Prayer Chain

Posted by in From My Head (Fiction)

Kate’s key stuck in the lock. She wiggled it while she bumped the door with her knee and then her hip.

“Nan! I’m here!”she called, looking around for a clear horizontal surface to put down the grocery bag. Knick-knacks, pictures, and bits of paper littered the room. She cleared a spot on the kitchen table with her elbow and set it down. She patted her still flat belly, she was excited to tell her grandmother the news.

“Katherine! Oh, it’s so good to see you.” Nan said, wrapping Kate in her thin arms. Nan always smelled of baby powder and onions.  “I was just on the phone with Dorothy, doing the prayer chain requests.”

Kate’s stomach sank, this was not going to be the visit she’d planned. A chair squeaked as Nan pulled it across the linoleum floor. Nan found a pen and the back of an envelope in a pile and she sat poised to write.

“Your friend Jake, the one with cancer, what does he need?”

“To not have cancer.”

“You know what I mean, what does he need, specifically…”

“He specifically needs to not have a tumor in his brain.” Kate could feel the throb of her heart beat in her temples. Not this again.

“I want to help.”

“If you really want to help, he needs money. Treatment is expensive and he’s going to have baby…”

“A baby? That wasn’t wise….so, financial needs,” Nan said, scrawling on the paper.

Kate felt sick to her stomach. She should have kept her mouth shut.  “Nan, I’m not sure he wants everyone knowing that. It’s personal, you know.”

“Oh, it’s all personal. This week on the chain Betty’s daughter’s husband cheated, Martha and Ken still can’t get pregnant, and Bob is going to lose his house. We don’t judge, we just pray.”

“You pray after you talk to every other old lady in church about everyone’s problems first.”

“God answers prayer, Kate.”

“Then why isn’t Jake healed? You all have been praying for him for months.”

“God’s will doesn’t work that way.”

“Oh, I see. You have to tell everyone in town your secrets first, then beg God, and maybe if enough people ask on your behalf? Maybe Jake needs better friends? Or maybe if God is having a good day and he feels like it, he’ll save him?”

“Don’t be like that. You’ve always believed.”

“I can’t imagine anyone would want to be on that list. You let everyone and their brother in on all your shame and pain, for what? So that some old ladies mutter your secrets at the ceiling after they discuss them for hours? If you want to help, write him a check, or bake him something, but you keep him off that gossip chain of yours.”

Kate slammed the stiff door behind her.

Nan picked the rotary phone off the wall and dialed. “Dorothy, I have a new item for the list, it’s my granddaughter, Kate…”