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
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
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
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
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.
Labels: fiction Trifecta Writing Challenge