Words Unsaid


Cheryl pulls open the heavy wooden door and steps into a cool darkness backlight by stained glass. Her neat heels echo on the marble floor. The backs of her hands are blue... red... yellow. The church smells of the stillness of flowers, of incense, of words unsaid.

Every year, her mother had helped to clean this church, lugging a red bucket of soapy water down each aisle, scrubbing at the pews as if she could personally wash away sin. No matter how much elbow grease her mother had applied, some things—swear words and names carved into wood—could not be rubbed away.

These words pained her mother. Every time she encountered one, she would set down her rag and head to the front of the church to light a candle and say a prayer for the poor sinner.


Cheryl herself had carved into a pew, just a nick, mind you, her conscience stopping her from going any further. She laughs and listens to the sound of her laughter echoing off stone. Abruptly, she stops.

It isn't good to laugh in church.

It isn't good to cry.

It isn't good to tell truths unsaid.

Father had told her so.

She works her way up the center aisle and sees the book open on the podium. She turns to the front, runs her hand along the list of names. She likes this feeling. Perhaps this is what it's like to read Braille.

Was her mother blind or merely faithful?

All these people, she tells herself. All these silent people.

She returns to the back of the book, neatly pens in her mother's name for the first weekend in October.

She rubs at her mouth, but cannot rid herself of the feel of his lips upon her own, no matter how hard she tries.

A door opens. A man steps forward. “Do you have an intention?”

She drops the pen, hurries away, heels clicking, stained glass chasing her down the aisle, this time painting her in reverse.

~end~

This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was intention.

Labels:

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Words Unsaid

Monday, January 7, 2013

Words Unsaid


Cheryl pulls open the heavy wooden door and steps into a cool darkness backlight by stained glass. Her neat heels echo on the marble floor. The backs of her hands are blue... red... yellow. The church smells of the stillness of flowers, of incense, of words unsaid.

Every year, her mother had helped to clean this church, lugging a red bucket of soapy water down each aisle, scrubbing at the pews as if she could personally wash away sin. No matter how much elbow grease her mother had applied, some things—swear words and names carved into wood—could not be rubbed away.

These words pained her mother. Every time she encountered one, she would set down her rag and head to the front of the church to light a candle and say a prayer for the poor sinner.


Cheryl herself had carved into a pew, just a nick, mind you, her conscience stopping her from going any further. She laughs and listens to the sound of her laughter echoing off stone. Abruptly, she stops.

It isn't good to laugh in church.

It isn't good to cry.

It isn't good to tell truths unsaid.

Father had told her so.

She works her way up the center aisle and sees the book open on the podium. She turns to the front, runs her hand along the list of names. She likes this feeling. Perhaps this is what it's like to read Braille.

Was her mother blind or merely faithful?

All these people, she tells herself. All these silent people.

She returns to the back of the book, neatly pens in her mother's name for the first weekend in October.

She rubs at her mouth, but cannot rid herself of the feel of his lips upon her own, no matter how hard she tries.

A door opens. A man steps forward. “Do you have an intention?”

She drops the pen, hurries away, heels clicking, stained glass chasing her down the aisle, this time painting her in reverse.

~end~

This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was intention.

Labels:

17 Comments:

At January 7, 2013 at 7:23 PM , Blogger paulaj said...

Scrubbing at the pews as if she could personally wash away sins. A great line.

 
At January 7, 2013 at 7:58 PM , Blogger Ruby Manchanda said...

The story unfolds nicely.

 
At January 7, 2013 at 8:36 PM , Blogger Draug said...

A very interesting story. Makes me want to know more!

 
At January 7, 2013 at 9:57 PM , OpenID tenwordstory said...

I would like so very much to see where this leads...

 
At January 8, 2013 at 8:05 AM , OpenID whispatory said...

This had a wonderful hushed but frantic quality to it. Much like the prayers of children and the desperate.and I loved how complicated her relationship to the space was. But oh this line: It isn't good to tell truths unsaid.

 
At January 8, 2013 at 8:58 AM , Blogger j umbaugh said...

The story unfolds nicely but needed to read twice to see it more clearly. (My fault not yours) Well done and as mentioned by others we need more, possibly a resolution??

 
At January 8, 2013 at 10:58 AM , Blogger Deborah Batterman said...

I agree with 'whispatory' re: the hushed and frantic quality. I especially love all that one line -- 'The church smells of the stillness of flowers, of incense, of words unsaid' -- encompasses.

 
At January 8, 2013 at 12:06 PM , Blogger Atreyee said...

"It isn't good to laugh in church.

It isn't good to cry.

It isn't good to tell truths unsaid.

Father had told her so."

And-

"Was her mother blind or merely faithful?"

Along with,

"She rubs at her mouth, but cannot rid herself of the feel of his lips upon her own, no matter how hard she tries",tells it all-poor girl!What a way to grow up!The true face of a sinner is usually in the shadows-"truth unsaid" indeed!

Amazingly well written.

 
At January 8, 2013 at 12:51 PM , Blogger Bo said...

I enjoyed this. great post.

 
At January 8, 2013 at 3:05 PM , Blogger Stephanie B. @B4Steph said...

Nothing good is happening in this church. She can't rid herself of the feel of his lips. Was her mother blind or faithful? Great sinister quality to the piece. Stained glass chasing her is a wonderful image.

 
At January 8, 2013 at 4:10 PM , Blogger Tara R. said...

The line about scrubbing away sin really stuck with me too. As always, such beautiful imagery.

 
At January 8, 2013 at 4:16 PM , Blogger kymm said...

Terrific slice of a troubled, troubling life. Scrubbing away sin and being chased by stained glass are aces.

 
At January 8, 2013 at 9:05 PM , OpenID cutenosegrl said...

Nice story, I get the sense that she and her mother had a falling out, but I could be wrong.
Good job. :)

 
At January 8, 2013 at 10:42 PM , OpenID jannatwrites said...

Your stories always have some much depth to them. This one is no different. The mom scrubbing away sin seems oblivious to the daughter's plight. The daughter wondering if her mom was blind or faithful makes me think she resents her mom not helping her.

 
At January 9, 2013 at 4:40 AM , Anonymous ST said...

part of something longer ? nice.

 
At January 10, 2013 at 1:25 PM , Blogger lumdog2012 said...

Beautiful, descriptive language. And I could almost hear Elenor Rigby playing in the background. I'd love to read more of this story.

 
At January 10, 2013 at 5:52 PM , OpenID lindavernon said...

I really liked this. The description of the church as the backdrop for the drama and the last line was absolutely wonderful! :D

 

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