'Stolen Innocence' Excerpt

"He's your first cousin," she assured me. "They wouldn't do that to you." The she began to cry herself. When I finally calmed down, I sat up to hear Mom out. "If you're really concerned, you need to go and talk to Father about it," she said, trying to console me.

"I will not get married!" I announced defiantly, emboldened by my mother's words. "I will not marry Allen!"

It wasn't ten minutes before I was paged over the house intercom. "Elissa, Father wants to see you."

"Oh, great. What now?" I thought. I didn't even try to make myself presentable. I was almost beyond feeling as I made my way across the house to Uncle Fred's office. I expected that he'd be angry with me for my outburst and was a little surprised to find him seemingly unfazed.

"Sit down, Elissa," he instructed, motioning to the leather chair facing his desk. "How are you doing?" he asked casually.

"Father, I know who I'm going to marry," I blurted out.

I watched the corners of his lips lift into the beginnings of a smile.

"Oh, really? Who?" he asked.

"You are going to place me by Allen."

It took him a moment to validate my suspicions. But I was right. "Well, yes," he said. "That is what the prophet has revealed for you."

"No! I want you to know that I won't do it. I will not marry Allen.

"I just don't want to marry that man!"

I was momentarily surprised at my own courage. I hadn't even hesitated before saying those words. A week before, I would have stumbled and tripped over my own tongue, but now I was determined. Knowing that Allen was to be my husband had only strengthened my resolve. I paused to take a breath. To this point, I'd clung to the hope that Uncle Rulon would come to see that this was not right for me. But at that moment, I realized that I needed to speak to him myself. The look of puzzlement on Uncle Fred's face quickly faded and was replaced with a stern stare. "You would defy what the prophet has revealed to you?" he retorted.

"You realize Allen is my first cousin?" I reminded him.

"This makes no difference in matters of the Lord," Uncle Fred told me. Members of the FLDS believe that intermarrying among family members is okay if it is what the prophet reveals. Even concerns over birth defects are diminished with the explanation that a child who comes to the earth "imperfect" was sent that way by God because the child was "too special" and would again be whole in the Celestial Kingdom. Birth defects are never blamed on cousins marrying or incest but rather occur because "God wanted it that way." While rumors continuously circulated outside of our community that babies born with birth defects were drowned at birth, it was simply not true. These children were held with reverence because of how special God thought they were. That my marriage had been a revelation from the prophet negated any worldly concerns about interfamily marriages and their consequences.

"Well, I want you to know that I'm not going to be able to do this," I huffed. "I just can't bring myself to do this. I will not marry that man."

"Well, then, you need to go and speak to Uncle Warren, because this is something that has been revealed for you. So, you need to talk to the prophet and tell him this."

I don't even remember who answered the phone when I called Uncle Warren the next morning. Usually it was one of Uncle Rulon's wives or sons.

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