Bless Me, Father, for I Have Sinned

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
From Stranger Things Happen, my book of 76 overlapping flash fiction stories inspired by original street photography. Available on Amazon in all global markets.

Submitted: February 06, 2016

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Submitted: February 06, 2016

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“Your turn,” the old lady said, nodding at me, her rosary beads dangling in her hands as she headed off to a pew to say her Hail Mary’s.

I opened the door and entered the little boxy space, which was like a phone booth but not, and bent down on the velvet kneeler. This activated the light that let the priest know he had a congregant seeking penance and should open the little door that separated our faces, even though they would still be distanced by a screen and darkness. I soon saw his shadowy profile appear.

Father Christopher said nothing, so I started, as usual.

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been six months since my last confession.” I almost said This is Jamie, but then I remembered about the anonymity thing.

“And what were your sins?” he asked.

I was about to list them all yet again, but, seriously, was this really necessary? They were always the same. Blah, blah, blah.

“Oh, you know, the usual,” I answered.

“What do you mean, the usual?” he replied, tilting his head in the shadows.

“You know, I stole, I lied, I coveted, I cursed. The usual.” I mean, c’mon, he hears this stuff all day. This can’t be surprising.

“And do you feel any remorse for that?” he sort of snapped.

Shit. I had forgotten about remorse. I usually just stroll in here every so often and get a clean slate. I say my sins and he tells me what prayers to say and then does the sign of the cross. That gets the stains of sin removed from my soul. And this is important if I want to get into Heaven, or so I’m told. And if I don’t go to Heaven, there’s really only Hell as an option, having already bypassed Purgatory and Limbo. Really, you almost need a GPS to navigate the afterlife in this system. But today he threw the ole’ remorse thing in my face. I had forgotten about that tiny footnote. He hadn’t mentioned it the last few times.

So I thought about remorse. Noun. A feeling of doing something wrong in the past. A feeling of guilt.

Well, perhaps if you were a die-hard ethicist, you’d have a problem with me taking extra Sweet ‘n’ Lows every time I go to Dunkin Donuts (even though I never take the napkins or stirrers and it sort of evens out, doesn’t it?) or lusting over the neighbor’s husband every time he puts out the garbage shirtless (I don’t act on it, if that reduces my sin a bit). And perhaps I could curb my tongue a little more and stop saying shit so often. And maybe I really should tell the total and complete truth when anyone asks my opinion, but was it really so bad to go to that concert with my roommate after she had that fight with her boyfriend, even though I never liked her kind of music, even though I said I did? And about my boyfriend, I’ll tell him soon. I’ll tell him I don’t really love him.

But, no, I didn’t feel bad or guilty about any of these things, except that they are supposedly on the “sin list,” and here I am, a victim of early brainwashings and a desire for a place to call home in all ways, including spiritually. I had liked the “confess and cleanse” loophole–it’s like getting your teeth cleaned and then getting to start over again with red wine and coffee stains–with the exception of that remorse clause. And if he’s going to harp on that, I think we’re going to perhaps have a problem here.

“Well, Father, if you want the truth, and I’m guessing you do,” I answered, sort of chuckling (note: he didn’t chuckle), “I really don’t feel remorse. But I am interested in you wiping my sin slate clean so I can start fresh. You know, sort of like a teeth cleaning.” I probably shouldn’t have added that part.

He sighed.

“Do you think you will make the same sins again?” he asked.

This time, I sighed.

“Father, I am certain I will do the same things again,” I answered. “If you consider them sins, then, yes, I will sin again. But really, just between us here in the anonymous privacy of this slightly claustrophobia-inducing boothy thing, does this really matter, these little sins? I’m basically good. I’m clearly trying.”

Silence. I got silence. And when you’re kneeling in a dark box talking to the side of a shadowy head, that’s a weird sensation. And frankly, my knees were starting to hurt.

Finally, I saw his hand raise up. He was either going to close the little door between us or give me the blessing.

“You are absolved of your sins,” he said.

Score!

I waited for the prayers.

“I have no prayers for you.”

Oh, shit. I realized I may have misread this one. This was worse than I expected.

“You have no prayers for me as in ‘no prayers can save you’ or ‘no prayers are necessary because you are so good’?” I asked to clarify. It’s important to clarify in these circumstances.

“I have no prayers for you,” he repeated, “because I don’t want you to pray. I want you to pay.”

Pay? Was he asking me to bribe him?

“Just bring a box of Sweet-n-Low to Dunkin Donuts, and we’ll call it even, okay?” he added.

Okay, no bribery, but how did he know about the Sweet-n-Low?

“How did you know about the Sweet-and-Low?” I asked.

“I was behind you in line earlier today,” he answered.

“But, wait, how do you even know who I am? You can’t see me through this screen, right?” I asked. What was going on here?

Silence for a minute, and then he whispered, “It’s a lie. I can see you.”


© Copyright 2018 Pattie Baker. All rights reserved.

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