Prudence didn’t like her name, because she wasn’t. Prudent, that is.
Not liking her name gave Prudence pain, because it was the last thing her mother had given her – as well as the first – just before she died in the delivery room. Her mother hadn’t been prudent either, according to the man who raised her–technically he was her grandfather, but he made her call him Daddy, because he might actually have been. It took years to tease out the complications of that family dynamic, and it was one of the many things Prudence thought must be her fault, because she was the daughter of a lost woman. She stopped calling Daddy anything when she finally accepted what he really thought of her and definitely wanted from her.
Grandpa/Daddy thought highly of himself, though. Despite what he had done and continued to do, he preached hell fire and damnation in every sermon and most conversations, even those that started out being about something neutral like the weather. He continuously voiced important lessons from scripture, but there was a chasm the width and depth of hell between his actions and his words.
For years she clawed her way toward the heights of spiritual teachings about a good woman, good wife, good daughter. Use good and modest judgment and common sense, look to the future wisely, tend to your father’s/husband’s/son’s home, clothes, food, needs. Oh yes, especially needs. Raise your daughters to do the same. Ignore insults–she could pass through the gates of heaven just on that one alone. At night she retreated into dreams of ministering angels that carried her soul through the night, but she still returned to the same darkness in the morning.
A prudent one sees danger and hides. She hid her belief in herself, her dreams of rescue and a life where speaking the truth was uplifting and joyous. Still, when you have learned that your happiness belongs to someone else and danger cloaks itself in images of love, there is no prudence.
This is a work of fiction, but as with much writing, blurs the lines between the actual facts of personal history and the emotional autobiography that we all carry. Specific things that are hinted at in this story did not happen to me, but I still came to think in much the same way as Prudence. It often strikes me how so many variations of dysfunctional experiences can lead to the same spiritual darkness. It is a tragedy that there are so many who carry these burdens through life, yet also a comfort that we are not walking alone as we make our way toward the light at the end.