Mama is cheerful the next morning, and being extra nice to us. She gets up early to cook eggs and fried potatoes in the cabin for us for breakfast. She helps us brush our hair, and tells us how good we look. The morning drags by as we sit around waiting for the Alaska state worker to come to the cabin. At one o’clock, she arrives, escorted by Brother Rocco. He leaves her at our porch, and walks to the side of the cabin to wait till she’s finished so he can walk her back to the Tabernacle.
Mama opens the door, smiling and greeting her. The lady says hello to us, and tells us all to call her Fran. She’s more relaxed and casual than I expected her to be. She has shoulder-length hair, some kind of brown so average I’m not sure which brown it is. It’s cut into shag layers. She doesn’t wear makeup. She has on light brown slacks, with a button-up shirt tucked in, layered with a short vest on top. She asks Leis and me to step out front while she talks to Mama.
“What do you think she’s gonna ask us?” I ask Leis.
“I really don’t know!” Leis snaps back.
“Why are you being so mean to me?” I demand. I feel suddenly angry. I didn’t even do anything to her.
“I’m not!” She exclaims. “You’re just always asking questions, and how am I supposed to know what Fran is gonna ask us?”
I think it’s funny Leis uses the lady’s name, as if she knows her.
“Well,” I reply dramatically in my best English accent, “I shall see what the Lady Fran will inquire of us.”
Leis chuckles and shakes her head at me, and then the door opens.
“Come on in here, Sila.” Mama calls to me. “Fran and Leis are going to talk for a bit.”
I pass Fran on the way in, and the smell of her soft, flowery perfume fills my nose. I suddenly fight the urge to rush into her arms and scream “SAVE ME!” I imagine I would appear crazy and demon possessed. Fran won’t believe me anyways, and what will I say? That I have to work in fields? That I get spanked?
I sit in the window seat, and try to read Fran and Leis’s lips. Fran notices me there, and puts her hand gently on Leis’ shoulder, guiding her slightly away from the front porch. Bitch. I like that word. I heard it from Andrea Miller. She says it’s the worst someone can call a woman. But my mind changes a little about Fran when it’s my turn.
“Hi, Sila.” Fran says softly.
“Hi.” I reply.
“I’m going to just ask you some questions. You answer as best you know how, okay? Don’t be afraid to tell me the truth or exactly what’s on your mind. Has anyone told you to lie today?”
I guess that’s question one. I think back to last night’s meeting. Brother Bobby did call her Satan’s worker.
“No.” I say. “No one told me to lie.”
“How old are you, Sila?”
She asks me what I eat on a typical day, do I go to school and what’s my favorite subject. She asks me who the governor of Alaska is, and I don’t know. I hate history, I tell her. She writes down everything I say, bracing the bottom of her clipboard against her stomach.
“Do you know who the President is right now?”
I know it’s Jimmy Carter, because we pray for him in service. Since he has pulled America away from the Russian Olympics, Brother Bobby has been holding President Carter up in prayer.
“Help him, Father God, to fight against the iniquity of these Communist Devils!” Brother Bobby shouts.
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