Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Given to Religion

The lights in the chapel were low, all but the lamp next to the door and the Exit sign extinguished in the late hour. Many had come and gone, relinquishing their prayers into the stuffy, sanctified air and left matters in hands other than their own, continuing on with their lives without any sign of deliverance. Her stay continued on, unnoticed.

A quiet young woman, her eyes lost in the candle smoke she could not see from her dark back corner. Tears hide just behind her lowered lashes, one hand clasped on the pew before her and the other to a book on her chest, body rocking ever so slightly as she knelt there. Her lips trembling with the power of unspoken, beseeching thoughts boiled beneath.

The hour grew later. The caretaker had walked by her an occasion or two, her focus never wavering from her spirit’s plight.

“Miss,” he whispered, bringing her back into the world with a sudden jerked gasp.

“Miss, if you need anything...”

“Thank you” she mouthed voicelessly. That man stood over her, questions playing at the corners of his mouth, then after a few moments she watched him walk to the small hidden side door and disappear into the hallway behind, its light glowing beneath the door.

Her eyes swung from the door to the small stage like platform down front. She eased herself up onto the pew, legs locked and aching from her vigils. The aches were enough to break her silence and a small sob seeped from her lips as the tears began to fall.

Making her way to down the aisle, she remembered it lit, with wildflowers lining the aisle and a harp’s strings sounding. The pews creaked beneath her shifting hand as she passed from one to the other for support, holding the book to her chest as if it were her heart she was holding in. Stopping slightly before letting the last, or first, pew trail from beneath he fingers she stepped awkwardly forward, tripping on her own sleepy feet and falling, splayed against the stage’s edge.

The tears shook themselves from her, then, as she curled herself against the sharp angles of the structure. All was silent in the church as the tears hit the stage and her breath raked itself from her lungs.

An arm circled her shoulders gently enough she did not even notice.

“My sweet lady,” A kind voice spoke. “Why are you crying?”

Whipping her eyes to the gentle man’s familiar face, her eyes shown as a deer caught, frozen wide and watching.

“You’re safe, love,” he speaks, a hand wiping tear washed locks from her face. That gentle, work-worn touch was what broke her, and the book fell from her hand as she took him instead, wrapping her arms around him as he cradled her within his strength. With each tear, the fear ebbed ever so slightly, the pain eased against the bounds of her heart.

“Shh,” he gentled, “Shh, I am here.”

The birds had begun to stir in the darkness outside when she finally calmed and relinquished her companion.

“There,” he said wiping her tears with his calloused fingers. “This will pass,” he promised, and in taking her tears he brought her face up to his and kissed her softly as the dawn broke itself against the stain glass windows about them.

Adornments fell one by one, discarded and forgotten upon the floor; an earring first, as he tucked her hair behind her ear, kissing the lobe and drawing out the piercing’s metal, the watch from her right hand, the wrinkled and sprinkled blouse and all else beneath.

“Know I love you” he whispered as he moved over her, taking her gaze into his own, cradling her head as he kissed her upon the stage, her legs trailing down the small step back to the floor, never quite touching as the hovered trembling there.

She clung to him in her desperation, her confusion and her alienation. The only thing she wore, a ring, and him, her. The gentle rocking of bodies against the Lord’s house elevated as she arced against him, the nails of her hands drawing blood from his skin.

He took her hands and spread her arms wide, slipping the ring off her finger, interlocking her hands within his own, a coupled crucifixion in their own right. He brought her to intimacy and ecstasy under the multicolored light of the church then, collapsing upon her, the blood of her deeds trickling down to taint her sweat.

“Will you leave him...?” he finally asks against the silence of the still sleeping newly reborn day.

She closes her eyes against the few tears left.

“Yes.” She whispers, hoarse against his breath. Then he is gone as if dissolved in the light of the day.

She dresses herself in what she entered into the church with, except for one thing. She places the wedding band at the foot of the stage’s center.

“Never again will I be unfaithful,” she promises herself, “to me or to my God.” She gently picks up the book, smoothing her fingers over the pages it had opened up to. There was the likeness of her night’s lover. In dark heavy ink upon the old page is embossed the name “Deliverer”.

She checks the arrangement of her clothes gingerly touching where the bruises from her husband’s hands had risen against their last arguing.

“I will leave him” she swears upon the air, “thank you for the strength.”

The door creeks quietly as she exits the chapel, the morning light soft with mist kissing healing blessings upon her skin as she leaves.

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