What’s Hell?

The April Sherman Series follows a young girl growing up in a small town, fundamentalist Christian family.

*Please note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

A Short Story by Bekah Ferguson.

1996

“Here’s a coloring sheet for you, April,” the Sunday School teacher said in a sing-song voice, handing me a piece of paper before moving on to the rest of the children at the table. “Next weekend is Easter, so today we’re going to learn all about why Jesus died.”

I reached for the basket of crayons in the center of the table, rooting through to find a handful that weren’t rubbed down flat or broken in half. I studied the picture. It was a simple cross with a spiky halo draped over top and some smiley-faced flowers in the grass below. (If I hadn’t been going to Sunday School since starting kindergarten last year, I might have mistaken the cross for the letter “t.”) In the top right corner was a beaming sun, smiling like the flowers, but something was missing from the scene. Feeling inspired, I did my best to draw a bunny rabbit next to the flowers, along with some eggs. I was very careful to draw zig-zag lines and polka dots on the eggs in even patterns, sticking my tongue out of the corner of my mouth a bit for added concentration.

“Are you having an Easter Egg Hunt next weekend?” I asked the girl beside me, glancing at her sidelong.

She blinked a few times, pausing with a purple crayon poised mid-air. “We don’t do that in my house,” she said. “My mom says Easter is for Jesus, and it’s not about eggs. She says the Easter bunny isn’t real.”

“Oh.” I thought about that for a moment, resuming my coloring; the subtle scent of crayon wax in the air. So she didn’t get to eat any jellybeans and chocolate eggs. I felt a twinge in my tummy. Did she at least get to have a chocolate bunny?

“Do you get any chocolate?” I stared at her side profile as she hunched over her paper.

“Uh-uh.” She shook her head, ponytail swishing.

The Sunday School room was warm, dust particles dancing in the sunbeams from the windows. But I felt a tad cold.

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