The Bad Luck Baptism
by Ellen Hall
On a summer day in the early two-thousands, my sister and I played in a kiddie pool in our backyard. It had a tiny slide and relief carvings of blue dolphins. I took a break from playing and raised a question to my mother. (She often gardened on her hands and knees while answering my inquiries over her shoulder.)
Should our black cat, Mia, be baptized?
Absolutely not, my mother replied.
Undeterred by this wisdom, I decided to seek Mia. I could usually find her in some tall grass where an old hay barn used to stand. I would have kicked my feet into mushy sandals to travel that far. I was mortally afraid of parasites and hoped ticks did not latch onto my skin and crawl up my legs. It did not matter. This was a holy mission, I a modern John the Baptist.
I found Mia, scooped her into my arms, and carried her back to the yard. Standing over the pool and holding my initiate at arm’s length, I commenced with:
“Mia, do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”
Her irises shrunk to thin yellow circles; her muscles tightened, squirming.
Satisfied with this answer, I placed a hand behind her neck and lowered her to the water.
“In the name of—the Father,” I said.
Her nose touched the water. Mia slashed my forearms. I shrieked; her black paws flailed above the surface. She had only one thing to latch onto to escape submersion: me.
Mia dug her nails into my chest, vaulting over my shoulder and leaving white cavities in my skin beaded with red. She lunged across the yard, her hair slick as if with tar. The cuts would remain as scars for several years.
Had I read my Bible more assiduously, I would have known my mistake: Baptism must be voluntary.
About the author
Ellen Hall is a writer of fiction. She was raised in the verdant farmlands of Upstate New York, near the shore of Lake Ontario. She currently lives in Rochester, NY. In her spare time, she studies languages, computers, and politics—grows lemons, or plays chess. She plans to have her historical novel completed soon.
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