So for being Friday the 13th, today wasn’t half bad. I spent some awesome time with Jimmy who, unfortunately, is returning to Virginia tomorrow. I also had lunch with Raina and it was definitely enjoyable, and it was wonderful catching up. Yes, the only thing that absolutely sucked was getting stuck in traffic on the way home … for HOURS. My car has no air, so I was incredibly hot, sweaty and cranky from about 4:00PM until 7:10PM; 190 minutes of discomfort – that’s torture.
Also, I was offered the job at the school in Oakland. It all happened really, really fast. I assumed I was just meeting with the principal, but then my future supervisor brought me in to meet the superintendent and she asked if I was “interested.” I told her I was, and she started talking about salary and meeting with HR after the Board of Education meeting on July 30th. My head was spinning. To be honest, it still is. I’m already stressing, striking out somewhere unfamiliar on my own and far from family. My neck hurts when I think about taking over bills, the possibility of having to commute and being independent. I’ve told myself for the past two years that this is everything I want, but now I’m terrified. Was it all just bravado? Am I really content to be living at home, floating between maternity leaves? Have I romanticized my loneliness and disappointment into something worthwhile?
I need to sleep. Or drink heavily. Basically, I just need to relax.
PROMPT: “You accidentally overhear a conversation between two people you’ve never met. The topic of the conversation shocks and dismays you. Write about these conversations and describe how you respond to the content:
■1. A conversation between two stockbrokers
■2. A conversation between a priest and a member of his parish
■3. A conversation between a woman and the man with whom she’s been cheating on her husband
PIECE (#2): It had been a rough couple of months. It had been months since I’d been to mass, let alone to confession. Nothing had changed, everything had remained absurdly shitty, so I thought why not give the Big Man a try. Maybe everything that could go wrong was going wrong because I’d taken Him out of the equation, so to speak. I was desperate, and willing to try anything to get back on my feet. I was broke, unemployed, living in my parents’ house, incredibly lonely and as if that wasn’t enough, my cat had gone missing. Running my hands over and across my throbbing skull, I knelt in the pew closest to the altar. I released a tremulous breath and looked up at the Crucified Christ. His frame was twisted in a grotesque display of pain, and his stone, sorrowful eyes looked up for some relief, some absolution, something. I was looking to Jesus, Jesus was looking to God and we both looked miserable.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the priest treading carpet quickly. He was obviously in a rush, a terrible rush, as he made sure his eyes remained downcast, evading even the most remote possibilities of making eye contact. Intrigued by such odd behavior, – especially for a priest – I discreetly followed his progress from the rectory doors in the front, left corner of the church to the confessional booths in the middle of the back of the church. I craned my neck, understanding that in the priest’s attempt to not see freed me to stare unashamedly. I had never been to this particular church before, travelling to find anonymity as well as comfort, and was interested to try and case the place, to figure things out. I worried the intrigue was over when the priest was just about to enter the confessional and begin his holy duties when the doors to the rectory flew open and a man unfamiliar to me burst onto the scene.
“Ben!” he screamed. “You can’t keep running from this!” The man’s shirt was stained with dirt and sweat and un-tucked. He had run a formidable distance, but still managed to sound fierce in between gasps of air. The priest, Father Ben as it were, remained silent.
“How can you kneel before the King and claim purity when your hands are stained? How can you offer absolution to anyone when you are damned?” I looked from the crazed man to Father Ben and back again, wanting to make sense of the conversation and to fill in the gaps myself. It was near impossible, especially when Father Ben refused to participate. As the man screamed, the priest remained perfectly still, more like a statue than a man; more like an imitation than the genuine article.
“Who are you going to confess your sins to?” the man asked. He was gazing intently at Father Ben. I don’t think he ever even knew I was there.
In response, Father Ben turned from the both of us and exited the church.
From what I could find out from parishioners and close friends, he never returned. What’s worse: he never even said goodbye.