det_montoya: (side)
[personal profile] det_montoya
Saint James Cathedral should have fallen in the quake.  The centuries old building survived.  Some saw it as a feat of engineering.  Others spoke of luck.  The surrounding immigrant community knew the truth though.  God's grace was upon them.  Many a stain glass window had been replaced.  The original pews were gone.  Priests struggled and retired.  The alter moved from the head of the church to the center.  Despite the changes, it remained the heart and hope of its parishioners, a shining light amidst the darkness of life. 

Renee Montoya is stalled on the steps outside. 


It's been close to fifteen years since she's been inside.  She can't remember now why she came.  In a minute, she'll retreat.  She can't bring herself to do it just yet.  The church is a fixture of her childhood, a house of memories as well as worship.  The present and the past collide and inside her brews a storm of discordant feelings.  Belonging.  Disappointment.  Anger.  Resignation.

She shakes her head. 

Life and work are waiting elsewhere.  She turns her back on the house of God.  Not the first time in her life.  Definitely not the last.

Date: 2006-08-16 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

The voice belongs to an aging man standing just outside the open double doors. He's dressed entirely in black with the exception of the white clerical collar.

Date: 2006-08-16 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She didn't expect to see anybody here, much less be waylaid on the steps outside the church. She turns immediately at the sound of her name. It's a voice she recognizes. No amounts of years can erase the familiar gentleness in his voice.

Father Rodriguez is looking a little gray around temples. Otherwise, he looks just the way she remembers him.

"Father." None of the turmoil she feels inside is imparted in the greeting.

Date: 2006-08-16 05:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He descends the stone staircase to meet her, hands tucked casually in his trouser pockets. There's a pleasant smile on his face.

"It's been a long time," he observes. There's no judgment in his statement. It's just a simple fact.

Date: 2006-08-16 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She looks away briefly. Suddenly, she desperately wants to be anywhere but here. After a prolonged moment, she turns her gaze upon him again and answers reluctantly.


Date: 2006-08-16 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
His smile widens. It has been a long time. Too long, in fact. He can immediately tell she's uncomfortable. Now that she's here though, he's going to do everything he can to engage her. Who knows how long it will be before she returns?

"Would you like to come in?"

Date: 2006-08-16 05:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Her reaction isn't exactly "deer in the headlights" but it's fast approaching. "No," she answers, shaking her head.

Date: 2006-08-16 05:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Her response isn't entirely unexpected. He's seen this kind of behavior before in others. "The church is empty. And I just brewed a fresh pot of coffee. We could go sit in my office."

He carefully controls his tone. It must be received as a suggestion, not an attempt at persuasion.

Date: 2006-08-16 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Once Renee makes up her mind, there's little that can be done to change it. "No thanks," she whispers.

She knows he means well. Father Rodriguez is about the sweetest man she knows. Knew. Standing next to him now, she almost feels like a kid again. The church was a big part of her life growing up. Always present was this caring and kind man. Right next to her parents and brother.

Date: 2006-08-16 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She hasn't turned to walk away. That much is a good sign. He'll take miracles as they come. If they were meant to speak here on the steps rather than in the church, God's will be done.

"It's good to see you, Renee. The last time was..." He pauses, thinking back. Most of the time his forgetfulness is a blessing. At this very moment, its a curse.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Her recollection isn't quite so problematic. It was the last day she was ever truly happy in the church. "Baptism. For Maria de la Fuente," she says, filling in the blank.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
His face lights up in recognition. "Yes," he comments knowingly. Maria is now a teenager. It doesn't seem that long ago to him that she was born. It doesn't seem that long ago that Renee was born.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Good to see you too, Father." She means it. It's just been so long she doesn't know where to start.

"I should go. Got things waiting to be done." Funny how the truth can be used as an excuse sometimes. She drops her gaze again.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He nods in understanding. Before she has a chance to turn, he adds one more thing. "Please remember that you're always welcome."

He refers to both the church and his time.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She meets his gaze again. She's not sure whether his reminder makes her feel better or worse. There is only confusion and ill content. "I know," she manages. She offers him a weak half hearted smile. Its the best she can muster.

She turns without saying good-bye.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He watches her walk away with a touch of sadness on his face. As she reaches the car door, he calls after her with a question.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
She pauses, the door already open.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"May I tell your parents you stopped by?" He prays that the answer will be yes.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Her expression hardens. It's only after a moment of silence that she answers. "No."

She slips into the car and drives away.

Date: 2006-08-17 10:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The car disappears into the distance, leaving Father Rodriguez alone in a busy neighborhood. His eyes do not waver from the point from which she vanished. God works in mysterious ways. Rodriguez wonders how He's working now.

"Have mercy oh Lord. Have mercy."


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