Davide Castel Davide Castel
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Clare...Could you possibly put spaces in between your paragraphs? Easier to read and comment.

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Clare Martin Clare Martin
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Come To Mass


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She had a friend.

I know it's a long story. I couldn't think of any shorter way to tell it.


It was all during the worst time.
My mother spent all her time in her room. The lights were dimmed. I knew better than to bother her. My aunt did all she could to keep us together. My brother left for college, the other stayed at home with my father. Nobody else was around. I spent all my time sitting alone in my room, lamenting my losses with tears, endless self-pity, which mother told me was foolish. At the time, though, I couldn't see why.
I thought it would all look up, then I lost a dear friend, a boy whose face I only recognized in the corridor, a boy who smiled at me, said hello, complimented by 'beautiful voice', congratulated my successes. Someone who I've exchanged less than twenty words with in his life. But I realize, even now and it's all over, how empty the corridors are without him, without his laughter, without his red hair and his freckles, his bright, contagious smile. I realize I miss his presence, even though I rarely noticed it when he was still alive. And I can't help, wrong as it is, but feel angry that he left us, left us all to grieve his absence for the rest of the year, even though his untimely death was out of his hands and anybody elses. But if they'd just turned the steering wheel a little to the left...
I cried with my brother, who I hadn't seen shed a tear since he was nine. He was closer with Séan than me, being in the same class. The teachers were sweet and friendly, holding it all together for us as we sobbed in each other's arms. Only my closest friend, who had never seen me cry before, could put a little smile back onto my face. He was told laughter was disrespectful. If I die young, I want my life to be celebrated in the most happy way possible. And even though I never knew Séan, I know he'd have wanted the same. Were we the first to actually smile? And why can't we use even a little bit of hot air to dry the tears on our faces? Is this what the world is coming to? No laughter to take away pain? I was going to go to his funeral, until I realized my father was going to be there. My anger just built up and up. How dare he show his presence at such a place?
I felt pressure building and building up on my shoulders. I went back to self-pitying. I sat alone and cried if I could. My aunt said I was being stupid. Perhaps she couldn't see my pain. Perhaps I'd hidden my scars too well, too long. Either way, I'd had enough. My mother wasn't what was keeping me going. I found myself not caring for her, not caring for my aunt or any of my family members. My best friend was all I had left. We didn't talk pathetically when in distress. We told jokes, we swapped ideas for poetry, laughed to bring back some of the warmth that grief had banished from our souls. But that laughter was soon coming to be feigned. I could feel myself slipping away from reality, from consciousness, almost from life. The sheer cry of a bird was all it took to bring me back.
It was Saturday morning. I was combing my hair in front of the mirror, despising the girl who glared back at me. My tears looked pathetic, like a toddler having a tantrum. I patted them dry and covered up my stained face with makeup, but I didn't feel prettier. I decided that it didn't matter. My aunt was getting herself ready for work in the kitchen. She'd promised to take me for a drive to the capitol if it helped to take my mind of things. I didn't feel afraid I'd meet my father there. Cork is a big city, and running into a specific person is a rarity, a chance of one in two hundred. I decided to buy some books and game guides, perhaps some paper to draw pictures on. So far, all I'd drawn were warriors dying in the arms of their true loves. A death I'd never have. I entered the kitchen and ignored the plate of toast before me.
Then my aunt sat down next to me and said "Clare, you have to start going to mass,"
I didn't see it coming. I was a Christian, a Roman Catholic, but in the past year I'd considered myself an Athiest. My pain ran too deep and I didn't see how God could possibly exist if he let a poor, self-piteous child like me suffer like I did.
Now, however, I had another view. I had not been praying. I had not been asking God for his help. I had not taken the Host in over a year. Perhaps God only granted the prayers of those who actually prayed. I let my bitterness take over and shunned him from my life. Perhaps it was time to start again. Perhaps this, just a few months after the birth of Christ, was the best time to rekindle my faith.
So I agreed to go to mass with her that night. My mother roused herself and helped me get ready. She brushed my hair and dabbed light makeup on. She dressed me in sweet-smelling black clothes. I still looked a mess, but somewhat respectable.
"Do you want to come along?" I asked mother.
She shook her head. "Maybe next week,"
So me and my aunt pressed on to the church. It hadn't changed since the last time I was there. It smelled beautiful, like holly, cashmere and perfume. My aunt nodded to a few of her friends and introduced me.
"Do you remember Clare?" she said.
I was suddenly the centre of attention. How big had I gotten? I was only nine the last time they saw me! They remembered me in my white communion dress! It's amazing how fast time travels, isn't it? Fifteen years old? When are you sixteen, Clare? April? Sure, that's only a month down the line!
I loved it! It was just like the old days. I always adored being the centre of attention. Now, even though I was much older (and older-looking, still, with premature wrinkles and even the odd white hair) I was still being fothered by my aunt's childhood friends.
We took our seat. I hadn't blessed myself for Lord knows how long. Now, I found myself praying for the first time in two years. Praying for my wellbeing, praying for a hopeful recovery of my mother, praying for my brothers, my friends, my great grandmother in heaven, who's picture I see everyday, praying for the future, praying for things to be made better than what they are...everything went into my prayers, and I felt relieved, like my burden had finally been noticed and taken.
The ceremony started. The voice of the priest was tired and dull, and yet I hung onto every word he said, reciting the Lord's Prayer, hearing the Holy Gospel, the stories he told after the gospel. He began to tell a story of a young woman, dying of cancer. Her last wish was to be buried with a fork in her hand. It seemed bizaare at the time, yes. But the reason being was, when she was younger and eating at her grandmother's house, whenever her grandmother said "Hold onto your fork", it always meant that something better was to come, a better meal, maybe some beef or an extra serving of chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. The fork would reference to Heaven, how she's holding onto it because she knows that better is to come once she is with God. And so she died shortly after, and was buried with the fork in her hand. Her family and friends who came to the church and saw her body in the coffin clutching the fork were startled. They asked the priest why there was a fork in her hand and he explained, chuckling, her last request. And everyone in the church was laughing. Their pain was momentarily pushed aside. And as our own priest spoke, we all laughed ourselves. And I realized I was not afraid of death anymore.
I walked up slowly to receive the Host. I felt afraid that I'd be shunned, but the priest nodded at me while a little alter boy held a golden plate under my hands as I accepted the Body of Christ. I almost laughed as it, as usual, jammed itself to the roof of my mouth. It was always hard to swallow. But then I got serious again and knelt down beside my aunt to say my prayers. Again, I prayed for my family and friends, the future and what it was to bring, only this time I adressed the Father in my mind, almost begging for his forgiveness for my sins. I felt my eyes sting with tears, but forced myself not to let them fall, lest my aunt see and scold me.
Then the mass ended. My aunt and me walked out together. She gave me some money for hot chocolate and told me to meet her back at the car. For the first time in months, I felt relieved. I felt ten pounds lighter. My shoulders no longer throbbed with the weight of the burden I held. God had taken that burden away from me. I no longer felt that sheer, dead emptiness inside of me. I felt stronger, happier, braver than I'd felt in years. Like I wouldn't be a failure, like I wouldn't be nothing.
At that point, I realized that God had forgiven me, because, for the first time in months, I smiled, and my smile was genuine. I can only thank Him so much, but it will never be enough. Since that one time I went to mass on Saturday, I've felt happier, lighter and kinder.
I knew that I'd rekindled my faith, and I'm determined not to miss mass again. 1 comment


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