Sunday mass was nearly over and even though it had been a while since Mason had attended his last service, he knew that he had to go to church today. Ahead of him sat the congregation listening intently to the priest deliver his weekly sermon. All huddled together in the pews but not where he was sitting.
The last few back rows were virtually empty with only three members to his left and one to his right. It had been a long time since he sat in this church or any church. Things had not changed much in the last 10 years, he thought, as he looked at the surroundings.
Maybe just some new upgrades to the wooden seats, a different podium, some speakers up on the walls and a television monitor high above the altar. It would seem God had gone high tech in his absence; a thought that amused Mason giving rise to a little smirk. On the main back wall stood a giant crucifix in the centre with two large, glass stained windows on either side.
On the left was the Virgin Mary and on the right Jesus blessing a lost soul. No matter how he looked at these windows, Mason could not help but be impressed at their beauty, especially when the midday sun was shining through them. Before he realised it the congregation was being directed to stand and sing a hymn.
He quickly stood up and followed the flock in lifting the bible that was placed in the pocket on the back of the pew in front of him. The sound of ruffling pages echoed through the main hall as each member found the selected page as told by the priest. All of a sudden a chorus rang out in unison as the congregation began to sing their hearts out.
This did not surprise Mason as this was a small town and devoutly religious. The hymns could be heard as far out as the opposite street, even further in the summer months like now when the main doors were always open to let in the fresh summer air. Two hymns were sung in succession and the service was over.
Mason sat back down on the wooden seat and patiently waited. “God be with you”, Father Damien said repeatedly from his podium as the people made their way up the central aisle towards the main doors.
As the last of the people had left the church Father Damien started shuffling around arranging all his papers, not noticing that Mason had got up and was walking down the aisle towards him. “Father! Father! May I speak with you please?”
“Of course my child”, answered the priest. “What is it?” “May we talk in private?” “We can speak in my chambers if you like” “Yes thank you Father that would be good”
The priest could not help but notice that Mason was well dressed with an expensive black suit, cuff links and tie clip to go along with a well tailored white shirt that complimented his body elegantly. He was used to people turning up in their Sunday best but this was somehow different. It would have been perfect for an office meeting, but odd for a weekend visit to the church.
It made no difference to Father Damien, he was not a priest that liked to judge, it was just an interesting observation for him. The priest motioned towards the door at the far left of the main stage with Mason dutifully following him. After a short walk down a wide corridor lined with paintings of religious themes they reached the holy man’s office.
Father Damien stepped inside and gestured for Mason to go in. It was the first time he had ever been in such a place. Three walls of solid oak cabinets from floor to ceiling, all filled with books and ornaments. In the middle of the room stood a large oak table with a red leather chair on either side.
Everything in this office had an antique feel to it, right down to an old ink fountain pen sitting on the table next to three piles of neatly organised papers. If this wasn’t an office of a clergy it could easily be mistaken for being arranged by an interior designer. “Please sit down”, offered the priest.
“Thank you Father”, Mason replied as he placed himself in the guest chair. “What troubles you?”, enquired Father Damien in a sympathetic tone as he placed himself in his seat. “We are alone? There’s no one else here?”
“Yes my child. It is just you and I. What is this about?”, the priest asked again. “Father I wish to confess something” “Whatever is said in here is confidential” “I don’t know where to start”
“As with anything my child, start from the beginning” Silence filled the room as Mason looked deeply at the priest. A man not more than 60 but in very good health. Mason could only wish when he reached that age, in some 35 years time, that he would look that good.
His eyes glanced up and down Father Damien giving him a once over of as much as he could see. “Are you sure we are alone Father?”
“Yes. There is no one else in the church”, the priest answered reassuringly. “Start whenever you are ready my child” Mason opened his mouth slightly as if just about to speak but something held him back. He knew he wanted to tell his story but something was stopping him.
Some force was pulling his mouth shut. After what seemed like an eternity but was only a few seconds Mason managed to open his mouth and shouted.
Some force was pulling his mouth shut. After what seemed like an eternity but was only a few seconds Mason managed to open his mouth and shouted. “It started in the woods Father!”