Lacey looked at the bowl of ice cream that her friend had just ordered. She inhaled deeply and the sweet chocolate aroma wafted into her nostrils. As her brain processed the familiar smell, she started to shake and beads of sweat gathered on her brow. Covering her mouth, she sprinted to the restroom.
Her friend, Angie, followed. She held Lacey’s hair back as she hurled into the toilet. Angie’s eyes brimmed with tears. “I’m sorry, Lace. I wasn't thinking when I ordered the sundae. You should've stopped me.”
Swiping her mouth with the back of her hand, Lacey stood up and flushed the toilet. “I thought about it but figured I could handle it. It’s not fair to you that I’m a freak.”
Angie rubbed her friend’s back. “I think it’s time you go talk to someone and find out why you can’t stand the sight or smell of ice cream.”
Hanging her head, Lacey shrugged. “I have an appointment with my minister tomorrow. Maybe I’ll talk to him about it.”
The next day, Lacey trembled as she knocked on Pastor Dave’s office door. After the niceties had been exchanged, Lacey took a deep breath. “For no reason, whenever I see ice cream I freak out. Last night I ruined the night by puking my guts out in the bathroom.”
Pastor Dave rubbed his chin. “Close your eyes and relax. Take a deep breath,in and out. In and out. Think back to the first time ice cream made you sick.”
Lacey wrapped her arms around her waist and started rocking back and forth. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She could feel the blood draining from her face. Her eyes flew open and a shriek escaped her tightly pursed lips. “Oh God, please no! I remember; I remember!”
Lowering his voice, Pastor Dave reached over and touched Lacey’s arm. “You can do this. Jesus'll give you strength.”
She bit her lower lip until drops of blood fell onto her chin. “Daddy had bought a huge container of ice cream—chocolate ripple. I wanted a taste so bad, but he yelled at me and told me not to touch it.
"I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't stop thinking about it. I crept into the kitchen and grabbed the container. I was only gonna scoop my fingers in for a tiny taste.
"But he must’ve heard me. He stormed into the kitchen screaming ‘I’ll teach you!’ Then he dragged me into my bed and forced me to eat the whole gallon. After a while, I couldn't eat anymore, so he took it and forced it down my throat.”
Lacey yanked on her hair as she started to rock harder and harder. Her voice squealed higher and higher. “My stomach started to hurt. I told him I was gonna puke but he didn't care. He kept shoving it down my throat until I started to hurl. I threw up all over myself and the bed.”
She licked her lips and swallowed hard. “He just stood there and laughed. The milk had started to curdle and the puke was chunky. It left a bitter taste in my mouth. Even today, when I think about ice cream, I can taste the bile.”
Handing her a tissue, Pastor Dave clenched his jaw and took a deep breath. “Lacey, that's abuse. I’m so sorry; no one should ever be treated like that.”
“That was the last time I ever saw him. Mom always blamed me for the divorce. Now I know why. If I hadn't stolen the ice cream … "
Pastor Dave shook his head. “No, you were a little girl. It is not your fault. Look at me Lacey.” She slowly lifted her head and looked into Pastor Dave’s eyes. “The only thing you did wrong—-maybe--was to disobey your father, but what he did is reprehensible. No one deserves a punishment like that."
He leaned over and clasped his hand around hers. “Your father didn't follow the directive given in Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Lacey wiped her eyes. “At least now, it makes sense. My friends would rave about how delicious ice cream tastes. I didn't understand, all I tasted was bile. I’ll probably never be able to eat it, but at least I’m not a total freak.” Lacey lifted her head and attempted a smile.
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