Jesus Freaks: Sins of the Father
Author:Andrea Randall

“I’m Eden Vaughn.” She smells like lilacs. Even her voice sounds like lilacs might sound if they burst into song.

 

Were there singing lilacs in Alice in Wonderland?

 

Wait. Did she just say Eden?

 

“That’s a lovely name,” I say instead of something like, Oh, like the garden? I really need to get ahold of myself. I’m not the Antichrist.

 

She brightens her smile and seems extra focused on my face, as if she’s trying not to roll her eyes. “It’s something. My parents just couldn’t help themselves. I’m glad they didn’t go with Eve, I guess, since there are probably ten more of those wandering the campus.”

 

“Or Mary,” Bridgette cuts in, and both girls giggle some more.

 

I chuckle and sit on the edge of my bed. “Do you two know each other?”

 

“Since this morning,” Eden pipes in, plopping across from me on the other bed.

 

“And praise the Lord for that,” Bridgette responds. “I’d hate to go to my first class knowing only my brother.” She rolls her eyes and sits as close to me as someone who’s known me since kindergarten.

 

“Oh, your brother is here?” I ask.

 

She nods. “Twin. His name is Silas.”

 

I assume the name is in the Bible somewhere, but the only Silas I’ve ever heard about was in The Da Vinci Code. I keep the thought to myself.

 

“Oh, that’s awesome,” I respond. “Do you know anyone here, Eden?”

 

Eden leans back on her hands and looks to the ceiling for a moment. “Just a few kids from some camps over the years. My best friend goes to Bob Jones, though. I’m bummed about that.

 

“I’d be bummed, too,” I mumble sarcastically, without thinking. While Carter was no walk in the park, in some respects it functioned like Animal House when compared to the maddeningly strict Bob Jones University.

 

When I applied to Carter, I searched schools similar to it just to get an idea of the general community of Christian universities. Bob Jones stuck out to me as most legalistic. Insane, really. But then, Carter seemed mentally detached when I first examined it, too.

 

Bridgette elbows me softly. “I know, right? Their courtship and dating rules are so last century.”

 

Yeah…that’s what I meant.

 

Even though I’d studied the Carter Student Code of Conduct forward and backward from the time it was mailed to my house, there were a lot of things that were going to take some significant getting used to. Rules on dating was the biggest one. I never had a steady boyfriend in high school, but the concept of an educational institution dictating the dating lives of adults was so foreign to me, I’d wondered if my handbook was missing its Rosetta Stone CD to help me comprehend it all.

 

“Are you dating anyone?” I ask of both of my roommates.

 

They both bury their faces in their hands in a fit of giggles. I haven’t heard this much giggling since “the puberty talk” in health class in fifth grade.

 

I bet they never took a class like that. Wait, what if they have one here? I’ll make sure to be sick that day.

 

“As if,” Bridgette—notably more chatty than Eden—starts. “Even if I had opportunities to meet boys in school, my brothers and dad would have been all over them for sure.”

 

Eden shifts so she’s lying across the bed on her stomach, her feet crossed in the air as if we’re at a slumber party. “Did you go to an all-girls school?”

 

Her question calms me. I’d been nervous that all the students here would have known each other for years. I mean, how many evangelical teenagers could there possibly be in the United States? That number seemed to rocket through a J-curve as I researched the culture online all summer.

 

Bridgette shakes her head. “Homeschool.”

 

“Ugh,” Eden grumbles. “Sorry. I was homeschooled until eighth grade and then begged my parents to go to an actual school.”

 

“Where’d they send you?” Bridgette asks, wide-eyed as if this is the most interesting conversation she’s ever had in her life.

 

Eden sighs. “Not a public school, which I would have preferred, but it was close. Holy Name.”

 

“A Catholic school?” Bridgette breaks into laughter. “How did they arrive at that decision?”

 

“Shush!” Eden laughs as she sits and tosses a pillow at Bridgette. “I live in the middle of nowhere…it was the closest thing to God.”

 

Bridgette takes deep breaths to calm her hysteria. I smile and chuckle as both girls laugh. I have some idea what they think is so funny about Catholicism, but I don’t want to open my mouth just in case.

 

“What made you guys decide to come here?” I ask, sitting on my hands since wringing them together will make me look as nervous as I feel.

 

“I was given three choices,” Bridgette answers. “My brother and I talked about it and decided this place would be best. Close to home, but still enough freedom to let us grow up a bit.”

 

Freedom.

 

My mom had referred to Carter and all other similar institutions as mental, spiritual, and social prisons.

 

Perspective is a funny thing.

 

“My parents are nervous as heck,” Bridgette continues. “Our two older siblings went to work right after they got their diplomas. Lana is a midwife and Travis works for The Family Research Council.”