“It happened last night,” whispers the voice from the other side of the confessional.
“What, my dear child?” the Reverend inquires.
“He hit me… My husband.”
When a priest has received confessions for almost a decade, declarations such as this only stir pithy, impersonal admonitions. But the Reverend is no ordinary cleric. He prides himself in this. Why else has he ascended rapidly through the ranks of the clergy and received ample admiration from the laity?
“But, my child, you are to yet confess any misdeed of yours.”
“I told a lie.”
“And when did this happen?”
“It hasn’t. It would tonight, when my husband asks were I have been this evening.”
“Bless your candour. Of this, you must resist the devil’s snare, but you can’t confess what is yet to be.”
After few more words and a prayer, the woman departs. But she returns again. And again. With tales of rue, hopelessness and tears shed in the dark; of childlessness and an impotent spouse whose shame and frustration he funnels into marks and bruises upon his bride.
Between voices separated by the perforated divide of a confessional box, a woman in need of respite and a Reverend’s whose saviour complex has been aroused would spend hours in conversation, long after the last penitent has gone. Months pass, the fenestrations widen, and together with words, wisps of soul drift across.
Until one day, the woman declares, “Father, I have sinned. I burn with ungodly desire towards another; with thoughts of bodies entwined in ecstasy. I fear that I have defiled what is holy.”
So it is, that after this revelation, both fervours would not be restrained anymore. The screen is rolled away and the two voices meet. Vows and reason are lain aside, together with robes and undergarments. Passions erupt and romance is birthed. First, in the odd place of a constricted confessional, then in a motel room – once, twice, and counting. The woman conceives, but her husband seethes with rage and in a striking episode the child is lost.
The woman weeps in the bosom of her lover.
“My dear, I too have a confession to make… I once killed a man,” the Reverend announces.
“Why? When did this happen?”
Photo by Annie Spratt
This story won the 2017 edition of the JB Afenfia Flash Fiction Contest. READ the First Runner-up