Kissing Wounds

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Chapter 13

“Mathew.” I turned at the sound of my name that had been called over the noisy crowd. I was surprised to find a counselor smiling at me. He was a man with greying hair and tired looking eyes. I stopped in my tracks, pointing at myself, and he nodded. I walked over to him, wondering why he had called out to me.

“Yes, sir?”

Church service had just ended, and the halls were a bit rowdy as people left for their rooms or to the activity rooms. I had to talk to someone later today with Sam and another brother.

“I heard you’ve been meeting up with the town’s local mechanic. Nathan, was it?” I felt my blood drain out of my face at his words. So, people knew. I nodded, and I watched as his lips thinned out.

“Alone?” he asked, and I nodded again.

“Stop meeting up with him,” the man said, before reaching out to hold my shoulder. “It’s for your own good. If you must, take someone along with you.” The smile he gave me afterward didn’t seem friendly, and I was left standing in the middle of the hallway when he walked past me. I bit my bottom lip, letting out a sigh before I turned and headed in the direction of our wards. I met up with Sam upstairs and got ready. He went on about a book he was reading, and I listened to him, chiming in to comment from time to time. I was trying to get the counselor’s words out of my head. I didn’t want to think too much about it.

We headed downstairs to the room, waiting for the person to get there. Sam got up, heading outside for a bit so that he could make a phone call. It took a while, but he came back with the lady that had promised to come. She looked somewhere in her early twenties. She had light brown hair and piercing blue eyes. She apologized for getting here late before taking a seat on the empty sofa.

“Would you like to start off with an opening prayer for us, if you don’t mind?” Sam asked her. She looked like she was thinking about it for a bit before she eventually agreed. She said a short prayer, chopped and round about like the type you’d expect from someone who felt it was weird — she probably did, and that was okay. She was learning, and it was fine.

“So, today we’re going to talk to you about...” Sam trailed off as he flipped through the little teaching guide. The sound of his action filling the room. “The Word of Wisdom,” he said with a smile before placing the book on the table.

“You still have the book we gave you, right?” James, who had come with us for this meeting asked the lady. She blinked, muttering a small ‘oh’ before fishing for the pamphlet in her bag and flipping to the page we were on.

“So, the Word of Wisdom is a law of health revealed by the Lord for the physical and spiritual benefit of His children,” I started, and I watched as the lady nodded in understanding. “The Lord revealed which foods are good for us to eat and which substances are not good for the human body. He also promised health, protection, knowledge, and wisdom to those who obey the Word of Wisdom.”

The room went silent for a bit and we all watched as the lady nodded, looking down at the pamphlet in her hands.

“Would you like to read that out?” I asked, and she looked up at me, smiling before she nodded.

“Substances that should not be ingested include; wine, tobacco, strong drinks, and hot drinks,” the lady read as she continued to stare down at the pamphlet. She paused, looking up from the pamphlet in her hand to stare at me. “Hot drinks as in? I know strong drinks means something like alcohol.”

“Tea and coffee,” Sam answered, making her turn to the other end to face him. “You can’t drink tea or coffee.”

The girl’s brows knitted into a small frown as she let out a hum of confusion. “Then how do you stay up if you need to study then? Or something along that like?” she asked, and James moved a bit forward on his seat.

“The Word of Wisdom is to help us with our health. Coffee isn’t good for you, and Mormons were given this doctrine long before it was considered a fact by health sciences. This goes to show that heavenly father does love his children and has given us rules like this that will help us.”

The lady just stared at James, not really saying anything. My mind wandered a bit far, thinking to Nathan. He smoked like he was a chimney, and he did drink a lot of coffee. He had offered me some while I was at his place and had just sighed and apologized when I rejected his offer.

“Can you continue reading the bullet points, or can I take over?” Sam asked, making the girl look over at him before saying she would do it, and he shouldn’t worry. I snapped out of my thoughts, adjusting on my seat before looking over at her.

“The beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth may be used as food sparingly and with thanksgiving,” she read, before closing the pamphlet.

“Do you understand that?” I asked, and she chuckled.

“Yeah, I get it. You should eat meat in moderation, right?” she said, and we nodded. We watched her cross her feet. She was in lose baggy trousers. “Woah, that’s going to be hard. I love me some chicken,” she said, making everyone else in the room laugh.

We continued the discussion, and eventually, things came to end after a short prayer led by Sam.

“Have you prayed and asked heavenly father if the words we are telling you are true?” Sam asked, and the girl gave him a small smile as she stood up from the sofa she had been sitting in. The rooms had a homey design to them with comfortable sofas arranged around a small center table. The walls were also decorated with paintings from the scriptures, and there was an electronic fireplace that added to the aesthetic.

“I’m still thinking about it,” she said, picking up her handbag.

“Don’t take our words for it. You should pray for an answer,” James said. She replied with a small ‘gotcha’ before making to walk over to the room’s exit.

“Have you considered coming to service on Sunday?” Sam asked as the girl paused by the door with her hand on the knob.

“I go to my church too, the service times conflict,” she said, and Sam just smiled, not saying anything in response. We waved her off, and when she was gone we started to talk to each other. Eventually, James excused himself, leaving me and Samuel behind.

As we started to pack up I heard Sam call my name, making me look over at him. He was arranging the pieces of paper and pamphlets we had used on the center table.

“Did the counselor talk to you earlier?” he asked, and my eyes went wide.

Did he tell him?

“Yes,” I answered, frowning a bit. “Did you tell him I was meeting up with Nathaniel?”

“Yeah,” Sam said, telling me the truth as he stood up straight. He was looking straight at me with an intensity that made me uncomfortable. “At first, I was all for it, but now I’m a bit worried. I’m starting to think Olivia was right,” he said, and I looked down at my shoes.

“What’s going on between the two of you?” The question made a lump form in my throat from shock. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out, so I closed it again before running my fingers through my hair in nervousness.

"Something is happening, right? I’m right, am I not?” Sam asked his questions in succession like he was trying to get me to break down and talk to him. When I didn’t give in he just let out a sigh, disrupting the silence that had clouded the room during his pause.

“If you need to meet him, I’ll follow you, okay?” he said, and I kept looking down at the floor, unable to meet his gaze. I could feel the panic in my chest building up. I didn’t want to stop meeting up with Nath — I definitely didn’t, and I probably would keep doing it. I nodded at Sam’s statement anyway, and I looked up to find him smiling at me. He walked over to me, giving my shoulder a firm grip.

“Stay away from temptation, Mathew,” he said, making me blink. “I don’t know exactly what is happening, but I can guess. Leave the big fish to people more spiritually grounded. If you’re prone to corruption, protect yourself,” he said. He was giving me a lecture now and I felt like a little child under his grip and firm look.

“I’ll pray for you.” And with those words, he walked past me. I listened to his steps as he walked towards the exit. I heard the sound of the door being pulled open, and I heard it close behind him. I let out the breath I had been holding while he was inside with me, and I started fumbling with my fingers, not knowing what to do now.

I left the room after some time, walking past a group of brothers and sisters and not even stopping to say hello. I started wondering how many people knew. Was it just Olivia, Sam and our station’s counselor? Did more people know?

When I got to the room I shared with Sam I went straight to my bed, pulling out my phone. I stared at Nath’s contact for a while, thinking deeply about it before I eventually went ahead to text him. I had gotten his number a while ago, but I had never actually thought to contact him.

Message to: Nathaniel.

Nath, are you there?

SUN, 7:45 PM.

I stared down at it, wondering how long it would take him to reply. Maybe an hour or so? My eyes went wide when the sound that I had a notification came through. I looked down at my screen, seeing that Nathaniel had replied to my message.

Message from: Nathaniel.

Yes. Is something wrong?

SUN, 7:47 PM.

I bit my bottom lip, deciding to answer him honestly.

Message to: Nathaniel.

Yes. Some people figured it out.

I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to stop seeing you.

SUN, 7: 48 PM.

I saw the three dots pop up, meaning that he was typing, so I sat on my bed, looking down at my screen as I waited for him to send his message.

Message from: Nathaniel.

No more morning walks. No more visiting me at the repair shop. If you need to see me, tell me and I will help you out.

Stay safe, don’t be careless.

SUN, 7:50 PM.

I stared down at the text with a mixture of confusion and relief. I was glad he understood, but I had expected...? A more emotional response? A voice in my mind said, filling in the blank. I shook my head, trying to get the disappointment out of my system. Nathaniel knew what he was doing.

Message to: Nathaniel.

Thank you.

SUN, 7:52 PM.

I sent, and soon enough Nath was typing up a response to me again.

Message from: Nathaniel.

No problem.

Also, delete this conversation.

Be careful, okay? I can’t stress this enough.

SUN, 7:54 PM.

Message to: Nathaniel.


SUN, 7:55 PM.

And with that, the conversation came to an end. I did what he said and deleted the messages. I took a shower and went over to my bed afterward. Laying down on my stomach before closing my eyes as I tried to calm myself. My mind was blowing things out of proportion. That I knew, but I couldn’t help it.

Sam got to the room a few minutes later, and after a while, of him moving about he turned the lights off and headed to bed.

I couldn’t sleep.

My eyes were wide open as I kept overthinking things. The sound of owls hooting coming from outside didn’t help things. I sighed, bringing my cupped palms to my face and did something I hadn’t done sincerely in a while.

I prayed.

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