Anders’ nose wrinkled as he opened his eyes slowly, bringing his three-minute doze to an end. The shells of the spotlights illuminating the front of the church were eggshell white, rimmed with black and spilling their overly creamed coffee of light onto the pulpit. He covered his eyes with his hands and peered through his fingers to bring the floor’s glare to a minimum, although a fellow churchgoer immediately walked in front of his line of sight, making the whole matter irrelevant.

“Hello there! How are you?” The lady ripped one of Anders’ hand away from his face and jiggled it in her own, forcing him to accept the reality of the meet-and-greet. Her red lips widened, exposing white teeth more glaring than the shine of the lights off the hardwood floor. “What’s your name, young man?”

Anders groaned, sitting up. “My name’s Anders.” He stretched his arms out in front of him and yawned, forcing the woman to take a few steps backwards up against the next row of heavy chairs.

“Mine is Audette.” She fluttered her eyelashes, giggling before sauntering off to her place at the left end of the front row. As she slid into her seat, the lady to her right took her hat off and shook her hair out before proceeding to chastise Audette. The harsh tone of her voice, slowly fading to playful as she nudged Audette and almost caused her to fall off of her chair, reached Anders’ ears- but any words that he might have caught otherwise were swept away in a sea of clamor as the pastor stepped onto the stage.

Anders, realizing that he’d leaned forward almost the point of falling off his seat, resettled himself in his chair as the parishioners around him parked themselves in seats of their own. The pastor reordered his note cards and brushed the dust off of the ancient bible, dimming the lights above the seats in preparation. Anders’ eyes drew themselves back to the front row, where the ladies were shushing themselves as their hats flopped around each other and to their resting place on the floor.

Why does that one by Audette look like Miranda? She brushed her brown hair out of her eyes, muffling a giggle with her hands. No, her nose is too narrow, and- Anders noticed that his hands were shaking and promptly shoved them under his butt. That’s LaJean! But if she attends regularly and is still paranoid about everything, then she wouldn’t leave a newcomer alone in her house… so Miranda is most likely up there with her. His eyes narrowed, and the family to his right nudged each other a few seats away from him and his suspicion.

The pastor coughed once into his fist, gaining the attention of the guests. The light reflected off of his silvery hair as he set the cards in his hands down. “Greetings, my children, and a happy Easter to all of you.”

I’ve got to investigate LaJean once the sermon is over. The pastor stood behind his lectern and waited a few moments for the guests to affirm their welcome. “I see there are a few new guests that will be joining us today, hopefully permanently. Why don’t they stand up so we know who they are?”

Anders uneasily arose, bringing the platinum-haired woman whispering among her friends into his view. She protested to stand up until her friend sitting to her right pushed her out of her seat, causing her to stumble a few feet before righting herself. She slowly turned around, uneasily averting her gaze away from Anders barely a second after their eyes met.

“They could almost be a couple,” the pastor jested, and the congregation offered up a few scattered chuckles. He waved his hand to silence the crowd, and he turned to the two adults, still standing up for the eyes of everybody else to ogle. “You may sit down now.”

That could have almost been Miranda. The two adults followed the pastor’s directive, and Anders tuned his sermon out as he returned his hands to under his buttocks. His nails screamed against the rough fibers of the olefin chair, but they received no relief until the end of the service.


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