Continued from here.
Ethan, through that miracle in which stolen memories from a previous self bleed into the present, like sunshine through a stained-glass window, remembered every word of his father’s stories with absurd clarity. And hearing the preacher’s statement concerning the creation of the earth, and considering how Grandmother revered him so, he thought and thought about it. “God created the earth.” He said to himself. “Hmm. How’d he do that? Musta had something to begin with. Let’s see, I’ve got a penny and an old pencil. If I could have just some string to tie them together… but no, God didn’t need string! He didn’t even need a pencil! Maybe he had a penny, though. Maybe he thought ‘I’ll make the earth if this penny lands on heads. Hear that, everybody? The earth WILL APPEAR, right here in front of me, if this penny lands heads.’ And presto, the penny landed heads and because he said the earth would appear, there it was! I’ll try it. Heads I make something, tails I find something else to do.” So he shoved his hand into his pocket, cranking his whole body round into the act, thumping against the pew next to him with a grin (and a “ZZzt!” from Grandmother), and placed the newly un-pocketed penny in the center of his palm, with the little face pointing toward his grimy left thumb.
“We’re going to clean those hands when we get home.” Grandmother threw this at Ethan without a glance.
“How’d you know they’re dirty? You didn’t even look!” shouted Ethan, clapping the dirty hands over his mouth, which had obviously exploded against his will. The baker, who had been sleeping, reclined across his pew with a book of prayer shielding his eyes, had started upward at this explosion, launching the book through the air until it slapped against the stone floor and slid into the corner. The baker stood, mumbling some inconceivable obscenity and stepping with clunking boots over to the book, which he picked up and pocketed. “Damnable children.” He said, loud enough for all to hear.
“SHHHH!” The preacher shot, mid-word(he had been preaching over this debacle), with such intensity that it surprised even himself, knocking his hat slightly askew and causing his glasses to slip down his very reddened, embarrassed nose. “Please, be quiet. The Lord’s Word is a gift. How would you feel if you hadn’t The Word, and you lived without the knowledge of the power of salvation? Yes, you’d be lost.” He said, shaking a finger, which he left in the air as he searched for the lost place in his bible.
Ethan, stifling laughter, hunched over as if a rhinoceros had just charged into his stomach, recomposed himself and sat upward, penny in hand. He placed it into the center of his palm, with the nose of the copper face once again pointing towards his thumb. He pressed the coin into the flesh of his hand with the thumb of his other, leaving a red imprint of the ‘tails’ part of the coin. He remembered the Barber’s coin tricks, which he implemented during particularly long bus rides or during parent teacher conferences, to a disapproving look from the teacher, a look that morphed slowly into a look of understanding at Ethan’s poor behavior and lack of attentiveness in class. Ethan’s favorite trick was one in which the Barber collectedly placed his coin (whichever one he was carrying) onto the outer side of his thumb, pushing it upward into the space between his index finger and middle finger, then flipping the coin onward through the spaces of his remaining fingers. The Barber did this seamlessly; it looked to Ethan as if the coin were flipping, of its own accord, over the Barber’s hand. Ethan attempted this now, placing the penny shakingly into the first space (the one between his index and middle fingers). He squeezed the two fingers, but instead of the penny floating into the next space, it fell insubordinately onto the stony floor with a series of sharp clangs. Ethan gasped and bent over to pick up the wayward coin, and, to save himself from further embarrassment, decided that whether he would create his universe would be based on how the penny had fallen, rather than flipping the coin once more. A glint of sunlight through one of the upper windows illuminated the verdict: The grubby penny had landed heads. Ethan smiled and set himself to work.