My Last Confession
(c) Allyson Romani (2017)
I stood at the back of the huge sanctuary, smoothed my skirt,
fussed with my hair. Late afternoon sun streamed through the high
stained glass windows, and seemed to illuminate the whole of the
room's iconography in a way that might most effectively, do what
exactly? Challenge me? Mock me? Frighten me? Condemn me?
All of the above.
How long I stood I couldn't know. Anyone who saw would have
thought I'd come alone. That I hadn't, they couldn't know.
Time sometimes swirls into whirlpools. The when of things becomes
lost when the why of them feels the need to rearrange events to
assert some cosmological point of order.
"We need to retake the ultrasound."
"Why? Is something wrong?"
The day I went to the clinic, all time stood still. All past and
future compressed into a point. Park. Go inside. Taken to the
room. "Wear this, Miss.". An injection.
"This isn't your fault," the doctor said.
"Where did the genes come from?", I asked. He gave no answer.
Slowly I made my way to the corner. Genuflected crossing the
center aisle as I'd been taught. In the alcove I lit a candle.
Pressed ten dollars into the box.
The confessional awaited like the executioner's gallows. Yet
it beckoned. Something I must confront. This is where I will
fall. This is where I will ascend. Or neither.
I stepped inside, closed the door, and waited.
"What brings you here today, My Child?"
He expected "Bless me Father, for I have sinned." He didn't
"Father, when I leave here today I'm going to kill My Child."
In his long silence I could hear only the air escaping from the
room. All evacuated into empty space. An emergency decompression
sucking everything through the gaping hole in my reality. All the
stained glass shattered and rang down in shards around us, the
sound echoing for hours.
I spoke again, "How can you help me?"
Standing on uncertain ground, he said only, "You mustn't have
these thoughts, My Child."
"They are not my thoughts, Father. My child is dying inside me.
So they say.
And I'm told that if I don't do this, I shall die. They say she
most likely won't last to term. And if I go on, it may kill me,
too. Or they might be wrong.
So they say."
"I think, in this case, My Child, you must take the advice of
your doctors. It's a painful choice. The Lord will forgive..."
The long silence this time echoed from my side of the
confessional. Had I really heard what I just heard? From a
Priest? My choice? Permission to Kill?
"Thank you for your time, Father. My soul understands it's on
its own." And without a blessing I stood, opened the door,
stepped out, began to walk quickly to the front of the church.
A hand grabbed my wrist and turned me. "No, Father, I can see
you have nothing to help me." Pulled my arm away, ran out the
door, tried not to cry again.
The doctor tried to be gentle, but all I heard was: "You must
never let this happen to you again. It would most likely turn
out the same."
The lights cut into me, "It shouldn't be so bright, the nurses
shouldn't smile," I thought.
How long since I came in? The doctor spoke in soothing tones.
His words sounded like the hiss of a snake.
I felt a pinch and a low pain. It lasted forever. Deep inside
the knife cut, and the dying within me pierced my heart. Then
it was still, and I was empty..
"We'll let you recover for a while until you feel well enough
to go," one of them said. "You're fine. It's over, Everything
I glared, felt flames shoot from my eyes. "Normal? It will
never be normal, never over."
My friend drove me home. We passed the church. "Stop, let me out.
Wait here for me please."
"No," she said, you should stay away from here for a while."
"Stop, Let me go in. I have to go in."
She did. And I did.
Another candle. Another ten dollars. Genuflect.
"Why have you come, My Child?"
"To say goodbye, Father. You are a hypocrite, your church a
fraud. I'll never step inside it again. I came for courage,
not absolution. With courage I'd have needed no absolution.
Without it, I need absolution that can never be given. Nothing
can wash this stain from me. No ten dollar confession can save
Stepped out of the confessional into the freezing cold.
His second-thought stuttering faded in the distance behind,
".... pray for you..... the soul of your child...
your great loss.... "
"I'll find a real man of God. Goodbye"
That church echoed only with the sound of my footsteps leaving
for the last time, then it was silent.
I agonized for a long time about writing this story about the most wrenching moments of my life. I know I’m far too poor a writer to convey the surrealism of it and the utter defeat I felt. I hope only that some of it comes through.
I’ll write more in coming days and weeks. Thank you for indulging me. Please leave a comment with your thoughts.