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Aleksander Mosingiewicz

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In between
By Aleksander Mosingiewicz
Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rated "R" by the Author.

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The young playboy has to face his own guilt.

Forgive me, father...




"Forgive me father, for I have sinned"

The face behind confessional exhibited no emotions other than cold interest. The eyes, set deeply in face that appeared to me made of stone rather than flesh shone brightly, as if all life that flew through the priests body accumulated there, leaving the rest dead and corpse-like.

Brennan waited for a priest to respond, to comfort him in some way, so he could confess his sins and leave. But there was only silence. And for a moment Brennan realized it is all about cold, emptiness and silence - silent were churches, silent were priests when people turned to them for answers, silent was God himself, hiding behind His great, empty chapels. He shivered.

"It was a carnal sin", he said eventually, and it appeared as if the priest moved. Or did he?...

Sound of the steps echoed in the thundering silence, piercing it. Brennan thought it must have been the old lady he saw when entering the church. The steps where already fading, when - to Brennan's surprise the priest responded.

"Flesh is sinful, and those who turn against Church are prone to become its slaves", he whispered in a cold voice.

"I know", Brennan replied quickly, blushing.

"You say you know... But if you really knew, would you sin?", said the priest. "How did it happen?", he inquired.

"At a party...", said Brennan, "There was...", he looked at the priest, who nodded, "... alcohol...", Brennan continued, "... errr... pot, and... girls..."

"And you couldn't stop yourself?", the priest asked, without slightest effort to mask his cold irony.

"I... I couldn't. There was a girl, very... attractive, whom... whom... whom I...", Brennan looked up, only to meet the priest's indifferent stare.

"Go on, go on!", he encouraged the boy.

"... whom I... whom I raped", confessed Brennan.

A moment of silence followed, a one that Brennan thought was eternity. "This must be what the hell is like", he thought, "Shame, cold and silence."

"I am sorry, my child", spoke the priest, "But I cannot give you absolution for such a great...", he began to search his memory for a proper expression, "... crime. You have committed a crime, Brennan. And you have harmed an innocent person". Brennan gulped, feeling his soul burnt by shame and guilt. "Speak to her, not to me", the priest finished.

He moved away from the confessional, and proceeded towards the door beside altar. Brennan waited for a moment, stood up, and cast a gaze after him.

Going through the church towards the light behind the door Brennan heard him once again, this time exchanging words with someone - with whom, Brennan didn't know - then let out a brief laughter. Was this the same person who treated him in such a cold manner during the confession? Brennan turned to see if it was the case, but before he had a chance to, the door slammed shut, and the priest was gone. An altar boy rushed to prepare the altar for coming mass. He gave Brennan a surprised look. Brennan decided this place is not the one he belongs. He walked through the door into the sunlight, leaving the cold, the darkness, and the silent God behind.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was January, and Dublin was covered with a thick layer of snow. The sky was clear on this frosty day, and walking down the street Brennan felt himself slowly relaxing. Having sat on a bench on Edwards Street, he produced a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, lit one, and inhaled deeply. As he smoke he felt all that he was trough was an illusion of some kind. Away from the church all the religious issues, Heaven, Hell, and wrath of God now appeared completely irrelevant and absurd. He closed his eyes.

The girl.

He saw her face in his mind eyes. He knew her before the party - in fact, they started a relationship about a month before the rape. What did he knew about her?... Ah, the name. The most irrelevant part of her being. Number eleven after her anatomic details. That was how he perceived girls. Her name was... Wait. Lisa? Anna? No. Barbara. Barbara O'Donnel. Now different other details began to pop into his mind, as if a tame was broken. Barbara. Poor Barbara. Beaten by her zealot parents. Laughed at in school. Since birth she only knew humiliation and beating. Brennan was a bright star on the horizon of her life... That is, before he raped her.
His parent also was a zealot, urging him to go to the church every Sunday and confess at least once a month. But with Barbara's parents it was different. They believed the beating to be the best and the only way of exorcising evil spirits of sexuality and youth. Brennan was different from Barbara. He knew both how to please his parents and get what he wants from life. And all he wanted at the moment were drugs and sex. And he had them in plenty.

He dropped a burnt cigarette on the ground and extinguished it with his boot. He was about to leave when he heard a shaking voice.

"... like that, young man! Clean after yourself, please!"

The voice belonged to an old man, shaking with righteous anger, clad in worn-out coat and hat, both of which gave him an appearance of extreme antiquity.

Brennan spit, ignoring the man who stood there, trying in vain to turn the boy from his path. But the boy already decided what his destination was.

Heaven.

Not somewhen and somewhere else, after death, in the other world, but here and now. It wasn't for everyone, of course. It was for the chosen, like Brennan. The chosen were easy to distinguish from the other people, those condemned to hell of lifelong dullness. These were the conformists, obeying orders, and believing anything this or other authority told them. On the other hand, the chosen knew how to get what they want. They were always relaxed, and always wore a mocking smile. This was their emblem. Brennan would recognize the chosen among the people in the crowd. By their smile. And he was proud to be one of them.

And yet... There was something that bothered him. The silence. He felt it when entering the church. Under its influence he always felt his easy attitude disappear, melt, crush under the weight of silence. And everything was possible then - God, devil, angels...

Hell.

He shook his head as the word passed through his mind. He looked up and saw he's standing before the apartment building he was living in with his father.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Did you attend the confession?", his father asked him.

Brennan nodded, without bothering to rise his head from above the soup.

"I asked you if you attended confession!?", the father inquired, apparently irritated by his sons quiet response.

"Yeah, yeah, I guess I did", the boy responded, more interested in the soup than salvation of his soul. And he was not to blame, for the soup was delicious.

Everything was delicious. The soup, the girls, drugs, and music. Heaven was here and now.

"I care for your soul, Brennan", father's tone became less aggressive, more caring. He cared for a soul as if it was separate from the one it belonged to. In the same way that he cared for his house and his car, and other inanimate objects. This is how men care for things, focusing on their appearance, but without love. Brennan's soul for him was just another thing to be kept clean.

"Did you receive absolution?", his father wouldn't abandon this topic before he had cetritude there is no single stain on the soul of his son, so it can join his car and apartment in celebration of all-pervading purity.

"I did, I did", Brennan lied, swallowing uneasy feeling of guilt that didn't have anything to do with unclear fear of damnation, but rather with conscience.

His father had no other questions. He was tranquil in his knowledge that nothing will ever spoil his perfect order. He finished eating and retired to his book-filled room for the rest of the evening, content with feeling that the world is built on solid foundations nothing can shake, and that there are solid principles to follow in order to attain peace of soul in this world and salvation in the other.

In a way, this was his paradise.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brennan shut the door to his room and threw himself on the bed. He closed his eyes.

Barbara.

He would see her every time he would close his eyes. And always his conscience would torture him, spoiling his sense of well-being. Now he would see her again, her face distorted with anger - at him.

"Rot, burn in hell!", yelled the creature. No longer a human, her eyes turned into black pits, her face eaten with decay. "You...!"

Brennan opened his eyes. He must have fallen asleep. What time was it? According to his watch, it was nine o'clock. Brennan decided he can't stand it anymore. He grabbed the phone and dialed.

"Hello?", a female voice asked from the other end of the line.

It was Barbara's mother.

"Good evening, miss O'Donnell..." ,started Brennan, "This is Brennan Bloomsdale. I'm your daughter's err... friend. I'd like to speak to her."


The woman answered, "Barbara is not allowed to speak to boys", and hanged up.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He got to chance to speak to Barbara the day after, in break between classes. Brennan was surprised by how she reacted to his sight. He expected either fear or anger. She exhibited neither.

"Hi, Barbara", he said.

"Hi, Brennan", she replied.

Suddenly he felt like an idiot.

"I'm pregnant", she said, looking him in the eyes.

He looked down to the ground, praying for her to disappear when he looks up again. To no avail; she was still there when he looked up.

"I'm really sorry, Barbara, it is first time I...", he tried to explain.

"Make someone a baby?", the tone she spoke these words in was plain and simple. This made him even more nervous.

"What are you going to do with it?", he asked.

"Me?", a mocking smile appeared on her face, "I'm sorry, Brennan, but it's part your problem, isn't it?"

He didn't reply, but instead started to walk away. Then he turned around, and she was where he left her, looking at him, as though she still hoped for an answer. He resumed his walk, trying as hard as he could to forget.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He was back home at nine, having prayed (read: smoking a pot in his friends house between three and nine) with a group for several hours. His father was content to see the son following path to salvation. Everything was in order. It could not be other way.

Brennan couldn't sleep this night. He reviewed every single detail of his meeting with Barbara. Her strength. The way she looked at him. He felt something he didn't feel before. Something different from silent interiors of temples and the loud consumption of his teen society. Something beyond both silence and noise, and yet not without shame.

He felt urge to see her again, and tell her everything. She will know. He felt guilty and damned, but not in a religious sense - he felt exiled, from something he couldn't even find a name for, by what he did.

Lying in his bed, Brennan started to cry.

He will ask her tomorrow, he decided, swallowing tears.

She will lead him beyond silence and noise.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The school was struck with the suicide of one of its best pupils, Barbara O'Donnell. Investigation uncovered more and more facts that the principals would not like to reach the press, like that the suicidal pupil - regarded previously as prime example of an ideal catholician schoolgirl - had a sexual relationship with another pupil, Brennan Bloomsdale, who - apart from poorly scoring his exams - was always thought of as being a straight, well behaving young man. Now it turned that instead of attending prayer groups and masses he preferred to spend time with his friends, smoking pot and - sometimes - giving himself to casual sex. On the other hand, the deceased O'Donnel's parents were revealed to exhibit rather sadistic approach towards their beloved little girl.

It was more than Brennan's father would bear. He had an argument with his son, who sat before him like a doll, shameful and empty.

After the argument they both locked themselves in their rooms. Father - trying to read, as he always did in the evening, only to find it impossible to focus on impeccability of the phrases of "Oddysey" - without having any counterpart in the real world they seemed meaningless to him.

His son adopted less intellectual approach to entire situation.

Having practice in obtaining what he wants, he stole a razor from their bathroom, and when his dad sought consolation in the works of ancient literature, he cut his wrists, and then watched the blood pour out of the open wound.

"Brennan?", he heard a female voice.

She stood there - in the doors of his room.

The doors that weren't there before.

He smiled.

"Barbara?", he asked, realizing he can't see her face. But he recognized her voice.

"It's me.", the faceless figure replied.

"I'm sorry for what I did", he said.

"It's all right", hearing that Brennan imagined her smile.

"Does the hell exist?", he asked.

Another invisible smile.

"Come with me, and you will see if there is any", she replied.

He stood up, feeling as light as he never felt before. He looked at his wrists, which had healed. Now the faceless figure (whom he thought - no, it must have been Barbara, he couldn't mistake this voice!) opened the door to reveal the darkness behind.

"It's dark out there", he remarked.

"It is", she agreed.

He stepped through.


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