Brady arrived home to find a familiar car on the apron next to the single-wide. He smelled dinner before he opened the door.

“Hey, Aunt Lois,” he said, tossing his stuff.

The short, freckled dishwater blonde rushed from the stove to hug him tight. “Oh, Brady!” she said. “Where’s your mama?”

“Probably stopped off somewhere,” he said. “You’ll be able to tell where from her breath.”

“You ought to speak of her with more respect.”

“Yeah, she deserves it. Petey here?”

She nodded toward the back. “Tell him ten minutes before corn bread, beans, and rice.”

“He’ll want iced tea, too.”

“’Course.”

Brady picked through the ashtray.

His aunt poked her head around the corner. “Oh, Brady! No!”

He shrugged. “I just quit football, so give me a break.”

“Football or not, those things’ll kill you.”

“I can only hope. What’re you doing here, anyway?”

“You’re not happy to see me?”

“Sure I am. I always am. But—”

“I come with bad news, if you must know, but I can’t tell you without tellin’ your mom and Petey, so don’t ask.”

Brady found his brother in the back, riveted to a video game.

“Wanna play?” Peter said without looking up.

“It’s rude to be back here when Aunt Lois is visiting.”

Peter sighed and paused the game. “She’s just gonna tell us about Jesus again.”

“Just nod and smile and tell her you’ll get to church again sometime soon.”

Gambrell Hall
Emory University

Ravinia looked stiff when her mother embraced her, and she barely seemed to return the touch. Thomas shook her hand, and they sat in the student lounge.

“You look well,” Grace said. “I wish you’d let your hair grow out a little.”

“I wish I had time to take care of more hair, Mom. Regardless, I’m straight, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

race squinted at Thomas.

“She’s not a lesbian,” he said.

“Oh, my, Ravinia! I wasn’t even suggesting—”

“To prove it, one of these days I’ll introduce you to Dirk.”

“Dirk?”

“Dirk Blanc. Works at MacMillan next door, the law library.”

"He’s a librarian?” Grace said.Ravinia laughed. “He’s a student too, but most of us work, you know.”

“I know,” Grace said, “and we’re sorry you have to.”

“Even most students with normal parents have to work, Mom.”

“Normal parents?”

“Those not dependent on congregations for their income.”

“Well, one doesn’t go into the ministry for the money, sweetheart. But God’s people have been good to us over the years.”

“Oh, please. No-body’s been good to you, and you know it. You give and give and give, and what do you get? Ushered out. So, what happened at Foley?”

“I’d rather talk about what you’re doing, Rav,” Thomas said.

“You promised to tell me.”

“Well, I said I’d rather talk about it in person, yes, but there’s time. . . .”

“No, there isn’t. I have no time, Dad. I study and I work and, if I’m lucky, I eat and sleep. And if you’re telling me that once again—surprise, surprise—you’re between churches, sleep may have to go too. So just tell me.”

“Where are you attending services, honey?” Grace said.

“Can we stop this, Mom? Even if I had the time, I don’t have the interest right now. And I have the feeling that whatever it is you’re about to tell me about the faithful at Foley just might close the church chapter of my life.”