‘Transplant’ by Jennifer Miller


From Five Chapters:

Sandy Stodermeyer was sitting at the kitchen table scanning her Fellowship cookbook for a mushroom soup casserole when Troy came home from school and announced that he’d be having a Jewish Sabbath for supper. Sandy looked up, confused. Ever since her husband had moved the family from Minnesota to Coral Springs, Troy had been abrasive and sullen. Indeed, it had pained Sandy to yank Troy out of his old school and Fellowship youth group and try to graft him down here in the strange soil of southern Florida.  Troy was a small and weak.  He was not taking root. Still, Sandy had faith in the Lord.  She believed in His guiding light.  And she knew, as she told Troy the afternoon he failed to make JV basketball and again the afternoon a couple of beastly football players pushed him into some lockers, that the Lord would guide him. Jesus was an underdog too, Sandy said.  He’d have been thrown against lockers, if there’d been lockers in the Bible.

But now Sandy reflexively clutched the gold crucifix around her neck. Troy stared back, defiant. He dumped his large backpack on the kitchen table, nearly knocking over Sandy’s mug of tea, and started pulling objects from its musty depths. Out came two silver candle sticks, a silver wine goblet, and a pair of yarmulkes. Sandy grabbed the Fellowship cookbook away from the encroaching Jewish paraphernalia. Troy reached his hand into the bag a final time and withdrew a lumpy loaf of bread.

“What’s that?”

“Challah. It’s what Jews eat.”

“But where did you get it?”

Troy shrugged. “Simon Green gave it to me.”

“I don’t understand. Troy, we don’t celebrate Shabbat.”

“You don’t, but I’m fourteen and according to the Jews I’ve been an adult for over a year, so you can’t stop me.”

“But you’re not a Jew, Troy!”

“We’ll see about that.”

And then he was gone and she heard the bedroom door slam. Sandy sat in the silent kitchen holding the Fellowship cookbook to her chest. She reached out and picked up one of the yarmulkes. It was shiny and blue and on the inside was a string of gold print that read, “I Shook My Tuchas at Simon’s Bar-Mitzvah.”

When her husband first announced his new job in Coral Springs, Sandy went to her pastor for guidance.  Not to fear, he assured her.  There was a Fellowship branch just thirty minutes outside Coral Springs. “A Big Mac in Florida tastes exactly the same as one in Alaska,” he said. “Just think of Fellowship as your spiritual McDonalds.”

Sandy’s Sisterhood friends peppered her with questions about Coral Springs, until Noreen (whom Sandy had never cared much for to begin with) said, “That’s not really a Christian community, is it?  I’ve heard they teach children how to masturbate — in the schools!”  The other women gasped.  But Sandy just shook her head. She was a fair-minded person, a firm believer in not forcing Jesus down anybody’s throat. And as long as Troy continued to attend the Fellowship youth group, she wouldn’t have to fear for his spiritual education.  “I’m sure everyone down there in Coral Springs is perfectly nice,” she said. “Even if they don’t walk in the way of Christ.”

“You just wait,” Noreen said. “Wish those people in Coral Springs a Merry Christmas and they’ll try to have you arrested.”

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