30 or so Stories I’ve written in 2018 that have been rejected: The Church Steps


When I first moved to Fort Worth, I found a penny on the downtown church. It was the summertime and I was looking for somewhere to eat when the Church’s red door caught my eye. The building was an old Gothic style, where the walls were gray stone. I walked up the first step and there sat the bronze coin by my left Sketcher. My father always told me finding a penny was good luck, especially if it was face up. I figured moving here after college by myself, I could use as much as luck as I could get. I picked it up and continued walking downtown.

Not much time later, I found a job working in Real Estate. It seemed like a long shot since I had no experience, but I applied anyway. The interview went well and they wanted to take me under their wing. That night I walked by the church and saw the leaves of a near by oak collecting on the cement stairs. I cleared them off with my shoe and continued on my way home. It was the least I could do.

I met Sarah at a Coffee Shop on around the block from my work one evening. My boss wanted me to take the reigns on my first investment and I needed a place to think. It was Christmas time and fate had her sitting at an oversized leather chair by the door. She was reading Cormac McCarthy and kept spinning her black hair in her fingers. I asked about the book and things shot off from there. We lost track of time and the staff kicked us out. She parked down the street and I walked with her, passing the church. The red door had a giant green wreath on it and to the right was a manger surrounded by plastic animals. We walked up the stairs to get a better look. I didn’t know it then, but a few years later we’d say “I do” in the same place.

When my daughter was born we decided to have her baptized at the church. It was a beautiful spring Sunday and the oak began to bloom. We took advantage of the situation and snapped a picture on the steps with the stained class behind us. My daughter cried before the flash and everyone looked in different directions. Sarah was mad about how the picture turned out and didn’t want to hang it up at home. At the time, work had been getting tougher and tougher, so I brought it to my office for some hope during my long nights.

A few months back, I tried to walk into the church late one Tuesday. My breath reeked of Christian Brothers and my tie was barely hanging to my shirt. The investment I made tanked and I needed to speak with the big guy upstairs. The red door was locked but I kept jiggling the handle anyways. I tried to look through the stain glass window, but it was too dark to see anything. The best I could do was plead on the stairs, one sip of cheap brandy at a time.

Sarah left after I got fired and took our daughter to her mother’s. With everything that happened, I decided to move to back home to Phoenix. A fresh start sounded good. I was boxing up the dishes in the dinning room when the packing tape ran out. CVS was only a few blocks away from downtown. On my way back, I took the long way by the Church. I can’t describe it, but I felt like I needed see it one last time. I stopped at the last step and looked at the red door and the stained glass windows. As I turned to head back, I saw a nickle face up on the middle step. I almost picked it up, but something told me to leave it. I stuck my hands in my pocket and walked back to finish packing.

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