In The Eyes Of The Lord
Janey had slipped under Mrs Parsons fence and out in to the meadow, she’d noticed the curtains twitching as she crossed the garden, she was desperate to know if she’d been seen but couldn’t stop to think about it just now, she had to be back home before anyone saw that her bed hadn’t been slept in. Her father would be finishing his round within the next hour and would be home by nine-thirty at the latest.
As she quietly unlatched the back door she listened intently to the welcoming silence from within, her brothers and sisters were thankfully still fast asleep and her Mother was most likely deep in a gin induced coma on the sofa. She spied a packet of Woodbines that her Mother had obviously forgotten to hide; she quickly slid two out and pushed the packet behind the collection of herbs and spices tins on the shelf. She despised her Mother, she wasn’t hiding them to help her, she just didn’t want to see the look of further disappointment on her Father’s face, she knew he wasn’t stupid, far from it; he was just living a life of perfect denial.
She always had the stove going before he came home, she filled the kettle and laid the table ready for breakfast, Janey was desperate for some sleep.
‘Janey, my darling sweet Janey’ her Father kissed her on her forehead and ruffled her hair as he placed his postman’s bag on the floor ‘how are you this morning pumpkin? Did you sleep well?’
‘Morning Dad, yeah not bad, how was the round’?
‘Same old, same old, Mrs Parson’s dog is a ruddy nuisance though, she should have that thing chained up’
Janey’s heart nearly beat straight out of her chest at the mention of Mrs Parson’s name, luckily that seemed to be the extent of her Fathers interaction with her that morning.
‘Your Mother not up yet then? I thought she’d be halfway through the laundry by now with a steak and kidney pie in the oven’ her Father said with a wink, Janey knew it was a joke but deep down she also knew her Father wished this to be true.
As her brothers and sisters filled the kitchen she took the opportunity to sneak out of the back door and round to her best friend Karen’s house, her parents ran the local bakery and wouldn’t be home so she knew it would be safe to go there.
Billy, Karen’s older brother, answered the door, he had that ‘James Dean’ look going on, he was Janey’s ultimate fantasy, she’d even invented a whole scenario about him where she’d lost her virginity to him after they’d been to the cinema one evening…the actual truth being that she’d lost her virginity to her cousin, Fred, in a cow shed when she was 12. There wasn’t much else to do in such a small village in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales in the 50’s. It was either become a promiscuous little tramp, like Janey, or dedicate your life to church in the hope of one day becoming a nun and devoting your life to God, like Karen. It was obvious that deep down Karen idolised Janey, she wished she could be flirty and exciting, her boobs were practically none existent and she didn’t look a day over her youthful thirteen and a half years, Janey, on the other hand, had been an early developer and could quite easily pass for sixteen if the occasion called for it. Karen wasn’t jealous as such, just impatient, her faith was sometimes shaken by the thoughts of indecency that ran through her mind, she always reminded herself that God was watching, how could she possibly perform anything remotely unrestrained whilst under the watchful eye of the Lord. It was of course acceptable in the privacy of the curates office, he reminded Karen time and time again that this was her calling, he promised her that because he was a man of the cloth her virginity remained intact and that had God not wanted her to do this he would surely put a stop to it in his own divine way, the naivety of a thirteen year old was at his disposal.
‘I suppose you’ve come to steal my bed again? Who was it this time? You can’t keep doing this Janey, you’re going to get caught, and then what will happen? You’ll be shipped off to Switzerland, my name will be mud for harbouring a fugitive and I’ll have lost my best friend…and God’!
Janey flung herself on to Karen’s bed, mimicking a damsel in distress trying to stifle a giggle.
‘Oh Karen! You are such a drama queen! How on earth would I get caught? My Dad thinks butter wouldn’t melt, my Mum is practically a walking gin bottle and it’s not as though Damian is going to shout it from the rooftops, I’d like to see his wife’s reaction if he did’
Janey was staring up at the ceiling, watching Karen from the corner of her eye she could see her friend, hands on hips, getting slightly frustrated, she was ever so tetchy these days, always having outbursts at Janey, warning her that her uninhibited lifestyle would one day come back to haunt her.
‘Look’ Janey continued as she sat up to perch on the end of the bed ‘I promise you there is nothing to worry about, I don’t understand why you’re so ratty about it now anyway, I’ve never been caught before and I’m always careful… if you know what I mean’
From the look of confusion that momentarily swept across Karen’s face Janey wasn’t sure that her friend did know what she meant.
‘You do know what I mean, don’t you Karen’? Janey asked quizzically.
Karen suddenly felt flustered. ‘Of course I know what you mean’ she laughed nervously ‘I’m not stupid, you’re careful that you don’t get caught, you sneak out when everyone is asleep and you’re always home before any one is awake, you’d never sleep with a man who had children, too complicated and risky. You’re careful, I get it’
‘I mean I always use protection, so I don’t get pregnant’ Janey said slowly.
Karen began to laugh hysterically, Janey wanted to laugh too, purely from the contagiousness of Karen’s giggles but she wasn’t entirely sure what it was that Karen found so hilarious. As her laughter at last began to die down she could see that Janey was awaiting an explanation.
‘Why on earth would you need to be protected against pregnancy? You’re not going to become pregnant if you don’t want to be. These decisions are in the good hands of our Lord, if he sees fit he shall bless you with a child, I can’t imagine that He would see much sense in impregnating a thirteen year old child, oh Janey you are silly’
Karen cocked her head to one side and placed her hands gently on Janey’s shoulders, a look of pity was on her face as Janey reciprocated with a look of utter confusion.
‘You’re actually deadly serious aren’t you? Your beliefs are so strong that you whole heartedly would put your life in the hands of God, it’s a good thing you’re still a virgin’ Janey replied whilst rolling her eyes.
A sudden icy cold realisation swept over Karen’s body, had she actually been that stupid, she began to panic at the thought, she didn’t know what to think, could Janey be right, why would God do this to her, is this a test?
‘Karen? Are you alright? Karen…you’ve gone as white as a sheet, what’s wrong’?
‘Janey, what do I do? He told me it didn’t count, he told me, no, he promised me that I was still pure in the eyes of the Lord, our Lord, he swore on the good book, he shall surely burn in hell for this, won’t he?’ Karen was wide eyed with madness as she searched her friends face for reassurance; tears began to fall and distorted her vision.
‘Karen I’m so sorry’ Janey didn’t know what else to say, if she’d known how utterly clueless her friend was she may have been able to prevent this, she pulled Karen close and hugged her tight, as her shoulders shook in between the bawling, she sobbed to Janey ‘Now I’ll never be a nun’!