Fourteen-year-old Sally sat in the swivel chair in front of the desktop computer. She scrolled through the social media news feed. Every line, every post broke her heart. People in America fighting against each other. Racism filled the computer screen. The young teenager feared another Civil War was brewing.
Sally’s cursor was on the x at the top right of the screen to close it when a message popped up. Sally usually ignored her family’s posts, but a burning sensation inside told her to read this one. When she clicked on it, her brown eyes widened. It was from her brother.
“America is a Christian country, and everyone else should leave. If not, hang them all!”
Sally checked on the rest of her family’s posts. Shockwaves vibrated through her body. The woman she looked up to most in this world, the one who told her to work hard, to be whatever she wanted to be was a fraud.
“You’re born a female or a male, and there is nothing in between. Those who think they are something else is going against God, and they will burn in Hell.”
Tears rolled down her freckled cheeks and dripped on her keyboard. The family seemed open-minded. No one ever discussed politics and life around each other. But Sally never had gone to their church. No matter how much her mother and brother begged her, she never went. I’ll go this Sunday.
Sally slid on her lavender dress and matching pumps. Her purple hair formed waves over her head and down the middle of her back. She strolled into the kitchen where her mother stood in her blue dress and white high heels. Her red hair was up in a bun and red lipstick painted on her lips. Her green eyes popped with the right colors to create a smoky look. Sally’s older brother, with his cropped red hair, was in a gray suit with black dress shoes.
Sally’s mother turned from the kitchen counter and slapped her palms together. “Oh, look at you.” Her long legs created big strides. In less than a second, she stood in front of Sally. She placed her hands on her daughter’s cheeks. “You can use a little make-up, though.” The mother patted Sally on the head and turned her attention to her son.
Sally rolled her eyes. Me, make-up. Never.
“Sally, dear.” One side of the mother’s lips rose as the other side pulled downward. Her hand in the air and toward the red SUV. “Why don’t you sit in the front, with me.”
Sally gave a slight smile and nodded to her mother.
The sun hid behind gray clouds, and the temperature dropped a few degrees as they got closer to the church. When they arrived, Sally was astonished to see all the women wearing pastel colors and high heels. The men wore suits and ties. What is this, the Stepford Wives?
Once inside, the family took their seats. Everyone turned around, eyeing Sally, then turned back to each other and whispered. Yeah, yeah, the black sheep of the family is here. Shock waved over Sally’s grandparents, uncle, and aunts.
The service was straight out of the Holy Bible. Old Testament, not the New Testament. Everything Sally believed in, her family’s church didn’t. Sally’s been to other churches, and they were not like this one, they accepted the differences in people.
After the service, the pastor pulled Sally aside. “The next time you come to church,” he placed his hand on her hair, “you better have your natural hair color.” He turned and stomped away.
Who says I’m coming back?
Sally dashed out of the church and ran all the way home. Her family would be there for the rest of the day. They had lunch and other affairs to attend. Sally unlocked the door and slammed it shut, raddling the pictures on the walls. She ran to her mother’s room and to the closet. There, a safe on the floor. After a few tries, she discovered it was her brother’s birthdate. Too damn easy, mother.
Sally snatched her birth certificate and threw it in the bathtub. She dashed from picture to picture, ripping herself from them and tossed them in the tub. Any evidence of her existence, she threw in. Her long legs, like her mother’s, dashed to the garage and grabbed the gasoline, and rushed back inside. She poured it all over her stuff, struck a match, and set everything on fire. She changed into jeans, tennis shoes, a rock T-shirt, and a hoodie. Before she ran out to get her bicycle, she set her room ablaze.
Sally had enough money from mowing lawns to purchase a bus ticket to the furthest town she could afford. She hiked through the forest and found a deep cave.
Sally’s family came home with half the house burned down, and they feared Sally was inside. The firefighters assured them no one was inside. The family moved into the mother’s parent’s home and did not search for her for a few days. They assumed they upset her, and when she calmed down, she would return home. She never did.
The family hung flyers all over town and nearby towns. The mother called Sally’s friends, but no one knew where she was. Months went by, and there was no sign of her. One spring day, 500 miles away from Sally’s home, cave divers came a crossed a skeleton with flesh slithering off. DNA showed it was Sally.
Sally’s mother placed her next to her father at the graveyard. Her tombstone read:
“My dearest daughter, mislead by the Devil, and now lies by his side.”
A year passed by, and the anniversary of Sally’s death was upon the family. In a month, one by one, they died by fire. The mother perished in a fiery car accident. The brother died by falling into a campfire, and the grandparents’ home blew up because of a gas leak — every member of Sally’s family, dead.
Everyone at the church whispered to each other, “It was the ghost of Sally.” When someone mentioned her name, a few days later, they died by fire.
You see, once you hear about Sally’s story, you are on her fiery list. The way she perceives it, anyone who learns about her will die by fire.
[Via Coffee House Writers]