This is the first part of a fiction serial, in 700 words.
Things were alright until his dad left home. That was when Jimmy’s mum found God.
Well, not in the sense that she woke up one morning and suddenly felt all religious. But when someone she worked with suggested she go with them to a prayer meeting, as a way of getting over the shock of her husband walking out after nearly twenty years together. It wasn’t long before she was really into it. Jimmy was only fifteen when she brought the first Bible home. She turned off Top of The Pops, and started reading it out loud to him while he was eating the pie and chips she had carried in the same bag.
Of course, his first reaction was to laugh out loud. But when she carried on, he concluded she must have gone mad. If only his dad had told him where he had gone to, he would have walked out and caught a bus there and then. What was he to do? He didn’t know anyone else he could go and live with, and he didn’t have any money, except what she gave him to buy lunch. So he sat there drinking his can of Tizer, and let her ramble on about God creating every creature and every living thing, hoping she would soon get fed up.
But she didn’t get fed up. So Jimmy waited until she had to use the toilet, and went up to his room to have a look at the copy of Men Only that he kept hidden under the sports bag in his wardrobe.
That went on for a long time. One day when Jimmy got home from school, the telly had gone. He asked his mum what had happened, and was shocked to hear she had sold it to someone up the street. She started to trap on about how it only broadcast evil stuff, and was probably the work of Satan. He didn’t hear the rest of her ravings, as he was already heading up to his room to sulk.
For his sixteenth birthday, his mum put two wrapped presents on the table when she got in from work. The first one was a large box of toffees, and the second contained a huge embossed Bible. Inside the front cover, she had written his name, and the date. Underneath that, she had added the words ‘MAKE A DIFFERENCE’ in capital letters. Jimmy took the presents up to his room and started to munch the toffees. Then he reached under his sports bag to grab his girly magazine. But it was gone. He felt his face flush.
She must have known, all along.
So he did his homework instead. Chemistry, Maths, and Physics. Then for want of anything else to do before dinner, he flicked through the new Bible. It was a fancy edition, no doubt. Nice clear print, and some border illustrations down the side of each page. And it had the Old Testament and New Testament combined in that one volume. No wonder it was so big. He remembered Genesis from his mum’s readings, and some of Exodus too. But skimming down the pages until he didn’t recognise the words, he started to finish Exodus, trying hard not to fall asleep before his mum called him down to eat.
On his way home from school one day after staying late for cricket practice, Jimmy was mortified to see his mum standing outside the Londis shop. She was holding a big placard with the words ‘REPENT NOW AND BE SAVED’ printed on it. And she was shouting out quotations from The Bible. People were avoiding her as they went in and out of the shop, but some local teenagers on bikes were mocking her from the kerb; repeating everything she said, and laughing fit to bust.
Hoping she hadn’t spotted him, Jimmy turned around quickly, and headed for the service road behind the shops. Letting himself in the house, he was wondering if any of the boys from school had seen her. He could do without them making his life at school any more miserable than it was already.
As if not having a telly wasn’t bad enough. Now this.