On the day after her eleventh birthday, Father Murphy asked Grace, as usual, to stay for a lesson after Sunday school. Because her birthday had just passed, she was expectant, even anticipant. Last year, when she had turned ten, Father Murphy had given her a crucifix pen and a little St Christopher medal. She wore the medal at all times now, under her shirt. As she walked down the hall towards his office, the skirt of her dress swishing around her legs, Grace smiled to herself, wondering what surprise awaited her.

"Come in, Grace," Father Murphy called as she paused in his doorway, and she stood up, coming out from behind his desk to greet her with his usual hug and kiss, smiling down at her as he briefly cupped her cheek in his hand. Grace soaked up his light, affectionate touch; already her heart beat faster. "Happy birthday to an eleven-year-old beauty…you are fast becoming the sort of girl God always intended for you to be."

He kissed her again, and Grace endured this, almost counting the seconds until he pulled away, taking her by the hand and leading her back to his desk. Opening the middle drawer at the side, he extracted a leather bound Bible with her name, Grace Hanadarko, engraved on the cover. Handing this to her, he opened it to the first page, gesturing for her to read. There was an inscription in cursive that Grace had to struggle to read.

"Dear Grace, May you always remember the gifts God has given you, and may His word instruct you in their use. Father Murphy."

Grace smiled, verbalizing her thanks, but secretly disappointment pressed against her chest. A Bible? She already had a Bible. How exciting a gift was that, even if it did have her name on it and Father Murphy's words inside? What's more, he hadn't said "love" when he signed his name.

"I have some other gifts for you as well," Father Murphy stated, and Grace's straightened, quickly growing more animated. Surely these other gifts would be more interesting.

Handing her what looked like a medium-sized box for jewelry from the same drawer, Father Murphy watched Grace expectantly; when she lifted the top, a red beaded rosary with delicate small crystals was coiled inside. Grace fingered it, appreciating its beauty; this was more interesting.

"Thank you, Father Murphy," she looked up at him, and his smile widened.

"You are quite welcome, Grace…and there is one more gift for you."

He paused, searching her face, and Grace waited for him to pull another item from his desk drawer. But it wasn't a material object that Father Murphy seemed to have in mind. Instead he took Grace's hands in his, squeezing gently as he looked down at her, into her eyes.

"For two years now, Grace, we've been having lessons about you and your gifts, about all you have to offer. We've practiced, but I've never shown you the full extent of your gifts, all that you could give if you are faithful and generous to yourself. Today, as you are now eleven years old, it's time you learned."

As ambiguously as he worded this, and as much as Grace wished to deny her knowledge, she knew what Father Murphy was talking about. She was nearly in sixth grade now, had a sister in high school, almost, and four brothers as well. She knew about sex. She knew that this was Father Murphy's way of asking for it from her, and that it was what he intended to take from her.

She knew by now that what she did with Father Murphy, and what he did to her, was wrong. She knew it was a sin, that she should say no. She knew she should make excuses not to meet with him, that she should refuse to touch him, or let him touch her, that she should scream or run or tell someone, anyone, about what was going on. She knew that right now, she didn't want to have sex with him.

Grace knew all of this, but she also knew that she liked Father Murphy liking her, that he gave her special attention and regular gifts and treats. She liked being told she was beautiful, being touched and caressed and kissed, sometimes, no matter how bad she felt afterward. She knew that she would miss all that, if she said no. She knew she might be blamed, if she were to tell. And she knew that when it came down to it, she had no idea how to stop him. She had no idea how to say no.

And what if she did say no, and he just laughed and did whatever he wanted anyway? Grace would rather pretend she had a choice then to realize that there was none, that even her best efforts made no difference.

As she removed her clothing her hands shook, but her gaze was steady, almost sure. And when Father Murphy pulled her to him, breathing raspy with anticipation, Grace fixed her eyes on the crucifix straight ahead of her. Every time, even now, she knew, Jesus was watching.

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Grace dreamed that night of lakes of fire and skies of smoke, lapping at her ankles, scorching her hands and face as she wind whipped her hair around her face. All around her a dark voice boomed, and she knew it was too late. She was in hell.

She woke up sobbing, both her sisters staring at her, aroused from sleep by her thrashing form, her choked cries. When Paige tried to hug her and Mary Frances stroked her hair, asking her what she had dreamed, what was wrong, all Grace could do was push their hands away, telling them nothing. Nothing.

She hid her Bible in the back of her closet, the rosary beads inside a sock in her dresser drawer. She no longer tried to talk to God. It was clear that he didn't listen.

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Time passed; Grace grew in body and in mind, and with each passing lesson her need for Father Murphy grew fainter as her hatred of him grew. Time stretched longer between their lessons now, and she knew soon they would stop. She had noticed that he no longer smiled in quite the same way when she came to him anymore, that his touch was briefer and less familiar, that he asked her to stay for lesser amounts of time. He didn't talk to her as much or as nicely as before, with less reassurance in touch and tone, and he no longer wanted her to linger in undressed states when the lesson was finished. He seemed hurried for it to be done, to be over with, and sometimes, he scarcely seemed to look at Grace at all.

She knew it was because of her. She was changing, her body beginning to mature, and it was no longer as special to him as it had once been. She was gaining weight, developing breasts, and Father Murphy was loathe to see this, let alone touch her during this. She was glad for it, for Grace's thinking was changing too, and she prayed for the day he would cast her aside for good. It did not occur to her that she herself could stop him. Not yet. Not then.

Grace got her period a few months after she turned twelve years old. She was pleased beyond the reasons of most girls; she was happy for this milestone not because it was evidence of her maturity or a step closer to making her a woman, but because she would almost bet that it would be the final straw for Father Murphy to end their lessons for good.

And she was right. Grace began their next lesson by blurting out, before he had even moved to touch her, the evidence of her new bodily maturity, citing it as her reason for being unable to participate in the day's lesson. She had watched with triumphant satisfaction as Father Murphy's face stiffened, as his hand retracted swiftly to his side, and he seemed suddenly unable to look her in the eye. When he carefully informed her that she had thoroughly learned all lessons he had to teach her and would need no more instruction, Grace had walked out of the office grinning, feeling as light and free as air. She only wondered why she had not said the same months, even years ago.

It had never occurred to her, in the three years that Father Murphy had given her "lessons," that she might not be the only one, that perhaps she wasn't as unique and special to him as he claimed. Mary Frances had been older, when he first appeared, too old to escape his interest; Grace knew that her friend Rhetta did not receive the same lessons that she did either, and that was enough to validate this belief. All Grace could think was of her own relief at escaping him and his closed office door, the eerie feeling of the gaze of Jesus overseeing each and every one of her lessons and judging her in her sin.

But slowly she began to notice the way Father Murphy watched other girls in choir practice and church plays, the way he smiled at them and patted their shoulders, took their hands or touched their heads. She noticed, and her cheeks burned with worry and anger…and then, one night, she noticed the new book on her sister Paige's half of their bureau drawer. It was a leatherbound Bible…a Bible with Paige's name engraved on the cover. A Bible just like Grace's.

Heart racing, palms sweating, mouth dry with dread, Grace had turned to Paige in barely controlled panic, realizing then that her sister was now nine years old…the same age as Grace, when her lessons had began.

"Where'd you get that Bible, Paige?" she asked her as casually as she could, and the younger girl had smiled, proud to show off her new possession.

"Father Murphy gave it to me. Isn't it nice, Grace? It's just like yours, my name is on it. He says he'll start giving me lessons now like he used to give you, starting next week."

Grace could only stare at her, feeling her face pale, her insides quiver, as her hands slowly balled into fists at her sides. Right then and there she made a plan; it was impulsive, it was rash, and perhaps it was impractical. But the moment it entered her mind she knew it was exactly what needed to happen.

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It was not difficult to walk to church after school let out the next day. The Hanadarkos had chosen the church mainly because it was located only a couple of blocks from their home, the closest Catholic church in their area. It was also not difficult to find Father Murphy in his office, to step inside, close the door behind herself, and to sidle up close to him, looking him in the eye. And when Father Murphy appeared confused, speaking Grace's name in a questioning tone, it was difficult at all to say with total sincerity what was a complete and outrageous lie.

"I miss you, Father Murphy. Can't we have one last lesson…a sort of review? Just one more before we stop forever?"

It was easy, when he began to protest, to change his mind with soft, pleading words and gentle caresses, with soft whispers and helpless looks. It was easy to suppress disgust and rage for the moment when his hand slipped over her side, finally pulling her close into an embrace. It was easy to let him part her lips with his, to kiss her deeply as he so often had before.

But the easiest of all was for Grace to bite down on his tongue as hard as she could until she felt veins burst and muscles tear, until hot blood filled her mouth and flowed down both their chins. It was just as easy to shove Father Murphy away so he collapsed onto the floor with anguished choking sounds in his throat, to stand over him with nothing but pleasure as she spoke her final words to him.

"Go to hell."

As Grace walked out of the office, she was aware for the last time of the eyes of Jesus on her back; she knew that she too was undoubtedly not heading for heaven. Somehow though, she could no longer bring herself to care.

The end

"I'm not Jesus" by Apocalyptica

Dirty little secret
Dirty little lies
Say your prayers
And comb your hair
Save your soul tonight

Drift among the faithful
Bury your desires
Aborations fill your head
You need a place to hide
And I am

Do you remember me?
The kid I used to be
Do you remember me?

When your world comes
Crashing down I want to relive
(Good God he's looking down on me)
I'm not Jesus, Jesus wasn't there
You confess it all away but it's only shit to me
(Good god he's looking down on me)
I'm not Jesus I will not forgive

No I won't
No I won't

I thought you were a good man
I thought you talked to god
You hippocratic, messianic
Child abusing, turn satanic

Do you remember me?
Do you remember me?
The kid I used to be
Do you remember?

Do you remember?

When your whole world comes undone
Let me be the one to say
I'm not Jesus you can't run away
And the innocence you spoiled

Found a way to live
(Good God he's looking down on me)
I'm not Jesus I will not forgive

I will not forgive