Four days before her sixth birthday, Glory Hallelujah Bishop knew a whole lotta things. As a matter of fact, she’d known more things than everybody in her “kinny-garden” class. She’d known all her letters and she knew c-a-t didn’t say cuh-at, it said cat like a real cat that said meow; and s-t-o-p didn’t say stopsign or redlight or stopit or freeze, it was plain old stop and meant stop just like the word said. And Glory knew not just school things, she knew real important things too; like how to spell and write her whole name, and her mama’s name, and her daddy’s name, and her address, and her phone number, and her mama’s phone number at work, and the license number on her daddy’s truck, and the phone number on the door on her daddy’s truck.
But today, the most important thing Glory knew was that weddings were dumb and wedding ladies were crybabies and wedding boys were dumb and flower girls were the biggest meanest dummies in the world. They were so mean and dumb in their big dumb fluffy dresses with their dumb ribbons throwing their dumb flowers (and they were all doing it wrong anyway) that God was gonna get ‘em and make ‘em ugly one day cuz it’s a sin to act pretty in church.
Glory stood in the balcony looking down on the empty church sanctuary where today’s wedding had taken place. The only kids allowed down there were wedding kids, so Glory and the other children had watched from the balcony. Everybody said it was happy, but almost all the ladies had been crying. Glory hoped there wouldn’t be another wedding tomorrow. It seemed like lately, every time they came to church there was a wedding. There were two yesterday and her mother sang in the choir and cleaned up both times, and today after church there was another one and her mother was still in there talking and cleaning up.
“Hey. What’cha doin’?”
Glory sighed. “Nothin’.” She glanced out of the corner of her eye but didn’t look directly at the boy on his hands and knees beside her. Josiah Jackson wasn’t one of the wedding kids because he was a bad boy. He always had to sit out in the hall cuz he acted up in Sunday school, and his mom or dad always had to come and get him outta the nursery during church service. Sometimes they even had to take him into the bathroom to straighten him out. When he stood up beside Glory, close enough that their shoulders touched, she moved over a step.
“How come you wasn’t a flower girl?”
“I don’t wanna be a flower girl.” Glory wouldn’t say out loud that they were mean dummies cuz she didn’t want God to get her and make her ugly for saying mean things in church.
“Flower girls are stupid anyway,” Josiah said. “Trina is the stupidest.”
Glory’s eyes went wide and she gaped at the very bad boy standing beside her. “You can’t say stupid in church!” Glory whispered as loud as she could. “God is gonna get you for saying that!”
“Well, you just said it!” Josiah didn’t whisper at all. “Is God gonna get you?”
Glory turned away from the bad boy and took a giant step to the side. Of course, Josiah followed, so she took another step and another. After many more steps, they’d moved almost halfway around the balcony that encircled the sanctuary and their battle of wills turned to giggles. The game paused when a teenaged couple walked into the sanctuary looking around. Glory and Josiah watched the pair hugging and kissing. Well, at least Josiah watched. Glory covered her eyes when the kissing started.
“It’s ok, you can look now,” Josiah whispered to Glory.
Glory peeked through her fingers. The teenagers were still kissing. She covered her eyes again and heard a thump as Josiah fell over laughing. She peeked again to see the teenagers looking and pointing in their direction. The teenagers laughed and waved as they walked out, the girl with her arm around the boy and the boy with his hand on the girl’s bottom. The girl tried to push the boy’s hand away and he whacked her; the girl just laughed. Glory decided teenagers were dumb too.
“Hey, c’mon!” Josiah said suddenly. “I wanna show you a trick!”
Glory watched the bad boy running down the spiral staircase.
“It’s not bad, I promise! Hurry up!”
She followed him but didn’t run. Even though she wanted to see the trick, following Josiah had gotten other kids in trouble, and watching Josiah do a trick in church was probably a bad idea. At the bottom of the stairs, Josiah gave her a handful of flowers that had been left lying around from the wedding.
“Wait right here.” He said. “I’ll tell you when.”
Glory watched him running again to the front of the sanctuary and shook her head. No matter what the trick was, she was not going to run in church.
“Ok, you can come here now!” Josiah called. “Bring the flowers too!”
Glory looked around and then walked to meet Josiah. She wondered if she looked like the flower girls walking up the aisle, except her dress was yellow and she didn’t have ribbons and she wasn’t acting pretty.
At the front, Josiah stood bouncing on his toes, grinning. “Ok. Do you like ice cream?” he asked.
Glory scrunched her eyebrows and looked at him. She wasn’t gonna be tricked into saying a bad word in church so she just nodded.
“I promise it’s not a bad trick.” Josiah laughed. “You hafta talk. Do you like ice cream?”
Glory sighed, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. “Yes.”
“No, you don’t,” Josiah said
“Huh? Yes, I do.”
“Nope. You doooon’t,” Josiah sang.
“I do!” Glory said again as loud as she dared.
Josiah broke into a wider grin. “I do too. Ok. Here’s the good part. Close your eyes.”
Glory folded her arms and stared at him.
“C’mon. It’s not gonna be bad. I promise.” He smiled at her again. “Trust me.”
Glory took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She felt Josiah’s hands on her shoulders and then it was over so fast she wasn’t sure what had happened. Her eyes flew open and her hand went to her mouth. She stared at the grinning boy in front of her. “Josiah, you just kissed me?”
“Yup!” He smiled like he’d just done the best trick ever. “Now we’re married.”
Glory gasped. “No, we’re not!”
“Uh huh.” Josiah laughed. “This is our wedding. We said I do and you let me kiss you. That means we’re married!”
Glory looked at the flowers in her hand and dropped them like they burned. “You tricked me! You take it back right now!”
“Nope, Mrs. Glory.” Josiah picked up the flowers. “It’s too late. You’re married to me now.” He offered her the flowers again, still smiling like he’d won.
“NO! I’m not married to you, Josiah!” Glory pushed him down and she didn’t care if it was mean. She didn’t even care if God was gonna get her for it, but there was no way she was gonna be married to a bad boy like Josiah. And when he didn’t stop laughing and kept calling her Mrs. Glory, she hit him in the head with the flowers; and when he still kept laughing, she bent down and hit him in the arm with her fist…and when he still wouldn’t stop laughing, she sat on him and kept hitting him. Josiah shielded his face with his arms and Glory hit him everywhere she could, demanding that he take back their marriage until she felt herself being pulled off of a still laughing Josiah by the teenaged boy they saw earlier.
“How y’all gon’ be fighting in church?” The teenager held Glory up by her wrist, her toes barely touching the floor.
Josiah sat on the floor, leaning back on his elbows, smiling up at her. “Sometimes married people fight.” he shrugged.
“We are not married, Josiah!” Glory didn’t care about being quiet in church any more.
“We just got married today.” Josiah stood up and dusted himself off. “Now she’s mad.”
“Married, huh?” the teenager laughed. “I don’t know, lil’ man. This one might be too much for you.”
Glory was so angry she fought back tears. Struggling against the smirking teenager holding her wrist, she kicked at Josiah. “Let me go, you mean dummy!” She pinched the teenager, and he grabbed both of her wrists in one hand.
Josiah was starting to look not so happy.
“Lil’ man, if you wanna be married to this woman, you gon’ need to control her or you might get hurt.”
Glory kicked the teenager as hard as she could.
“Ok, let her go now.” Josiah said, “We’ll stop fighting, right Glory?”
“I’m not married to you! Leave me—!”
The hard smack on her bottom stunned her…but not as much as the roar that came out of Josiah as he rammed his head into the teenager’s belly sending everybody tumbling to the floor.
“DON’T YOU EVER HIT MY WIFE!” Josiah kicked and pummeled the overwhelmed teenager while Glory scrambled to her feet. “Glory, run!”
Glory took off running and didn’t stop until she reached the back of the sanctuary. She turned to see the teenager on his knees laughing, and Josiah using karate moves just like the robots on tv. “God is gonna get you for tricking me, Josiah!” she yelled as she climbed the stairs to go find her mother.