Rated R. Contains explicit sexual activity.
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By Charles Coleman Finlay
When the bus reaches the corner, they climb onboard, taking seats on their side and evening out the ride so it doesn’t feel so much like we’ll tip over. We rattle along past road construction, the men working behind screens that are consecrated by the priests each morning as part of the men’s quarter, and resanctified to the women at quitting time. The sun already pelts down mercilessly and they will have to leave off working soon.
We enter the government quarter and arrive at the Children’s Center, a long concrete brick of a building with windows shielded from the sun by an open grid of deep squares made of the same material. The morning light turns it into a chessboard of glaring white and dark shadow. I don’t work with the children, who are on the lower floors and the sheltered playground of the courtyard, but toil away with records on the upper floors. Unlike Jamin or Zel, I am permitted by the job to work alongside women, but only because I completed my theological studies and am a candidate for the priesthood. My superiors do not know of the taint on my soul. Do not know yet, I should say, and when they discover it I will never be ordained or promoted.