Fragment #203 – 6 September 2018

This particular piece was a flash I tried to have published in various places, but alas!  No bites, no interest.  And so, here it is.

And praise God, the priest said, his arms raised.  Gloria a Dios.  His throat was dry, and he wanted a drink.  An old woman, her ankles swollen, pressed his hand and said something in a dialect he couldn’t understand.  She spoke too fast. He was thirsty. The sun was already too hot, and it was only mid-morning. He lowered his arms, his skin loose and creping.  Vanity. I was handsome when I first came here, he thought. But what use are good looks for a clergyman? It mattered for donations, he still remembered fondly the young women who would touch his arm as their husbands filled the collection plate.  Gracias a tí, he would say as their eyes shone.  Warm fingers, light cotton clothing, sunlight.  But decades had past and the women were old and ugly now, like him, and their husbands were dead, and their children lived in Mexico City or America, where there were jobs, and money.  The old woman was the last to leave, and then he was alone in the small church. His eyes fell on the bottle tucked at the feet of the lectern. No. No. I won’t –

Time slipped.  He came abruptly awake in his chair in the living area attached to the church, the fans overhead rotating slowly, the blades low and white, with grime crusting the edges.  He had no idea how he got there until his eyes alighted on the glass, the bottle, the ruined lime quarters. Again, he thought. Again. De nuevo.  I thought I was done with all of this.

He had never really wanted anything, not even when young, virile, untethered to responsibility, unchained to the church.  Just the bottle, and God was supposed to help with that. He had buried his teacher here, an old, fat, kindly man who had taught him Spanish and admonished him to become embedded within the community.  We are people of the land, Padre Paco said, not just of Heaven. We must know them in order to show them the way. But neither man had known what to do as the town had dried up and people moved away. Paco had died, and he had.  Well. Estoy crudo.  Todos los días.  

Another bottle.  He was disappointed in himself, and the day was ruined, and his eyes ached, and it was only noon, but all of this was normal by now, and God was known to forgive even the most wretched of men.

* * *

The above piece of writing comprises part of my fragments project, some of which are available on this website.  I intend to add new fragments piecemeal, not in any particular order, and as the occasion take me.

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