She’d done what the voice asked. Polished her white tennis shoes and worn them atop white socks without any markings.
Tucked in the back of her winter closet was one white dress, a thin braid of lace upon the sleeve. Daddy didn’t like extravagance and only allowed her to buy it after she’d promised to dust the sanctuary in the weeks leading up to Easter.
She bathed in salts without any fragrances and rinsed her hair without shampoo. Whenever she obeyed, the voice fell silent. It was when she tried ignoring the voice that the volume increased, rising to the pitch of a megaphone inside her head. She’d endured a loop for one whole day before deciding she had no choice.
Follow the commands or free-fall into insanity.
Many of the tasks seemed trivial. The female voice, so familiar, it soothed her to listen. Ring chimes throughout the house and yard. Create a mandala of stones in the church driveway.
As she made her way up the stairs into the church attic, box in hand, she recalled the tasks of the past few months. What could it mean? Did it matter?
The attic of the church was an abandoned space, where seasonal items were often tucked. The voice had instructed her to bring up the glass vases used for special occasions. As she finished her climb, the voice continued its instructions.
She hesitated. This would surely not go unnoticed. The broken glass would mean spending hours on her knees praying for forgiveness, before getting the belt.
Smash them all.
The voice increased in volume. She’d already committed to this, so she took a large vase from the box, the prism of cut glass sharp against her fingertips. She lifted the vase high overhead then propelled it towards the concrete.
The shards made her smile. She thought about the day her momma left taking only a black eye and battered suitcase before smashing another vase.
The glass glittered like nighttime snow on the attic floor.
Climb the ladder.
The voice was steady. It didn’t hold anger or urgency. She climbed eight rungs, reaching the king post. The beam held her balance for only a second; she knew the last command and completed it as it was spoken.
It was so much easier to let go than hang on. She waited for the pain but experienced instead weightlessness. She spread her arms out and stroked midair, grinning, defying gravity.
This is the real me.
The voice, no longer in her head, came from her mouth. Her soul spoke aloud for the first time and its timbre was divine.
This is a flash inspired by Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #103.