As with yesterday, we will be starting with a “who” and writing about them or from their perspective, staying in touch with our senses. Today’s “who” is a priest. What images fill your mind upon reading that prompt? Enjoy!
Lillies and chrysanthemums form a ring placed on a cedar box, the odors mingle and meld into a dank floral, woody musk. The man is cloaked in night, whisps of thinning hair catching the breeze revealing more bare scalp than a reasonable observer would have assumed. The white noose around his neck anchors him to the mourners. His eyes void of feeling as he manufactures synthetic emotions oozing the memorized script, repeated ad nauseam through the years. The heavy book is open in his hands, but he does not glance at it, likely on the wrong page. His heart heavy with nonchalance. His last words escape to the cranking sound of the pulley lowering the imprisoned crippled carcass into the earth. He takes the hand of the widow and walks her to the edge looking down. The wind tosses the dirt dropped by the siblings and children into the hole, a remnants blow into his eyes. Real tears for the first time in years. As more attendees toss in handfuls of lost hope, the spark of life is letting go, soon to be forgotten. Come spring, the corpse will bloom, the mourners all moved on, and this lone man will have a halo of guilt, shame, and doubt tighten around his throat next to the rosary his mother made for him. “May His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.” The crowd leaves and he hears the soured, long-expired sacramental wine calling, soon to disappear into the hollow depths of his lonesome soul.
“In the name of Jesus” written in capitol letters on the pulpit where he stands behind. When its time for a prayer, he kneels by the side the pulpit, where there’s this little micro mic stand with a black microphone attached to it. Always the same hair cut, always slicked back, always wearing a suit, the color changes though. The hymnal always looking too little on his hands, his wedding band always straggling his finger due to the weight he has gained after getting married to a girl from the same church, from a respectable family, years ago. Always looking to the church ceiling when searching for guidance, always opens the bible in the same manner, reads it with the same tone, with the same accents, always following the same ritual. A man of method, a man of tradition, that operates like a robot. The things that gives away it’s humanity is the very top of his head, that has lesser hair with every year that comes and goes… even the lines on his face were always there, he is not big on facial expressions.
Reminded me of Eleanor Rigby, if father McKenzie was lonelier, maybe a few years later into the story as he becomes this sort of anti hero figure. Had a great time reading it and would love to read more about this lone priest.
Lots of good visual and auditory imagery here. I really like the way you painted him as a robot who just gains weight and loses hair. The wedding band strangling his finger is interesting, because it acts as a symbol that maybe things aren’t going right at home and that is leading to his less enthusiastic sermons.
His tail bone was aching, but he couldn’t let on. The unforgiving cedar pew felt like rough cement.
Pins and needles pulsed through his legs as the blood begrudgingly pushed through his body.
His eyelids felt heavy, and he could still taste the vodka from the night before.
The off-key choruses droned on and on, and his eyes glazed over when he caught sight of a particularly ugly woman with greasy hair staring at him.
He heard his name called, and a jolt of electricity ran through his body. He stood, smiling like a fox,
and sauntered over to the cold pulpit. With every “Amen” and energetic clap he felt more alive.
Pews feeling like rough cement and blood begrudgingly pushing through his body is really nice! Very clear this priest is not wanting to be there that day hahah, and the poor particularly ugle women with greasy hair made me laugh. Nicely done
I agree, the tailbone aching from hard pews is great imagery. The leg falling asleep flows nicely into him almost actually falling asleep. The off-key singing by the congregation is especially effective because almost anyone who has been to a church service recognizes this (and often the most off-key is the loudest person there… ha). Great job!
Sun peeking out behind the steeple, eyelids heavy as the congregants trudge toward the church. Parishioners greet every individual, voices booming, two hands for every handshake, gripping with a force and eye contact that makes you want to run away. Thanking everyone profusely for being there, from the baby sleeping in the stroller with her bottle in hand and drool on her face, to the elderly couple counting down the days until they too take their nap, albeit for a different reason, gripping each other to stay upright.
All rise, creaking pews chopped from local redwoods, as the priest glides to the pulpit. Cloaked in black, wrinkles cover his face, the number of times he’s encountered God. His voice booms, sweet with a side of nasal. A serpent, hissing in the ears of many, provides us with the body and blood of Christ, the crackers drying out mouths, while they juice to the lips provides a sweet sensation, quenching their thirst, temporarily. Amen they say in unison, and the priest smiles, revealing his blinding teeth.
Some nice words coming in here David - well done! It’s been a long time since I was in a church but I can still relate to the priest accosting you like this. One interesting piece of advice I have had myself about songwriting is to give the audience the satisfaction of figuring something out on their own, trusting their intelligence rather than holding them by the hand. I felt this with “albeit for a different reason” - we already know what you mean so you don’t need this line. The second half is very strong - great sensory language with the preaching and the bread and wine so well done!
Tired from the daily rituals, the priest heaved his feeble body, taking time to catch his breadth on each step, whispering ‘O Lord! Give me strength’ . He entered the moon lit room, welcomed by the smell of incense stick burning. With a faint smile, he said
Good Lad and limped towards the window. Old rotting wooden floor creaking beneath his weight. The bible was felt heavier than usual in his hands and the Cross felt cold on his neck. He creeped up to the window peering over to the adjacent ground, ridden with hundreds of crows on the tree and the broken wall. They’ve been cawing rhythmically throughout the evening, as their old friend flapped the wings of his soul into the disappearing sun. In the uncomfortable silence, he raised his eyes to the man on the moon getting arrested by violent clouds. One beam pierced through the black clouds, caught by his shrinking pupil as he whispered ‘O Lord! Give us strength’
Really good use of sensory words. The worn-out feeling of the priest is well described. The visuals are subtle but strong. What really grabs me is the smell sense (incense and rotting wood provide some harmony and tension). The contrast of crows cawing and silence is another great tension-building image. Well-done! You seen to be getting the hang of this early on!
Sunlight pouring through ancient scenes of human sacrifice and a crying mother paint pine pews in beautiful reds, greens, and blues. Our bruised knees are graced with respite as it is our turn to go up to the alter. Perfumes give it their all to cover up the hidden wafts of the mothballed Sunday’s bests. A man costumed in prison black and white hands my weekly get-out-of-jail-free discount Sam’s club token. It looks about as stale as he does. Creases etch the corners of his eyes and a knowing smile touches his lips before the echoes of his ancient spells ring out through lofted ceilings. It was my first time here, but I swear I recognized him. Maybe Easter priests were as interchangeable as mall Santas during Christmas.
Nice little piece here cosmo!
I like the linking of the priest to ancient scenes (the human sacrifice and spells) good throwback to a priests role was. And the weekly get out of jail free card is great, sin all you want but come sunday you’ll be absolved!
and some nice sensory lines, the perfume, mothballs, that sense of staleness of the cookies and the priest himself.
I take another small sip of cool water from my flask, the bland liquid a small respite to curb the monstrous hunger from days of fasting. The tall, dark church ceiling hauntingly casts the open vowels and crisp consonant sounds of our chants all the way to the sunlit entrance and back. The occasional waft of spicy musk of Carlos’ body odor next to me keeps me from falling asleep, and also from even wanting to eat.
This is really well-written. Not only does it paint a picture, but it invites us to take part. The only critique I can offer is the “spicy musk” to me is a little uninteresting, more tell-y than show-y. What was the spicy musk? Was it hints of evergreen, cinnamon, and seawater? Stuff like that can really get the senses tingling.
Thin the veil between good and evil muderers retelling stories of the kills bloody rage excitement begging for forgiveness of the evil done to another human being guilt free later to prove themselves shamed talking to the man of god behind the veil
The seminary windows are always open, I’ve never seen them closed. My robes hung from the door, challenging me everyday. A reminder of my self-induced castration. In the waves of air pouring from the window, I feel Margaret’s soft chocolate curls on my lips. I breathe in the ocean salt and daisies caught in the airs warm rolling tides. They drift me back to the stale yellow robes, suspended like a ghost. The hanger muscles the weight of cascading fabric all day and all night, praying for the day I finally relieve it from its duties. I lay in bed, and I wish for her body on the stretched out linen. I can’t relax myself into the cushions support. My muscles try to pull themselves up against gravity. I guess that’s God telling me to trust in him. I’ve gotten this far, and I cannot trust a bed? How can I trust Him? Does He too wait for someone to relieve Him from the duties of muscling my cascading doubts?
His long black cloak chases after him closely as he steps up to the altar with grace and respect. Invisible stunt planes expel trails of lavender smoke in spirals around the air, burning the nostrils of everyone in the vicinity. Focusing in more, I smell my grandfathers musty old overcoat and melted pine scented candlewax. The air feels cold but I can sense pockets of heat radiating from those surrounding me.
A thousand pairs of focused eyes are transfixed as he turns to face the congregation. His silver strands disappear behind his bald forehead and his diamond collar shines like the north star. Around it everything seems darker as if it is sucking all the light away. Suddenly a magical awe is felt all around. Its in the air. In the atmosphere. The hairs on the back of my neck stand to salute him. The light of 100 candles flickers and the room is almost silent barre the odd cough of an old man or shuffle. Anxious souls await in anticipation. The ceremony is about to start.