College Crush

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10.

I wake up the following morning feeling refreshed. Not like a brand-new person or anything like that, but energized. Like I can finally face the world and whatever it is about to bring me.

Before heading downstairs with my luggage, I look through my email to see if there is anything else from The Daily Edict or from Langston. There isn’t anything but a spam email message from a Catholic donation collector group.

An image of Pastor Partridge, clear as day, is suddenly vividly at the forefront of my brain. I remember the sports car he would drive, parked right in front of the church every Sunday morning. I remember thinking about how all the money donated to the church was probably going directly into his greedy pockets. I shivered at the thought of his pockets because he would always tuck his hands into his pockets. And anything his hands would touch was instantly dreadful to me. Even the Bible he would carry up with him to his podium.

I remember the smug and haughty smile smeared across his face like he was some untouchable superhuman who could do just about whatever he wanted. His dry and tasteless humor that would make the congregation softy chuckle, leading him to believe that he was the wittiest and most charming man in the world. His dull and lackluster sermons that would make me want to throw up from irritation at the monotony.

Everything about him was repulsive, vile, and nauseating, from his greasy salt and pepper hair to his wrinkly old hands.

I search the name of our church, even though I already know he stepped down as the head pastor after his wife passed away. The first thing that pops up is an article with his name, bold and capitalized. It is from one year ago.

“Saying Goodbye To Pastor Partridge As He Is Welcomed Into Paradise”

I’m frozen.

“Goodbye”? “Paradise”? A year ago…?

I tap onto the article and devour the entire paragraph in one breath.

The new pastor and leaders of the church posted this open farewell letter a year ago to inform everyone through their church website that Pastor Partridge was the victim of an armed robbery.

I click off of the church’s website page and search for the real story online-- The police’s reported story.

“Donald Partridge, a beloved and retired pastor of 25 years, was fatally stabbed in his own bed by an armed robber,” the article says.

I stand there in the doorway of Mazie’s bedroom, stunned.

I never had the heart or even the slightest inclination to search his name before… but now... Now I’m discovering that a year ago, he was killed. And in the most inhumane and merciless way!

How brutal must it have been? In his own home, in his own bed? One of the places where he probably felt the safest. That’s where he was slaughtered.

Would it be freakishly absurd of me to pen a thank note to the armed robber? Mail it to him in his prison cell? Let him know how eternally grateful I am?

I fantasized about doing it myself so many times.

In my dreams. My most incredibly beautiful dreams.

I wondered if I was crazy for a long time due to the fact that I was fantasizing about such a horribly graphic thing… killing somebody. But when I read about it online, these fantasies seemed to be a fairly normal thing for girls who went through the type of thing I went through.

He didn’t murder me physically when he assaulted me but he dehumanized me and in a way, that is a form of murder in and of itself. He murdered the naively happy and purely innocent child that I was and turned me into a hardened shell of a human.

So many walls built up within me to keep everyone away from my vulnerabilities, yet with all of these walls blocking me in, I’m still somehow completely fragile. And that’s because of him.

I wish I’d searched his name online a year ago and heard about this when it happened. I wish I could have reveled in the good news while it was still completely fresh. But finding out about it now, even though I am a year late in knowing, is still good enough for me.

It isn’t closure that I’m feeling right now… it’s happiness.

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