A Church-Mandated Penance

Needing to get something off your chest, you head to the confessional at church. After laying out your misdeed to the priest, you are given an unusual task to perform as penance—not creepy, just unusual. Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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53 thoughts on “A Church-Mandated Penance

  1. kathleenmagner

    The supermarket’s automatic doors hushed open. After going to adjust the purse, the mammoth satchel usually slung over her shoulder, Margie stroked the bulge of her unburdened arm and raised her eyes to the sky.

    “I hope you can see this.”

    Summer swelter pressed upon her pudgy cheeks. A humid gust fluttered her skirts and another ushered her into the air conditioning.

    With a vacuous hiss, the doors shut.

    Licking her parched lips, Margie tried not to let her mouth water at the smell of fresh donuts in the bakery. With Father Remes’ voice in her ears, she forced her gaze to the tiered pile of frosted cakes and sugar-crusted muffins in their clear boxes and cardboard packages with tiny windows exposing the sweetness within. Cookies filled circular platters beneath advertisements for picnics and the Fourth of July.

    Margie turned her back on the cheery ads. Although bent on the deli, a pillar of free hunks of lemon-somethings to sample detoured her trek.

    “I’m not technically buying it,” she explained to the angelic conscious on her shoulder.

    Her fingers neared the opening in the sample’s domed lid and a sense of guilt socked her stomach. Sending her hand to the crucifix-burdened chain about her neck instead, Margie marched along the tiled floor, head hung, belly empty.

    The glistening curve of the deli counter drew her eye and she skimmed over the prepared bean salads, mashed potato side dishes, and roasted chickens. Sliced hams, slivers of turkey, slabs of roast beef came next, paired with cheddars, moldy blues, and Swiss.

    “Can I get anything for you?” The balding deli attendant beamed over the counter, plastic gloves already on his hands.

    Margie went for her purse, found her shoulder instead, and smoothed the ruffle of her dress’s sleeve. “Not this time, thanks.”

    Tearing her gaze from the cornucopia, she walked downcast into the dairy section.


    Leslie skittered to a stop before chilled cases looking even more petite in shorts and tank rather than her usual trim suits or skirts. With a quick embrace where Margie feared she might crush the other woman, they separated.

    Leslie cocked her head. “You don’t usually shop here, do you?”

    “No,” said Margie, her cheeks flushing at the inevitable question to follow.

    Leslie hefted her basket of yogurts, rice crackers, berries, and fresh vegetables onto her other arm. “What brings you to my neighborhood then?”

    Margie peered at the milks and creams, the mom toting a kid in each hand, the couple arguing over fat percentages, anything and everyone but Leslie. “A…penance.”

    “That’s some kind of holy order, right?”

    “Sort of.” Margie waved her hand, trying to dismiss the line of conversation, and found the chain of her necklace once more.

    With dogged curiosity or perhaps obliviousness, Leslie pursued the details anyway. “What do you have to do?” Her brown eyes widened. “What did you do?”

    … Click here to read the rest. Any comments are welcome.

  2. NYpeaches

    The wind pulled me into the church as soon as I managed to open the large oak door. As I was swept inside I was wondering if my mere presence was adding yet another sin to my soul. Identifying the confessional booth was rather simple but I entered with great trepidation before kneeling behind the screen.
    “May the Lord be in your heart and help you make a good confession.”
    The priest’s voice was more ominous than I had expected and it took me a moment before I started my confession. Ripping off what Hollywood had taught me about confessing I tentatively started to disclose my sins;
    “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I am not Catholic, and therefore have never been to confession…”
    I paused for a moment but when the confessional booth did not ignite in flames I continued:
    “I had a weekend full of debauchery. I exceeded the speed limit. I ate things that are in no way advantageous for my health.” I warmed up with a few mediocre grievances before plunging into the whoppers. “I did drugs that I swore I would never try again, I engaged in intimate relations with multiple partners both male and female. “
    There was a small cough that came from the other side of the screen and I was not sure if it was induced by my confession or the dry air in the booth. But I trudged on:

    To Continue Reading, Click HERE.

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  3. Icabu

    With his legs shaking, Chuck eased into the last pew in the nave. His breath came in gasps as he registered what had just happened. This wasn’t like when he’d made Punky Ellard eat chalk in the third grade. He’d hit the big time now – a top ten sin. It was a mistake and he knew it. That’s why he came to Father Blackburn. He figured to get a mound of Hail Mary’s and be on his way. But this …

    The deed occurred at the end of the New Year’s party. Franny Stone had been all over him the whole evening once she found out his wife had stayed home with the flu. He vaguely remembered Fran pulling him into the restroom … or was it him pushing her into the broom closet? He shook his head. How it happened wasn’t clear anymore, but that it DID was achingly clear. He was an adulterer – willingly or not.

    His hands turned the item Father Blackburn had given him after his confession. His penance. The large brass belt buckle was oval with the face painted a deep red. A large, raised letter ‘A’, painted black, sat in the center. He had to wear it for the next year. With his heart heavy with shame, Chuck removed the beer brand buckle his wife had given him and put the ‘A’ buckle in its place.

    Chuck sat alone on the pew, his breathing labored. The new belt buckle felt too tight. He checked to see if he’d missed his regular belt hole, but it was correct. He loosened it one notch. His breath came easier, but the squeeze on his heart did not lessen. He leaned his head on the back of the pew in front of him. Tears dripped from his tightly clenched eyes. He was truly sorry for his indiscretion. He also knew his wife would not be as forgiving as Father Blackburn.

    Standing, the weight of the belt buckle caused Chuck to bend forward slightly. He knew the buckle wasn’t physically that heavy; the weight of the penance caused his stoop. He also knew he could never tell his wife what he’d done. It would never happen again – his soul wouldn’t survive. He had figured out what he would tell his wife, Alice, about the buckle. It was a tribute to her – in many ways.

  4. LMGilbert

    (Didn’t get as far as the actual confession….)

    The smell of wood polish and faded incense told me I was in the right place. The interior of this church was far more grandiose than the small-town clapboard Catholic church of my childhood, but it contained everything I needed at that moment. I brushed the snowflakes off my shoulders and stepped in.

    About halfway down the aisle, at the end of a pew on the left, sat a figure with short-cropped hair, ear buds inserted, and head bobbing gently to the music only he could hear. The thick black stems of his glasses sat heavily on his pink, child-like ears. I looked all around, but the place was empty except for him and me. I took note of the hulking confessional box over to the side.

    It was not much different than the one back home. Carved of some rich, dark wood, it featured a central cabinet with pointy roof surmounted by a cross, and two shorter side-cabinets equally pointy but with no cross. I knew which side I would go into, and how it would smell, and how the little panel would sound sliding across the screen. I approached the young man slowly.

    Standing nearer now, I could hear him singing along to the silent music. “Adeste Fideles,” a little off-key. I put my hand on his shoulder, and he jumped, the papers in his hands fluttering around him and settling on the pew and the floor.

    “Excuse me,” I whispered, as he removed his ear buds. “Do you know if there is a priest here today?”

    He stood up abruptly, bent down to pick up papers, stood up again, turned around to pick up more papers, turned back around and adjusted his glasses, and put out a hand holding a sheaf of crumpled papers. He put the papers down on the pew seat, and stuck his hand out again.

    “I’m Father Mike,” he smiled. I noticed he sported one of those little soul patches. “How can I help you?”

    I slowly shook his hand, feeling its bony knuckles and slight nervous tremor. I thought, how can I confess to him, when my instincts tell me to protect him? He’s just a kid, not much older than my Daniel.

    Daniel. I just had to think his name, and my eyes burned with tears held back. Father Mike gave my hand a squeeze and let go. He scratched at his chin, and waited. I looked up into the brown eyes magnified by the thick lenses of his glasses.

    “I need to confess…Father.” I nodded in the direction of the big confessional box. He followed my gaze and then looked back at me with a little smile.

    “Uh, we don’t really need to use the box. I mean, we still do use it of course, on designated Sundays. My preference is to just talk, face to face… like we’re doing right now.”

    I had to admit to myself that the secrecy of the confessional didn’t make sense, after meeting and talking to the priest in person like this. “But what about privacy? What about…confidentiality?” I hedged. He shrugged.

    “We go in my office and I close the door. The cleaning lady won’t come barging in if the door’s closed. And you tell me what’s on your mind, and it’s as confidential as any other counselling. Only difference is my authority, as a priest, to absolve you and give you penance. “

    “Well, OK…”

    He scratched at his little soul patch and said, “Then let’s get ‘er done,” and I followed him through a narrow door behind the altar.

  5. Tanya77

    I looked at the priest dumbfounded,wondering if i had heard right. Last night i decided to come confess, after years of not putting one toe in a church. I loved what i liked to call in a polite term, the night ladies. Was addicted to them. So all my wages i spent on finding one of those ladies for pleasure. But as a catholic, although not a very good one, i knew it was sin. So finally i came to confess all my sins to this kind priest. Never thought that the kind priest was weird though.

    I went kneeling in the confession booth and started baring my addictive behaviour to him.

    “Forgive me father because i have sinned. I haven`t come to church for years. And my life is based around the pleasures of the flesh. I am addicted to the night ladies who give pleasure.”

    Stammering on the last word i lowered my eyes to the floor. I heard the priest clearing his throat before answering me.

    “Well my son, let me think,” as he started rubbing his chin.

    “My penance for you is this. Every time you feel the need to go to one of those ladies, come to my house instead. I live alone and some company wouldn`t be bad.Let me write you my address. And i want you to write me your phone number, so i can check if you`re home or not.”

    He grabbed a pen and started writing. I was shocked. It was the last thing i could have expected as penance. I gave him my number and left the church.

    Two days passed and my want for pleasure got strong. But instead of going to one of my favourite places, i found myself in front of a small house and rang the bell. The priest opened the door quickly and smiled at me ushering me inside. He seemed to have prepared some house chores for me, so i got quickly to work. Afterwards he made dinner and later enjoyed a glass of wine in front of his cosy fire and television. It went on like that for months,and i found myself looking forward to it. My addictive longing seemed to lessen as time went by, and i looked more to being with the priest than wanting to go elsewhere. After months, the priest asked me to go visit the church so i could confess again. I knelt in the booth and we started praying. He finally smiled and looked at me.

    “Your sins have been absolved.”

  6. Aragedy Kilof

    Robert pushed through the crowd as he left the subway station. He had no reason to be in a hurry, to push through them. But he felt the need to beat them to the top of the exit like a hunger.

    As he got to the top of the stairs he saw a clear path and stepped towards it quickly, pushing a gray coated figure that was blocking the last few feet. As he passed he heard the gasp of an elderly woman and saw a cane go flying down the stairs. He turned as he reached the top to see a frail gray haired lady on the steps, glaring at him and holding her arm as if it was hurt.

    As he rounded the corner onto his street he started to feel guilt. Pushing through a crowd like that made him feel powerful, made him feel in control, actually made him feel like he was accomplishing something. That is what drove him. He turned everything into a competition and he always had to win.

    He walked on, thinking about this, and soon realized he had walked right past his building. He now stood in front of St. Maria’s. This building had always appealed to him, so overwhelming and dark. The rain was really coming down now and the blackness of the open door called to him.

    He walked inside and sat in the back row of pews. He sat thinking about what he had done and trying to justify it. After a few minutes he realized that a Priest was standing at the end of the aisle, staring at him. As he looked up the priest smiled at him and asked “Why do you look so troubled?”

    Robert was raised Catholic, although he had not been to church in decades. When he was young he treated taunting the priests as a game, a game he usually won. He thought that engaging with this one might take his mind off of what he was feeling deep down inside.

    He stood and started walking towards the priest and said “I am feeling a bit troubled, maybe we could talk in a confessional”

    Once seated, and once the formalities were over, Robert simply said “Father I have sinned. I just pushed an old lady down the stairs of the subway for no reason other than I wanted to.”

    The priest was quite, and said nothing.

    Robert waited for a question asking further details. But the other side of the screen was silent. Just as he was about to ask the priest if he was OK, the priest asked Robert “Can you describe a typical day for you?”

    Robert was a bit taken aback. However, he soon found himself describing his standard day in great detail. The planning, the tight schedule, the driving effort to beat everyone around him.

    When he finished, the priest sat in silence again for over two minutes. Then he simply said “Son, for your penance, I am going to ask something of you that is will be very hard, but it may just heal your sole. First, I would like for you to go…”

    An hour later Robert realized that his heart was free of guilt and that it was also free of that nagging drive to compete. He was relaxed. He kicked his legs out as he sailed forward on the swing, going down then up, hanging weightless in midair, and coming back again. He smiled as the wet air blew against his face then his back ,and remembered the words of the priest “Son, you must remember how to play. Life is a game that should be enjoyed, not a competition to be won.”

  7. IrieGodwin

    It was sweltering.I sat in front of the industrial sized metal fan recirculating hot air as I stuck to grandma’s plastic wrapped couch. She always had a glass candy dish full of toffee and I helped myself to one after another as I sat stuffing calendars into the monthy newsletters.I underestimated the Nevada heat when I decided to spend one week with my grandmother in her senior living community. There was a knock on the metal screen door,I crumpled a candy wrapper in my hand and shoved it in my pocket of my cargo pants with the rest. I sprang up, leaving a sweaty film on the couch behind me. “Hello” I called out before reaching the door. ” Handyman!” exclaimed the voice in a pitch unexpectedly high for the title it claimed. It was a woman standing on the doorstep, dressed in gray shorts and shirt, I approached the door and was immediately transfixed by her beauty and I couldn’t help but stare, my eyes followed her long neck to the slant of her shoulder to the tool bag that hung off of it. I let her in and offered her iced water ” Now, that’s better” She said thanking me with a nod. As she bent forward to work on the air conditioning unit I noticed a crucifix around her neck resting on her breasts. “You Catholic?” I gulped “I used to be” she said derisively.
    I glared up at the cross above the doorway remembering my own profession of faith.

    It was only one week since I confessed to my pastor, about one week since I felt the unrelenting desire to unburden myself the tumultous sins of my not so distant past. His advice still rung in my ears “Everyone has vices, but you must call out for help, ask for forgiveness. Our lord is a merciful one, he will not desert you in your time of need” I recalled countless attempts at outreach, numerous calls for help over the years ,
    but this last plea was the loudest, the most refined, I had summed my wrongdoings up to one character flaw, one deadly sin, Gluttony. I was overindulgent in all aspects, I ate more than my fill, drank more than conciousness allowed, I was hypersexual, A full on hedonist. I detailed my debaucherous accounts to the pastor, in tears I fell to my knees in absolute repentance. Seeking absolution and freedom from my grave problem. ” I believe there is a way to heal you.” he calmly said patting my hand. That’s how I wound up inthe desert He suggested I visit the desert and deprive myself of the small luxuries I had become accustomed to. ” Live a life of lacking, then learn moderation” he said. One week without was not a great sacrifice, but I was taking small steps. I found myself here in no man’s land, surrounded by senior citizens
    and being carnally tempted. It was easy now to dismiss the pastor’s suggestion as an oddity.

  8. vspiritoso

    The door closed behind me as I entered the confessional box. The darkness made me feel like I was in a universe that wasn’t created yet; that I was alone in my own mind and in my mind is not where I want to be right now. I never felt comfortable going to church. Something about it made me feel like I had to conform; to be someone that I’m not. Conforming to my misdeed got me into the mess in the first place.
    As I kneeled on the kneeler waiting in the darkness, the priest came on the other side of the confessional box. The box screen door pulled open. I began, “Father, forgive me for I have sinned.”
    I paused for a few moments trying to get my thoughts together. “I lied about the actions of one of my coworkers to get him fired.” I fell silent.
    “Go on my child,” said the priest.
    “I didn’t like Jeffery. He was creepy and made me feel uncomfortable when he was around me.”
    I was waiting for the priest to respond. Silence.
    I spoke quickly to deaden the silence, “I was next in line for his job and I really needed a raise. I told human resources that he physically and sexually harassed me at work many times. Since the company had a million dollar sexual harassment case pending, they couldn’t risk another one and fired him immediately. Found out two weeks later, Jeffery killed himself.”
    The priest shift in his chair like he had an itch he tired to scratch.
    “Apparently,” I continued, “He was bi-polar. He was going through a nasty divorce and his mother that he was very close to passed away two weeks prior. Now with the lost his job, he felt like a failure according to his suicide note and ended his life. I wouldn’t have filed that complaint on him if I knew what he was going through.”
    “Should it matter if you knew or not?” The priest questioned harshly.
    “No I guess not. Will you forgive me father?” I was praying for a quick ‘yes my child’.
    “Is there something in your life that makes you happy and if you lost it would make you miserable?” The priest answered.
    “My Family means the world to me.”
    The priest spoke sternly, “In order for you to be forgiven, you have to divorce your husband and leave your family. You can not give them a reason why, you just have to leave. Only then you will be forgiven.”
    As I sat in silence, I thought about the guilt that weighted on my shoulders and whether or not I would sacrifice my family for the life Jeffery lost. An eye for an eye. I finally spoke, “Father I can not do this.”
    “Then you will not be forgiven. Your soul will be damned to hell.”
    I left the confessional box in tears knowing that the fate of my soul has been sealed.

  9. Jakeward

    I am not a religious man and certainly not a Catholic. But there was something about the ancient building on the corner of Oak and Bell that made me slow my hurried gait. The street lights reflecting off the stained glass didn’t move me one way or the other. It just was. The frost the large wooden door was thick enough to write your initials in, or your lover’s initials, or your favorite cuss word, if you were so inclined. I ran my gloved hand across the stone exterior and exhaled a thick plume of smoke before I pinched the roach. The wind tore at my face like it wanted to pull my hair out.

    Damn, what the fuck had I done. I had always been able to dance in the dark AND maintain the white picket fence. But this time I got sloppy and things went wrong and I wasn’t sure what the fuck was next. The mess that needed cleaning up required more than I had. The list of those to confide in was short, by design.

    I gripped the large iron door knob and pushed my way out of the cold. Ice flakes swirled in behind me and when I slammed the door, an old lady in the back row gave me an “Eat Shit” glare. Gotta love the Christians. I kept her stare until she broke went back to her God. The room was dark. A few candles in the back and few in the front. I let my sunglasses slide down the bridge of my nose. I sniffed hard to clear the freezing snot that had frozen to my nose hairs. My toes were numb. I had not dressed appropriately when the shit went down. And I had been out there for hours, clinging to the darkness, and it to me.

    I had never been to confession. Was raised that it was enough to take things up one on one with God. Though I rarely ever did. No need for someone in the middle of the mess. I found the tiny room and peered through the semi see-through divider. I could see that someone was over there, but couldn’t make out any details. A faint perfume smell, pleasant, not too powerful, was in the air. It made me relax a bit. But just a bit.

    I cleared my throat. “Ahhhh, my name Bill and I’ve never been to confession.”
    “I know,” came from the other side. I tilted my head to the side, a bit startled to hear the voice of a woman.
    A young woman. “I know why you’re here,” she said.
    Before I could say, “Well that makes one of us,” she slid her hand through an opening in the divider and into my space. I reluctantly put my leather gloved hand into hers. She expertly pulled at each finger until my hand was bare. “What do you know about me?” I asked.
    “I have been waiting for you,” she hissed. Before I could respond, she ordered, “Give me your other hand.”
    I slid it to her, not thinking. My bare hands lay palms down in hers. She pulled them toward her side, gently but firmly. I felt her hot breath and then her moist lips.
    “Who are you?” I asked as she released me.
    “It’s not important who I am. What is important is what you must do.”

  10. RGV

    The confessional smelled of garlic, incense and cologne. There was bubble gum stuck on the back of the door and graffiti carved into the boards beneath the screen. There were the usual names and cuss words, but a magnificently detailed pair of breasts and bush with the phrase “two in the hand…” stood out clearly in the blond wood.

    There was a slight snoring on the other side, followed by a choking snort as the priest awoke with a start when he realized I was there.

    “You know who this is, don’t you father?” I whispered.

    He crossed himself and sat upright.

    “In the name of the father,…”

    “Cut it.”

    “Why are you here, you demon from hell?” he stuttered, clutching at his cross.

    “Idiot! I’m here for confession!”

    “How can this be? You are the Master of Sins, the Evil one who tempts us all away from our Lord!”

    “Well there you go, taking my opening line right out of my mouth!”

    “Wh…what?” replied the Priest.

    I sighed.

    “Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been six million years since my last confession. I am guilty of taking no pleasure in my work, of turning a blind eye to the cries of the innocent, of laying waste and of creating misery and sorrow everywhere I go.”

    “You wish for a penance? But how can this be?”

    “My work, it wearies me. Every soul I take is a soul I could have saved. Every soul that I do not save, is a life I have to torment in the hopes that maybe this time that being might realize that I am not the one they need fear. I torture them to teach them empathy and compassion. I only want to teach them that as they suffer, so do others suffer. It is so simple.”

    “Go on, my… son?”

    “Yeah, whatever gender makes you feel most comfortable.” I stop to regain my poise.

    “Father, I hate my work and this makes me hate others. Help me to find forgiveness.”

    There is no sound from him. At least not at first.

    “Satan, I cannot think of a penance. Your existence is full of such suffering. I cannot imagine anything you might do that could be considered penance.”

    “But how will I ever find peace with myself if you do not give me a way to atone for my sins?”

    “Very well . You must continue on in your work until you can find one soul who cries for you. When you have found one person who can weep for what you suffer, then you will be forgiven your many trespasses upon this Earth.”

    “And so it shall be!” said I with a rattling of my wings. I sounded tough, but inside I wept. The pain of it!

    But as I left the church, I heard him whisper, “Go in peace my child, for your suffering has not gone unnoticed.” And I heard a tear fall on the floor.

  11. yardstuff

    There ya go. Thats what I done. Now whada I got to do to set this right? It’s been so long since I been to church. I show am surprised the roof didn’t fall in when I come through de door! Now, I did my part and I am ready to repent.
    Father? You there? After about a full minute, and three swigs of what may have been Gin, I heard this.
    Yes, my son. This is a heavy burden you have been carrying. I need a few minutes to pray and seek what our Lords wants.
    Yes sir, I wait right here. Ain’t going no where no how.
    My child, please pray 10 Our Father, 10 Hail Mary. The Lord forgives, and in his tender mercies, you shall find peace. But my son, remember, the real healing comes when you truly repent and change your ways. That is what the Lord sees. What the Lord wants. In addition to the prayers, I advise you to go back home and make amends to your Mother in Law. Rise above the pettiness. Be kind. Can you do this?
    No. She bout the meanest, ugliest , sour tempered women I ever come across. No. I can’t do it! Never. You got any thing else Father?
    Another long pause, and some more holy “spirit”, Father replies, Okay, Church needs painting. Come by Monday, and don’t forget those prayers. I’ve met your Mother in law. Praying is what you should have been doing all long! Thank you father. Go in peace my son.

  12. UtahJackson

    Pastor Wayne Dixon’s meaty shoulders pressured the seams of his blue blaer and his gray, cropped hair lay in a solid lick to the right. Before he began to speak he coughed into his enormous, freckled hand causing causing a mighty and alarming echo. He slowly took my hands into his, bowed his head low and closed his bright, blue eyes. With a cavernous Southern drawl flavoring his theological certitude, he began to pray.

    “Father, we pray for forgiveness of Simon’s misadventures; his failure, Father, to follow your lawful and holy commands. We recognize that the only road to redemption is through humble confession and for Simon to throw himself at your Son’s bloody and scarred feet, pleading as the tattered and dirty wretch that he is. Father, forgive this man, for surely, he knew not what he should do. In the most powerful name of Jesus, Amen.”

    “Amen,” I said, a mouse to a lion’s roar. I looked around and, as I feared, nearly everyone at Chili’s was staring at me, each running their own sinful scenarios through their tantailized imagination, agape at what offense should necessitate such a public and audible prayer of forgivenss. The woman to my immediate left was particularly intrigued. Her mind imbibed upon my forlorn visage, as she twiddled her silver cross pendant between her fingers. Her eyes smoked with scorn and incredulity at my iniquity and I could see her imagining my heaving, lusty body palpitating all over Mary Sue, our hot bodies stoking her disgust and jealousy with every wretched writhe.

    Pastor Wayne Dixon noticed my embarrasment and chuckled an understated laugh of satisfaction. “Simon,” he said,”I learned a long time ago that public humiliation is the surest avenue towards true repentance. It is a stern and frightful master that aids in the retreat of the wandering soul back to the path of righteousness. Please understand, son, that my boisterous prayer in this very public place was for your good- for your long-term well being- as well as being a significant act of fealty before our Lord and Saviour. Indeed, I have every belief that this public prayer has thoroughly quenched any remaining embers of fornicating thought you may have still had for Mary Sue. While you are broken, you are dirty no more.” He broke into a big, uplifting smile as the waitress deliverd his entree of Country Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and cinnamon apples.

    We ate our meal in silence. As the surrounding patrons walked past our table I could feel their intense hatred for my scandalous and wicked soul. Each of their passing judgements sent me overhanging my plate lower and longer wishing I could vanish and drown in the pool of gravy before me.

    Pastor Wayne Dixon inserted the last bite of his Country Fried Steak into his mouth, chewing with thoughtful deliberation as he looked down upon my wrecked countenance. He burped, untucked the napkin from his collar, placed both hands on the table and slid the check over to my side of the table.

    “As a final act of pennance and a clear demonstration of your eternal indebtedness to the price paid by our Lord and Saviour, I do believe that you should handle this”. He slid out sideways from the vinyl bench seat, stood tall and erect over the table and adjusted his black belt to better stride his full and sanctified belly. He walked out in a slow and proud stroll, the scorners’ final member.

      1. IrieGodwin

        I like the detail you use to describe the pastor. It is a quick sketch of a strong and developed (for the word count) character. The way Simon and the pastor contrast doesn’t do much to the effect of creating a stand alone character of the narrator in this single piece, but I get that he is lowly and being vilified, maybe a bit too much though. There is no sense of finality at the end. He seeks penace, an act you do well to describe, but is left to pay for the wordly and rugged (as I imagine) pastor. If this your focus was humiliation then it is a success. I certainly feel bad for Simon. I can even see this piece as being critical of the church as the pastor seems a bit rude and indulgent. Good Overall.

  13. bobp

    It was Christmas Eve, and I was walking through the beautifully lit down town streets admiring all of the magical Christmas decorations. I found myself in a part of the city I hadn’t visited before, and there, at the end of a side street, was the most magnificent cathedral I had ever seen. Every inch of the church seemed to glow. I had to see this marvelous building. The closer I got, the more beautiful it became. Before I knew where I was going, I found myself at the front door. I tried the handle, expecting to find it locked, but it was open. As fantastic as the outside was, the interior was plain, and lit only by a few candles.

    On the side of the sanctuary were the confessionals. I had never gone to confession, but somehow those doors called to me. What could it hurt I said to myself. I walked to the nearest door, and walked in. The room was completely dark, and I was sure that there was no one in the other half, so almost as a joke I said the words “Father forgive me for I have sinned”

    To my utter amazement, there came a reply.

    “I know”

    I was in shock. What do I do now; I was at a total loss.

    “It’s OK I know why you are here”

    Ok but wasn’t I supposed to confess something, or at least say something. I knew there was a formula.

    “You don’t have to explain, I know why you are here. Your sins are forgiven.”

    ‘Thank you Father”

    “Don’t look so surprised. Didn’t the scriptures say? ‘I am the way and the truth and the light. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Forgive. You asked for forgiveness so I forgave as the scriptures said. There is no magic in this. Forgiveness requires no penance from me. Now do as the scriptures tell us, love God with all of your mind, and all of your heart, and all of your spirit. Love your neighbor as yourself, and love each other as Jesus loved us?’”

    Somehow I knew it was time to leave. I got up. There was no one in the sanctuary, but I had to see that amazing priest and thank him. I really felt as if all my sins had been lifted. I had to see who this amazing priest was. I opened the other door to the confessional. It was empty. There must have been some hidden door. I went in and knocked on the walls, but I could find no other exit. I even peered into the room I had just left a few minutes before, but it was as empty as the room I was in.

    It was several weeks before I had a chance to return, but when I drove to where I knew the church must be all I could find was street full of boarded up houses. And some kids playing kick the can.

  14. TEMiranda

    Holy Advice

    “Forgive me father, for I have sinned.” I stretch my neck up to peek through the tiny holes in the crated window but I could only see a silhouette of an adult. The silhouette turns in my direction and I sit up as straight as possible with my hands folded on my lap, facing forward.

    “Child, what have you done that needs forgiving?”

    “I threw up in school.” Flashes of the scene flicker in my mind and my body shutters.

    “That is not so bad my son. Were you sick?”

    “No father. I forced myself to throw up, sort of.” I wonder if he could see me through the tiny holes. In case he could I force my face to show signs of regret. Can mom hear me from the other side of the confessional door?

    “Child, why would you do such a thing?”

    “Because of Jack McClinton.” I suck in air as soon as I say his name, nervous that the priest would know of the bully that has been tormenting me since my first day of fifth grade.

    “Jack McClinton?” The priest sighs.

    “Yes father.”

    A tongue click and a few huffs later the father finally responds. “So you forced yourself to throw up because Jack McClinton was bullying you?”

    “Yes and no, father.” I wanted to ask him how he knew Jack was bullying me, but I felt it was disrespectful to question his knowledge of things. Adults seem to know things without having to state them.

    He lets out another long sigh. “Why don’t you just tell me what really happened.”

    I decided to lay it all out for him in a single breath. “See father, I overheard Jack telling one of his friends that he threw up once as a result of his brother throwing up in his presence. So I thought I would get him in trouble if I pretended to throw up in class so that it would make him throw up. Well, it worked. But then I really threw up and then a few other kids started throwing up. Then Jack told on me.”

    I hear shuffling noises on the other side of the crated window as the priest chuckles under his breath. He clears his throat. “My son, I believe you paid the price of your treachery. You are absolved of your sin if you do this one thing for me.”

    “Anything father.”

    “The next time Little Jack McClinton bullies you make sure to stand up to him equally. If he shouts at you, you shout back. If he hits you, you hit him back. There is no sin in self-defense.”

    “Really father? What about turning the other cheek?”

    “Never mind about that. Just remember not to stoop to his level as you did today. Today you were the bully, and that is a sin. Little Jack needs some growing up to do; there is still hope for him. Do this and he will soon learn to respect you.”

    I do not quite understand his explanation, but he is the priest so I guess the next time Jack pushes me I will push him right back. And since the priest said it was fine to defend myself I guess I would not have to come in to confess. Wow, I did not realize how much common sense goes into dealing with bullies. “Thank you father.”

    As I open the door to exit the confessional booth the priest gives me one last bit of advice. “Oh, and next time, cover your nose – it will keep you from throwing up.”


    Comments are appreciated!

  15. kwilson

    I sat in a confession booth as dark and caged as my heavy heart. I waited for a sound to break the dead silence. When nothing happened, I killed the silence with my cracking, sobbing breath. “Father, I can never be forgiven. I killed my father and lied to him.”

    “My child go on, you must confess all.”

    Hearing Father Patrick’s voice soothed my thumping nerves, but my mind still raced with grief and guilt. “Father Patrick, I did nothing to help my father. He laid for ten days after his stroke and I did nothing.

    “Nothing? Did you call the authorities?”

    “Oh, yes I did. I mean he was in the hospital for ten days, but without food or water.”

    “The doctor did not assist?”

    Yes, they gave him medicine, but his will stated no resuscitation, no nutrition, no water. I wailed with helplessness. “I should have tired…….”

    Father Patrick’s long, soothing sigh passed through the cage that separated us. “My dear, you did not kill your father. You respected his wishes.”

    My racing thoughts slowed to a mere roll as my heart searched for relief. “But I lied. I promised I would take him home after his rest.” Finally, I raised my bowed head to glance through the caged window and noticed a candle light flickering.

    “My dear, you did not lie. You set him free. He is home.”

      1. Dave Taylor

        I find this one particularly impactful as my Mum had a stroke and now is in a home and the one thing I wished for while she was in hospital was that she coud move on. She has been in care for five years now, a sad way for a proud woman to spend her final years. This seems written from experience, if not you have skills in imagining yourself into someone else’s shoes.

  16. signorelli21

    I fail at instructions but whatever, lol.

    Out of breath, he struggled to pull open the heavy wooden door.

    “They won’t look for me in here” he thought out loud.
    The door shut behind him as he bent over, hands on his knees gasping for breath. “Don’t remember running being so hard” he thought between gasps

    Father Jacob looked up from his prayer as the door opened, he didn’t recognize the elderly man but his pants and shirt were soaked.

    He quickly moved from the front pew and made his way towards the man, who was still hunched over by the door.

    “Are you alright………………………..is that blood?”

    “Its ok……..need to….catch my breath” his voice hoarse.

    Father Jacob approached, slowing as he got nearer to the man.

    “Come sit down, tell me what happened” taking his arm and the Priest steered Him to the nearest pew, farthest in back next to the door.

    “Its..not…My blood, Just need… to rest a bit.” The old man croaked.

    Police sirens went wailing by, the priest looked towards the sound, then back to the blood soaking into the man’s shirt and pants.

    “Are you in some trouble?” His concern changed to fear, he stepped back to put some distance between them.

    “I ran off before they got me” he said proudly.

    “Did you hurt someone?” he asked

    “Well, I just hit him with my hammer, probably dead” He explained.

    At this the Priest sat down on the pew in front of me, eyes wide with disbelief.

    “Bastard was staring at me, not very polite.” He said.

    “You killed someone for staring at you? I think the police may be after you.”

    Father Jacob looked down at his hands, trying to avoid eye contact with the man who was clearly out of his mind. How do you talk to someone this delusional without making them angry?

    “Ok, so tell me exactly what happened, maybe I’m missing something here” The Priest reasoned.

    “Well, I was hanging some posters for my lost dog and had to take a piss, seemed a good a place as any, but this bastard walking by just stopped and stared like he never saw someone take a piss before. He made me mad so I hit him in the face with my hammer,His head busted open like a watermelon. Its hard to go when someone’s watching.” He explained, Clearly he had done the right thing.

    “Well, so it was an accident, you didn’t mean to hurt him right? Ask the lord for forgiveness and you will be absolved” Father Jacob explained.

    The sound of commotion outside interrupted them.
    The old man stood and went towards the door.
    “Thanks for the chat, I best be getting on now” he said, as if nothing was wrong.

    Father Jacob was silent as the man pulled open the door and stepped outside, two police cruisers were parked in the street, there was yelling, then gun shots.

    That was the last of the strange old man.

  17. Frawst

    “For all that was taken, you shall be given. The Lord is not unjust, He works in ways that are mysterious to even the most holy of Holies. With all that you tell me, yours is coming, just be patient. Listen when God comes calling, your penance shall be something to behold.”, the Priest says with flair.

    I silently nod my head, thank the Father for his time and make my way out of the Church.

    “Listen when God comes calling…”, I try to decide how to unravel this mystery. Isn’t God everywhere? Isn’t he calling all around me in the wind that blows the tree’s, the food that we eat, the life that we have. I walk absently through the courtyard and out into the street beyond. “Whenever he calls, he calls”.

    Later that night, I sit down to eat when I overhear on the television,”God is calling you today to do what is right, to achieve justice for the innocent…”, the show continues but my mind becomes a blur. “How do I achieve this?”,”Do I just go postal on everyone I think is bad?”,”Am I drunk and merely confused?”, the thoughts whirl around and around, nothing made any more sense than anything else.

    I sit on my bed, realizing I’m not a superhero, I have no skills to do justice for the innocents. “Maybe I can find some sketchy looking guy and just beat him up. I’m sure that would save somebody some trouble, in the near future”. I laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Then a thought comes to me,”I am a good writer, maybe I could write something that could change the World”. Again, I laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Around 2am I saved the file and turned off the computer. “I think that was worth the eye strain”.

    Upon waking the next day and decided to test out my writing, so I forwarded a couple copies to trusted friends. I guess they had liked it because I started getting word from other friends that they had read it and thought it was inspiring. I still hadn’t thought much of it, these were my friends after all. A couple days go by and I started getting weird emails from people saying that my writing was amazing and that I should make a public appearance. It seems this odd situation was just going to keep getting odder.

    A couple days down the road I received a call from a woman claiming that her group would like to hire me to give a speaking engagement, the amount of money she offered was extraordinary. I told her I would get back to her soon, as I had to talk it over with my Manager. I called up my Mom, to find out I was the last one in on the scope of things. My paper,”Rights of the Innocent”, was making the rounds on everything from social media to the news. It seems that all they were missing was the author. I hung up from my Mom and called the woman back, happily accepting the speaking invitation.

    I started getting speaking gigs around the country, helping people with their grief and moving on towards brighter futures. Somehow people saw me as someone who can help them, I just saw myself as someone who spoke the truth. Whatever the case, I know my penance was served and I can say that I’m happy again.

  18. Egg

    The Stations of the Cross glared down at me from the cathedral’s imposing balcony. I slunk ashamedly under Christ’s suffering to the confessional and locked myself inside. Wood polish and ageless mustiness flooded my senses, but instead of inhaling the smells with a pleasure I usually associated with this moment, I felt sick to my stomach. The shutter slid open and the shadowy profile behind the screen nodded.

    “Forgive me Father for I have sinned.” I could hear the shake in my voice. “It has been three weeks since my last confession. I….” My tongue was lead in my mouth. “I hit a woman… an old woman… with my car…. and left her to die,” I stammered. “I’d been drinking, and it was dark.” I was instantly ashamed of my pathetic effort to excuse my sinfulness and fell silent.

    The melodious voice that I knew to be that of Father Tom, one of the younger and livelier members of the clergy, burst into the confessional. “As penance, you must drive to the old cedar mill out past Bear Lake at sunset, sit on the large rock by the stream, and reflect on your sins as the setting sun reflects on the water.” His words were like poetry and my spirit was filled with renewed hope. “Now, I resolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Go in peace, my son.” The shutter closed with a soft hush.

    I marveled at Father Tom’s creativity as I drove in silent contemplation to the deserted mill, 40 miles out of town. Already I was appreciating the time alone, the time away from the pressures of reality, and the time needed for my soul to heal. His words were still dancing in my head as I walked through the ruins and enthroned myself on the large slab of black basalt that dominated the water’s edge.

    A fire of magnificent colors fell on the rippleless surface of the stream and burned into my soul as I reflected on my life, my faith and my recent surrender to evil. I silently swore that I would not become the devil’s slave by ignoring justice, and determinedly reached into my jacket pocket and withdrew my cell phone.

    “You are truly one of God’s children.” The sing-song voice that floated through the twilight was unmistakable, and I turned calmly.

    “Father, I have seen the blackness within in and I have decided to surrender to the law of man.” I raised the phone to demonstrate my intentions.

    “That’s not necessary, my son.”

    The priest walked toward me and held me with his piercing, blue eyes; eyes that I’d seen recently, but in another face; her face, as she stood frozen and wide-eyed in my headlamps. My jaw dropped as her son faced me now.

    “Only the law of God can save you now, MY SON.” Father Tom’s words echoed through my brain as the bullet ripped through my heart.

    1. jmiff328

      Nice ending!!! That was great. If there was any grammer or story issues then I was too busy enjoying the story to care. This one could be made into a longer story if you wanted to.

  19. Dave Taylor

    I sat in the darkness alone with the smell of stale guilty sweat and mildewed suede overlaid by furniture polish. There was a soft throat-clearing on the other side of the wooden screen indicating that the owner of that throat did not have all day.
    “Father? I would like some advice.”
    “How long since your last confession?”
    “I’m not Catholic.”
    “Let’s start at the top shall we.”
    “I messed about with another man’s wife.”
    “Popular. One of the seven.”
    “I didn’t know she was married.”
    “So the Church is your first recourse? I’m touched.”
    “I didn’t set out to ruin this man’s marriage – what do I do?”
    “You are asking for a penance? Hail Mary won’t cut it. Let me think.”
    I sat in silence feeling more than a little stupid for placing my guilt in the hands of the representative of an institution I didn’t believe in.
    “You must find the man whom you have wronged and face him. Place the truth into his hands and let him administer the penance.”
    “And if he kills me?”
    “Then you can find out which of us was right about what comes after. Good luck.”
    I stood outside the Church and gazed up at the sky before placing a call.
    “It’s me.”
    “I didn’t think I’d ever hear from you again.”
    “I need your husband’s name and number.”
    “You’re not telling him anything he doesn’t know.”
    “He might know you are a cheating cow but I need to…” I searched for a suitable word, “…confess.”
    She gave me the number “Good luck.” There was a sadistic laugh in her voice as she rang off.
    I immediately dialed the number. A mobile phone rang behind me and I turned as my call was answered.
    “This is Mark.” I stared at the man on the steps behind me. He was what they had in mind when they invented the term ‘man-mountain’ he looked like a meat tank.
    He looked at me in confusion and lowered his phone.
    I swallowed and let my mouth off its leash.
    He sat on the steps and looked up at the sky before he looked at me again. The deep sadness in his eyes made me want to fall into a crack in the earth.
    “She’s done it before and she’ll do it again but I love her you know.”
    He looked into my eyes then reached out his hand. I took it half expecting to be ushered into the next world.
    “Thank you.”
    “You are the first to face me and tell me the truth. He shook my hand once and walked off. I watched him go before turning to look at the church again. Sitting on the steps was the priest, cup in hand. He smiled at me.
    “And the truth shall set you free. You’re absolved of your sin by the way.”
    He flicked the dregs from his cup into the shrubs beside the steps and walked back into the shadows of the church.

    1. jmiff328

      I liked the story. The 500 word thing is very tricky. I feel that your story could be improved with more detail and explanations. My story above got this same criticism. I’m not an editor so take what I say lightly. I enjoyed the dialogue. it was very realistic and kept me interested. Thanks!

    2. Tristan

      I really enjoyed this premise. Really! Something to keep in mind; try to convey something redeemable or likable or appealing about your villainess. Even if it’s just to illustrate why these two characters are so manipulated by her. The one sided character was something criticized about 50/50 and a good point, I think 🙂 Great movie, btw. Looking forward to reading more!

  20. skdunning

    The sounds of war assailed the darkness and sent tremors through the old church. She startled refugees huddled together as she burst through the door. “I’m sorry,” she muttered, before wading through the sea of terrified faces towards the confessional. She needed a quiet place to tend to her wounds and to think of her next move. A disembodied voice interrupted her thoughts, “Are you here for confession, Child?”

    “What? No, trust me, there’s not enough time for that. The battle will be on your doorstep within the hour,” she spoke hastily. “The Holy Mother Church and I don’t exactly see eye to eye so don’t waste your time. See to your flock, Shepherd.”

    “You are part of my flock. I would be remiss to allow one lamb to stray.”

    She chuckled as she tightened her belt as a tourniquet above her seeping leg injury. “Would I offend you if I use the holy water to wash my wounds?” she asked.

    “If it is to stay off infection, no I would not take offense. If your intent is to desecrate the well, however, I will raise an objection.”

    “You’re odd, for a priest.”

    “Oh I was in this world long before I took the collar. I might actually understand your sins more than my brethren would.”

    She sighed and tossed her head back to collect her thoughts. The odds were stacked against her, time was running out, and there she was sitting in a confessional making small talk. “Ten years ago I was left on my own. My parents are gone, and anyone else who might care. I did what I had to and survived the protests, the riots, and the mafia stooges. Gambling, stealing…prostitution when it was my only option. And now I’ve gone and killed the Kings’ man. He deserved it, attacking that boy like he did. But there you have it.”

    After a long pause, the voice said simply, “You are absolved.”

    “Wait, what?” she sat forward.

    The voice laughed, “I said I’d understand. These things and more I myself have done before I took the collar. You are forgiven. Any guilt of your sins would distract you from your true purpose.”

    “What makes you so confident Shepherd?”

    “I have known of you for some time. Every week I hear whispers about you. They call you a hero. They use your name as a rallying cry against their oppressors. You have saved many lives, and they are all loyal to you.”

    Her breath caught short in her throat. “And if that was true? What is my penance?”

    “You must take up arms against the king, and lead us to our salvation.”

    She stepped out of the confessional, his words cutting through her. The sea of terrified faces had been replaced with hopeful ones.

    The priest exited then. “Go, Mary, your people need you.”

    “See to your flock, Shepherd,” she stated and made for the door. Outside the war was raging, and she was determined to win it.

    1. KDBenji

      Great dialogue by-play. Uses a nice mixture of dialogue along and not an overkill of expository. In this scene we don’t need to know who she is, or what the war she is fighting nor even the time nor place. Nice, crisp exchange.

      1. Tristan

        I would definitely love to read more of the character, sounds like someone in a favorite series of mine. I would just maybe cut one “Shepherd” reference. And possibly suggest that she wait for absolution until she’s done her duty to the people instead of just absolving her? It could be interesting to highlight the moral and spiritual sacrifices a person and especially a hero has to make for their people.

  21. Tristan

    I sat in the warm little box that constituted the confessional. With the summer’s heat and the weight of my guilt it felt claustrophobic. The priest was waiting for me to unburden myself, to divulge my wrongdoing so he could point me towards forgiveness. “Father, my grandmother passed a few weeks ago, and I have been thinking a lot about how things ended between us. I can’t help but wonder if she knew how little I noticed her or the things she said. I felt before that I couldn’t bear to hear the same stories over and over again. She had to struggle so much to get through a conversation and half the time she didn’t manage to make much sense. I was pretty much ignoring her by the time she died.” I stop speaking for a moment, choking on my self-recrimination.
    “Child,” the priest’s voice was soft “it sounds to me that you feel you were not listening like you should have. God commands us to treat each other with love and respect. Most often we fall short of that goal. But you know that you have failed to follow the word of God in neglecting your grandmother and He sees your repentance. I think I have a special task for you.” He sits in silence for a moment and my heart begins pumping harder. I rub my sweaty palms on the rough material of my jeans. “For the forgiveness that you seek, you are to collect 100 pennies. Go out and find one person to give one coin each in return for a memory, a joke, a dream, anything that they might want to share with you. Do this in the next two weeks and then you will be forgiven.”
    Two weeks later I sat in a pew, thinking back on all the stories I had heard in such a short time. At first it had seemed tedious and even troublesome. Then I was amazed. Many of the things people had to say didn’t seem special. Someone had even told me about what they had eaten for breakfast that morning. But someone else had told me about finding their best friend after forty years. Another person had told me about having to identify a rape suspect. The more I asked people about what they wanted to share it seemed the more honest people had become with me. I had witnessed so many strangers’ greatest pain and joy.
    I sat and looked down at the last penny in my hand. I had saved this penny for two days now, unsure of what to do with it. I was unwilling to let it go easily, for some reason. I tried to divine what it was that I needed to do with this final token. And then it hit me. I got up and made my way to the cemetery across the street from the church. I found my grandmothers marker and knelt down to listen to her stories.

    1. skdunning

      Nice. Warmhearted. You did well considering the word count restriction. This has the promise of a full length novel. I can see the opportunity for character growth over the course of the 100 pennies. Well done.

  22. Nate

    jmiff328 – I liked your story. You get an A for creativity.

    However, the narration is loosely written. It really didn’t draw me in and envision the setting, or the fame of mind the main character was in. It was good that you got so much into he 500 words, which is a trickily short amoun fo space to tell a story. I feel that you may have tried to get to much information in, resulting an in unclear, emotionally detached story. If this had been a 1500-2000 word story, I think you could have narrated it better, and the reader would have a better understanding of where you were going and what you were infering.

    Overall, it was a good story though. Maybe next time keep it a little more simple so as to be more clear. Also, I would stear clear of cliches such as “sweating bullets.” Using the overused phrase cheapens the store and takes away from the creativity. (Ironically I used “stear clear” in that sentance which is also a cliche; due to the narrative tone of my comment however, this phrase works best to clearly represent what I mean without cheapening the end result)

  23. jmiff328

    Guilt rots you from the inside. My mother told me that, and if she was right then my guilt should have been drawing flies. I needed help but I was understandably apprehensive about the prospect of asking for guidance with my psychological issues.
    Absently walking, I stumbled upon St. Timothy’s Catholic Church. It was here that I squandered my youth day by day. My mischief here caused me to be kicked out and sent to boarding school to “learn some manners”. I guess they didn’t stick. I walked up the steps and into the cathedral. Straight ahead was where the Preacher would stand up and talk, the ceiling was lofty and twenty rows of pews lined the floor. The confessional was on the right, I headed that way and sat inside the small box. I began without being prompted, “forgive me Father for I have sinned, It has been thirty two years since my last confession and I haven’t exactly been an angel.” The Priest spoke for the first time, “None of us have been angels my Son, what have you done that needs forgiveness?” I was ready to get rid of this rotting guilt so I told him everything. I told him how I killed my Mother and buried her body in the woods. I told him how I had been collecting her checks for months and no one had suspected a thing. He was silent for a time after I finished and I was sweating bullets, my thoughts all ran to the same place, “What if he tells someone?” I was about to make a run for the exit when he spoke again. “I will absolve you my boy but you must do something first.” “Anything Father!” I said. “Good, now go to the place where you have buried your mother and dig up her body, wrap it up tight and bring her back here. Do you understand what I am asking of you?” I had a hard time putting words together but I must have managed because a few hours later I was back at the church with a body wrapped in plastic and not much memory of how it had all happened. The priest walked out of his office when he saw that I had done as he asked. He moved quickly, almost prancing with joy as he neared the plastic tarp. He looked at me and said simply, “you are absolved of your sins.” He bent to pick up the body with little effort and hurried back behind the pulpit door.
    I was left wondering what this had all been about but overall I was happy. I had been absolved by God and my guilt was gone. I left and began making my way home when I realized I left my cell-phone in the church confessional. I opened the door to the St. Timothy’s and started towards my phone I could hear the priest talking with a woman in the back and didn’t want to disturb them. I slowly realized I had heard that voice before. My terror was unspeakable when I realized it was my Mother’s voice. I let out a whimper and sprinted for the door. I made it into the cool night air and began my walk home again. I tried to push the voice out of my head but it was impossible. She was alive again somehow, and I was pretty sure who she would want to see first.


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