Welcome to another edition of Marie Sexton's "Saturday Snark"! The selection below is from my Dreamspinner novella The Prayer Waltz. The narrator, Steven Brandwein, has decided to pray before a statue of St. Jerome. He's at the church where his late lover, an ex-priest, once served.
His snark is gentle and rueful and mostly self-directed.
(Click on the post title to get to Marie Sexton's blog, where you'll find her own sample as well as links to those of other authors!)
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Taking a deep breath, I sank to the hard kneeling rail and rested the wrists of my folded hands against the equally hard prayer rail. Maybe supplicants had to sacrifice comfort in addition to money if they expected something in return.
At least, I thought, I won’t have to flagellate myself.
I turned up my eyes to address Jerome. Actually, I first looked at his statue’s pedestal. A plaque affixed to it read:
Be at peace with your own soul,
then heaven and earth will be at peace with you.
~ St. Jerome
(Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, 340-420)
My gaze crept up to his face. Please don’t look at me. You might be the patron saint of orphans and abandoned children, but you are one scary fella.
After that, my mind pretty much went blank. I realized for the second time in my life that I didn’t know how to pray. The first time was after Frank’s accident. I didn’t know how many or what kinds of requests my ten dollars and sore knees had secured me or what words would give them wings. Although my father was Jewish and my mother was Catholic, they were old hippies and hadn’t put too much stock in organized religion. I’d been exposed to it but never steered down a particular path. So I hadn’t spent too much time in places of worship.
Miserably, I mouthed Frank’s name. Then, I miss you.
A yammering began in my mind, a rattling, falling, bouncing and scattering string of words, like poorly matched beads sliding off a broken necklace.
Steven Brandwein here. Please oh please bless the soul and anything else that’s left of Frank Connor and grant him eternal joy and peace, he was once your loyal servant and I know he was a damned good one, but he wasn’t created according to most men’s interpretation of the rules of creation, hell, you know that, so he was forced to stop serving, he didn’t want to but he couldn’t deny his nature, I don’t know why any good man should feel pressured to deny his nature, what the fuck is wrong with people, please fix them, douse them with enlightenment or give them a kick in the ass or something, this shit has got to stop, there are too many Franks out there, but thank you for the gift he was, only why did you let him get ripped up so much before you sent him my way, oh just please let him know how much he meant to me and give him a pat on the back for a good job well done and stuff him with happiness even if it’s in the form of hard dick because he’s earned it, pardon my crudeness…oh, and assure him I don’t mind.
As the syllables tumbled, I’d unwittingly made a basin with my hands and dropped my face into it. Lightly, my breath and shoulders hitched. The skin of my inner fingers felt damp.
I’m all right, Steve. I’m home now. It’s perfect. You must go be happy.
I lifted my face, wishing I could tell the difference between words from beyond the veil and words from within the well of wishful thinking. Fuck.