As soon as their table is called to line up for recess, and the children enter the gymnasium, Chasity pulls Asia all the way to the back of the gym to a secluded corner. The gymnasium takes up one third of the
second floor of the school. It is a typically built gym in the fashion of shiny wooden floors, brick cement walls, and large spacious windows high up and away from the children. The two girls huddle together alone in the corner and are instantly oblivious to all the other activities and noisy going ons around them. They sit on the floor with their legs crossed in Indian style facing each other. Chasity begins with, “Asia, the Mark of the Beast is coming!” She says in an excited, but hushed tone. “What does that mean?” Responds Asia. Once again, Chasity puts her hand on Asia’s hand and continues, “my preacher told us in church last night that very soon the end of the world is coming! He said that when this time comes, God is gonna test all his people by testing their faith. He said that everyone is gonna have to take this mark on their heads”. “What mark?” Asks Asia with her mouth wide open. “A mark is gonna be stamped on your head or your hand”, Chasity continues as she looks around the gym making sure no one is watching them closely. Both of them are wide eyed by now.
To Asia, Chasity sounds so mature. She sounds like an adult, and like she knows what she’s talking about! And Asia feels this from her friend as Chasity continues to talk. This kind of light headed trance like mist envelops Asia as she continues to intently listen. “This mark is gonna be invisible, but when you put your hand under this machine, it will scan it and the mark will show up, it can pick up the mark from your head too. Everyone is gonna need this mark to do anything in the future”. “Anything like what?” Asks Asia as she now begins to interrogate her friend and feeling stupid not knowing about this obviously serious shit that’s going to go down in the future. “Anything like shop for food, buy clothes, go to school or work, and get money. You are not gonna be able to live without this mark”, exclaims Chasity. “And what if I don’t take this mark?” Replies Asia, now visibly starting to get upset. “That’s just it!” Says Chasity, “God doesn’t want us to take this mark! It’s the mark of the devil! That’s why it’s called the Mark of the Beast!” Chasity then bends her head down, scrunches up her face and tears begin to run down her cheeks. “This is what I’m so afraid of. This is what really scares me!” She continues, “the preacher said that we’re gonna get tortured if we don’t accept the Mark of the Beast. That they will cut off our fingers, burn us with fire, stick us with knives, heck, just torture us! Asia, I can’t picture my little brother getting his fingers chopped off with an ax! And I just broke down at church and wailed. Everyone thought I was filled with the Holy Ghost”.
Chasity then looks up at her friend and realizes that Asia is also crying. The two girls cry and then hug each other. Chasity goes on, “Asia, you must never take the Mark of the Beast no matter what! You must get saved. You must tell your family about this!” And, once again, Chasity seems to be so mature. She seems like a worldly woman when heck, they are only six years old and in the first grade for heaven’s sake. “When will this Mark of the Beast going to happen?” Sniffs Asia as she looks at her friend through red, teary eyes. “No one knows exactly when, but it’s gonna happen around the same time as the rapture”. Asia sits there staring at her friend and begins thinking about when she was in church last Sunday. She never heard her pastor preach about anything like this before. Oh, she had heard and knew about the rapture, but this is the first time she had heard of this Mark of the Beast thing. Chasity also seems to be in some sort of trance like stateas she wails, “Asia, do not take the Mark of the Beast, become saved and Jesus will lift you up into the rapture too!” At that very moment, the whistle blows for the children to be silent.
Just as the whistle for silence blows, the bully of the lower grades spots Asia and Chasity huddled together in the back corner of the gym. He isn’t far from their location so he reaches them at the most inopportune and embarrassing time when everyone becomes silent. He blurts out, “why are you two crying?” All the children turn to look at Asia and Chasity. And even through her tears, Asia thinks, oh no, not again. And the same déjà vu feeling comes over her again for the third time that day. But instead of feeling strange, this time she gets mad. She gets so mad that she jumps up with balled fists, lands right in front of John, the bully’s face, and begins to spitfire through clenched teeth and trembling lips. She doesn’t care that John is a couple of inches taller than her and has bulging arms for an eight-year-old and a pot belly. She just knows that she’s mad and ready to do whatever it takes to save she and Chasity’s honor. So, she’s readying herself to fight if she has to. Chasity just sits there quietly watching the volatile exchange between her friend and the bully. Asia has momentarily forgotten it is forbidden to fight in school. Especially for her because her mom and dad are very strict when it comes to school. This is one of the reasons why she’s the teacher’s pet. So, she never fights in school. Chasity knows this too, so she pulls her friend away from John saying, “Asia, calm down. Let’s not let John get us in trouble. God’s gonna take care of him. He will pay for this!” Only hearing God’s name calms Asia down. She rolls her eyes and sucks her teeth before turning away from him. She also gives him the middle finger. This only provokes and eggs him on and he begins teasing the two girls saying, “na, na, na, na, na, na”. He sticks out his tongue to emphasize the taunt. Asia is enraged, but she will bide her time until after school and only then will she exact her revenge on him. Right now, there are more important things to attend to. One being the Mark of the Beast story. So, she and Chasity walk away and get on line. Ms. Sinch’s class lines up in their spot in the gym and quietly waits
for her to come and pick them up. Asia quietly cries as she stands in line behind Chasity. She cannot stop crying. No matter how hard she tries, the tears continue to run down her cheeks. She wipes her cheeks, eyes, and nose with the back of her hand. She sniffs incessantly, and desperately needs a tissue, so she wipes her hand on her pants leg. Chasity puts her hand on Asia’s shoulder and whispers, “don’t be scared. God’s gonna protect us!” The class walks out of the gym, down the hall, down the stairs, and to their classroom with Asia still crying. She keeps her head down, not looking at anyone because she feels sick inside. Just not a physically sick, but an ill type of feeling that’s making her mind queasy, as well as her stomach. She isn’t sure how Chasity is feeling, but she knows she’s feeling weird. She knows that she’s going to think about what Chasity told her for a long time. What she doesn’t know at the time is that she’s going to remember and think about this story for the rest of her life!