The next chapter of Stepbrother Religion is here! This time you get to see a little bit about Maddy and how she grew up. The main story and how it begins will be starting next week, too. I'm excited!
There may be typos or other mistakes in this story, as it has not been fully edited yet. These will be fixed in future updates. Please enjoy it for what it is! ❤
(Updates are planned for every Sunday afternoon/evening)
Stepbrother Religion: Her First Prayer
“Hello God. My name is Madelaine Hamilton. Mommy said I could pray on my own today so she's not here. She's in the kitchen making me a glass of warm milk because it makes me sleepy and she says I can't stay up late. Why can't I stay up late, God? Does something bad happen? I don't think it will. I promise to be a good girl. I won't even be a brat. God, is it alright if I watch Equestria Girls? Do you know them? It's a movie, but there's a lot, and they're the pony girls from My Little Pony, but they aren't ponies because they're from here like me so they're just girls except they have magic because they're friends. Is that okay? Alright bye, God. Mommy is here with my milk. Talk to you later.”
This was my first prayer to God. I'm not sure it counts as a very good one, but I was five at the time and I didn't really understand the nuances yet. When my mom came in with my bedtime glass of milk, I noticed her laughing a little. After drinking all my milk, I gave her a very discerning, curious look. It's the look that all five year olds are made of. I think I was very good at being five, to be honest.
“Mommy, you weren't listening, were you?” I ask her.
“What? No, of course not, darling,” she says, sweet and simple.
And then I asked her something that I still wonder about today. I've gotten answers from a lot of different places, but I don't know which one is the truth. In some ways I think maybe it's impossible to know.
“Mommy, can I ask you something?” I ask her.
“Of course, but let's tuck you under the covers first, alright?” my mom says.
I crawl up into bed and wriggle under the blankets. She tucks me in and then goes to my bookcase to get me a bedtime story. I always used to love listening to her read me stories at night.
“Mommy, why doesn't God talk back to me?” I ask her.
I remember the look she gave me. It's something I'll never forget, no matter what, not even if I'll never see her again. Her eyes widened slightly and she parted her lips, just so. She had an answer on the tip of her tongue, and I know she must have practiced saying this many times before. Maybe her original answer was the one she told herself whenever she asked the same question.
I don't know what her original answer is, though. She never told me.
Instead, she said, “I don't know why, Maddy. Maybe we can find out together some day.”
After that, she smiles at me and lays in bed next to me. I cuddle close to her and listen to the bedtime story. It's about a man made out of gingerbread who liked to run as quick as he could.
I thought that made sense when I was five. He probably didn't want to get eaten. I wouldn't want to get eaten if I were him, either.
My mother and I used to go to church every Sunday. Daddy couldn't always come with us because he had work, but he would try. This is my oldest memory now. I can't imagine a time when I didn't go to church. I like to think that even when I was a baby, my mom brought me. I mean, she must have for my baptism, but even before that, and definitely after that, all the way up until I have other memories of my childhood.
I remember when we used to play on the swings at the playground across from the church. Sometimes with just the two of us, but Daddy would be there sometimes, too. Sometimes he would meet us there after a church sermon and we'd all play together and then go out to lunch.
I remember when my mother died when I was seven, but I didn't really understand what death was. Jesus died, didn't he? But then he came back. I know Jesus is special, but why isn't my mommy special?
I prayed to God for an entire month after that. Every night before I went to bed I would pray to him, and every morning when I woke up and went into the kitchen for breakfast I always hoped he had heard me.
How do you know if God is listening if he doesn't talk back to you?
“Please, God, I really need my mommy. I know that she's gone. I understand that, because she died. I don't want her to be dead, though. I need her to come back. She's very nice. I'm sure you know that, because you're God, but is it alright if I have her back now? You can just tell everyone it was a mistake. You're God, so you can zap people's memories and stuff, right? You can make everyone forget she died and then give her back to me, and I won't be upset at you, God. I promise.”
I still love God, and I believe he loves me, but he never gave me my mother back. It's hard to understand when you're seven. I understand it a little better now, but I still don't understand why she had to die.
I really want to tell you that my prayers got better, but I've always struggled with this. I mean, I'm talking directly to God, right? I don't want to bother him or anything, but sometimes I just want to talk about things. It feels good to say them out loud, and I don't think God is blabbing about them to anyone. He's not going to tell my dad on me, you know?
“Um… so… God…” I start, this time when I'm sixteen. “What are you supposed to do about impure thoughts? Like, don't get me wrong, I definitely understand I need to wait until I'm married until I have sex, but it's like… can I think about sex?”
I wait, because sometimes I imagine God might be responding. I just can't hear him talk or anything. I think it's polite to let people finish talking even if you aren't sure what they're saying, though. If God and I are going to have a conversation, I want it to be the both of us, and not just me talking at him and expecting him to listen. That just seems a little selfish, now doesn't it?
“The thing is, there's boys in my school and they're cute,” I tell God. “There's this one boy and he's really cute. I can't tell you his name. He's nice, though. He's not just cute either, God. I think he's a good person. He helps out younger kids after school. That's kind of like charity work, right? It's kind of like a big brother thing where he goes and plays with younger kids and acts as a good role model, and I think he's so amazing, God.”
I let this all sink in for God. I'm sure he knows who I'm talking about, but I imagine God is really polite and wants to make me feel like I can tell him anything. Technically, I guess God doesn't even have to listen to me to know what I'm thinking, but I like that he does. I still wonder sometimes why God doesn't talk back to me, but I really like that he's a good listener.
“So… can I think about having sex with him?” I ask. “I won't actually have sex with him. I won't even think about it a lot. But… so, hear me out, God. You're only supposed to have sex when you're married, right? So what if I think about dating him, and then we fall in love, and then we get married, and then we have sex? Do you understand? I'm not thinking about having sex with him outside of marriage, I'm thinking about having sex with him when we're married. Is that alright?”
I don't know if I've found a loophole or not. It's not like I'm trying to find a loophole, either! I'm just asking, you know?
“Um… also… I know I've asked you this a lot, and I'm not going to ask anymore. I know you can't bring my mom back. Do you think you could just tell her I love her, though? I can tell her myself if that's easier. I… I love you, Mommy. Daddy loves you, too. He still loves you, but he's getting married again soon. We won't forget you, though. I promise.”
I hear a knock at my door all of a sudden. “Maddy?” my dad says, his voice muffled through the closed door. “Are you in there?”
I stay kneeling at my bed for a few more seconds to finish up my prayer. “Bye, God. Thanks for everything. I really appreciate it. Bye, Mom. I love you both.”
Hopping up, I rush to my door and open it. My dad is standing on the other side of the doorway. When he sees me, he smiles.
“Hey there, pumpkin,” he says. “Dinner's almost ready. I thought it'd be nice to have Beth and Declan over tonight. Is that alright?”
“Of course, Daddy,” I say, smiling back at him and giving him a quick hug. “They're going to be a part of our family soon, so sharing a meal with them sounds really nice.”
“Alright,” he says. “Just… they're trying, okay? They were brought up differently, but Beth is trying, and I think if we show Declan that church isn't so bad, he'll try, too. Let's be nice to them, alright?”
I know what he means, but I'm always nice. Especially to Declan, even if we don't talk much in school. I like Beth a lot, too. She's not the same as my mom, but I'm excited to have her as my stepmother. She's a little scatterbrained sometimes, but in a funny way, and that's one of the things I like about her. She's easy to talk to and I think she's a good person.
“I'll be down in a second,” I say to my dad, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Just let me clean up quick. Do you need me to set the table?”
“Declan's working on it,” he says. “I made it easy for him. See you downstairs soon, honey. Take your time.”
I wonder if Declan will want to go to church with me.
I thought these introduction chapters were fun. First with Declan, but then with Maddy. They kind of hint at some things to come in the main story, too. I'm not sure how I'm going to do this as far as the final project once the entire story is finished, so these might not be the absolute beginning in the “full book” version, but I think they fit in nicely as far as getting to know the characters. I just might switch things around a little later on. We shall see!
What do you think of Maddy so far? I think in Declan's chapters he thinks of her as entirely different, which is sort of the point. Maddy is different, but… I think they aren't as different as either of them think. Granted, neither of them knows everything about the other yet. Maddy doesn't know about Declan's past with women, and Declan doesn't know much about her besides the fact that he thinks she's an angel, so…
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Definitely let me know what you think! I'll have more for you next week. ^_^
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