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Fly in the Ointment (Part 2: The Fall of Kathryn and What Megan Thought As She Watched It Happen)

by sinistercutlass


Six years ago, Kathryn and her family had moved into Megan’s congregation, or ‘ward’, as the Latter Day Saints call it.

From the beginning, it had been clear that Kathryn would never be comfortable among the lip gloss and chunky heels, the bubbly enthusiasm and regulated friendshipping, the afterschool gymnastics and lacrosse, of the Young Women.

Kathryn’s mother had evidently failed to take her daughter aside, during that critical summer after fifth grade, and introduce her to good friends 24 Hour Fitness, Tan Republic, Calvin Klein, and those besties Abercrombie and Fitch.

Her mother had also failed to instruct Kathryn in reticence when it came to talking about the books she read for English, the excitement and social drama of her debate tournaments, and her family’s monthly trips to the theater. Kathryn learned this last one quickly, however, when her excited gushing one Sunday about a staging of Fred Ebb and John Kander’s Cabaret earned only glassy stares and a thudding silence from the Young Women.

When she had cried to her parents, they’d advised, “Katie, take an interest in the girls. Ask them about themselves. Every girl likes to talk about herself.”

So, twisting her fingers, Kathryn had stumbled over to Natalie, she of the gold braces and platinum highlights.

“So, um… how’s school?” Kathryn tried.

Natalie’s frosted pink lips parted, and she stared at Kathryn, astonished by the unforgivable faux pas. Her fierce Revlon eyes flicked from side to side, scanning the room for girls who would willingly serve as her witnesses in court. Her tongue held a bit of blue gum in her cheek.

“What’s your favorite subject?” Kathryn prompted further.

Natalie resumed chewing and snapping her gum, still desperately looking for support as she rocked on her heels. She shrugged at Kathryn. “I dunno. Volleyball?”

Katherine’s face fell. “Oh. Um… d’you win any games?”

“Yeah.”

“Well… that’s good.”

“Yep.”

After this triumph, Kathryn decided she didn’t like the feeling of being flayed alive, and she did not speak for the next three years.

She was mute in Sunday school, and on Wednesday activity nights she slunk around, copying whatever the least forbidding clique was doing. Of the few signs of life Kathryn showed, Megan remembered two in particular.

The girl had mysteriously chuckled when the Mia Maids teacher mentioned something called ‘Mountain Meadows’.

Later, when the teacher tried to compare the personal ethics of the Mormon presidents favorably against those of contemporary U.S. presidents, Kathryn had blurted, “What about Brigham Young’s polygamy?”

On this occasion, she had received only the smooth, confident retort: “That was called of God.”

Not long after that, Kathryn disappeared from the West Park ward. Gradually, it became clear to Megan that Kathryn and her family were never coming back. With a pang of guilt, she remembered what now seemed like a fateful incident at Wolf Lake.

The fit, tan Sister Bingham zoomed around the artificial lake in her big white sports boat, trailing four Young Women on inner tubes. Kathryn swam over to Megan, who was idling in the shallows near the boat launch. With a ridiculously chummy smile and vacuous pleasantries, Kathryn attempted a conversation. Megan feigned deafness and drifted over to Natalie, Ashley, and Kelsey. They tread water and gossiped, and a shaken Kathryn did not join them.

This damning memory heavy on her conscience, Megan had asked her dad if they couldn’t be good missionaries and coax Kathryn’s family back into the fold. 

Her dad had been vague, muttering that it wasn’t that easy. 

When Megan pressed him, he explained that Kathryn’s dad had done the unthinkable: he had written a letter of resignation, striking out his name from the Salt Lake City records, where it had been inscribed upon the date of his own birth.

This was a most final and binding arrangement. Without the link Kathryn’s dad provided – as a worthy Mormon male – to the Kingdom after death, Kathryn and her family were thereby cut off from the salvation that would have been their birthright.

Megan had accepted this explanation and dropped her inquisition.

It was also true that Kathryn’s dad had issued the (surprisingly necessary) threat of legal action if anyone from the Young Women program dared show up at the house (most assuredly with a plate of baked goods and a saccharine message) when he was out, but Megan’s dad had neglected to share this with her.

Megan hadn’t seen Kathryn since. On occasion, her mind lingered on the memories, and the old guilt flared up. For a long time, Megan had hoped to run into Kathryn and do or say something to induce her to return.


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Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:52 pm
fraey wrote a review...



Hey there Sinister! Just me here for a short review. This might not be the best review ever, but since I'm very determined to get this out of the Green Room, I will try to make this as helpful as possible. I sort of read part one of this, to understand what this is about, so I can give the best advice for you. I hope this is beneficial!

I like this. You have a pretty unique way of writing this out, like how BlueAfrica said. I appreciate that you tried to give us a bigger picture of the area that the characters live in, 'cause I was a little confused at first. I was rather interested by the views of Kathryn, since they are so different from my own. Pretty harsh though, sheesh.

I was also stumped by the changing view. If they're both the main characters, then could you just put dots to separate the views please? I think that would be a good way to do it, unless you have other ideas.

Um, yeah. So, okay. Gah. I liked the way you made this longer by not having super long paragraphs. You formatted this very smartly. (I just realized that this was a very bad review. Sorry.) Maybe I'll add more later...? SORRY. I WILL BE BETTER SOME TIME. I SWEAR. Oh well.

I hope this was at least a little helpful and/or reassuring. Have a great day haha.

-JustPerks




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Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:39 am
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BluesClues wrote a review...



So this probably sounds weird, but the way this opens reminds me of Pride & Prejudice. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it's a bit about the style and the way you speak almost broadly about Kathryn and her family. Sure, it's not a beginning with truths universally acknowledged, but...

Never mind. I feel like I'm doing a terrible job explaining why it felt that way to me.

ANYWAY. This was interesting. The humor was fairly subtle but evident and clever, and you did a great job capturing the awkwardness and discomfort of a girl trying to fit in with a cliquish group that doesn't like outsiders.

I was going to say something about how little dialogue there is, but I've decided that's not really a problem for me, at least not at this point. It was entertaining enough anyway, and the way you wrote this made it feel less like a summary than most stories with little dialogue do.

So the only suggestion I have at this point is, well, at the opening I figured Kathryn was the main character, so it threw me off a little when it shifted into being more about Megan. I'm cool if they're both main characters, but it's just the way it's done made it seem like a sudden transition. The opening sentence could go either way as to which girl is the true main character, but because you focus so long on Kathryn--and, specifically, that you focus on things Megan couldn't know about (like Kathryn crying to her parents) and on Kathryn's feelings about everything rather than on Megan noticing Kathryn's attempts at making friends.

But I'm off to read the next few chapters, so I'll see how this fleshes out before saying more about that particular issue.

BlueAfrica






I appreciate your review, BlueAfrica, and I'm pleased by the comparison to "Pride and Prejudice". I do want to let you know that there is a chapter before this one, called "The Encounter". Did you get to read that one?



BluesClues says...


As you've probably noticed by now, I just finished it :D





Yep. :)



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Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:54 am
lawrence says...



hi this is lawrence from Part 1 review.

this is what I'm talking about. You should have coalesced this part and the first one so that it would be more interesting and compelling




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Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:02 am
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silverhanded says...



This is actually really interesting to me. I was raised in the LDS church for the first 12 years of my life and I remember feeling kind of isolated by it early on. I want to read the next part for sure. (:

The way you describe the scenes is really interesting. Thanks for sharing~






I'm glad to finally reach a fellow ExMo :)




If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
— Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"