3-Minute Fiction: Immersion
Baptism in the ocean was their tradition. The practice both intrigued and terrified her. But the terror won out. Every time.
She would always be left on the shore, watching others find ecstatic joy, and salvation, and all the good things that came with it. Others felt their souls washed clean.
The preacher held the repentant sinner in his arms, lowering her beneath the waves for only a few seconds, then lifting her upper body out of the water. He prayed. He talked about death and rebirth into a new life.
She knew she needed forgiveness. She wanted to be close to God.
The anticipation of salty water washing across her face, touching her lips, and soaking her hair wasn’t a problem.
“Why haven’t you been baptized?” Alana, her designated prayer partner, asked the question repeatedly.
Every time, Zeva lied. “I want to be sure I’m ready.”
“If you believe, you’re ready.”
“Maybe,” Zeva said. “I have to be sure.”
“It’s not something to put off.”
Zeva laughed. “I’m not planning to die soon. So you don’t need to worry that I’ll accidentally end up in hell.”
“It doesn’t work like that.”
“How does it work?”
“You believe now, so you won’t go to hell.”
Zeva tucked her Bible into her bag, feeling the soft leather cover beneath her fingers. She loved that sensation. She was a very sensitive person, really. And maybe that was the problem. Everything touched her deeply. Every single sound and smell and taste of the world consumed her entire being.
Was it possible she was too sensitive? She slipped her arms into her jacket. “I should go.”
“I don’t understand why you’re avoiding it.”
“I’m not avoiding it. I’m just not ready.”
“I hope you aren’t allowing yourself to entertain doubts.”
“Not at all.”
“It’s a wonderful experience.”
“Do you believe that?”
“I’m just not ready.”
“Are you afraid of the water?”
“You don’t need to be. He’ll hold you securely. And it’s really shallow, it looks like more than it is because of the waves, but nothing will happen to you.”
“I’m not afraid of the water.”
“It seems like you are afraid,” Alana said. “I can see it in your eyes. You can have another support person beside you, if it will make you feel more secure.”
“I’m not afraid of the water!”
“Don’t get so upset.”
“I already told you, I’m not afraid of the water.”
“Because I can see that you’re afraid. If it’s not the water, what is it?”
“I’ll be ready. Soon.” It was a lie, but she gave Alana a confident smile. “I should get going.”
“It’s an important step. It’s not required, but it’s important. A symbol of obedience. And so much more.”
“I know that,” Zeva said.
“You don’t know what you’re missing. The Holy Spirit comes into your life and everything changes. It’s a feeling I can’t begin to describe.”
Zeva clutched the straps of her bag. “I need to go.” She walked quickly to the door of Alana’s apartment, opened it, and stepped outside.
Walking down the stairs, she clutched the railing, feeling the iron bar dig into her flesh. She liked the hard sureness of it, liked the sensation of something solid and real.
What she did not like was the thought of a Spirit, God or not, living inside of her body. The Holy Ghost! Inside of her, taking up space, having thoughts foreign to her own… It was terrifying to know that another entity would take up residence inside of her and remain there forever, immersed deep within her body where she could never escape it.