[media-credit name=”Image courtesy Alyssa Walker” align=”alignleft” width=”358″][/media-credit]I was free. I was leaving all that I wasn’t, and even if I came back it would all seem different and fake. Walking away from all of my parents utopian ideals was easy. I left because I couldn’t live with the religion that my parents forced down my throat.
Couldn’t live with the same routine day after day, month after month, the same routine of church every Sunday, where I would be shunned, humiliated, or worse if I spoke my actual thoughts. I had no real friends at school and the few who thought they knew me only knew the perfect little angel my parents had required. I didn’t know where I wanted to go but I’ve always heard my parents’ talk of the big city as a place filled with sinful, heretical thinkers. The big city was filled with people that already thought the way I do.
The town was a small nation, complete with a minutemen-style militia waiting for the holy war that our minister prophesized each morning. The militia included pretty much all the men between the ages of 16 to 50. The number of militia was constantly growing do to the fact that all women were required to have at least five children within the first ten years of their marriage. If the women did not produce children, they were to be divorced from the husband and put into the House of Effete. In the House of Effete the woman performed all of the menial tasks within the town such as cleaning the stalls of all the animals, burial duty and anything else the minister saw fit for the lowliest. Divorced husbands would merely be married to a chosen widow. The ministers reasoning for having five children was that when the holy war came, and it would most certainly come, then the citizens of the town would outnumber the heretics by such a large proportion, that the faithful would be able to lose three men in exchange for the life of one heretic. When all of the heretics would be eradicated, then the true believers would still have large enough numbers to start a new society in the name of our deity.
The minister had never allowed anyone to read his imposingly- large bible. He kept it locked away in his briefcase. We had only seen it once per year during our mandatory fasting, and during prayer week. During this time all families had to pay their penance which supposedly went to the betterment of the town, although all the work for the town was strictly unpaid and workers had to come up with the funds.
The whole town was completely under the control of the minister. Only three men had ever questioned the minister and they were immediately thrown out of the town with no money, food, or tools to survive. The minister had all of the funds kept in a locked vault within the church that only he knew the combination. When it came to laws, the minister could make and abolish laws at any time because he made us believe he had a divine right to rule over all of us believers. When a law was supposedly broken, the minister was the one that made and gave the verdict. The punishment for any and all crimes was immediate execution followed by a public stake burning where the families of the convicted were forced to start a small fire under the convicted. Over the course of six hours, he would increase the amount of wood until the convicted was completely cremated leaving nothing but ash.
Schooling started for all children at three years of age with the word of god. After the children learned about god’s wishes and history, they were taught simple math, and reading. Once the children could read, then they had to memorize the bible word for word. Once memorized, the children were then chosen for specific jobs within the town. Jobs included cooks, construction laborers, farmers, and needle workers. Once they were trained for their specific duties, the men were taught shooting and first aid within the militia. While all of this was going on, the women were immediately married to a mature man usually picked by their parents.
My family consisted of my mother, and father, three brothers, four sisters and me. Our parents had been so enthusiastic that they had the required number of children within three years, and within two weeks of that date my mother was already pregnant with another child. Within the house I was the oldest and most outspoken. Whereas my other siblings were very willing to accept any task or belief, I had always secretly questioned some of the prime rhetoric. I had been the most distant from people in the town always doing what was accepted and moving on to the next thing I believed they would ask of me. Other parents had always told mine that they thought I was the prettiest girl in the village and also very well behaved from a very young age. I didn’t like it because it meant being more social with the people I could have cared less about.
I had never really given thought to running away until a few months back when my parents started talking with the priest and other parents about who they thought would be a good husband for me. But what really made me snap and decide to leave was when I overheard my father speaking to Terry’s father about setting up a house and marrying me to Terry. It wasn’t the thought of marrying Terry that scared me, although I didn’t like the idea, it was the fact that my father was so serious with Terry’s. I knew it wasn’t going to be a choice for me to decide but that it had already been decided. When I heard that I wanted to cry, to ask my father why I wasn’t even given the choice but I knew with my parents that what they wanted with me was what happened with me and the whole town would back decisions of this nature.
Instead of asking him about it I went home, I packed the few things I really cared about and went to the outskirts of town. I plan to get a ride from a miner to the next town or as far as they will take me. I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll do when I get there but it won’t be living the way my parents believe is the only proper way to live. Maybe one day I will come back and try to abolish all of this. Until then I will do my best to make people in the big city realize all of the injustices this place has committed.
by JAY BUDD