The story follows a man who likes to show his devotion in a painful way.
Written by: Kym Baskyu Vasquez
Subject Matter: Older Children & Adults
T.U. Rating: TEENS + ADULTS
You can just read the story below. You can also download the printable chapbook here, or we can send you a hard copy if you want. Home print settings: landscape, print on both sides, flip on the short edge. Use recycled paper, please.
He walked down the street and stalked her every move, not noticing the hole in the sidewalk that almost devoured his shoe. The young man quickly maintained his balance as the strawberry blonde walked into a neighborhood market. He followed, yet kept a safe distance. He entered the market, browsed the candy aisle, and looked in the store mirror frequently to see her whereabouts. She exited. He exited. The young lady walked for a while, stopped, and turned around. The man quickly hid in a nearby alley, and moments later slowly peeked around the wall to see what she was doing. The lady continued on her journey as the man traced her movements like an aspiring puppeteer coveting her strings. She arrived at an apartment building and slipped out of sight. The man entered the apartment facility, walked towards an apartment, and knocked on the door. The door opened.
“Hi, John. I should have known it was you following me.” The woman said as she walked to the stove to clean it. The guy walked into the apartment and sat down on a barstool by the kitchen.
“It’s for class. I’m doing an experiment to see how people feel about being followed. So how did you feel?” John picked up an apple from a bowl on the bar and began to eat it.
“Uhh, it felt like someone was following me.”
“Yeah, but what emotions were you experiencing? What was going through your mind? Let me in on the thought process?” He said with a mouthful of apple.
“What process? I was just annoyed that some loser was following me.”
He finished chewing and swallowed. “Yeah, but weren’t you scared? Did you imagine the person chopping you up into pieces or strangling you? I need this information for my essay.”
“No, I just went back home as fast as I could.”
“Was that even wise? What if the person was some kind of psycho?”
The woman stopped cleaning the stove and started wiping the bar counter-top. “I always hope for the best, think positive, and release that into the universe. Positivity always comes back to me.”
“Into the universe, well, bad things happen to people everyday. Where’s all their positivity?” The woman grabbed John’s hand as the apple fell to the ground.
“What’s this? You cutting yourself now?”
“It’s a cross. It’s body art.”
“Oh yeah, you and the Jesus stuff. Why don’t you go to a professional and get a real tattoo?”
“What’s the difference?”
“Well, one is done by a professional, the other is stupid because you don’t know what you’re doing. It could get infected.”
“I do know what I’m doing. Everything is sterile. I always disinfect and practice proper aftercare.”
“How many do you have? John raised his sleeve to reveal a row of symbols and Bible scriptures. He lifted his shirt to reveal more scriptures and rolled up the sleeve of his other arm to show more symbols and engraved scriptures. Some were colored in, others were bare.
“That’s sick!” The woman moved closer and observed his wounds. She rolled her finger across an anchor. “Why do you do this? I know it hurts.”
“I’m just wearing my faith on my skin. It hurts, but I like how it looks.”
“I haven’t been to church since I was a kid, but I don’t remember anybody talking about harming your body just to show your faith. You should get help. Seriously.”
“What do you know. I have to go. I need to stop by the library before they close.”
“I’ll be right back.”
John got off the stool, picked up the apple off the ground, threw it in the trash can, and headed towards the door. The woman came back with a business card in her hand.
“Talk to someone about this, please.” She gave him a business card that he put in his pocket. “You can’t keep hurting yourself.” John walked out of the apartment, strolled down the street, and stopped at a library. He came out five minutes later with two books in his right hand. They were worn books, with covers that disintegrated by the moment. The young man continued on his way until he arrived at a small, cocoa brown house. The house bared cracks with rusty water oozing out of it. The paint was peeling off in several places and looked like it was screaming for help. A key was jammed into the lock of a mutilated door, and it opened. The inside was clean, maintained, and everything was in order.
John placed the books down on an oak wood table as if they were holy and walked into the kitchen. He pulled a prepared sandwich out of the refrigerator and sat down at the table. John noticed his Bible and read it as he ate. He pulled his phone and the business card out of his pocket and looked through the phone. He clicked on a notepad app and went to a note called ‘scriptures.’ His eyes returned to the Bible. Then, he typed a scripture in his notes.
After the last bite, he got up from the table and threw the business card and the wrapping from the sandwich into the trash can. John picked up one of the books and went to the bathroom. He took off his shirt and admired his wounds in the mirror. He glanced at the scripture “Isaiah 53:5,” which was embedded in his right arm and spoke out loud.
“He was wounded for our transgressions, with His stripes we are healed.” He spoke again as he looked at another verse, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple, glorify God in your body.” Then he said, “Hide his words in my heart so that I may not sin against him.”
John sat down on the toilet and opened the book, scanning the table of contents. He flipped to a page that was read quickly. He prayed, opened a drawer, and pulled out a needle and two glass bottles filled with different colored solutions. He squirted one of the solutions on an area of his leg as he wiped with a cloth. Then, John picked up the needle and slowly carved numbers of a verse in the cleansed area. Blood cried from the wounds as a desperate scream radiated throughout the house. He quickly covered the wound with the cloth and held it there for a while. He showered the area with the other solution and wrapped a cloth around his leg.
John went to the kitchen, picked up his smartphone, and took pictures of his scarred arms. He went into a social media app and posted the pictures with a caption that said: “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Within minutes, John received a flood of likes and positive comments.
“Those look cool, man.”
“I’m not ashamed either.”
“Yes, serve him!”
“Show your faith!”
Meditations: Leviticus 19:28 connects to — > 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 6:12, Galatians 5:22,23
Purpose: Just a reflection on deliberate temple wounding (various perspectives here and here) mental health, physical abuse, temple abuse, world emulation.
Questions for reflection: Is it ever okay to cut God’s temple, other than by accident or for surgeries, etc? Is some temple mutilation okay and others not? Why or Why not?
Great for: non-commercial film or theater projects, story time, read at gatherings, conversation starter