Deborah is a writer, healer, and teacher. Her goal is to help people live their best lives every day by sharing her joy and love of life.
I'd like some honest feedback for this story, with regard to content, interest in the characters, the story line.
This is the first chapter.
Thanks for taking the time to read.
The End Of The World Aas She Knew It
It all started with the end of the millennium. As the New Year approached, her family began acting strangely. They began storing water and food in the fall, as people started whispering about the turn of the century and Y2K.
It sounded like a lot of nonsense to Claire, but her parents seemed genuinely concerned. They began attending a small church and planning for the end of modern life. The fear grew to a fever pitch through the holiday season, as frantic computer programmers, her father included, speculated about what would happen when digital clocks turned from 12-31-1999 to 01-01-2000. A new millennium had never taken place in the digital world.
Those proclaiming the end times cried loudly and many became religious out of fear.
Her parents wore their piety proudly. They came into religion late in life, as Claire herself reached puberty. Their transformation from normal parents to radical religion happened so quickly that Claire doubted the sincerity of their faith. She had little time to adapt to being a zealot.
One day, a normal family of four, enjoying life, working, going to school. The next day, sanctimonious holy rollers bent on saving, or at least changing the world.
They wanted the change to start with their two daughters. Overnight, Claire’s life as a normal middle school kid changed forever. Gone were the days of jeans, and short hair. Her father decided it would be more appropriate for his women to wear dresses, so as not to cause others to stumble. Claire grumpily thought that the only one stumbling was herself, as she tried to run in those stupid dresses.
Outwardly obedient, inside she seethed with rebellion and escape. Claire did not change on the inside. Outside she was the model child of obedience, her hair pulled neatly back into a bun, or hanging down her back, with the bangs pulled off her face, long skirts covering her legs. Practical Mary Jane shoes, in simple black to match every outfit, caused her to stumble through gym class as her skirts wrapped themselves crazily around her legs. It was humiliating.
Her heart longed to go back to the way things were. The embarrassment caused her to pull inward, trusting no one.
One year she was wearing shorts and tennis shoes like everyone else in PE. During her seventh grade school year, everything changed, and she became an instant object of ridicule. She could see the popular girls whispering and pointing. Sure, they felt sorry for her but that didn’t stop them from laughing and calling her a nun.
On the inside, Claire ran like the wind, her hair unbridled, blowing wildly behind her, her legs free in shorts, her feet unencumbered by clumsy shoes. In her dreams, she ran barefoot through sand on the beach, or through fields of wildflowers. She ran long and fast, never tiring. She ran until she was completely alone. On the inside Claire was free.
Her parents could only push Claire so far. Not so Rachel. Only eight when the craziness began, Rachel adapted to the religious realm easily.
Claire had no idea what Rachel thought on the inside and she didn’t really care. They were never close. Besides the difference in their ages, they were completely different people.
Rachel cheerfully obeyed while smiling all the while. On the outside, Rachel seemed perfectly cutout for the small world of religion, embracing the rules and regulations with her charming smile and cautious heart.
Claire felt destined for something greater and this religious nonsense of her parents stood squarely in the way of her normal life. Claire loved her family, but as the slide into religious fanaticism grew steeper, Claire pulled quietly into herself, rarely revealing her true nature to anyone.
The dresses and long hair were embarrassing, but the worst part came when her mother announced they would no longer be attending public school. Her father had decided the influence of public school kids was beyond the evangelistic reach of his daughters.
At the end of the summer, the family sat at the breakfast table, finishing their morning studies, and preparing for Saturday chores.
Melissa began nervously, smiling widely at her daughters, while her eyes darted to Craig.
“Girls, your father and I have decided that when school starts next month, you won’t be returning to your usual classes. Instead, we have decided that I will teach you here, at home, where we can focus on what truly matters.”
Claire stared at her mother in shocked disbelief, then turned her outrage directly toward Craig.
“Are you crazy? What is wrong with you? Why are you trying to ruin my life?”
Claire didn’t mean to shout, but she was stunned by their sudden announcement.
Rachael beamed at her mother, and clapped her hands excitedly.
“Can you teach us how to cook, and how to be wives, and how to be ladies?” she asked charmingly.
Craig cleared his throat.
“Claire, I understand your shock, but we’ve made up our minds. We want the best for both you girls, and I believe homeschooling will offer us an opportunity to raise you with proper standards, respect and devotion.
“Besides, your mother’s pretty smart. I think she could teach you a lot more than any public school ever could.”
With that he reached across the table and squeezed his wife’s hand affectionately.
In August, rather than beginning eight-grade with her friends, Claire watched them walk toward the bus stop, as her father cheerfully announced the morning bible study.