Saturday Fiction: Opening from the pulpit

What, a saturday scene with a priest in it? Surely Marshall is responding to the historic announcement yesterday? Nope, I’m just messing with a draft that happens to have a priest main character. Though I might talk about Friday later this week, my views on it aren’t really necessary.

This is part of a sequel to a previous Nanowrimo. I don’t often do first person, mostly because I sort of throw words out in a mix of past and present tense, which comes out garbled. Either way, here we go. If any of the details of the religion itself throw you off, just remember it doesn’t matter.

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Chapter X

All of their eyes are locked on me. Some of them are powerful people, business owners, veterans, doctors, family heads. In their day to day life they are in charge, but in this moment, they all look to the pulpit and listen.

I adjust my vestment with a hand, and scan the crowd.

“I tell them, love isn’t a rose, not metaphorically or physically, with thorns and all. Though they never believe me, I tell them that if they want to feel the true warmth of Jua, they don’t need anything but the spirit he earned you, and defends for you.”

The lecture was about being close to god. I spent the two nights before preparing it after the Wilt family kid came to me and asked if god and his mates loved him or not. There, out in the grass behind the temple, I fumbled. I could only tell him what I’m sure his mother had told him before, ‘rest assured, you are loved.’

“We must recognize the signs that are already there,” I said tilting my voice up, “We feel love every day of our lives. Love is that sickening feeling in your gut when someone is attacked, or in pain. It rips at your insides, keeps you up, boils your blood. That’s how I know I love this community, that’s how I know I love god.”

They cheered as the sermon peaked, and I looked down to the front row among the clapping patrons. Hans was there, in a pressed suit with his well-trimmed hair, smiling up at me. I couldn’t help but grin back.

“We can look to the stories,” I continued, bringing my voice back down, “I can tell you the line; moon chapter 4 line 22, clash chapter 1 line 10. I can throw quotes at you all day but that won’t mean a thing unless you leave yourself open to seeing him, and loving him. Then you will know what he feels in return for everyone, and you will understand that you are loved.”

The crowd turned to chanting, and I could hear old Eliza swooning in the back rows.

It wasn’t just rhetoric, I could feel the fluttering in my stomach there in front of everyone. It felt like my body, chest outward, was radiating vital essence of the divine. I concluded, and they left row by row, stopping to hold hands, say passing words to each other, give a pat on the back.

“Jojo,” Hans came up to me while my back was turned to the hall to put away notes.

I Turned, and he smiled down, but it wasn’t the same smile as before. It was crafted, strained. It didn’t take long to see why.

“The governor,” He added, and Governor Wilt came forward with his hand extended.

He was a tall man, with peppered hair that he let grow just long enough that no one would call him bald. He kept his brown eyes locked on people, which made it difficult to avoid his face, and I knew that is exactly where he focused his power.

“Governor,” I said with a smile of my own, and a nod, “I didn’t expect to see you until tomorrow.”

“Priestess,” He said with a level of mirth the statement didn’t need, “That’s exactly why I stopped in today. I’m glad I did, that sermon was exquisite. You really are a touch of the divine, I felt infused by every word.”

Compliments were the weapons of kings, both good and evil. There was no way to avoid them, so I let them wash over me, and took what good I could knowing the man in front of me.

“Do you want to go to my office?” I offered.

Wilt looked to Hans, for just a moment, as if to double check he truly existed. Hans didn’t notice, he had taken a step back, and was being talked to by Afia.

“No, that’s okay,” Wilt said with a playful shake of his shoulders, “I just wanted you to know that Wini’s blood will be visiting, old family by the name of Leopold.”

The Leopold family was a political powerhouse, larger even than Wilt’s. He wanted me to impress them, or impress upon them.

“Is there a particular lesson you want, Governor?” I said with a straight face, dragging my suitcase full of notes to my side.

The governor looked away for the second time of our whole conversation, his eyes going to the Seal of the Celestial Marriage, a beautiful tapestry laid across the front of the hall that illustrated the mates of god, and at their center the grand god Jua himself.

“Maybe, a focus on the rights of a family head?” He suggested, “It could even be a historical lesson.”

I put a finger to side of my lips, and I saw the governor twitch as I did. The motion was instinctive, but I regretted it anyway. Even if he was so open to manipulating me, it didn’t do to manipulate him in return. That wasn’t my place, and never would be.

“An interesting suggestion, governor. I will see what I can do.”

He held a hand out, I took it, and we bowed to each other. Then he immediately began a conversation with the first person he saw behind him.

“All ready to go, dear?” Hans said when the governor was far enough away. He looked tired, even though he wasn’t the one who just finished talking for a few hours.

“Let me hang this up,” I said yanking on my robe, “and grab my purse.”

I had a lot of planning to do. Important people would be in town, and I had a duty to fulfill. Not just to the community, and by that the governor as well, but to Jua himself.

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