This short story is written for July's WCC contest over at the Review Game. They hold it every month, and it's a lotta fun! :D

This month's prompt...

www. flickr .com/photos/aharrup/4722577268/sizes/l/

Hope you enjoy!

*****

Confessions

"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned..."

The man's hushed voice echoed quietly in the small space, bouncing off the thick walls. The lighting was dim, casting shadows onto the carpet, giving the confessional an eerie quality, one that even the seasoned priest could not get used to. A muffled, rhythmic sound filled the silence for a moment, before the priest realized that the man was tapping his foot.

Was he bored, this confesser who decided to relieve humanity's burden? Or was he nervous, the priest thought, but then decided against it. The nervous people's voices shook...

"Tell me of your sins, brother, and perhaps I will forgive them."

The man's lip twitched upwards in a ghost of a smile. He stared at his hands, before looking up at the shadowy figure of the priest.

"You are familiar with the ten commandments, aren't you? Well, I'm here because I've committed them all."

Brother Marcus froze, his breathing hitched. Was this man serious? He-he couldn't be serious, not when he was staring calmly back at him, like what he said wasn't significant. He leaned closer to the small opening in the wall, the light casting shadows on his face, making him look ill.

"Excuse me?" he asked, his forehead shimmering with a layer of sweat. The man just looked at him, his expression amused.

"You heard me, priest. I want to be forgiven of my sins."

Brother Marcus' eyes narrowed suspiciously, trying to unearth who this man exactly was.

"Why?"

The man let out a chuckle, before leaning closer to small barred opening. The priest was torn between leaning back or staying where he was. His curiosity took the better hold of him.

"Isn't that what you teach in this church every Sunday?" the man asked, his dark eyes piercing into the priest's.

"No, no," Brother Marcus said, hurriedly, trying to ratify his mistake. "That's not what I meant. Why do you want me to forgive you, if you feel no remorse for what you've done?"

The man's expression became pained for a moment, before he composed himself. He looked at his hands, and the silence in the confessional was deafening.

"My daughter, she-she was killed in a car accident three years ago," the man began, staring at his hands as though he could see his sins written on them. "I've struggled with her death since then, and how I coped with it hasn't been, well... positive," the man paused, a humorless smile spreading on his face. "My life is torn apart, priest. I want to start fresh again, and that is why I came here. When I die, I want to see my daughter's face."

Brother Marcus was stunned, his mind trying to comprehend the man's story. An awkward silence fell between the two men, as he tried to speak. But his lips seemed to be a tangled mess of flesh, because he could not form coherent words with them.

"Will you forgive me? Will God forgive me for what I have done?" The man asked, his voice quivering slightly in the dark room.

"What is your name, son?" Brother Marcus asked, the words tumbling out of his mouth in a rush of indecision.

"Paul. My name is Paul," he breathed, relieved that the priest had not left him like many of the other priests had.

"Paul, if you are truly sorry for the sins you have committed, then I ask you to pray with me, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit..."

***

Brother Marcus hobbled to the end of his driveway to pick up the Sunday paper. Ever since the previous Sunday's confessional, he felt guilty about forgiving Paul's sins.

Was it the right thing to do, Marcus wondered. Have I done the right thing, or have I fallen into a trap of temptation?

Shaking his head as he unwrapped his newspaper, he made his way to his favorite armchair, flipping through the pages absentmindedly. His eyes skimmed the headlines, before his eyes locked onto one in particular.

"Paul Bently Is Found Dead In His Home. Police Find Suicide Note."

The icy grip of fear slid down his back, prickling the hairs on his neck.

No, no; this can't be the same Paul... he thought. I live in Los Angeles...This can't be the Paul from last week's confessional.

Despite himself, he tore through the pages, trying to find the rest of the story, his heart hammering in his chest.

*

"Paul Bently, a Los Angeles stock broker, was found dead in his home at 4:30 this morning. His wife explained to a local reporter that her husband suffered from extreme depression and mental instability since his daughter's death in 2007. His wife told reporters that she found his body in their basement, clutching a picture of his daughter.

"Police are investigating his death as an assisted suicide, because of the note that was found on the floor by his body. Police are puzzled, but willing to let the public know about it, since it might help further the investigation.

"I was just as puzzled as the rest of the police squad," said a police officer. "Because, the suicide note was unlike anything I've ever come across in my 20 years of being part of the LAPD. The note read, and I quote, 'Thank you for forgiving my sins.'"

"If you have any information regarding the death of Paul Bently, please contact the Los Angeles Police Department at (323) 846-6504."

*

Brother Marcus flung the paper from his hands, his eyes widened in shock and disbelief.

"Oh, my God..." he mumbled to himself, blessing himself with a cross with one hand as he reached for the phone with the other.

"Father, Son and Holy Spirit, help me through this..."

*****

Author's Note:

:) I had a lot of fun writing this prompt, if you couldn't tell. :D Let me know what you think!

Oh, and voting starts on the 8th of every month and ends on the 14th. :D (There's a link to it on my profile page. :P)

~AvidWriter-92

All works: © AvidWriter-92. Fictionpress User I.D. 717443. 2010.