major league pitcher, Molly rotated her arm several times before sending the drugs sailing into the blue water.
“Woohoo!” she hollered, as if she’d made a three-point shot with a basketball. She could almost hear the fans cheering her on. That was when Molly realized how warm she was. Granted, she was in Florida and still wearing her long underwear. After this, she would find a place to buy new clothes and change.
“Just getting warmed up,” she informed her suitcase and selected the next item: a hand mirror she had used to investigate her face. This was followed by all the jewelry her mother had given her. Each item was from one of her mother’s lovers. Those were especially easy to throw. Then came a series of miniskirts, high heels, and plunging necklines Molly had utilized in bars and clubs. If she rolled the clothing into tight wads, they were easier to throw.
“Hey! Hey there! Are you okay?” Molly had finished her project and released the suitcase itself when a teenage girl with pink hair came running towards her. When she got close, Molly noticed the right side of the girl’s face was covered with tattoos.
“Yes. I’m very okay,” Molly told the girl and examined her tattoos. Like the briers in Sleeping Beauty, the black ink created a patch of thorns across her forehead and down her cheek.
“You trying to kill the fish or something?”
If she really wanted to kill fish, Molly could think of more efficient means, but the girl seemed genuine in her concern.
“No. I don’t have a problem with fish.” Molly assured her. She pointed at the girl’s face and asked the same question. “Are you okay?” Maybe it wasn’t the case for everyone, but all the girls she knew with tattooed faces had done it because they hated themselves.
“It’s art,” the girl said defensively and looked away. She pulled a cigarette from her purse. Her fingers struggled with the lighter. “And just so you know, you looked a little crazy throwing all that stuff over the edge.” Molly laughed. She probably did look crazy.
“You like D.C.?” The girl blew a puff up smoke at the Oldsmobile license plate.
“Nope,” Molly said. She instinctively fingered her keys, knowing the car was the last item to go. She’d planned to put it in neutral and push it over the edge, but now she had a better plan. She stepped towards the girl and took her hand. The girl gave her a nervous look but didn’t pull away. “Take these. I don’t need them anymore.” Molly placed the keys in the girl’s hand. “There’s half a tank at least.”
“Is this a joke. Are we on T.V. or something?” The girl glanced around, scanning the area for cameras.
“No. It’s not a joke. I’m serious. I’m giving you the car. It’s a gift.”
“But what about you? You don’t you want it? Where are you gonna go?”
Molly smiled. “I’ll be fine. That car is the last piece of my past. I’m done with it.” She patted the trunk of the car then walked towards the highway.
“Hey! Lady! Wait!” The girl came running up behind her. “What’s your name?”
What was her name? Molly Revolver? Kid?
“Grace. My name is Grace.” She held out her hand and smiled. It was that easy. Molly was gone, Grace was here. “What’s your name?”
“Desdemona,” the girl said and immediately dove into an explanation. “People think it’s all pretty and like Shakespeare, but it means I’m a devil-child or bad luck or something crappy like that. It’s ‘cuz my mom was super pissed when she found out she was pregnant. She tried to abort me, but it was too late or something.” When she got to the last part, she looked away so that all Grace could see was the tattooed side of her face.
“No. Not anymore. Your name is not Desdemona. That was before. Quick. What’s your favorite name? If you could be called anything, what would it be?”
“Melody.” The girl didn’t have to think about it. The name came out as quickly as a runner leaving the starting block.
“Melody. That’s pretty. Alright. Melody. Anybody asks your name, that’s what you tell them.”
“Melody.” The girl said it, uncertain. Then again. “Melody. Melody what? Is it like Cher or Madonna or something?”
“Or something,” Grace said. “Something good. Bye, Melody.” Grace gave her a little wave and left the girl with the Oldsmobile. She walked in the direction of a strip mall she had passed a few miles back. She hadn’t eaten since South Carolina and could go for some food. That, and she really, really needed to get out of this long underwear.
Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 (ASV)
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah; for Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. Isaiah 62:4-5 (ASV)
Question to Ponder: What do you need to release to the past? What do get to embrace as your future?
Song Recommendation: Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
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Embracing life’s wilderness through music and community
-Read Previous Sunday Psalms from Season Two: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5,Episode 6, Episode 7, Episode 8, Episode 9, Episode 10, Episode 11, Episode 12,Episode 13, Episode 14, Episode 15, Episode 16, Episode 17,Episode 18, Episode 19, Episode 20, Episode 21, Episode 22
Written by Heidi Sadler, Inspired by Philippians 3 & Isaiah 62. Copyright © 2017 Heidi Sadler, All Rights Reserved.