Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Forgive Me, For I Have Sinned
She gazed at the fading photo; voluminous folds of black material encased the woman. They said the habits weighed thirty five pounds, so that a woman might be aware of carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. She wondered what type of fabric it was made of. Cotton? Hopefully not wool; she would have passed out from heat exhaustion in the summer.
She felt him sit behind her on the bed, pushing her hair off the back of her neck in order to plant a kiss. His hands wrapped around her waist as he laid his chin on her shoulder.
She put the picture down, knowing it would just set off an argument between them.
"Nothing, just an old photo my mom sent me. She was cleaning out Gran's house and came across it. An old great aunt or someone."
"Let me see."
She tried to slide the picture back into the envelope it arrived in.
"Not now, lets go for a run."
He looked at her, a wicked smile on his face.
"Show me the photo first. What's the matter, is it a piece of antique pornography?"
She went to move off the bed but he grabbed her and threw her back down. The envelope flew out of her hands as she tried to break her fall; he rolled over on top of her, straddling her waist to pin her down, and grabbed it. He pulled out the picture as she struggled to take it from him. She saw him visibly recoil as he gazed on it. He threw it aside and rolled onto his back next to her. She turned towards him, as a look of anguish spread over his face.
"It's just some long lost relative. I think she was my gran's Aunt Agnes, back in Ireland. She was a Sister of Mercy."
She watched him take a deep breath to steady his nerves.
"There was nothing merciful about those bitches. Ugly, hateful, wicked old hags taking out their sexual frustrations on little kids."
Here it comes. She placed her hand on his tight stomach. She liked when he walked around in just his running shorts, his lean, muscular frame on display. She leaned forward and kissed his belly button.
"That was a long time ago, baby. It's foolish to hold a grudge after all these years. They can't hurt you anymore."
Anger flashed from his eyes.
"It's not foolish. Just because you had a happy relationship with the church doesn't mean we all did. People got hurt, badly, and then they've had to endure years of denial. It's a morally bankrupt, corrupt institution that needs to be held accountable for its actions."
She sighed. He was right, their experiences had been totally different, there were debts to be paid (and not just financial ones). The guilty had to punished. But this was such an old rift between them, they had had this argument so many times, she didn't relish a new round.
The two of them lay next to each other, the sound of birds singing breaking the silence between them. She tentatively stretched out her fingers until they touched his; she felt his hand embrace hers, tightly. After a few minutes he rolled over, letting his nose gently brush hers. He kissed her lightly, then deeply. When she opened her eyes, she saw him looking intently at her, his eyes slightly moist.
"Just don't put the picture in a frame and hang it up, ok?"
She knew this was important to him, knew he really meant this, but there was a wicked streak that ran through her.
"I was going to put it above our bed, but . . ."
A look of shock, then absolute love covered his face. He rolled on top of her and pushed her knees towards her shoulders as the photo fell to the floor, sliding under the bed to rest with the discarded sneakers and dust bunnies.