From a writing prompt: Show a conversation where only one person speaks with words. Enjoy!
by Jaimie M. Engle
“I know why you did it,” Lawrence said, picking at his cuticles. “And truthfully, I don’t blame you.”
The man sitting across from Lawrence crossed his plump hands on the cold, metal table; the clink from his handcuffs like the gavel that put them there.
“I’d have done it myself, if I wasn’t afraid of jail time.”
Lawrence looked up at the man who no longer wore his convictions in a small white square upon his neck. He smiled. “I bet you’re wondering why I’m here, Father. Can I still call you that? I can’t help but call you that. It’s what you’ve always been.”
The priest stared with steel gray eyes the way he probably did all those times behind the mesh wall in his confessional, only Lawrence could see them, feel them. This was, after all, a confession.
“I guess it just seems wrong, you know?” Lawrence stammered. “That you’re in here when it should be me.”
The priest covered his eyes, his face, and began to weep. Salt tears cleansed the wounds. After some time, he reached out his hand, metal scraping metal as the cuffs dragged like time in prison. He touched Lawrence.
Lawrence had completed his penance.
A buzzer sounded. The guard reappeared and opened the heavy steel door. Tears slipped from Lawrence’s eyes. The priest released him and stood, his walk stunted by shackled feet.
“I’m sorry, Father!” Lawrence called, as the priest left without a single word.
Lawrence was alone.
His unblemished hands stained by unseen blood.
In twelve hours, Father Rose would sit in the electric chair. His hands and feet staked. His head crowned in electric thorns. His soul forever separated from God. His faith replaced long ago with revulsion.
But he would.
And in the afterlife, Lawrence knew he would pay for what he had done.
Lawrence stood, wiped his face dry, and left the small visiting room. He was too prideful to go to prison. He was too young. He had his whole life ahead of him when the arrest occurred all those years ago.
The priest had lived his life.
They had both made their choices. Father Rose made his when he impregnated a young girl and brought a bastard son into the world. Lawrence made his when he pulled the trigger. He couldn’t let her tell anyone the truth that Father Rose was a sinner. And when she threatened to contact the Vatican, the decision came easy.
Only the priest knew it was Lawrence who had pulled the trigger. And only Lawrence knew the priest’s confession was a lie. After all, a father’s job was to protect his son.
Even to sacrifice his life.