Six apple trees

I am feeling more distance from my parents. Brother, Sister, and I are spending long days at home with the babysitter. I find myself becoming irritated and feeling cooped up. I am realizing how easy it is to get in trouble with the M pastor. Brother and I are not spending as much time together. He is enjoying watching TV. We would play video games to pass the time, but that would mean we were “showing off” what we had and what the other kids didn’t. Mom and Dad put the video games in storage to remove the temptation. I spend my days doing chores and hanging out with Samantha, Jenn and Renee. However, when Jenn and I hang out with Samantha and Renee too much, we get in trouble for trying to act older. I am bored, I have read all my books multiple times, I would ride my bike, but I can’t do that when Mom and Dad aren’t home. Jenn and I are getting tired of each other. What am I supposed to do?

More changes are coming. One day, while Brother and I were riding in the car with M pastor and Renee, M pastor saw a house for sale. He pulled into the long driveway. As we were rolling along, we counted: one, two, three, four apple trees! A big red barn met us at the curve of the drive. As the driveway turned to the right we saw two more apple trees, a plum tree, a walnut tree in the back with a rope swing attached, and a cherry tree in front that shaded a huge rock. There were two houses on the property. One was obviously very old and uninhabitable. The other was a rambler with a concrete patio in back. Out the front window was a view of the entire Snohomish valley. It was a five acre property. The front half was fields and the back half was woods. I remember being in love instantly. It was so beautiful. This property held the freedom for which I was longing. After we looked around, I couldn’t wait to tell Mom and Dad that evening. Of course, that wasn’t my place to tell them. I would get in trouble with M pastor if I told. I would be acting older or getting a big head or something. So I waited anxiously for M pastor to tell my parents. They had a meeting that evening in M pastor’s trailer. I asked them about it when they came in the house. They seemed hopeful. A few days later, Dad and Mom saw the house and did the paperwork right away.

The move was very quick. Mom and Dad told us that we had to move because Edward and Chris wanted to live in their house. That is understandable. They told us that Edward and Chris were done working at the church in Eastern Washington. I was a little afraid for them to come back because I remember how angry Edward would get. And he was my “grandpa” now. When they were in Eastern Washington I had felt a little safe with some distance between us. I was sharp enough to realize that there was definitely a heirarchy in the church. The pastors and their families on top, the elders and families middle, everyone else on the bottom. The people on the top were always right. While those in the middle were sometimes right. I remember voicing this one time. I was told “there is no wrong and right, there is only sin and not sin”. So now I couldn’t even say the words “wrong” or “right” without being corrected. I learned to avoid many words this way.

Overall, I was very happy for our family to have their own house again. We didn’t have to share it with another family that we hardly knew. I was so excited. It was a three bedroom and one bathroom house. Sister and I shared a bedroom, and Brother had his own bedroom. All of us shared a bathroom, but that was okay. The house required some work, but my Dad was a contractor so that was not a problem. Less than a month of us working together, and we had a few huge projects done.

Did you think we were alone on the five acres? No. The M pastor and his family, as well as Samantha and her family, moved on to the property with us. They hooked up electrical, water, and sewer. This was okay because there would be more people around our age to hang out with. I was a little nervous at the thought of getting in trouble with the M pastor. The thought was usually fleeting. I was too busy. I would spend my days climbing apple trees and eating apples while sitting on a branch, swinging on the rope swing, exploring the woods, and sunning myself on the giant rock in the front yard. Dad had Brother and I clean out the barn and the old house. They were full of old treasures. We found magazines and photo albums dating back almost 100 years, old farm tools, and lots and lots of hay. We had a great time hunting for cool stuff.

The fall came and it was back to school time. I did not want to leave our new safe haven. But it was time to go to school. Mom would drive the van full of kids. This drive was only half an hour, so that was nice. We would arrive at the church in Everett and shuffle down to the basement of the church. We couldn’t go upstairs yet because they were still doing work up there. It was dark downstairs, with only tiny windows at the top of the walls to provide us with daylight. Most of those windows were shaded by bushes. I longed for break time and the daylight. We would go outside for fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen in the afternoon. There was a small lawn in the front of the church for us to play. One of the teachers would go out with us and usually had to go along the side of the church and ask a bum to leave. This was a little scary to me. Those bums did not look happy, or in their right mind. This was a time at school that I felt relatively safe, because the principal (Edward) didn’t really have an office at the church. So if anything had to be said, it was in the main school room, and usually wasn’t so harsh. But if you were in real trouble, everyone would know about it. One of the girls from another family had a problem of picking her nose then eating it (gross). She was around my age. I was always being told to hang out with her more. But I was so afraid she would touch me with her booger fingers. Anyway, one day I guess Edward had enough. He had her stand up on a table in front of everyone. He told her to pick her nose then eat it. She was crying and protesting. I couldn’t look. She finally did, then got to get down and go back to her desk. This was my introduction to public shaming. I was beginning to realize that you could be put on the spot in front of everyone for things that you were doing (wrong?) that was a sin. I felt sorry for her, standing up in front of everyone and crying. I didn’t care if she wasn’t my friend, she was really sad. But I sat, like everyone else, I didn’t say a word and I let that happen. I weighed the consequences. I knew that I didn’t have a choice. This was happening and there was nothing I could do about it except wait for it to be done and go back to my school work. Thankfully, this event happened after lunch.

~E

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