My sister and I sat in the back row of the church, watching others dance on the open area in front of the stage. Occasionally, I saw a dancer fall dramatically while someone else rushed over to put a blanket on them. I smiled and tried not to laugh when I saw it happen, because I knew when it wasn’t real. I was the only one who could see the men in pinstripes at this church, so I knew who was really being saved, and who just acted the part.
I played with the split ends of my long dark hair while I peered on stage at the row of six men standing. Their suits were white with black pinstripes, and they stood with their hands folded as they stared past us, never acknowledging each other or anyone else in the room. After years of trying to point them out to people as a child, I realized that only I could see them. One day I got them to smile by sticking my thumbs in my ears and making a monkey face.
“What do you think about her?” Chloe asked, as she nudged me with her forearm. We liked to play the game of guessing who was really being saved and who wasn’t. She, however, only thought I was taking a guess, like her. I squinted at the old woman Chloe was pointing at. “Nope,” I said simply. “Fake.”
The frail woman attended this church for over twenty years, but I hadn’t seen any of the men touch her. Maybe one day they would, but for now, she flailed and cried on the floor, pointlessly.
Half way through the service, one of the men from the line walked off stage to touch a little girl standing in the corner. He laid a hand on her head, making her twitch, making her look around in surprise. She obviously felt his hand even though she couldn’t see anyone around her. Part of me wanted to tell her what was happening, but she’d figure it out eventually. I stopped telling people once I realized how crazy they thought I was. These people prayed for answers every day, but never believed me when I gave them one.
I pointed to the girl and said to Chloe, “Real”.
“You think?” she asked. I nodded and smiled. I pulled my phone from my purse to check the time. The service would end in a few minutes. I shoved the phone back in the side pocket, then looked up to see the large black man in pinstripes standing in front of me. How did he sneak up on me like that? He was the biggest one on stage, standing over six feet tall and with shoulders wide enough to bulldoze a building.
I stared, confused. They usually only walked off stage to touch people, to comfort people who were skeptical, but they’d never come to me. Seeing them was enough reassurance for me, so why would he be here to offer more of it?
He reached out a hand to me and smiled. It was an offer, but I leaned my head toward Chloe, indicating her. Unlike me, she was always questioning religion, and I didn’t blame her. If I didn’t see the pinstriped men every Sunday, I would’ve had the same problem. I didn’t have to speak. He understood what I was asking. He walked to Chloe, laid a hand on her arm, and then turned to walk back to the stage. It was quick, but effective.
My sister blinked quickly, and looked at me with confusion. Her mouth opened, but no words came out. I knew she couldn’t find the right words to describe it.
“Real,” I whispered as I nudged her.
Erica L. Davis lives in the Sunshine State where everyone loves to vacation. She has three Florida State titles and Southeastern Regional titles in baton twirling, but she’s currently going to college for Graphic Design. She’s an animal freak with a love for photography and writing but also likes to swing dance on the weekends with her significant other, David. She’s dyed her hair pink, blue, purple, green and every other color in the rainbow since she was sixteen and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. Above all, she tries to enjoy life to the fullest.