From Chapter 3, “The Beatitudes of St. Clair” :
Looking back, it’s understandable why one day I would point her attention to Leviticus, Chapter 18, Verse 20: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
No one had showed me this particular passage beforehand in an effort to sneakily gauge our wickedness. Frances’s status was like the sixth finger that gets yanked off otherwise perfect babies: people see the small but noticeable bump on your pinky, but no one says, “Hey, you’re technically mutated.” Everyone knew. Once, before bedtime at my new best friend Melissa’s, her mother nailed on an addendum on the Lord’s prayer that Frances would “find a man, oh please Lord.” The real miracle was that I succeeded in keeping my head down, looking devout without suffering church giggles. I’d been reading the Bible before bedtime, inducing nightmares that involved sulfur, hot pokers, pillars of salt, and/or the violent gauging of eyes. If Hell had a mascot, I figured it’d be me — illegitimate aberration that I was.
To my limited knowledge, none of my friends knew that Frances was a gay. I carried around our status as lesbians — her by choice, me by association — like a bedazzled scarlet “A.” Someone might notice while Frances helped the normal mothers pass out Rice Krispies Treats or when she bared her unshaven legs at one of my Little League games.
One time, a girl I knew from Awanas, LeAnne, had to go for one week with a King James Bible handcuffed to her arm with tight string. She’d been bad or something. It hung from her wrist ball-and-chain style for a few days before Frances made her cut it off. LeAnne cried. “If your dad has a problem with it, tell him to call me.” Those were the days that I never wished her different.
In the end, I just wanted to make sure she knew that we were most likely going to Hell, that she was aware of the decision she’d made for the both of us. I was concerned. After convincing myself that she most desperately needed my help, I marched into the living room.
“Have you seen this?” I said, much more softly than originally planned. In my head it was more of a booming accusation, but in real life it came out like a question, cowering over in the corner somewhere.
I did manage to shove my open King James onto her lap. Too scared to actually read the text aloud, despite being an excellent out-loud reader, I pointed to the page and waited.
She said Grandmommy had shown her that same page years ago. She never said the word gay, lesbian, vagina, homo or dyke. There was no script, no prepared lines. I was perfectly normal, she said, and so was she. She didn’t say anything about us going to Hell or Heaven, though. I figured we were there already.
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