Simple Confession. Short Story.

Today’s short story is slightly short than the previous ones. I’m off from college now, so, how do I spend my days? Lazily is the answer, lazily.

My parents and I have had a Dexter marathon, almost through season 3 now! Isn’t as boring this time around, I wonder if it’s because my sister told me it was boring before I watched it the first time. Oh well.

Also, in a bit of an aside, David Tennant’s Scottish accent is bizarre. I know that is how he normally speaks, but hearing him speak without an accent on Doctor Who first has just made it really, really strange. Also, speaking of Scottish, in the episode Tooth and Claw, I always thought Rose said “That includes you, you lazy bitch” Which I thought was a bit odd/wondered why they didn’t bleep it. Apparently, she actually says, “That includes you, your ladyship” Yeah. Dunno how I managed that at all.

Christmas is almost here! kinda insane. Next Sunday! I’m really looking forward to the food. Oh and gifts and family and that stuff too I suppose. There will of course be short stories on Friday and Monday and in two years (assuming I’m still alive/the internet hasn’t imploded/the world didn’t end etc) there will be a short story on Christmas eve because that will be a Wednesday. I was going to say next year but next year is a leap year and Christmas falls on a Tuesday. Damn calender screwing up dates and such. New Years is also on the weekend this year and there will be short stories before and after it as well.
anyway, on with the show!

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Simple Confession.

Laura stood outside the church, it was large and forbidding. Her grandmother always said the church was warm and welcoming but Laura just couldn’t see it. It was giant, almost monolithic, grey slabs stacked upon one another, occasional gaps filled with stained glass, inside lights causing the windows to glow softly. The doors were large, some kind of dark wood, perhaps oak stained with layer upon layer of varnish. Metal rivulets twisted in and out of the designs carved into the wood, curving and arcing until finally meeting with the large handles. The doors were closed, but Laura knew from past experiences that the door would slip open easily. She approached the door and rested her hand against if for a moment, the wood was cool and smooth. After taking a breath she grabbed the handle and pulled, the door swung open as smoothly as she remembered, but she still expected to hear a creak or groan. It was so old. She stepped into the giant building, the door swinging gently shut behind her.

It was just as large and imposing inside, the ceilings high and vaulted, covered with gorgeous paintings, added by some long forgotten hand. Lines of pews faced the alter, orderly and precise in their layout. The church appeared empty, but she knew that was not the case. The floors were tiled, her high heels clacking against the stone, almost unbearably loud in the silence. Candles cast a rosy glow, so many of them, a thousand offerings from unknown pilgrims. Bibles rested on the pews in intervals. She paused, then placed her hand on the cover of one, she was not sure why. Perhaps for strength, reassurance. She had rarely come to church, only when her grandmother brought her. Laura’s parents were not religious, nor was she, but yet she was drawn here now. She needed to talk to someone, she needed forgiveness. She could tell no one else what had happened. Her grandmother always told her the church was kind, forgiving, and that was what brought her here now. Laura doubted saying prayers would help, but it might. She stood for a moment, unsure where to go, shouldn’t there be a line of pennants, waiting their turn in the confessional. She was certain it was time for confession, she had looked it up and everything.

Her breathing quickened. Maybe it was a bad idea to come here, maybe she should turn around and leave. Was she even allowed here? She sat for a moment on the hard, cold wood and bowed her head. Trying to pray, feeling out of place and awkward. How did one go about praying? She had never been told, not really. She had watched others clasp their hands and bow their heads, but then what? What do you say? So she sat in silence, afraid of breaking some rule, offering offence instead of praise. She heard the door of the confessional open, she kept her head bowed as whoever it was left the church quickly, their pace sure and even. After counting to ten, she raised her head and looked around. She was still alone, the person had gone. There was no one else here, so, standing, she walked to the open door and stepped inside.

She could see the vague outline of a man on the other side and, knowing that you were supposed to kneel, she positioned herself comfortably and bowing her head again she spoke. “Bless me father for I have sinned. I have never really been to confession, but I need help. I have done something terrible and I need forgiveness.” She paused, wondering if the priest was going to say anything or kick her out, there was nothing. After a few more seconds she began, Laura didn’t need to organise her thoughts, after all, everything that had happened had replayed in her mind over and over again. “I killed someone. My husband.” she took a deep breath, it was the first time she had said it out loud. “They think it was a heart attack that killed him, that it was natural causes, but it was me. I give him too much of his medication, he relied on me to remember the doses, I mixed some into his food. I realised what I had done as soon as he fell on the floor and I didn’t know what to do. I called an ambulance, but I couldn’t admit what I had done. I have a young daughter and I can’t leave her alone in the world. My husband was a terrible man, I was always told not to speak ill of the dead, but he truly was. He used to beat me, beat us both, I tried to protect her but it didn’t always work. I couldn’t take it anymore. That’s why I did it. I don’t know what to do. The guilt of it is killing me, I know he was a terrible man but it isn’t down to me to make judgements. I haven’t told anyone what I’ve done and I need to do something to make things right. What can I do?” she had begun to cry while speaking, now tears were flowing freely. She was telling the truth, her husband was a cruel, sadistic man, but was that enough justification, she did believe that if she had tried to leave him, he would have killed her and maybe even their daughter. He was quick to anger and slow to calm. At the time she felt that she had no other option, but now that she was free instead of feeling the expected relief, she instead only felt crippling guilt.

It took Laura a few minutes to quell the tears, when she had, she realised the priest hadn’t spoken yet. “Father? What should I do?” she raised her head slightly and looked through the screen, he appeared to by lying back against the wall, slightly slumped over. “Father? Are you ok?” She stood, unsure what to do. She stepped outside of the box and opened the door. The priest lay against the wall, clearly dead, his skin white and his eyes glazed, she reached in carefully, just to be sure, trying to find a pulse along his cold neck. There was nothing. She stood again, looking around, she was still alone in the church. The other person, they must have realised the priest had died unless he had died while she was in the confessional, could he have died without her noticing? She stepped back, not knowing what to do. What if the police suspected her, it didn’t look like he was murdered but what did she know? What if they wanted to question her and they looked closely at her husbands death. They might realise what she had done and think she had done the same to the priest. She looked down at the body, then clumsily crossed herself, “I’m sorry father.” Turning, she glanced around quickly again and ran towards the door, the clacking of her high heels bouncing off the high ceilings and cold walls, building until it seemed to be chasing her down the aisle. Figures in the stained glass windows peered down at her disapprovingly as she burst through the door and into the warm summer evening.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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