The house was crammed with the giggles
and relative instability of teenage girls;
holding childhood by a very fine thread
batting red, blue, green, purple balloons.
Screeches echoed around the house as several popped,
causing heartbeats to accelerate.

Within hours, most of bodies and faces retreated into quilts and various
shapes and sizes of blankets-
girls siphoned up popcorn with just a touch too much salt,
(not enough butter)
entranced with movies with copious amounts of blood and jumpscare.

A time of strange inspiration washed over a few guests,
and the dark cherry wood kitchen table was cleared, and
filled with blood-red candles.
Several girls started a circle, hands held,
eager to talk to those beyond-
mere milliseconds before it began,
I knew a panic, cold fear rose from abdomen,
heady decision to flee.

One girl there talked a lot about God.
A sudden longing I couldn’t name,
and a curiosity pushed me to ask,
“How do you get to heaven?”
Uncertainty written in her eyes,
and she started to pray, asking me to
repeat after her.
I called to Jesus at her urging,
and the subtle darkness I sensed
over everything from preschool times
had a penetrating light break through.
Warmth and joy spread all through me.
This is where the journey begins.

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