Conversations between a Priest and a Nonbeliever
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"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned."

"It's late."

Moonlight illuminated the inside of the shabby church, the stained glass filtering the light into hues of red and blue. Red light cast upon the wooden face of Jesus gave him the illusion of malevolence, empty blue eyes following anyone bold enough to look.

Blue moonlight accentuated the heavy bags under the eyes of the tired priest, giving him the appearance of a man older, perhaps wiser.

It made the blood coming from the young woman's nose appear black as it trickled freely down her chin and to the tile floor below.

Her figure cast a shadow from the tall doorframe of the entrance to the first steps of the pulpit, shrouding the space between pews in darkness.

He could hear her ragged breaths from behind him. Did he hear her wobbly footsteps walking towards him before the heavy sound of her body collapsing into the wall? The sharp clink of the deadbolt diligently placed on the front doors every night breaking before that?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

"When was your last confession?" The priest asked. Tentative, careful.

The girl laughed humorlessly before slowly making her way to the front of the small room. She stood before the pulpit, staring at the polished wooden body of Jesus attached to the dark cross that hung on the wall behind it.

Her back to the priest sitting in the front pew, she sighed.

"I've never been."

A beat of silence.

"Speak, my child."

She turned to face him, shadows cast across her face accentuating the swollen bruises under her eyes and the twisted shape of her nose. Her voice strained as she spoke.

"Do you remember your sermon last Sunday? The part about Job, I mean."

The priest chuckled dryly.

"I'm surprised you ever paid attention to be perfectly honest."

She shook her head, lips and fingers twitching absently. She turned back to risk a glance at the cross before starting again.

"Why… why did God decide to ruin Job's life?"

Weathered hands ran through sparse, greying hair.


"For-for a bet? With Satan no less." She stumbled over her words, stuttering and voice wavering as she tried to swallow the blood on her swollen lips.

"Ché, please."

She approached him, slow and unsteady. knuckles going pale as she gripped the back of the pew before him.

"Why?" Her voice escalated, cracking at times, booming off of the walls, "Why does God let one of his most loyal followers be ruined? Lose his family, his land, his health, his livelihood? Just to leave him with nothing? I don't-I can't understand."

The pew groaned under the pressure, splintered and creaked under unfeeling fingertips

"Tell me, father, please. Please."

Tears cut through the faint red on her cheeks.

The priest's voice remained steady.

"Parables in the good book are meant to teach us lessons, not to be taken literally. God tested Job to show that we all must retain faith, especially in difficult times."

Ché turned away.

A shaky hand came to meet the bridge of her nose. Dexterous fingers gently caressing the tender flesh. Her grip tightened as a loud crack echoed through the empty building, followed by a choked groan. A quiet thud as her knees met the hard floor.

"Why Job?"

Bright eyes glanced up inquisitively from under a bag of frozen carrots. The priest shook his head, correcting himself.

"I meant… out of every parable, why Job specifically? What draws you to him?"

Her voice was raw and slightly muffled when she replied.

"I thought he was an idiot. I didn't understand why any sane man would retain faith, I guess."

The priest's unruly eyebrows arched up, urging her to continue.

"It makes sense to me now. Not in the way it should."

He tilted his head.

"What does Job have left without God? Why continue to suffer? Job is alone in the world, with his only friends insisting he deserves it."

"God-no, faith is the only thing Job had left."

Ché shook her head slowly before glancing back at the cross, blue-hued light darkening bloodshot eyes. She let them fall closed as she murmured, just above a whisper.

"She's the only thing I have left."

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