The Preacherman by Hannah Spicer

Mama told us that the preacher man was always right.

I never liked him. He would shake your hand forcefully and squeeze it so tight that you could feel the blood thumpin’ at the end of your fingers. Daddy always said you could tell a lot by a man’s handshake. If that’s true then the preacher man was pushy. I didn’t appreciate the way he talked too close to your face, or the wild look he would get in his eyes when he got to yellin’. I told Mama that I thought he had those demons in him that he was always preachin’ ‘bout. She slapped me right across the face and told me to go ask for forgiveness. I was just tellin’ the truth and God says, “All liars go to hell.” The preacher even said so.

He also said if we gave as much money as we could to the church then God would take care of us. Daddy worked at the mines, Mama did laundry, and I helped by collecting bottles I found on the side of the road to make ends meet. Every Sunday, Daddy took money out of that rusty jar on top of the cabinet, even if we were down to our last penny. He was what the preacher man called “faithful.”

The mine that Daddy worked at caved in. There was a lot of smoke and rubble—and a lot of cryin’. Mama and I waited as the rain poured down and they dug out lifeless after lifeless body. Dad’s body was the last one they found.

I guess the preacher man is goin’ to hell.