Maybe it was some kind of trick priests learned in seminary school where they make their eyes infinitely deep, but Father Brentwood’s pupils and brown irises locked onto me. He touched my forehead and didn’t need to say a word. I heard his soft deep voice anyway, “I understand what you’re going through. It must be so hard. I’m here for you.”
When he moved the wafer closer to my mouth all the ambient noises, the sniffles and coughs, footsteps on the granite floors, and the choir singing went quiet. I bit my lip and looked down. Who was I? Hundreds of people filled the church, and in that moment, it was only two of us. I didn’t deserve to have this, to have him see me so perfectly. It was like having the eyes of God on me, stripping me naked, exposing me for who I really am. Gently sliding my tongue out, I accepted the wafer. He whispered the words, “Body of Christ.”
I shuttered to the sound of his voice. My whole body tingled. I responded with, “Amen.”
Returning to my seat, the further away I got from the priest the colder I felt. The sounds of the parishioners, the singing, and all the footsteps gradually came into focus. It was like being ripped from heaven back into reality. I couldn’t help but glance at my phone. Hospice only watched Bill for a couple hours a day. The rest of the time I was on feeding and diaper changing duty. During the week, I spent my two hours shopping and running errands, rushing to get back to the house to start dinner before the kids got home. Five minutes late and the Jamaican nurse would glare at me. I’d always apologize, like it’s my fault my husband has ALS. Like it’s my fault I am barely holding it together. I mean what am I supposed to do? When your husband needs 24-hour care when am I supposed to sleep? I can’t just help the kids with their school, make dinner, clean, and sleep all while bill ‘s now computerized voice says, “Allie, I need to be changed.” “Allie, scratch my back.” “Allie, I’m hungry.”
Three years ago, we went to Disney as a family for Christ’s sake, and now the closest I got to a vacation was the time I had in between hitting the snooze button and the alarm going off again. I take my vows seriously. I meant it when I said in sickness and in health.
I remained in my pew as the rest of the parishioners filled out. None of them made eye contact with me. In the first year they all wrapped their arms around Bill and I. “We’re praying for you. God will provide.” The second year, when Bill stopped coming to church, everyone asked me, “How’s Bill doing. Give him our best.” I’d always respond the same way. “He’s doing as good as can be expected. I’ll pass on your well wishes.” A month ago, I exploded when someone came at me with that same goddamn question. “You want to know how Bill’s doing? I’ll tell you. Well, he finally lost the ability to speak. He uses his eyes to talk to a computer, and that computer spits out some godawful voice. He shits himself twice a day. He has bed sores all over his back. And to top it off, he cries himself to sleep every goddamn night.”
After that people stopped asking me about Bill, but Father Brentwood pulled me aside. Before he could speak I started, “I’m sorry for my outburst, father. It’s just-”
“Allie, I’d like you to come to confession.”
“I don’t know, Father. I don’t know what I’d confess. I haven’t been since my first communion. I mean-”
“Sometimes confession isn’t as much about what sins you’ve committed,” Father Brentwood interrupted. “Sometimes it’s about the release you get from talking. You seem like you need a release. Please, confess to me. I’ll see you next Sunday.” He walked away before I could think of a reason not to come.
I stayed kneeling in my pew pretending to pray, occasionally opening my eyes to watch the people go into the confessional. I wanted to be last. I wanted to know the church was empty. One by one, they went in and then came out, stopping to kneel and say a few Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s. I wonder if each of them felt like I did? Did they all feel like they have a special relationship with the Father? I mean, he must counsel fifty to a hundred people a week. Are we all special to him?
The first time in Confession I had no idea what to say. I babbled, “I don’t know father. I know I sin. I just don’t even really know where to begin… I hate my kids. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but I do. Every day they come to me for one thing or another. And sometimes I just want to scream at them. Go ask your father! Oh, wait, you can’t. Don’t you get it. I’m all alone here. I am doing this every day all by myself. And then I feel so much guilt – so much guilt. I can’t even quantify it. It is like a mountain of guilt resting on my chest. I can’t breathe. I can’t sleep. I have no appetite. Bill’s the one with ALS and I’ve lost almost as much weight as he has. We had such a good life together, ya know? He was always there to help. We were a team when it came to raising our kids. We both worked hard so we could take vacations and relax. Now there’s no time for relaxation. Sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom with the shower running and just cry. Other times -I can’t believe I am telling you this – sometimes I go in there and masturbate. I know that’s a sin, but I haven’t been able to have sex with my husband in two years, Father. It isn’t even a relationship anymore. He’s my third kid, except this kid weighs 180 pounds and was never potty trained. I know it’s awful, Father. I know it’s the worst, but sometimes I catch myself wishing that death do us part would come a little sooner.”
I said a few more things, then just devolved into tears. Father Brentwood stayed silent, allowing me to cry everything out. I cried and cried, not even thinking about the nurse in my home pacing around waiting for me to get back, not even thinking about how pathetic I must have looked. When my sobs died down to whimpers, and those whimpers died down to sniffles, he spoke. “I do not hear any sins today. All I hear is a woman who’s been given more than is fair. I know I’m supposed to tell you that God has a plan but hearing that won’t help. And whether he has a plan or not, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is you’re hurting. You feel alone. It’s OK. You’re not evil. You’re not wrong. Anyone in your position would be feeling like you do. And I don’t think most of them would be able to hold it together like you have. You don’t need God’s forgiveness, today. All you need is His love and compassion. Go home; come back to confession next week and confess to me again.”
The week that followed my first confession, when the kids needed help with school I did it without raising my voice. I went online to find some new recipes I’ve never made before. I smiled at the other shoppers, walking through the aisles of the grocery store thinking about how amazing dinner was going to taste. I sang to Bill as I bathed him, reassuring him that I’m his wife, now and forever. Not once did I need to hide in the bathroom sobbing or masturbating. I slept better. I ate better. I had the energy to cope with it all. I even had time to take a bath. I shaved my legs and armpits for the first time in a month. The closer I got to Sunday the more I imagined Father Brentwood. I pictured his brown eyes, his tall trim body. I thought about his soft honest face. I envisioned his large hands holding the communion wafer and placing it in my mouth. I couldn’t wait to be on my knees in the confessional, hearing his calm soothing voice, telling me I am forgiven, telling me that I am loved.
In my second confession, Father Brentwood opened the partition between us and spoke, “My child, confess your sins before God.” Hearing his voice had the effect of pulling me out of my own body and then pulling me out again. It was as if I was watching myself, watch myself, watch myself. “It’s OK. Nothing is hidden from God. Confess your sins so you can be unburdened.” The more he spoke the further out I was pulled. Maybe it was the ritual of it, the stained-glass windows, the mahogany. Maybe this was the culmination of thousands of years of Catholicism, millions of sins tossed out on the alter before God, and forgiven. All I wanted in that moment was to obey him. I wanted to give him everything.
“This last week has been so much better, Father. I haven’t been as stressed. Everything has just been so much easier for me to deal with. I don’t even know if I’ve sinned. I mean, I’m sure I’ve taken the Lord’s name in vain from time to time. That is a pretty regular one for me. But beyond that, I’ve had so much patience with Bill and the kids. I feel like a totally different person. I think just being able to cry and release all the energy was exactly what I needed.”
“Last week you talked about how you sometimes needed to escape into the bathroom.”
“Tell me more about that.”
His voice dug into me. It made me want to rip open my chest, no holding back. By now there were a million mes, each watching one another. All of us spoke in unison. “Yes, Father. Sometimes I go into the bathroom and cry. Sometimes I touch myself.”
“I see. Now tell me what you think about when you do that. What do you think about when you touch yourself?” Before I answered I heard the sound of a fly unzipping. Looking through the screen that separated us I could make out his hand wrapped around his cock. I should have screamed, “No!” I should have stormed out of there and called police, but I was too far removed from myself at that point.
“I think about so much, Father. Sometimes I think about just sensations, like feeling a man’s hand on my breasts or my throat. Sometimes I think about how it’ll feel to have a man inside me. Other times my mind really goes into detail.”
I heard Father Brentwood’s watch shaking as his hand moved up and down his cock. “God gives us all an imagination. It’s a wonderful gift. Don’t be ashamed of your fantasies. Share them with God.”
Fuck, my pussy was so wet knowing he was on the other side of the wall jerking off. I wanted to see it. I wanted to look up at his brown eyes as I took him in my mouth. “Yes, Father. Sometimes my fantasies get so dirty. I think about things I’d never do. I think about what it would be like to have a man grab me in the dark and bend me over a car. I think about the terrible things he’d say to me as he raped my tight pussy. When I fantasize about that I can almost hear him calling me a ‘whore’ and a ‘cunt.’ Sometimes I even think about what it would be like to have multiple men at once, each of them with a cock inside one of my holes. It makes me so wet. Sometimes, Father… I think about fucking you.”
The rattling of his watch came to a stop. “Is that true my child. Have you fantasied about me?”
Father Brentwood took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. “It’s a special kind of sin when a child of God fantasizes about a priest.” I heard the watch again, but this time only faintly. “No amount of prayer will gain you God’s forgiveness for that. I have a special penance for you but it won’t work unless you truly submit to Him and seek His mercy. Do you seek God’s mercy?”
“Do you need His forgiveness?”
“I do, Father.”
“Then do exactly as I say. First, take your hand and slip it underneath your skirt between your legs. That’s it. Rub yourself through your panties. Make yourself wet for God. He wants you to be wet. He wants you to show him you’re worthy of his compassion.”
My juices soaked my underwear. My whole body was numb. Father Brentwood’s voice never raised and never lowered. It was so even and sharp, it cut into me, through me. I felt his words running through my veins to every one of my extremities. “Father, please help me. I need God’s mercy.”
“Now slip your hand beneath your panties, describe to me what you feel.”
“I feel my pussy, Father. It is smooth and wet, freshly shaven. It’s so warm. I want you. My pussy wants your cock inside me. Please, Father.”
“That’s it. Now rub your clit. Rub your clit for God. Imagine we’re in the church. I have you bent over the alter with your skirt pulled up above your ass and your panties down around your ankles. You’re looking up at our Lord, suffering on the cross. Do you see him?”
“I see him, Father.”
“Good, now rub your clit faster for me, my child. Imagine what it would feel like when my hand grabs you by your hair and yanks your head back, while my other hand rubs my cock on your slit. Feel how thick and hard I am. Feel me parting your lips. That’s it. If you want God’s pity you need to show Him you’re ready to serve His most devoted disciples. Serve your Lord. Take my cock. Feel every inch of it sliding in and out of you. This is your moment to prove you’re worthy. Show your worthiness to the Lord.
“Don’t stop rubbing yourself. If you want his forgiveness then hear my words. Hear God speaking to you though me. He wants your whole body to shake. He wants every part of you to feel infused with energy. Look at Him, suffering on the cross. See Him and His crown of thorns, weak and frail, dying for your sins. Do you feel me inside you? Do you feel my body slamming against you, fucking you on the alter? You’re a sinner, a lowly sinner. None of us are worthy of His love, and yet we have it every day. Prove your devotion to Him. Faster, and faster, and faster, around and around your clit, don’t stop touching yourself. This is it. This is the moment you prove to God you deserve his mercy. Cum for me, Allie. Cum for God. Be forgiven.”
My body twisted and convulsed, ricocheting my fingers back and forth over my clit. I bit down hard on my bottom lip, trying to fight back the screams and moans. “Please, God… Forgive me.” I cried out, probably loud enough for anyone who remained in the church to hear. My juices gushed down my leg. “I’m a sinner, God. Forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me. Lord, forgive my sins.”
Over and over I heard Father Brentwood’s words, “Cum for me, Allie. Cum for God.” All the versions of me that had multiplied out came crashing back down into one person, and then, almost immediately, expanded out infinitely again. My husband was months away from dying. My kids were months away from being fatherless. And here I was on my knees, in a confessional, rubbing my clit and dripping my juices all over the floor. Fuck! What was I doing. I couldn’t stop. “Cum for me, Allie. Don’t stop cumming for God.” Maybe it really was the Lord speaking through Father Brentwood. Maybe it was the Lord’s hand on my clit, ripping out all my pain, taking away all my anxiety and guilt. At some point my moans turned into sobs. Tears rolled down my face, but I couldn’t stop touching myself. “That’s it my child. Let it all out.”
“I’m so sorry, Father! Please forgive me! I’m a terrible mother! I’m a terrible wife! Please, God! Oh, God! Oh, God! Fuuuuuuuck! Goooooood!” By now, I could have been levitating. My head could have been rotating 360 degrees. I don’t know. My energy could have exploded the confessional and shattered all the stained-glass windows. Somewhere in the church there were statues with tears of blood streaming down their cheeks. It wouldn’t have surprised me if outside had been consumed by locusts or if frogs were raining down from the sky. “Fuck!”
Orgasm after orgasm shot through me until I toppled over into a puddle of my own making. I was a quivering pile of flesh and bones. I think I tried to speak but all that came out were tones that matched the frequency of my body.
Finally, Father Brentwood spoke. “You are forgiven, my child. Say three Hail Marys and four Our Fathers and then go in peace, knowing that you will be surrounded by the warm embrace of the Lord.”
Still shaking, I did the best I could to gather myself, stumbling as I left the confessional. I said my prayers and made my way home, totally running through two stop signs, unaware I had done so. Sure, I was late, but I just shrugged my shoulders when the nurse pointed at her wrist. I went through the whole week, kind of like that. Finally, when Sunday came and church was over, there I was again, waiting for confession. I stared up at Jesus on the cross, my pussy already dripping wet. I wondered what sins I needed to atone for, today.