64 Petunia’s story
"Well, since there is no customers really coming right now. How about you tell me a little more about your past, if you don't mind?" I turned and asked Petunia.
"Of course! I don't mind telling!" Petunia said with a bright smile. "So which part do you want to know?"
"From the start I guess."
"Ok, I was born in USA. My family is Wesleyan and I been homeschooled my entire life."
"Huh, I only know people who are part time home schooled, you're the only person I know who is home schooled full time."
"Actually another one of my friend is also home schooled full time. Anyways, in 2010, my family adopted a dog named Geoffrey, and he had worms and fleas and I had no idea if he was going to live. Then even at that time, my family had just recently left our old church.
The children's church leader at a new church we visited was very mean.
She wouldn't let me go sit with my parents in a service one Sunday, because I just didn't want to be around those kids."
"And I remember I went to that church on a Wednesday night, this was all 2nd grade and it was so similar to how my old church was on Sunday nights. I just burst into tears there in front of all the kids, and I couldn't stop myself. And I remember an older woman came up to me attempting to comfort me, and she asked me why I was so sad, so I told her- it had been a rough few months for me, having left all I ever knew. And when my father came to pick me up when the Wednesday night was over, he asked me how it was and I just said every little positive thing I could find, acting as if I wasn't sad at all."
"And two weeks later my family joined that church, and I joined the church choir, but we never felt happy there- and Mrs. Tina Candy, such a good name for a cruel children's minister, just seemed to hate us. So we left, and began visiting many other churches. All the kids would stare at me, and I'd try to speak to them, try to make friends. I didn't want to be sad or lonely, and plus I thought it was only normal for kids to have friends. After the tornado hit in 2011, my family began going to a new church, one I really loved."
"A girl there named Autumn quickly became my friend, followed with Haley, Claire, Henderson, Bradley, and Landon were all amazing friends. And I remember I went to that church on a Wednesday night and it was so similar to how my old church was on Sunday night. We'd always run around and play before the lesson would start, and every Sunday, I would just die to go to church, because I felt like I finally belonged somewhere. I remember one Sunday just telling my sister 'doesn't it feel too good to be true?' And she agreed. And it really was too good to be true."
"Because once 2012 came, issues arose at my fathers office with a woman he hired who was from that church. And she began to break laws in his office, such as discussing salaries with others. Going out drinking, stealing things from the office, and lying to others about things just to break them down. And yet the church took the woman's side because they thought her husband was dying of some sort of disease."
"And she lied, saying bad things about my father. Such as 'He has no pity for those who are dying' And that final Sunday at church, I felt so sick-Then in August, I broke my arm and had surgery for that, and felt sick for the months I was in a cast. All while my parents were going to court because this woman was suing my father. She showed up in a wheelchair and in a neck brace as if she had been injured by him. But after weeks of that, my father won, considering he is a lawyer and knows how to work the system. And we were never in the wrong, and that woman's husband wasn't even dying. It was later found out that she was giving him pills to make her husband go crazy."
"Such level of degeneracy…" I commented.
"But after just- losing those kids I really loved…" Petunia continued. "I honestly worked so hard to be their friend. But at the new church- these kids literally all went to the same school.
And when I tried to speak to them, they'd stare at me and said 'Why are you homeschooled?' 'Weirdo—' and other things like that were said to me. But I told myself my sister had it worse, considering she would sob on the way home from church over such things."
"I went to a bible school there in the summer, and I was miserable the entire time. One day, as we were eating snacks, the teacher wanted the kids to line up. So she began saying 'if you have (name) teacher, come over here!' And she was just naming things related to the school's schools. By the time she was done, I was just there sitting, as we're maybe- 4 other kids. So she said 'okay and you guys just come on over.' But, after about a year of that, we stopped going to that church."
"We visited a few more, but nothing felt right. In 2013, we began going to the church I'm at no. And at first, the other kids there seemed fine. Everyone went to a different school. One girl named Kylie, I tried to speak to her, but I remember her saying 'I don't even care about the people here, because I just have my friends at school anyways so it doesn't matter.' In the 5th grade, my desire to just calm myself- get my mind off of things began to grow."
"And this strong urge to learn how to knit just overcame me. So I begged one of the leaders at church to ask around the older ladies for me, and she did- I didn't expect her to. But finally, I had a knitting teacher. And it was in that first class that I came across a girl I already didn't like too well, having met her one of my first days at the church. Her name was Danielle. And she hugged me all saying 'I love you so much! You're so rich I bet! I'll be your friend!' But all she wanted was to appear to be popular."
"But, one Wednesday night in the 6th grade, in the 5th and 6th grade classroom at church- there was this huge chalkboard for kids to doodle on. And Danielle grabbed my by my wrist and dragged me over to it. Then wrote 'Julia is a knitwit' on it and began to point and laugh."
"Kids are the worst indeed." I commented.
"So I just awkwardly laughed along but somehow that kinda." Petunia continued on. "Hurt my feelings a little, considering knitting was a safe place for me. When I moved up to the youth group, the few girls I did manage to speak with, just left. They began sticking with just certain people, and when I tried to speak it was always a: 'Oh. Hi.' And soon I just- began standing off in the corner so I wouldn't get in anyone's way. And going upstairs to the sofas on Wednesday nights, since very few people went up there. In 2015, I was just very depressed and I constantly just…Wanted to die."
The silence seemed to stretch on for hours, but then out of the blue, Petunia continued again:
"I tried to overdose, I scratched myself and pushed pins into my arms. I cried a lot, and just didn't know what to do with myself. Because I thought, surely something would change. But nothing ever did- and it still hasn't. I had online friends, Sarah and two others- but even now, things have happened, and my first friends ever have gone down to just me and Sarah speaking…Theeeeeeen in 2015 my family also decided to move away from our old house, and that was the place I had been at my entire life, so it was only natural for me to be sad about leaving."
"Oof I forgot to mention how Sophie my first dog got bladder stones in 2013 and almost died-If we hadn't brought her to the vet, the vet said she would have been dead the next day. And the thought of losing Sophie broke my heart, and she was sick for months-Then in 2016, after we had moved and all-Just, I began to find ways to vent in 2016. I vented through fanfics, feeling that I wouldn't bother anyone by using a silly little anime character. It helped me keep myself calm a little while my dog Geoffrey was literally puking every hour, unable to keep food down-And that worried me, but I just prayed for him. Sophie and Geoffrey are honestly the only creatures I fully trust in real life. It's like they can sense when I'm sad. Last time when I got home, Geoffrey just ran up to me and started licking me- and he's not even that social of a dog. He doesn't like showing loads of affection."
"BUT ANYWAYS!" Petunia suddenly increased volume, "so 2016-2017 were about the same. But in 2017, my family had made friends with an old, very precious couple that sat in front of us. And the man, Mr Geist, was always so cheerful and just- a wonderful man. Always smiling, saying, 'Welcome to the house of the Lord!' Then he'd always shake my hand and say, 'what a kind, young lady you are!' And he had this strong, North Dakota accent that was so unique and amazing. And his wife would always tell me, I reminded her of herself when she was a teenager. She told me she could tell I was a listener, rather than a speaker. And I felt she, of all people, understood me."
"But- Mr. Geist came down with cancer. But he was so happy, because it was a kind that could easily be cured. He went through the treatments, still showing up to church every. Single. Sunday. And he always keeps a huge smile on his face, saying, 'Welcome to the house of the Lord!' And every Sunday he's just 'you're such a lovely young lady!' But-as summer rolled around, he began to get weaker, his treatments coming to an end. The doctors said the cancer was gone, everyone was so happy. But, he had another issue where he had to be on dialysis, because his liver didn't work at all. Still, he smiled and laughed and encouraged."
"But in September. One Sunday I was sitting over in the youth, and I noticed a friend of Mrs. Geist just sobbing as she spoke with my parents. And Mr and Mrs Geist weren't at church and they never missed Sunday. Then, when the alters opened for the people to go down and pray- my parents and a whole group of people went- and they were people I knew who knew Mr. Geist. After church I just ran to my mom and she was crying- and she said words I didn't want to hear at all 'Mr Geist is dying' And just the week before- we had sent him flowers in the hospital, because he had come down with the shingles, and his body was really weak- so he just had to be monitored."
"The day he was to be released he- the doctors found had cancer had spread through his body. And the treatments would be too awful on his body, worse than anything he could imagine. So that Sunday afternoon after church-we went to hospice. And Mrs. Geist met us in the cafeteria area- and you see- I've visited hospice before with the old 5th and 6th grade class- and we all saw how peaceful of a place it was…" Petunia had a distant look, looking somewhere far beyond the café its self.
"But it was that day I just my heart literally broke. And when we went to see Mr Geist, he just looked at me and said 'you are a special young lady' And I just burst into tears in front of him. And his words just kept making me cry harder because he was so- happy 'This time next week, I'll be having church in heaven with Jesus!' And that just hurt so much I…" Tears the size of pearls began to swell from the window of her soul.
"And as we left that day, my mom just "this is the last time we had to speak to Mr. Geist..."And that just made me bite my cheeks so hard because I didn't- I didn't want to think about it…And oof…The next week- we received a phone call…"
"He died on Saturday morning at 10:18. He really did get to have church in heaven the next week aaaa- then the following Tuesday, the funeral was held and the next day I had to go to youth group and I justI couldn't…AAAaaa!!!...The funeral took all day long. And it even started to rain while we were there and I just…" Petunia drew in a breath.
"Thats where he was buried peacefully, and just his wife has been so broken over it and it makes me so sad still because with the little I knew of him. He was so amazing and his last words to me will just always stick in my mind. I remember just begging God to not take Mr Geist…But he's in a better place now…"
Before I could think of any words to say, my body already moved first. And I found myself wrapping my arms around her.
"I am sorry for what happened to you…" I found my tears just rolling down like a waterfall. "It's just…Too much…Too much…"
"It's ok. Sorry if I made you sad." Petunia said with a soft voice.
"It's my fault for asking." I swallowed back my tears for a moment. "You been through so much, how are you able to still give so much?
"I don't anyone to be alone." She said gently.
I paused for a moment then said: "Actually I am not much of a hugger. But for this case, I suppose I can make an exception…" My lips folded into a small smile.
"I love hugs!" Petunia said half tearing half enthusiastic.
I hugged her tighter.
Q: How do you think of the story?