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If You're Unlucky

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“Erskine! Erskine, hurry up, we're going to be late!” his ma shouted from the bottom of the stairs. Erskine rolled over groggily and glanced around the room. What was she yelling about again?

“Erskine Ravel, if I come up there, and you're still in bed, there'll be no going to Hopeless’ for at least two weeks!” Fuck. Erskine rolled again, this time out of bed. His feet his the floor with a loud thump, and he rushed over to his closet.

Erskine pulled off the t-shirt and boxers he'd slept in and tossed them into the overflowing hamper at the bottom of his closet. He grabbed a clean pair of boxers, put them on, and glanced around for his deodorant. It was sitting on his nightstand. He snatched it up and used it.

Erskine flicked through his extensive collection of t-shirts and selected a Star Wars one to wear. He was just about to put in on when his ma shouted up at him again.

“We're going to church, so you better not be wearing one of those t-shirts!” She sounded closer; Erskine thought she was probably on the stairs.

He threw the Star Wars shirt back into the closet and put on a plaid button up instead, cringing a little as he did. Plaid wasn't really his thing, but his mom said he ‘looked cute’ in it. He snorted. If people dressed by what their mom thought was cute, then they'd all look like dorks.

He bypassed the high stack of jeans for the one pair of khaki slacks he owned and put them on.

Now that he was mostly dressed and only rummaging for a clean pair of socks, he took a moment to wonder why they were going to church. His ma wasn't religious; the last time she'd gone to church was when her ma died. Erskine remembered the funeral service - it was long and boring and sad. He was twelve at the time. That experience didn't exactly leave a positive impression of churches on him.

“Why are we going to church?” Erskine asked as he burst out of his room and narrowly avoiding barrelling directly into his ma. She stood just outside his door with her arms crossed over her chest. She was dressed in a red blouse and a modest skirt, and her hair was loose as opposed to the tight bun she typically wore to work.

“Erskine, I told you about this on Thursday,” she said with a sigh.

“I wasn’t listening,” Erskine replied honestly.

“Eveline’s daughter was supposed to ‘go out and make disciples’ as her Sunday school homework. She gets some sort of prize if she can get someone new to come to church.”

Right. Erskine vaguely recalled the conversation now, but he had been in a hurry on Thursday afternoon. He’d stayed at school late talking to Mr. Deuce, and then he met Hopeless at the library… he’d been home for all of twenty minutes. Which was probably why he’d totally forgotten about the discussion with his mother.

Eveline Anderson was his ma’s best friend, and her eight year old daughter, Abigail, always followed Erskine around like a little duckling whenever she could. He’d forgotten they were religious, too - Eveline never acted particularly devout. But Abigail would probably be excited to see him.

“That’s it?” Erskine asked all the same. The truth behind his ma’s reasoning seemed… anticlimactic somehow.

“What were you expecting?” Ma asked, and then she turned on her heel and headed down the stairs.

***

Ten minutes into the service, and Erskine already wanted to leave. It was hot, for one thing, and everyone was singing for some reason, and Abigail kept tugging on his shirt. She was a little blond girl with huge dimples and doe eyes, and her puppy dog face usually got her what she wanted, but Erskine refused to be coerced into anything by a second grader. He knew she wanted him to sing, too. He could feel it. He was not singing.

After the singing was over, all the children and teenagers were released to their Sunday school classes. Abigail grabbed his hand and led him away, and Erskine gave his ma a pleading look, but she just gestured for him to go and be good.

Which was how Erskine ended up sitting in a circle with a group of six to seventeen year olds in a back room. There was also a grown woman there, ever peppy, and she gave Abigail a couple candies when Abigail presented Erskine as her victim. Erskine noticed that there were a few other kids that looked confused and out of place. Others brought along as part of this assignment, then.

Erskine didn’t listen to much of the lesson. Something about Jesus. Religion wasn’t really his thing, and the woman teaching wasn’t all that engaging. After the lesson, Abigail led him over to a table of donuts. They were good donuts; almost worth getting out of bed for.

It was about this time that Erskine noticed one of his classmates was actually in attendance. Perhaps he should’ve paid more attention when they were in a circle. But then, it hardly mattered. Erskine didn’t know Jace Mevolent all that well anyway. The guy was kind of a dick, though. Erskine was surprised he went to church. Although, just because someone was religious didn’t mean they couldn’t be a dick.

Various parents began to trickle into the room at that time, grabbing their little ones and dragging them home. A man walked up to Mevolent and began speaking to him. Erskine assumed he was probably the boy’s father. Then Erskine noticed his ma and her friend wander into the room and ushered Abigail in their direction. He wanted to go home. Religion didn’t work with him.