I sat there shivering, in grey tailored shorts and a wide collared shirt; fiddling with the bottom of my woolen tank top, neatly attired to compensate for the chill in the hall. Looking up towards Mrs Hat, squeezing my right eye tightly, I did my best to avoid the shouting above. I lent my head to one side, trying to cover my ear with my shoulder. Mrs Hat was mad, more angry than I had ever seen her before. Bending forwards, a shadow cast across my brow. I could feel her peppermint breath on my head; her big round face, obscured by her red felt hat. I could just make out her tiny little eyes, peering over her cheeks, as she moved closer and closer, nose to nose. She wore cats eye glasses, suspended on a golden chain, always tangled around her neck. They kept hitting me on the chin as she continued her screaming, bellowing ever louder. Finally I placed my hands above my head and pulled the top half of my body towards my chest; curled up I hid from her rage.
It was Wednesday and the Gospel Hall was filling up; children, all shapes and sizes, were once again attending an hour long session, of religious instruction and music. Mrs Hat was in charge; in all honesty, I can’t even remember if that was her name, or we called her that because of the ostentatious headpiece, she wore each week. She was stern, strict and without humour; a portly lady from an altogether different time. Sat in the pews, next to my friend from school, I was in a rather fidgety mood, not wanting to comply with the teachings of our Lord. I began kicking the bench in front, with my brown clarks sandals; a constant tap, as Mrs Hat began her sermon. I was in no mood for listening. Slouching, my head hit the backrest behind and I began to slide down the hard wooden seat; legs wide open, tapping my knees together, back and forth, making a clicking sound with my mouth.
Mid flow, Mrs Hat, looked up from her notes; removing her spectacles forcefully. Grasping them tightly in her left hand, she began banging them on the lecturn in front; the sound gradually getting louder, radiating throughout the hall. She glared across the auditorium, quickly picking up on my uninterested composure; eyes wide open she stared candidly in my direction. I looked around the room, to see if anyone had noticed our posturing. Gingerly I put both hands on the seat, either side of me and gradually lifted myself up, trying to look innocent and interested; all the while, Mrs Hat focused on my demeanour. As soon as I was upright, she popped her glasses back on her rather commodious nose and restarted her laborious rant. It wasn’t too long before my head began to nod in front of me; barely able to stay awake. I fell forwards, banging my head on the seat in front, knocking a bible, placed precariously on my knees, to the floor. Screeching loudly, I rubbed my throbbing temple, trying to ease the pain.
This time Mrs Hat was in a rage; once again she removed her eyeglasses, getting her thumb tied up in the chain around her nape. Even more enraged, she shook the adornment free, all the while looking at me full on in the face. After a deep breath, she lifted her arm in the air and pointed towards my position; I looked around quickly, hoping someone else was in her line of sight. Everyone else was looking downwards, not wanting to catch her eye. I just froze and realised the game was up; I was in trouble and waited silently, patiently as Mrs Hat began her descent from the pulpit.
She walked down the isle, towards the back of the room, where I was sat, all the time pointing, breathing hard, muttering to herself. As I waited patiently, I looked up towards the stark white ceiling above. Maybe God would intervene and whisk me away from this place, before her wrath and damnation; no such luck. God deserted me and I was left to the mercy of Mrs Hat; my career in the church was over before it started; my worst fears confirmed. There was no God, just her, her rage and displeasure and the unabated fury for the children she thwarted!
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