The Bishop stood to the side of the open cathedral doors, nodding curt greetings to the early morning worshipers as they passed through the doors. Once again, he looked inside at the slowly filling pews, but did not yet see Rene. Nor did he see Rene amongst those gathered in the square outside.
The Bishop slowly, if loudly, pushed his breath out through pursed lips; a mix of both prayer and frustration with the boy. He felt a man’s presence at his back, dropping his head to listen.
“Deacon Rene is not at the seminary, either,” Deacon Michael said.
The Bishop nodded slowly, but did not turn. “Perhaps he forgets what today is,” he said, continuing to acknowledge the worshipers who passed by him into the church.
“For Rene, all days are the same beautiful day,” Michael said. “Prayer, breakfast, Mass... You know what he says.”
“Yes, yes. All days are beautiful days,” the Bishop said, impatiently.
“…only more so,” Michael finished.
“Yes, well today isn’t just any beautiful day,” the Bishop said, interrupting. He turned to Michael. “Go. Take your place.”
A light breeze blew the gauzy white curtains until they just brushed the bare skin of the man on the bed.
The pure white sheets were tangled about him from rolling in his sleep, likely from an attempt to escape the sun that danced through the curtains and was starting to warm his feet. He was asleep, alone, in the very large bed, but there were enough pillows and indentations in the mattress to see that two had slept there until just moments before.
Even in his lite sleep, he felt the change of temperature on his uncovered foot; the window shutters were closing, and the sun no longer warmed him.
He stirred. He rolled onto his back (exposing more than feet), and opened his eyes.
The woman was nude, and facing away from him. The light through the slits in the shutters cast her in silhouette; he could see her drawing the sheer curtains closed across the window. She turned to him; his eyes adjusting to the new light, and he could see she was as beautiful as he’d remembered, all golden hair, white skin (untouched by sun), and impossibly ruby lips. She had green eyes that should be impossible to see from this far away, especially in backlight. But there they are.
She smiled impurely, turning once again away from him. She stretched her arms wide, and pulled the set of heavy, royal purple drapes clothes with pure drama, and the room went dark. She remained facing the closed window as she spoke.
“My love, let us shut out the day and let this night never end.”
She turned to face him in the now darker room, smiling in a way that the young Deacon knew meant his life had completely changed, and approached the bed.
Behind her, the shutters, impossibly, blew open; a great gust of wind parted the dark drapery, and the morning sun exploded into the room. Her lithe body was bathed in light from behind, and then the sun overwhelmed and blinded him.
He sat bolt upright, startled out of his dream. She was gone.
The drapes did billow in the wind. The shutters were wide open. He was alone in the large bed, still wrapped in the white sheets, but they were wet with sweat; his own, he thought.
The bell from the clock tower rang seven o’clock, and he looked toward the window. It looked to be a beautiful morning outside. A beautiful day like any other.”
“God!” he said, jumping out of bed, leaving the damp bed linens behind him. He looked this way and that until I saw his clothes, a Deacon’s robes, laid out carefully on a chair next to the door.
Rene stood at the back of the cathedral, as he often did before a mass.
He was frozen in place, eyes fixed on the closed door of a confessional – The same confessional that the woman had entered just a moment ago.
The morning sun was shining through a great window onto his legs and feet, heating his shiny black shoes to an uncomfortable temperature.
Not just a woman, but the woman from this morning. …or last night?
Rene was sweating underneath his vestments, and he could feel the sweat running down his chest and back; the cloth clung to his skin, and he pulled at it for relief.
How long, he wondered, had the booth’s door been closed? How long have I been here?
Then the door opened, a lithe, impossibly long leg swung out as the woman stood up to exit the confessional. The leg has exposed in a way that a leg would never be exposed; as a woman’s clothing will simply not allow it. Nevertheless, there was the bare leg, just as it was when she had entered the little room.
She stood, and strode two steps into the sunlight streaming from the window, and stopped. She faced Rene from a distance; her white skin shone with such light, and he could see nothing but her shape. He saw green eyes that should be impossible to see from this far away, in that light. But there they are.
“You’re late,” the Bishop said, surprising Rene as he suddenly stepped between Rene and the woman.
“I’ve been here,” Rene said, startled, “in the back, like every day.”
The Bishop frowned, and looked closer at Rene. “You’re sick? You’re sweating.”
“I walked quickly, and the sun…” Rene said. “Like every day.”
“Take your place, Rene,” the Bishop said, gesturing to the line of Deacons near the front of the cathedral; each waiting to be ordained.
Rene looked at them; each dressed in the same robes that he sweated beneath now. Rene didn’t move.
The Bishop looked concerned. “Are you nervous?”
Rene looked confused, but whether at the question or something else, even he wasn’t sure. He didn’t answer, or even respond.
“Rene, it’s just a day…” the Bishop began. “Like any other.”
Rene nodded. “Only more so.”
Image by scarbe84 on freeimages.com.
Confessional – Roland Denzel, March 4th, 2014
Image by scarbe84 on freeimages.com.