Wess Everett :: Eyes That Cast Stones ::

Flash Fiction

Southern legitmacy statement: I was born in Fort Payne, Alabama in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I’ve lived in Alabama my entire life, and I’ve struggled to find anywhere that I like better. However, like many other southerners, I often wrestle with the flaws in our southern culture. This story is part of that.

Eyes That Cast Stones

I stood in a blue dress under the shade of the massive red and white striped tent. A breeze blowing softly through the outstretched hands and voices was the only relief from the hot, sticky pervasive air. My nausea was worsened by the waves of stale perfume, hot breath, and an ocean’s spray of spittle that came with the swells of the congregation. Bits and pieces stick out in my memory. The preacher’s salt and pepper hair standing at attention in its pompadour quaff. His white button up translucent around his collar and underarms. The sermon denouncing the ways of the world and sins of the flesh. My mother’s hand cold with shame as she squeezed the blood from mine. My straightened hair meant to be as unoffensive as possible. I listened as the preacher directed his words and with them the crowd. As he spoke I heard whispers. My skin crawled when I felt the eyes of the congregation drift to me. No two glares felt the same. Some were sympathetic. Some shared in my embarrassment. I saw judgment in most. In a few I swear it looked like hate, but that scares me too much to accept. I felt my body drift as if I were being carried by the tides. Powerless against the will of those around me. My mother released her grip on my hand and I floated like I was in a dream, maybe a nightmare, to the raised platform pulpit that the preacher stood on. My protruding stomach faced the crowd and held their gaze. As the words of the preacher poked and prodded my insecurities and as the eyes of the crowd cut me to the deepest thread of my person, I saw the boy that had done this to me turn and walk away.