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Superhero Down

Superhero Down Pt 5

This brief tale of a supposed superhero’s low periods comes to an end with this…

That paper was what I had just flung across the room. The same paper was the very reason for the state I was in now. Today had been too much for me. It was one thing to have close shaves and still get the job done and it was another to fail completely while you thought you were on a roll.

I used to be untouchable and flawless. Everything I did was perfect; I was a work of God that no one even thought was possible. I beat all kinds of odds, broke records, survived my father’s irresponsible behavior and finally managed to kick him out of the house at age ten! I gave my mum her life back and I became an awesome person! I’m awesome, dammit I’m a hero! So why the hell is this tripping me up so badly?

Better question: why did Chris have to do this to me? I never even knew about the stupid models before he showed up! I was a pure, innocent person, living my life in the purest way possible. I never broke any laws, I never even cussed! I didn’t even know what erotica was until this fool called Chris got caught watching it and curiosity got the best of me. Why did this boy have to come into my life and bring me this hell?

It finally hit me; this must be what happens to people who everyone relies on, people who are a source of inspiration to others. I could not talk to anyone about this, not even mum, especially not mum! I’d much rather be burnt at the stake than have an earful of righteous talk which I am all-too familiar with, being a member of a church that welcomes everyone until they know what the everyone has done and where the everyone has been.

I couldn’t afford to make a mistake; I’m supposed to be superhuman for crying out loud! People have bigger problems: drug and/or alcohol addictions, marital issues, struggles in their walks with God and I’m the go-to guy for advice, like I’m some soothsayer with problem-solving skills! I’m not even the damn church counselor! Why did I have to be the one everyone held in high regard? Why couldn’t I just be the young man trying to find his way in life like everyone else, as human as I possibly could be?

Chris had nothing to do with this; this was me. This was me unable to pass a simple test. This was me not noticing when each ounce of my self-control was lost. This was me telling everyone else how to deal with this and yet taking no time to figure out how to deal with this for myself, with or without help. This was me living out a case of Stockholm’s Syndrome where my captors were not even near me!

Maybe I could keep the computer outside my room; then I wouldn’t have to look at it till I need it. Bailey, don’t be silly. You dragged the laptop from the study table across the room. What makes you think you would not take it from wherever you put it just so you could watch partake in the unholy bump and grind? Is my cloud of perfection just a case of hidden pride or ego or just a desperate attempt to remain loved by everyone?

Then Martha popped up in my head. She did say she was there if I wanted to talk. Bet she had no idea what was really going on and if I told her, she would most likely use the word I did not want to hear, that stupid, sad, degrading A word that people called themselves to admit they had a problem! I’m not one of them; I do not have a problem.

My eyes were already closing because today had drained me of all my strength. The physical effects of constantly watching the lust birds did more harm to me than good after all.

I woke up with a resolve: I was going to talk to Martha. I couldn’t continue to kid myself that I was superhuman. Something had to give for me to finally have the peace of mind I so longed for. If I was going to have any chance of being free, this was the only way.

I sat up on my bed and was just about to pick up my phone and call Martha when my mum barged in with a look that was a cross between confusion, pure anger and total shock.

“Bailey, what is this?”

I sat there in complete shock, unable to open my mouth or to hear anything else that flowed out of hers. I knew it was over; there was no one else to pin this on. Chris had been at camp for three weeks and mum had left her phone at home while she went with a group of friends to a fasting retreat last week. The only one who could have done this was me.

I sat and watched as she launched her missiles at me, not knowing what to say about how my favorite video of the finest of unclad bodies landed on her phone along with fifteen others.

Ouch! Quite an unfortunate ending to that. As to whether Bailey will get the help he needs, or will sink into depression, it’s open to interpretation.

But one thing is for sure: the best of us aren’t superheroes, and we’ll always need help. If you’ve got an addiction, don’t keep it to yourself, and don’t avoid the truth of admitting it. That’s a step towards recovery. Remember, those things you’re addicted to will always over-promise and under-deliver.

Big gratitude to Makafui for this telling tale!!

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Superhero Down

Superhero Down Pt 4

Uh-oh. Bailey’s annoying stepbrother has caught him! What’s next?

“Wow, man, I didn’t realize you had joined the bandwagon; I would’ve hooked you up with better stuff eons ago. We could have been shotgun buddies; firing rounds to the finest ones God made.”

Stupid Chris actually thought I was as perverted as he was. “I didn’t join your bandwagon.”

“Really? Could’ve fooled me.”

“Okay, look, it was an ad, I did not go there willingly, you can stop blushing now; I don’t like you and your pervy stuff anymore than I did when you first showed up in my life.”

“Uh huh, uh huh, and that was why you just closed a video player which is installed on your computer and not a web browser, right? Come on, Bailey. Accept it; you like this stuff, you love this stuff! Why do you have to be so prim and proper all the time?”

“At least I’m not failing classes and changing schools every three months because half the girls in my school are complaining of sexual harassment. I’m not the one who’s out selling Angelic Lust magazines to people and telling the bishop that I’m helping to spread the message of admiring the beauty of God’s creation. You’re over there being a pervert and I’m here working hard to try to make something out of myself. I’m prim and proper because I want to be somebody and not a failure, not like you.”

Chris just smiled. “I saw you, B. When Martha knocked at the door, you rushed out and ran into the bathroom and then rushed back out soon after. I have to hand it to you, man, you’re very smart. If I had half your brains, I would never have been caught by my dad. But you see, you wear your boxers based on a schedule.

“Every single day has a specific color and you even pile them up in the laundry basket in the order of the days you wore them. You’ve never deviated from the schedule since I got to know you. So I got curious when I went to use the bathroom and right there on the top of the dirty clothes were blue boxers; today’s color was green. So I picked them up, thinking they must have already been washed and mum probably mistakenly dropped them into the dirty laundry basket. Boy, I wish I had thought that decision through. I couldn’t get the sticky stuff off my fingers with soap; that was some unusually thick stuff! My goodness, that must have been residue from about five rounds of natural ammo!

“So I walked in and took a look on your computer and I have to say, your stash is very impressive; I can’t even get some of those videos and I haven’t even seen some of those beauties before. Your video player was closed; I opened it, hoping Martha would see it too and know who you really are but she never quite made it inside, so your life was spared.”

I had been so meticulous over the last ten years, making sure that every last trace of my problem was hidden or erased and it had worked until now. And the one thing I didn’t even imagine would give me up was the exact thing that did. Nosey Chris! Why did he always have to be the one who was never charmed or fooled by me!

“Leave my room, Chris. Leave, before I make you leave.”

He turned around, and then turned back. “Look Bailey, I know you’re not a fan of mine and I know that my personality and preferences severely offend you and mum, even my own dad. But I have peace. Believe it or not, even though you and everyone else thinks that whatever bad thing anyone else says concerning me is true although a large majority of them are not, I sleep like a baby at night. I’m not living a lie, I don’t have to pretend to be someone else to be liked or respected and I’m very sure that no one will be disappointed if they caught me firing rounds in my bed.

“I have peace, Bailey, I am a free man and no one’s opinion of me controls my perceptions or actions. You are the poster boy for all things holy and righteous and yet you’re in the same boat as me. So hate it or like it, you are very much like me; you just do a great job at hiding it. And by the way, if you don’t want to be a member, just stop. Unless…wait. Bailey, are you…”

“It is your fault that I even know about this stuff. I was a normal person until you got caught watching it. I had never even seen an unclad woman, let alone imagined one but thanks to you, now I do and I’ve had to live with the consequences ever since. Get out! Get the hell out! Get your foolish self and your stupid opinions out of my room! This is my room, you are not welcome on this side of the house!”

The adrenaline from being so angry at Chris left me trembling and very weak once he left my room, his smug, irritating smile still on his face. Too weak to think, I had fallen onto my bed to sleep and right before I dozed off, Martha’s text asking me whether I had completed my written thesis jolted me out of bed and into the chair.

I scrambled to find sensible things to say; missing a month of class had left me handicapped and for the first time, I had no idea what I was doing. I had forty-five minutes to write a thesis that should take at least three hours to write and another two hours to thoroughly review.

I submitted it a minute to the deadline and forgot all about it because I was too busy figuring out how to apologize to Martha and keep her from talking to Chris so she wouldn’t find out about this. It was bad enough that he knew but if she found out, I would be better off being a hermit than watching her break down in shock and denounce me from her life completely.

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Superhero Down

Superhero Down Pt 3

Well, this addiction is having a pretty bad impact on Bailey (although he refuses to acknowledge it). Is Martha gonna find out soon?

“You’re a very confusing person, Bailey.”

Martha took me out for lunch. I had no idea why but I liked being with Martha, the only woman I ever allowed into my room. Wait, that’s a lie. There was Michelle, then Janie, then Rose, this is getting sad now. Okay, Martha was the only woman who had been able to walk into my room and leave without me losing control and doing things I would rather not disclose.

This habit must really be getting to me except it’s not a habit; just a slip that happens a lot more than I’d like. If it’s any consolation at all, Martha was worth way more than any of the other girls; they were so bad that I could easily put their faces on any of the models I watched and I would be fine but doing that with Martha was like unplugging a game console right in the middle of a tournament.

“…yet you still live with your mum…are you even listening to me right now?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, go on.”

“Bailey, seriously, what is going on with you?”

“Martha, why do you keep thinking something is wrong with me?”

“Because you’ve been acting very weird lately!”

At this point, I was this close to barking at her but this was Martha; it was way too hard. “Martha, nothing is wrong. Drop it.”

“Bailey, everything is wrong! You’re morbidly scared of leading bible study, you’re always late to class or outright absent these days and you have not stopped staring at my chest since you got here! Bailey!” The light slap she gave me woke me out of yet another trance I fell in.

“Martha, for the love of everything that is holy, stop this madness! I’m fine! If you called me here to insult me or insinuate that I’m in some trouble, please keep your self-righteous crap to yourself! I have to go!”

Everyone at the restaurant stared at me for some minutes after that outburst. Why was I even angry? Oh no, I hope she didn’t…

“And you have become increasingly irritable,” her voice calmly spoke. Great, she noticed. Now I had to hope I didn’t get calls every ten minutes asking me if I wanted to talk about my ‘anger issues’ and their causes.

“We’re done here. I have to go.” I got up and walked five steps and then she called out, “Bailey, your written thesis was rejected.”

That froze me. I turned and walked back to her rather quickly. “What do you mean rejected? No one ever rejects Bailey Mowbry’s paper.”

“Your entire paper was sub-par. I read it myself. Your technical definitions were mixed up, your examples were completely off-topic; nothing about that paper had the Bailey Mowbry feel. Luckily, the professor has a soft spot for you and so he decided to give you a chance to rewrite it. Everyone else who ever made these mistakes had to retake the entire course.”

I just stood there with my mouth wide open, surprise filling every crevice in my body. I could not believe what was happening. True, I had missed a couple of classes because I woke up late but to the point where my technical definitions were completely wrong?

“Look, you may not want to tell me what’s going on, and that’s totally fine with me, but Bailey, people are talking. Your behavior these days has been nothing short of erratic and it won’t be long before people start to take action. Get your act together man, and fast. Like I’ve always said, I’m here if you want to talk. I still care about you in spite of everything.” She picked up her bag, left the envelope with my thesis on the table and walked away.

***

I sat on my bed with my rejected thesis in my hand. Making sense of this massive failure was the hardest thing I’d ever done; I had never been rejected before. My papers were one of the few to be published without review and whatever came out of my mouth was never disputed; I was that good. I read it before I left the restaurant and again in the car once I got home. I did not recognize it and I didn’t remember anything about it; I couldn’t even tell if I did write it and exactly when I wrote it. I flung it across the room and got up to turn my lights off. I noticed my door was slightly ajar and given the mood I was in, I’m just grateful it didn’t break when I kicked it shut.

The loud bang from kicking the door triggered something in my mind and everything came rushing back so fast that I had to sit down to regain control after I turned the lights off.

***

I had just been blasted by Martha of all people. I had missed classes for a month, she had covered for me and everything would have been fine if I hadn’t told the professor an entirely different story from what she told him. He docked her two letter grades for lying but to be honest, it was because Martha let him have it in public a week earlier when he tried to use her grades as leverage to have his way with her. Still, she hated being called a liar and she especially detested being called a liar when it was actually the case. I had told her that the only one who cared about her image was her and that no one really noticed her at all, so she was fine. I was really trying to calm her but my mind was still recovering from the intense episode she almost walked in on, so my good intentions rode on the wings of the worst possible choice of words and she got badly hurt.

This was the day I finally found out that Martha really did care about me more than a friend would but she wanted to be proper; I had to ask her out before she would say anything. She came at me, guns blazing and by the time she left, I was everything between depressed and hurt because I had lost the one person I genuinely cared about enough not to drag into my mental mess. One thought of Martha was enough to immediately end an episode, no matter the lustful bird I was watching. I respected her way too much; I couldn’t mess her up with my madness.

I lay on my bed, overwhelmed with darkness and threw my hand to the side, not realizing that I hadn’t closed the video player. My hand hit the play button and the sounds of enjoyment were so loud! I slammed the keypad to close the player but I was too late.

Chris was standing at my door.

Oh, dear…

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Superhero Down

Superhero Down Pt 2

Well, I don’t think it’s a secret that Bailey has a serious issue. I wonder what’s going to happen with him in the coming days…

“Bailey, why do your sheets smell weird?”

Oh God, my mum would not hesitate to embarrass me in front of guests, hers or mine. “Mum, why are you doing my laundry?” I called out from my room in response.

 “I wasn’t; your step-brother was.”

Oh yeah, because Chris was the most responsible person in the world! When mum remarried a few years after I kicked my father out, I was happy for her. I did not realize that her new marriage came with a brother from hell; my episodes started right after Chris became family. Bailey, she has no idea. Wanna tell her? End this secret once and for all? You won’t lose any cred…except with the church leadership; they will actively suspend you until you’re treated but at least you’ll have a reason to push harder to end this habit. But this is not a habit; just a slip.

“I don’t know, Mum. Must be because I forgot to change them. Thanks for the new ones.”

No response, thank goodness.

I started to feel uneasily good. I first mistook it for some random thing but then I started to stare at my laptop and the images started to form in my mind again. Oh no, not again! I turned and faced the wall. My bed was too comfortable and my willpower was getting weaker. Must Get Up! Must Get up! Must get up! Must…get…up. Must…get…up…must…get…oh what the hell; those models are insanely hot anyway; totally out of my league. No, that was not what I wanted to say!

I lay there with a world of guilt and a mind controlled by reflex while the whimpers and erotic screams streamed through my headset. My right hand slowly disappeared under the sheets and found its way to my thigh. Here we go again, this will take a while. The seemingly guilty feeling I had about feeling good about a thing I hated soon turned into pure yet routine pleasure. There was nothing new about this place. I got here and left here the exact same way, all the time!

Soon my right hand went inward and my left hand increased the volume. Yes, go on, make me happy. Man, how I would pound a lot harder if that was me. Come on, be a man; put in the work and stop being lazy!

Just when I’d settled in, the lights came on out of nowhere.

”Bailey? What are you doing lying in bed this early? And why was your room so dark?”

Oh crap, close shave again! My left hand had already hit the pause button and removed my headset before my consciousness kicked in. “Nothing mum, just reading my bible.”

“In the dark with your headset on? And why read your bible on your laptop? You know how I feel about that. How will you hear God speaking with your headset on? And I’ve told you time and again that your bible must be in your hand when you read it if you want to actually feel something from reading it.” My right hand quickly slid back up and grabbed the sheet from under, just in case my aunts, who were standing in the doorway right beside my mum with a very unusual look, decided to act like themselves and pull it off me. “Look, your aunts and I have an errand to run. Get out of bed and make yourself useful.” Right before she slammed the door behind her, I caught my aunts looking at each other and nodding with what seemed like a giggle.

Now, do I get back to business and the multitude of tabs which I’ve opened but I know damn well I will not be able to get to? Or do I just…wait, what are they saying?

“Bailey? No. Chris maybe but Bailey? No way. He’s too good and too smart for that. He is basically a matured man in a young man’s body, why would you think that about him?”

“Did you see anything that happened at all? His hand was nowhere in sight and his face looked flushed. Hell, he was this close to jumping up when you opened the door! What, you think he was watching Passion of the Christ?”

“What are you trying to imply? It’s one thing for you to think my son was doing something bad but to insinuate what I think you’re insinuating is just wrong.”

“Think about it. Your son either has a very colorful bible on his laptop or he just really loves staring at things that will make you take showers in holy water for a year. You really should check on him a lot more.” My aunties laughed but my mum sounded mad at this point.

“Take your mouth off my son! He’s single and a grown man and cannot be doing what you think he’s doing! Now, are we going or not?”

The further their footsteps got from my door, the lower my heart sunk. Poor mum, defending my honor and integrity as if I had any left at all. Those witches! How did they figure out what was happening? Why do I even care? This is not an addiction like they’re suggesting! I’m not an addict; this is just a temporary problem. Here comes that buzz again. Time to watch the unholy bump and grind.

***

“Bailey, your girl is here! Are you going to step out or does she have to come in?” Chris was not the person I wanted to announce the arrival of a woman whose name he was grossly unfit to mention. I walked out and as soon as she saw me, Martha turned around.

Chris teased, “Oops, I’m guessing she’s never seen you in boxers before. Come on, Marty, he’s wearing boxers; his syringe is well-hidden.”

“Get your nasty mouth away from me! And Bailey, please go back in and put on some shorts.”

I laughed silently, knowing that if I laughed out loud, she would leave. “Come on, Martha, its fine; I’m not causing you to think unhealthy thoughts, am I?”

For a brief moment, a smile started to form on her face but, in classic Martha fashion, that smile was quickly replaced by a blank face with a deadly blank stare. “I turned around. Happy? Now go put on some shorts.” She turned back around and faced away from me. I went inside to put shorts on and Chris spotted an opportunity to meddle.

“You like him, tell him. God knows he’s an extremely miserable man and I’m honestly tired of him hounding me around.”

“What, so I’m supposed to be your buffer? Who says I like him like that?”

“That smile you have on your face right now says you do.”

“If it makes any difference to your severely warped mind, I’m not interested in guys until my Ph. D. is done. So try not to fill his head with ideas because he’s been off lately, not that you would notice.”

“Martha, how can you be a nice person to Bailey and then just be completely mean to me?”

“Because you tried to do things to my sister and I don’t appreciate young men acting like adolescents because of tail. I actually tried to get Bailey to be nicer to you but after that, you lost my support.”

Classic Martha, serving it straight. I really liked this woman but I was too messed up to tell her that; I would really have hated to destroy the great relationship we had going and I wasn’t sure she could handle my huge secret.

“You two are the funniest people in the world. You like each other so much, yet you act like dating is an abomination or something. If Bailey’s not being a man about it, you be the man about it and tell him how you feel!”

“Chris, not everyone’s mind is screwed up like yours. People can be extremely close friends without dating each other; it’s called brotherly love.”

“Brotherly love. That’s how they all start and then by the time they realize, it’s become sleepover love, then move-in-together love, then kid-forming love and then they start to wonder how things happened so fast. I’m just saying that you two should be honest with each other for once. It is alright to be attracted to each other and I’m all for the two of you becoming a thing because everyone knows that Bailey Mowbry and Martha Barrons are attracted to each other except Bailey Mowbry and Martha Barrons.”

“Chris, get out of my face now.”

“Yes ma’am, Mrs. Martha Mowbry.” The footsteps that followed implied that Martha almost chased him to slap him after he made that last comment.

Martha wasn’t one to end an argument like that; she wouldn’t even give you the time to have a point to argue with. She was very quick to shut arguments down with style, yet somehow Chris had managed to throw her off her game completely. There had to be some element of truth in what he said, otherwise she would have finished him off by now. Bailey, this is Chris; when has he ever been the good guy? Yet you think he may be right? You sure you don’t have any feelings for Martha at all?

“Bailey, how long does it take to put on shorts? Hurry.” I had already put the shorts on, so I stepped out. “You look handsome,” she said, with a big smile on her face. Another abnormality.

“Martha, is everything alright? You’re smiling.”

“What, I’ve never smiled at you before?”

“Uh…no…” She kept her menacing stare fixed on my face from my room door till we got out of the house.

Categories
Superhero Down

Superhero Down Pt 1

So, we’re kicking off the month of March with a new story! And what I like the most about it is, it’s not my story! As you’ve already seen from the title, this is a special from Makafui, who is an avid fan of the State, and it’s an honour to have his work featured here. Get ready for this involving and engaging journey!!

A million thoughts ran through my head.

“Bailey, your grades have been falling. What’s happening?”

“Bailey, what is happening to you? You did not receive any awards for the first time in a long time!”

“I’m beginning to lose confidence in you, man. You need to step it up.”

“Bailey, we recommended you for Student Congress Leader but a few faculty members have expressed their reservations. They say you’re not the golden boy you used to be.”

“Bailey, I’m really sorry. You’re a great guy, an amazing guy even, but your best friend is just more of a man than you are. Please understand. I hope we can still be friends.”

“I am your father, you useless fool and I say that as long as you’re my son, you will never amount to anything! You can be the smartest person in the world but you will always be a nobody!”

My actions after that last thought, words which were spoken right before my foot landed in my father’s ass and my palms pushed him out the house for good years ago, were completely out of my control. Reflex had taken over; time to spiral again. The darkness I felt and the darkness in my room made me feel less alone, after all. I’ll probably wake up in a few hours and scream at myself again.

“Goddammit! Again?” Well, there it is. Do calm your hooves; I did not say that out loud. But Goddammit! Again? Why do I keep doing this when I clearly hate it?

“Mowbry. Bailey Mowbry.”

Oh hell, she’s coming. Quick, cover up before she gets here, you idiot! Her footsteps are getting closer, this is no time to lie in bed and mope. Wanna get busted or nah? I dragged myself out of my bed and draped myself with a towel before Martha opened the door.

“Why is this room always so dark?” She brought back the lights just after I’d hidden my face. “Bailey, Why are you still in a towel? We have bible study to go for.”

Oh hell no, this could not be happening. I’d been kicking myself over having an episode without realizing that what I should really have been mad about was the fact that I’d had an episode right before bible study! How do I go in front of God now?

“Bailey, why are you still standing there? You’re leading today; you have to be the earliest one,” Martha said, as she rummaged through my closet to find something for me to wear. Oh, now I really wanted to slide back under my sheets and pretend this day hadn’t happened at all. Ironically, I’d been preparing for today for two weeks; it meant so much to me. Plus, I hated the idea of teaching the same tired stuff as everyone else. I wanted to be different, to be practical, and to be real. How was I going to be any of that if unclad bodies were the last things I saw before going to tell people about my thoughts on what the bible said about how we were meant to live?

“I have to go take a shower.”

“Bailey,” she started, walking towards me slowly, “I know we have bible study today but I kinda want to stay here with you.” In five seconds, her hands had cupped my cheeks and I was not sure how to fend her off. I held her waist, followed her lead as she slowly backed towards the door while I held her gaze, moved in swiftly to meet her halfway and then…

Bam! The pain snapped me out of that trance just in time for me to notice that Martha had been staring at me while I acted out a two-person romance all by myself and wasn’t sure how to react until I walked straight into the door, my hands out at waist level and my mouth partially opened, and slammed my face into it.

“Bailey, stop being silly and go take your shower now.” Funny thing was, it wasn’t even her face I saw during the trance; it was the face of one of the unclad bodies. Needless to say, I’d lost interest in teaching today. “Martha, could you please cover for me today? I don’t feel too well.”

 Martha just gave me the blankest possible stare, then shot, “Hey, get your head out of the armpit of fear and get ready! You’re doing this today; the Lord says so.” Martha could not be outgunned when she pulled out that card and she knew this. Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to do this. Sorry God, I really hope I didn’t piss you off for being a walking lie, having episodes before bible study and all.

******************************************************************************

All I could remember from that service was me constantly fighting the images that frequently popped up in my head while I was teaching, and trying not to quote some inappropriate line from the episode before, but it was finally over and everyone had nothing but kind words for me, so I thought it went well. Martha had elected to walk me home. I had no say in the matter because she was super persistent. I’m not sure what got into her but the company couldn’t hurt, could it?

It was pretty uneventful until five minutes to my house, when Martha stopped. I went a few steps forward without realizing that she’d stopped and being occupied with my thoughts, I would have gone on if she hadn’t said in her super calm voice, “That was amazing today, Bailey. I’ve never heard anyone teach about grace the way you did today. The way you used Romans 3:20-24 to talk about how our goodness was not enough but God’s goodness made us good, and then you reminded us that our righteousness is not enough and that we needed God to save us. And how you reminded us to get up quickly when we slipped, remind ourselves that we were forgiven before we were born and then try not to repeat the mistake again: that was spot on.

“Even better, your warning at the end where you quoted Paul and then asked if we were meant to continue making mistakes and sinning just because grace covered us. That got people thinking. No one fell asleep and everyone followed your train of thought from start to finish. Beautifully done, Bailey. As perfect as usual and you exceeded all expectations. I’m proud of you.”

Was Martha just drunk or was she kite-high? I could not stand still the entire time because I was so damn nervous and guilty about the episode before service! I did not even hear, let alone remember, a word I said yet here she was, giving me props for a job well done!

“Thank you, Martha. I’m surprised I was actually able to pull that off. Thank God for everything, right?” Martha wasn’t one to ever give compliments on bible teachings and she just gave me a bunch! Maybe the episode didn’t do as much damage as I thought.

“Bailey, is there something you’re struggling with?”

Where did that come from? “What do you mean?”

“It’s just that the way you spoke today felt a little too personal to me. Of course, everyone else thought you spoke under divine inspiration and they were so excited to learn that Jesus loved them no matter what they did but to me, it felt like you were speaking to yourself more than to any of us in the room. Plus before we left for bible study, you acted as if you were trying to kiss me and walked straight into the door; it was like you had been possessed. Is there something you’re struggling with? An addiction or a behavioral anomaly maybe?”

Wow, mind readers really are a thing! This woman just read the pages out of me without even trying and my longer-than-expected silence was not helping at all.

“No, Martha, I’m not. I’ve seen people go through a lot with guilt and that has impacted me. It was personal and that’s why it felt personal to you. I thank God you felt that way.”

“Are you sure, Bailey? You know you can talk to me.”

“Yes, Martha. Look, I’ve to go. I have to take care of something at home. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Martha’s perplexed look made me know that she was going to chase after this feeling she had until she found the truth, which she was bound to find anyway. My secret had to remain hidden if any part of my world was to remain intact. I was a model youth and the one who everyone wanted their children to become; this could not get out! I would be fine. I just had to move my computer away from my bed and try my hardest never to bring it back. That would do it.

Or so I hoped…