• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - Divine Donation App

A whole world on a single page!

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

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“You had to see Father Henry disappearing after every mass,” Maddie whispers. “He’s the fattest man we know and once he’s out of the parking lot—”

“Stop being rude,” I hiss, elbowing my sister in the ribs.

She whines, “Quiiit Jake. You don’t pay attention in church anyway.” Her voice bounces off the brick walls and the stained glass. It’s loud enough to make the neighbors behind us who just said “Peace be with you” lose all their peace. I just did what I told Maddie not to do. Oops. Good thing Mom’s too busy digging in her gigantic purse to notice. With Father Henry's boring voice turned on, I don't blame her.

Glancing down the two rows of pews, I see only the people nearby are scowling at me. My face burns, but I do what almost everyone else is doing and face the green-robed Father Henry at the altar. The air conditioning’s coming from that way, probably giving the priest goosebumps on his bald head. Cold air dries my eyes and I blink while the priest picks up the oil boat, rubs it, and fills the gas-burning lamps on the table behind him. He’d got that antique boat last month somewhere and stopped leaving the store-bought oil cans behind the altar.

See Maddie? I do pay attention.

I lean away from Mom, who’s hiding her little silver canteen in her blazer pocket again. “Sorry Maddie,” I breathe. “Remember the stories we made up about that oil boat?”

Sis grins at me. “Gravy-burning lamps.”

I jump my eyebrows up and down. “He stole it from the Tin Man.”

Maddie hunches over giggling. “He runs a pawn shop out of the confessional.”

Father Henry’s cool voice booms out from the altar and I snap around to face him. “If there’s a word to show how glad I am to see you all here again, it ain’t in the dictionary.”

Snickers bubble from everyone in the pews. It gets good when his boring voice is turned off. When he jokes about fleas at a flea market and being AC-deprived in the desert instead of rattling off another reading. That must be why everyone texts him afterward. To say thank you. People can steal from the collection basket, but not when everyone gives with that new phone-pay app.

That oil boat. He got it at that flea market at the state line last month.

Same place Mom’s canteen thing came from.

Same time everyone started donating with that app instead of cash.

“Hey Jake,” Maddie breathes in my ear. “Why does Father Henry’s voice change so much after the sermon?”

Something’s going on up there, but I make up a story like I really know the answer. “Someone possesses him every Sunday. Probably a demon that can hide in a church.”

Mom takes out her smartphone, laughing at Father Henry when he pretends to drink from the oil boat. Lamp. Thing.

He rubs it again.

Mom adds three zeroes to the donation amount.

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