Sunday Sermon


Another Wednesday, and another short story developed from a writing prompt. Today's prompt was: If your birthday date is between 11 & 20, write a Sunday sermon. Note: There were prompts from the 1st - the 10th as well as from the 21st to the 31st, but since my birthday falls on the 17th, that's what I'm working with. So, without further delay, I hope you enjoy Sunday Sermon.

“Sunday, Sunday, fun day!” screamed the traveling apothecary. He balanced skillfully on his box, using the height advantage to see over the heads of everyone and focus his intense gaze on even the farthest person outside the circle surrounding him.

“I have a message for you all,” he says, voice dropping low so that the crowd would be forced to lean in. “It’s a message of hope!” he said, shouting the last word. “It’s a message of joy!” Again, with emphasis on the final word. Then in barely a whisper, he states, “It’s a message of healing.”

I remember the last time he was here, more than a year ago I suppose. The man, who called himself Doctor Silas, had been peddling a tiny bottle of cure-all that, according to him, would cure all ailments from the common cold, to the pox, to leprosy and more. Personally, I don’t think it did anything but put you to sleep (as is what happened to me when mom used it after I developed a fever just after Christmas last year). I almost threw the stuff up as is smelled just like lamp oil (and not that I’d ever tried lamp oil—probably tasted like it too).

So, I showed up to the town square just like everyone else, curious as to what the man had up this sleeve this time around. He stood above everyone, a master speaker and showman, white gloves punching the air for emphasis, voice rising and falling like a skilled preacher bringing lambs into God’s holy fold.

This was no preacher though…and Doctor Silas was no doctor. Something about him resonated more with the evil snake that tempted Eve in the Garden. The man made my skin crawl.

His white-gloved hand disappeared into his top-coat and produced a small green jar. “This!” he exclaimed. “This is the future of healing. Just a small dab of this and it’ll cure any skin irritation. From ant bites to rashes and burns, a little of this will turn your skin a white and shiny as the day you were born.”

As luck would have it, his eyes scoured the crowd and settled on me. “You!” he pointed, directly at me. “Come here boy. I see you have some spots on your cheeks.”

He jumped down from the box, grabbed my arm, and pushed me up onto the pedestal he’d just vacated. He opened the jar and started rubbing the minty salve on the ant bites on my face. The smell permeated the air around me and my eyes began to sting.

“There,” he said, wiping the excess goop from his finger and onto my shirt. “How does that feel.”

Honestly, I thought but didn’t say, it feels like fire under my skin. But I couldn’t say that out loud—after all, the man had paid me a dollar to say, “I feel it…I feel it working!”

- CJT

August 15, 2018


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