"BabyTessie, did Mrs. Charis tell you to do this for homework?" Mother asked.
"No, all this stuff just happened," she replied. Mother got even redder.
"BabyTessie, could you please recite the Ten Commandments you learned in Sunday School for us?"
"Marissa-" Daddy objected.
"John." Mother warned. "Go on, BabyTessie."
"Uhh.can't have any gods other than God, no false idols, no taking the Lord's name in vain, go to church on Sundays, obey your parents, no killing, no adult-your-y, no stealing, no lying-"

"There," Mother said triumphantly. "Do not tell falsehoods. Lying is a sin, BabyTessie, and where do sinners go?"
"Hell, BabyTessie, sinners go to Hell. Now you will go to your room and think about what you've done. I want you to read Exodus 20. You're done with your dinner."

The color was slowly returning to Mother's face as it was draining from BabyTessie's. The sea glass eyes flickered and BabyTessie left the table. We ate the rest of our spaghetti in silence.
It was my job to wash dishes after dinner. As I was drying I could hear Mother and Daddy arguing in the next room in little, harsh voices hoping I wouldn't hear them battle.
"You shouldn't be so overbearing, it was a harmless children's story!"
"I am raising a good Christian household and I will not tolerate a liar!"
I dried my last dish, stole a package of poptarts, and snuck up to BabyTessie's room.

She was sitting on her bed morosely, her illustrated children's Bible open in front of her. She acknowledged me and the poptart with a thank-you nod. We ate quietly, knowing if Mother or Daddy heard us we'd be in even more trouble.
"I liked your story," I whispered.
"But why didn't Mother?" She asked. "Am I going to Hell?"
"No. God's not that mean. I bet He liked your story, too."

As BabyTessie left to brush the strawberry goo out of her teeth, I lingered. My attention was caught by the beckoning Bible, still open on the bed. I leaned over to read the page it was on. The irony hit me as bittersweet, the affirmation of everything that'd happened tonight. There, under a brightly colored drawing of a smiling Jesus, was a string of red words. "Let the children come to me, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these."