Are you there, God? It’s me, your faithful follower.
Well, maybe not so much anymore. But we used to be close, didn’t we? Remember when I went to Sunday school every week for eighteen years, and how I’d pray every night before I went to bed? I even read the bible at least three times growing up!
Okay, okay, I know it was because my mother forced me, but the actions are still the same, are they not? Well, maybe not... I know you’re keen on the whole intention of an act thing.
But, Lord, I’m in trouble and I need your help. I never thought I’d be asking you, hell, I don’t even know if you’re real. But it’s worth a try. And I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness after what I’ve done. But please, God, make an exception. Just this once. Just tonight.
Can you hear the tremble in my voice, Lord? Can you see the way I shake? Smell my nervous sweat? Even my teddy bear in my lap doesn’t console me right now. I’m so frightened! Would you be able to help me with my nerves? Could you? Or am I asking for too much? I’m not sure how this confession and request thing works.
Damn, I’m stalling.
Well, you know what happened today. You see everything. So, you know what I’m asking for. But let me re-tell the events from my point of view and we can see whether I’m worthy of forgiveness.
In that small village I grew up in, I was the golden child. My Sunday best was certainly the best, and the town people would squeeze my cheeks and comment how beautiful I looked in that floaty white dress. We’d all sit in your church for hours, praying, singing, and discussing key biblical passages. I’d become restless; my bum would hurt from sitting on those uncomfortable seats and my mother would swat me because I’d be causing a distraction. Then, I would go to the front, and I’d sing ‘away in a manger’ with the choir. My little voice was angelic, and the women would cry each week.
But this isn’t the important part; It’s just background knowledge.
Do you remember what would happen before the church started, Lord? All the children in the choir would have rehearsals with Father Luke and Father Michael. They’d help us with the lyrics, some dance moves (if it were necessary) and pitch work. And as a child, I used to adore Father Luke. With his wide, friendly eyes and those wrinkles which would pop each time he would smile. He always had rosy cheeks and gave the impression that he was constantly happy. Well, he would be, wouldn’t he? He is a child of God after all.
And then there was Father Michael. I need not explain fully what he looks like, his face has been scorched into my mind. I’m sure if you were watching over me, lord, you’d also grow tired of his face. The thin, papery lips, leathery skin, and awful glimmer in those pig-like eyes. His fat fingers and large stomach... Hah! I always found it ironic that Father Michael would preach about helping the starving and needy only to go and stuff his fat face after. He ate more than the whole village combined.
He'd always wreak of food! His pours used to seep out grease and salt and when he touched you, it was like paint being poured onto us. We were branded. Even as I’m saying these words now, that stench haunts me. The smell would crawl up my nose like a thick spider and then would just die there. Do you remember how after the service, I’d always run home and grab the marmite from the cupboard. Sure, I hated that bitter and sticky stuff, but the smell would temporarily override his smell. My mother was always so confused why I wanted the same spread on my sandwich three times a week when I wouldn’t even eat it.
Anyways, back to the pre-service rehearsals.
Father Michael would call us out one by one for some extra tutorials. When my name was called, I’d have to excuse myself from the choir circle. At this point, I’d start trembling like a child taking its first steps. He’d take my small hand and lead me to the back of the church. A lamb to the slaughter.
That small room had cracks which would climb the walls like poisonous weeds slithering up the building, looking for victims. It would stink of cigarettes and lost hope. Outside the church, I remember how the wind would howl like a beast being tortured. There was a small window where I could see the orange and brown leaves being thrown around. Sometimes, someone would walk past but they never looked in.
But it’s funny, isn’t it? We were in a church but in that room, with him, it felt like fucking hell on earth. Wait… am I allowed to swear? Oh well, I’ve done way worse in the last twenty-four hours.
I need not go into detail about what atrocities happened in that hell room. I was one of the lucky ones. Through daydreams, I could escape his rough touch and pig-like grunts.
My new world had the sunshine kissing my delicate skin, as I lay on a huge picnic blanket in a meadow. A small breeze would blow my blonde hair into my face, and it tickled. I’d giggle as I’d roll over and look at the flourishing flowers around me. The smell of roses would tease my nose and I couldn’t help but snort it up like the smell was never going to return. But of course, it did, each time I visited Father Michael.
I’d feel the smooth blades of grass against my small fingers. Max, my dog would be there too. My little smile would grow from ear to ear as I’d run around with him. His long, black fur would flutter in the breeze as we played. We’d play in that world for roughly fifteen minutes before I was dragged back into reality.
And now for my confession.
Today, Father Michael brought me back into the room. But this time, I didn’t disappear into my magical world. No, Lord, I couldn’t. I was perfectly aware of everything that was happening to my body.
You see, my little sister has just joined the choir. She’s just turned six- the ripe age of a choir’s collective lost innocence. Your followers talk a lot of virginity and saving it for marriage. If you fall into temptation, you are doomed to hell and you’re unredeemable. But is this true? Am I unredeemable, God? Was I truly the one falling into temptation?
Either way, my sister will stay pure. She will remain a good little Christian. She will succeed where I failed.
Now, it’s time for my apologises.
Lord, I’m sorry that I picked up that knife today. I’m sorry that I thrusted it into him and twisted it, enjoying the pain and horror drip through his face. He turned so pale and blue, and his lips opened and closed like a fish. Finally, it was his turn to shake in fear.
God, you have to understand my position. For a long time, I allowed him to use me. After all, he was a beacon of goodness under your reign. And you surely couldn’t allow bad things to happen in your place of worship. Up until recently, I believed this was what you would have wanted. That my body is the ultimate sacrifice in your name. But things have changed, and you must forgive me.
I am no longer the sacrifice. And, tonight, you will be welcoming Father Michael into the sky with you. But don’t worry, I sent him straight to hell where he belongs.
The blade is sitting in front of me on my bed, dripping in that oozing red liquid. I was going to throw it away and run or pretend someone broke in and hurt Father Michael. But the wicked smirk that clings to my lips will give me away quickly.
I know it’s wrong to murder, to lie, to harm thy neighbour. Trust me, I’ve heard it all before. But this one time, you must excuse my behaviours Lord.
I am redeemable.
Even if I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
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Sadly, an all-too-common story in reality; I've known many. Though "Vengeance is Mine," says the Lord, no doubt many have fantasized about their own version of justice on earth... and it's hard to think ill of them for it. The narration felt defensive, but that's because in pen or in reality I'd have a hard time blaming the child. As for the writing, I really loved some of your descriptive work. "...the wind would howl like a beast being tortured" was really great foreshadowing, tangible. Flows well. I think it could use voice work - also ...
Hello, Thank you so much for this comment! It's great to see you enjoyed my short story. And I welcome any criticisms! I appreciate the voice work comment, my other works are much stronger when it comes to this I believe. But i agree, it's quite a difficult skill to master. Thank you!
Such a sad and heart warming short story. I was gripped by the title!
Thanks! I'm playing around with tones at the moment, so it's great to hear you enjoy this story.