wasn't the moss that annoyed me most about the old church. There was a
lot of it, creeping through the gaps in the stone walls like sinister broccoli,
but that wasn't the worst thing. I'm not, nor was I then, a religious person,
so I guess that merely being in a church should have been annoying in itself,
what with all of the pictures of Mary and shining suns and the huge wooden
carving of Jesus on the cross. Christ was staring at me from the front
of the room,. His wooden eyes drilled into me and he looked vaguely accusing.
Leave my church, fiend. Believe in me or leave. I was scared, so I apologised
to him in my mind, and after that he didn't seem as threatening. The carving
of Jesus on the cross wasn't the worst thing either. A colourful
yet colourless Mary was looking slightly melancholy despite the birth
of her son, and even though the sun shone through the glass of her
face as if she had eaten a thousand sunbeams, she looked as sad as
ever. Mary didn't annoy me, though I did pity her, having moss growing
out of her surroundings in all sorts of strange places. Aside from
that - no, she wasn't a major part of the irritation factor.
pews were really uncomfortable, angled and wooden and obviously crafted
for the people of wooden flesh, of whom there seemed to be very few.
I tried sitting in many different positions, trying to relive the
dull ache in my buttocks, but it
work so I had to be content with a growing numbness and the knowledge
that I would have pins and needles later on. I was sitting
on the end of my family's pew, and I was tracing the intricately
carved patterns of the arm with my own fingers, when Ma tapped my
shoulder and shoved a song book in my face. Then we were standing and
the organ was belching out a long, slow melody. I wasn't that good at
reading, or singing, so I decided to just look down at my feet and
think about Addy.
been a good girl, even with all of her petrol bombs and jokes about
our teachers at school. She put the two together once and burnt down
our history teacher's outside lavatory. It was a wicked thing to
do, but at least she did a good job of it. She used to drill holes
in Ping-Pong balls, then fill them with petrol and attach a fuse
made out of whatever she could find. She'd light the fuse and
roll the bomb towards her target, and sometimes it would leave a
trail of flames, like a forest fire in insect land, and she liked
that. It was wicked, it was, but pretty nifty. I admired her technical
skills, if you could call them technical. Mr What's-his-name came
shooting out of his pokey little house and went ballistic and the
sight of his blackened toilet, standing alone in a garden of ashes.
Addy said later on that if he was going to pee his pants with rage,
that would have been a pretty convenient place to do it in.
thought made me laugh out loud; Ma elbowed me hard and told me to
have some respect. I looked up at the huge organ. I know that organs
make a lot of people think of vampires or hermits or a play I once
saw about a man with a white mask, but they always made me think
of a big skinny choir. Especially this one. I tried to count the
skinny people with their sad, down-turned mouths, but I wasn't good
at counting either so I gave up when I got to five. Five is a nice,
firm number, but after that I used to get all muddled up. I could
never remember whether six or seven came first, so Ma told me a way
to remember: "Just think that 'six' doesn't have as many letters
as 'seven', so it must come first." But that just confuse me more
because 'six' has three letters and 'seven' has five, so I always
stopped at five. Anyway, even though I was having trouble counting,
it wasn't the organ that made me dislike the church.
was a man standing at the front now, the skinny choir had stopped.
He was wearing white, not black like the rest of us, but he still
looked very sad. I don't think Addy would have liked him because
he was saying a lot of things that she wouldn't have understood.
I got a few of the words, like 'holy' and 'love', but the rest of
the speech was a mystery to me. He was probably a very nice man,
and he wasn't the annoying part of the church. I heard him say 'Addy'
and it made me pay more attention to what he was saying. People were
looking at something that was on a stand in front of the old man; something
I hadn't noticed before. The old man finished saying something and
lots of people were taking flowers and necklaces and putting them
on or beside the box. It was a big box, and I was pretty sure Addy
was inside it. That was what was annoying me. Addy was my friend,
and she was inside that box. All closed up. They'd told me that she
had died, and I knew what dying was, but I was still angry that Addy
was inside that musty old box.
balled up my fists and shoved them in my pockets, my teeth were digging
into my bottom lip. I clenched and unclenched my fingers as people
cried and blew their noses. Unexpectedly, my fingers closed around
something rough. It was a piece of sandpaper that I had found the
day before, and I had put it in my pocket because things like that
always come In handy. I pulled it out and ran my fingers across it,
thinking about what I could do with it. Looking up at the coffin,
I realised what was really annoying me about the church, and how
I could fix it. I slipped out the end of the pew and slowly made my way
to the front of the room, to Addy's box. As I walked, people looked
down on me with sympathetic eyes, as if I was walking into a trap
and they couldn't help me. I reached the coffin and ran my fingers
along the corners. They were too sharp. Ma realised I was doing something
when I raised the
to the corner of the coffin. She was starting to make her way towards
me. I pressed the sandpaper against the wood and rubbed, rounding
away the corner that was too sharp, too sharp for my round friend