(To read this from Kate’s Point of View, click here.)
I don’t know how much had time passed. I don’t know if consciouness had left me. I never heard the footsteps, I never heard the other door open. I don’t remember standing. Yet there I was, back against the door, one heel braced high against the back wall above the kneeler, skirt still around my waist, one hand spread against the sidewall, the other still slowly circling, bringing me slowly down through wave after wave of ever decreasing aftershocks.The voice from the other side of the box didn’t really register for a moment. After a few seconds I tried to answer the voice, but even after I let my lip slip from between my teeth, I couldn’t quite make the words come out. I had to swallow hard, and I let my foot slide down the back wall and come to rest on the kneeler.
“Yes.” It was half whisper, half croak, so I cleared my throat and tried again. “Yes, leave it off, Father.” A little better. At least it didn’t come out sounding so much like a dried up old crone. I wasn’t quite ready for an encore performance for the priest, and I didn’t want to move my still circling fingers. There was no hiding what I was just doing, no graceful denial coming to me, and frankly I didn’t care much, but I didn’t want him to see. I still needed a little privacy, I suppose. I was dripping wet, and I could feel it running down my left leg, the one that had never left the floor of the confessional. He had to be able to smell my passion. It permeated the close air of this coffin, there was no way he didn’t smell it.
“That’s fine. I like it like this myself.”
I suddenly wondered if Father Jake abused his confessional the way I just had. Now there was an interesting vision.
“Let me know when you’re ready, Janie. Take a few minutes if you need them. I’ll be right here.”
Well that was the most perfectly wrong thing he could have said. The thought of Father Jake sitting just on the other side of the confessional while I still had my hand occupied where it was revved the hum right back up a notch. How many minutes is “a few”?
“She’s just outside, waiting in the pew. She’s concerned about you, you know.”
“She is.” I meant it as a question, but it sounded more like a statement. I was gathering myself. “About what?”
“About your need. She tells me it’s very powerful, and that you may need some help to quiet the hum. That’s why you’re here.”
“And confession is going to do that?” I was only a little annoyed that Kate had told him about the hum. I trust her though, and this was a priest after all. Still, I wish she had warned me first.
“Why don’t we find out. Are you ready to begin?”
I thought about that for a minute, then decided to ride the wave. I kneeled back on the kneeler, but didn’t bother pulling my skirt back down. It’s not like God hasn’t seen what’s under there, and it was getting very hot inside this coffin. “It’s hot in here,” I must have said out loud.
“Not a problem.”
I heard a click in the darkness, and all at once there was a gentle breeze of cool air coming up from below. There was a vent somehow in the middle of the kneeler, perfectly aimed right between my legs, and it caused me to let out a bit of a squeal. There was no way that was an acccident.
“Sorry, Janie.” Yeah, I bet you are.
“‘sok. Do I make the cross now?”
“If you want.”
“Umm, I don’t know which shoulder to touch first.”
I did the best I could, having only seen a confession on TV.
“In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.” I’m a lit student. A very smug little lit student sometimes.
“Latin? I’m impressed.”
I just smiled to myself. I figured I might as well add pride to the list.
“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.” I hesitated. Since I had never done this before, I wasn’t sure how to broach that. Oh well. “I’m not Catholic, Father. I’ve never been to confession.”
“I don’t think God will mind, Janie.”
“Do I call you Father Jake?”
“If you want. Or Father Lacoste. Or just Father. Whichever.”
“Ok. So where do I start?”
“Sometimes it’s best to start at the end and work back. What was your most recent sin, Janie?”
My face flushed, my hands began to sweat, my nipples were so hard they hurt. I tried to hold the giggle in, but it would not be denied. It drilled through the roof of my mouth, and came out through my nose. I hate when I snort like that. I sound like a pig.
“Pride, Father.” Good catch. It was honest, and it gave me a second to brace myself for the next one.
“I see. Pride about what?”
“About using Latin a minute ago.”
“Ok, go on.”
No ducking it now. I was going to do this, or I was going to lie. No decision, really. I don’t lie as a rule. Nothing to do with churches or priests or confessionals or God, I’m just really bad at it, and I always get caught. I don’t like the feeling of looking stupid when I’m caught lying, so I just don’t. Plus, I don’t see the point.
“I was just…” well, honesty is easy in theory, anyway. “I just… I was in here by myself, and I was touching myself.”
I waited. Nothing for a second.
“Touching yourself isn’t a sin.”
It was almost a question. Was he really naive, was I too vague, or was he being deliberately obtuse?
“No, Father. I was masturbating. Here in the confessional.”
“Really?” He said that in a tone that spoke volumes. Like “OH! REALLY?” Like “No shit.” Like “And the sky is blue, tell me something I don’t know.”
“Yes, Father. Really.”
“I think we’re all well aware of that, Janie. But during the Sacrament of Penance, you have to understand your sins. You have to be honest about them. You have to confess them in their entirety, and understand why they are sins in the first place. You need to tell me the whole thing, not just the quick synopsis.”
“Oh. Like what I was thinking about? What I was lusting for?”
“It’s a start. But you also have to describe the act itself. The cute little euphamisms of society are fine for polite conversation, but they are lies in themselves in here. To be granted absolution, you have to be perfectly honest, and nice little words might dress things up, but they don’t change the nature of the act, and only really serve to try to hide what you’re really saying.
“‘I fudged on my taxes a little’ might get you past the IRS man, but what you really did was ‘I stole ten thousand dollars from the government’ in here. Do you see what I’m getting at?”
“Geez. Do people really cheat that much on their taxes?” I knew it was a tangent, but I was rather shocked at the thought of that.
“Yes, and they usually come in here with the “I fudged” bit, and I tell them the same thing I’m telling you. Now try again.”
“uh, Ok. I was… thinking of a man, and-”
Shit. “You. I was thinking about you and-”
“What were you thinking about me?”
“I was thinking about your eyes. And your scar on your lip. And your collar.”
“Ok. Go on.”
“The images were sort of flashing in my mind, and they were making me excited.”
“Those thoughts made you horny.”
“Yes. They made me horny. Hornier.” I emphasized the last syllable, hoping I wouldn’t have to go off on that tangent already. That might take a while. “So after a while, I realized I was masturbating. I didn’t do it consciously, I swear.”
“So this was a venial sin. You didn’t mean to do it.”
“Well, I thought about it in a funny way when I first came in, but no, I didn’t mean to really do it.”
“Where were your hands? What were you doing with them?”
“They were on my clitoris.” Where the hell else would they have been?
“I’m a priest Janie, not a doctor. It’s a clitoris and a vagina in your doctor’s office. In here, you say them like you think them.”
I’d never heard that rule before. Well, at least it was honest, but I was getting a little frustrated with this dance.
If Father Jake wanted details, by God he was going to get them. Two can play that game! I gave him a very explicit play-by-play, using the filthiest language I could think of to describe all the gory details. Hey, that’s how I think them.
I don’t usually talk like that to anyone but Kate, and then only in the heat of passion, but I was damned if I was going to lose a game of verbal chicken. I may not usually use the “dirty words” but sister, I know them all. I wondered if Father Jake was sorry he asked yet.
“And did you climax right away?”
“No, I didn’t climax. I came. I came hard. I came over and over and over.” How do you like them apples, I thought to myself. “By the time I knew you were in here, I was standing. My right foot was up on the back wall, with my back against the door and my right hand was on the wall. My left hand was still at work, and my skirt was up around my waist.” Let’s see what he thought of that.
“So you switched hands at some point?”
Jesus H. Christ! (I added that to the list.) He didn’t miss a trick! “Yeah, I guess I must have gotten a cramp in my hand, it’s kind of sore now.”
“And is your skirt still up around your waist?”
Shit again. “Yes, Father. It was so hot in here, and I didn’t think it really mattered to God, do you?”
“No, I don’t think that matters. A skirt doesn’t hide anything from God anyway.”
“That’s what I figured.”
“And did you suck your fingers when you were done?”
I was going to like this priest after all.