Vaseline

Giggling nervously and near hysteria they took turns slathering Vaseline on their faces. They went to her and showed her their genius plan to outwit him.  She told them to take some off; that he would know and it would only be worse.

As they sat on their knees in front of him, their childish giggles soon gave way to the deep pit of fear building in their guts. Smiles turned to darting glances. Tears welled. Sweat beaded. Fists clenched.

With each mistake they were slapped. With each misstep they were kicked. With each falter, hesitation, or pause they were shoved further into their hate of him.

They were there to recite Gods word. They were tortured in the name of God. For the sake of God. Forced to memorize His Word in a language they did not know with the fear of his retribution.

Neither thought of God during this time. Neither listened to the verses they spoke. The Vaseline did not save them. She did not save them. She listened from the other room, out of sight, flinching each time his hand met their baby-soft, round, and now shiny cheeks.

The words were lost to the fear. The tears brimmed over. The marks grew red on their faces. The giggles would not return for some time. Their summer vacation continued.

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