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Fly in the Ointment (Part 3: Pleasantries)

by sinistercutlass

Here was her opportunity at last. But her quarry, the object of her intended crusade, looked happier and prettier than ever.

Megan knew that upon Kathryn’s death, her soul would dissipate like so much sea spray, while Megan’s own soul would become eternal and join those of the faithful in the Celestial Kingdom.

How the H-E-double hockey sticks does she live with herself, knowing she’s going to lose everything? Megan wondered. How does she keep her morals when there’s no reason for young men to hold back from her? Why does she look so… normal? In fact, even better than she did before? She’s probably living in sin with some boy.

Despite herself, Megan drew nearer to the apostate. Megan would later reflect that perhaps this was that fearlessness of hers - which definitely qualified her as a unique individual fundamentally different than other Young Women in the Mormon Church - asserting itself.

Kathryn spoke first. Her voice had changed, along with her appearance. Gone was the piteous, quavering squeak punctuated by the odd confrontational outburst. Here to stay was a deep sense of composure, with a voice soft and sly.

“I feel like I haven’t seen you in years,” she said. “How are things? You’re a senior, right?”

Megan nodded.

“So you must be engulfed in the pre-college rush, huh?” Kathryn continued.

Megan shrugged. Other than making sure her grades didn’t fall any lower, she was really only considering one college. Besides, her after-school seminary teacher – a dust-colored septuagenarian with chapped lips, liver spots, and an oily smile who was fond of Book-of-Mormon-thumping and who quivered strangely when female students asked doctrinal questions – had already insinuated that if his students maintained a B average and paid attention in his class, then he could pull a few strings and get them into the Y with a few good scholarships if needed.

“Yeah, I guess,” said Megan, without much interest.

“Got senioritis?” Kathryn said, quirking her lips sympathetically. 

Megan wrinkled her nose in agreement.

So far, Kathryn was doing most of the talking. Megan realized this, and decided to get a move-on with her missionary work. The apostate would surely appreciate inquiries about her own life. “Are you going to college too?” Megan returned.

Kathryn’s posture was long and relaxed as she discoursed with the greatest of ease: “Yeah… I still haven’t decided where to go. I’ve applied to like five schools, but I’m still waiting to see which one will offer me the most aid, because God knows…“

Megan winced.

“I’m gonna need a shi– er, a ton of it,” Kathryn finished, her face flushing a bit. She looked worriedly at Megan, and quickly continued, before Megan could reply. “It’s really expensive, but if I get the chance, I’d like to go to Shimer College, in Chicago, where they read the Great Books.”

Kathryn then relaxed, pleased to have established a substitute conversation topic that she found happy and interesting. She added, “Rereading The Jungle only a few miles from the Union Stockyards would be pretty trippy, wouldn’t it? I wonder if the stockyards still exist?”

What Megan had read of The Jungle was contained in one essay prompt, which she did not recall, on the subject of Progressive Era muckraking journalism. 

So she said, “You sound like you really like that school.”

“Yeah…” Kathryn sighed dreamily.

She then noticed that Megan was clearly committed to smiling. Kathryn then embarked on what she presumed to be a universally friendly topic....

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1712 Reviews

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Reviews: 1712

Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:57 am
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BluesClues wrote a review...

Dying of curiosity about what this "universally friendly topic is," but I'd better worry about this review before moving on, eh?

So, to get back to the topic I last left off on: this chapter was significantly less jarring than the last in terms of main character confusion. Correct me if I'm wrong, but at this point I feel like it's actually both of them. Generally, if you're going to switch viewpoints in the story, it's best to give us a scene break or chapter break or what have you.

But then I see what you've got, where you're showing both their thoughts throughout the conversation, so... I mean, it would still be clearer and simpler for the readers with the traditional scene break, but it would also be jarring to have five zillion scene breaks just so you could switch character viewpoints without getting confusing.

Ah, well.

I love the contrast between Megan and Kathryn here, how Megan has applied to only one college and is all concerned about Kathryn's immortal soul, and Kathryn has become essentially the "normal American teenager" and has applied to five schools and so forth. I also like that we see how much Kathryn has developed since leaving Megan's congregation, I forget what you said Mormons call it, so "congregation" it is, yet at the end of this chapter I feel like we can still see some of her initial nervousness and awkwardness around these girls. Even though she's gained confidence and is more at ease with herself, when she's confronted by one of the girls from the congregation she reverts a bit.

On to the next chapter!


I'm so pleased by your perceptions of Kathryn's maturation, as well as a bit of backsliding on her part! That's exactly what I was trying to portray!

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41 Reviews

Points: 1988
Reviews: 41

Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:16 am
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silverhanded wrote a review...

I like the way you portray that Mormon sentimentality in the flinching away from uncomfortable things. As someone who (as of this year) goes to high school in SLC I would be so open to talking to you about any little details or anything you might want to know about the city.

Your portrayal of Megan as sort of that stereotypical Good Mormon Girl is really fun. I grew up around people like that and I always found them to be overbearing and rigid and judgmental.

I'm really looking forward to reading the whole story.

It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.
— Mark Twain