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Selena Kitt

Emily and the Priest

Whenever it was Father Mark’s day in the confessional, the line of girls stretched around the corner and into the vestibule. Most of them would wait all day to see him if they had to, and Emily thought it was amusing that Father Mark probably didn’t know he was the one many of the girls were talking about when they confessed to “lustful thoughts.”

Emily knew she just as guilty, and she would have to admit her thoughts in the confessional on Saturday, but she unable to stop herself, even when he was wearing his cassock and collar. Emily wondered if Jenny, her disgruntled roommate sitting rigidly beside her, was having the same problem. The two of them sat across from Eve and Alexis, Father Mark closing their semi-circle. Alexis was crying, and she wouldn’t look at anyone, even her own roommate, Eve, sitting on her right.

“Sometimes things that cause us heartbreak at first are really blessings in disguise.” Father Mark handed Alexis a Kleenex and looked at Emily. She felt her heart lurch in her chest when she met his dark green eyes and he smiled at her bemused look. “How are you feeling about all of this, Emily?”

“Oh… uh…” She stammered, looking around at the girls’ faces, now all focused on her. “To tell you the truth? I don’t mind so much.” She glanced over at the blonde sitting beside her, the girl who had made fun of her since the beginning of the year, from the very first day Emily had put her “unfashionable” bedspread on her bed, the one her grandmother had crocheted. From the start, Emily had been judged and labeled too awkward and a little too chubby to keep up with her tall, athletic roommate.

She couldn’t prove it, of course, but she suspected that it was her roommate who had been pestering her since the beginning of the year, resetting her alarm clock so she was late for classes, gluing her bottle of shampoo closed, putting baby powder in her blow dryer, and replacing her toothpaste with Orajel. Her mouth had been numb all morning from that little stunt. The truth was, the news that Jenny wanted a new roommate hadn’t been a shock-it had been a welcome surprise.

“See, Alexis,” Eve piped up. She was a leggy blonde as well-she and Jenny could have been born twins-and she liked to show it off, her uniform skirts always looking far shorter on her long, slender legs, especially when she crossed them, like she was doing now. “Emily doesn’t mind. I don’t see what you’re crying about.”

Emily spoke up, talking to Alexis, but she looked directly at Eve. “Just because someone doesn’t want to hang out with you, doesn’t make you a bad person. I think it says more about them than it does about you, to be honest.”

“Eve and I just get along better, that’s all.” Jenny snorted and rolled her eyes as Alexis burst into new sobs, covering her face with her hands. “We have way more in common, you know? We’re just more the same type of girl. It’s that simple.”

“Yes, you are.” Emily agreed, and Eve sighed, shaking her head and making a face at Jenny. Father Mark caught the look, frowning, but didn’t say anything. Emily traced the lines on her plaid uniform skirt. “I think you guys would make perfect roommates.”

“That’s very generous of you, Emily.” Father Mark reached for another Kleenex and handed it to Alexis, who hid her ruddy cheeks and nose behind it. They were almost as red as her frizzy, crimson hair. “And it’s okay to be sad about it, Alexis. Change can be difficult.”

“Honestly, I think…” Emily took a deep breath and just said it. “I think it could be fun.”

“Fun?” Alexis looked up from her tissue, surprised. “Rejection is fun for you?”

“Well, no.” Emily wasn’t about to tell her how used to rejection she’d become since starting her freshman year of college. “But why would I hang around where I’m not wanted? And from what I know of you, I think you’re pretty awesome. I’d be happy to be your roommate.”

“Really?” Alexis sniffed, pushing a frizzy mass of auburn hair out of her eyes. She offered Emily a tentative smile.

“Yeah, really.” Emily smiled back, and she knew in that moment that they were going to be roommates.

It took another twenty minutes of talking and “processing” for Alexis to come to the same conclusion, but in the end, that’s exactly what they decided. In fact, Jenny and Eve left looking kind of let down and confused by the way Emily and Alexis smiled and talked about moving all of Emily’s stuff into Alexis’s room. Eve would be moving into the room Emily had miserably shared with Jenny since the beginning of the year.

“Oh, Emily, can I talk to you for a minute?” Father Mark touched her shoulder and she looked back at him, her heart instantly threatening to stop. Jenny and Eve exchanged looks, whispering together as they took off down the hall.

Emily waved a reluctant Alexis on, back toward the dorms. “I’ll meet you at your room!”

Our room,” Alexis corrected her loudly, clearly for Jenny and Eve’s benefit. They were still whispering at the end of the hallway. Alexis had obviously caught on to the fact that, while the two blondes wanted to live together, they evidently didn’t want their rejected roommates to feel happy about it.

“Have a seat.” Father Mark closed the door of his office behind him, nodding at the chair Emily had just vacated.

“Am I in trouble?” She sank slowly down, looking at him across his desk with big eyes as he settled into his chair.

He smiled, shaking his head, and Emily visibly relaxed. “No, I just wanted to catch up.”

She and Father Mark had semi-weekly talks. She’d started going to him after the pranks began-he was the school psychologist-but she’d refused to tell him her suspicions about Jenny being the culprit, and their conversations had eventually turned to other things. She enjoyed them immensely, and she had a feeling he did too.

“But I did want to tell you that your mother called me. Again.”

“What now?” She sighed. Her mother had come to him with one concern after another all year long, even though Emily had stopped telling her about all the mean tricks the girls had continued to pull. Emily suspected her mother just liked chatting up Father Mark. Not that she could blame her.

“She’s just concerned about you.” He leaned forward, looking concerned himself. “I know what it’s like to have an overbearing parent, trust me.”

“Your mom too?”

“My dad.” He leaned back in his chair, putting his feet up on his desk. It had been strange at first, seeing him so casual in his cassock and collar, but she was used to it now. “Some day you’ll look back and realize your mom just loves you and wants the best for you.”

“So you and your dad get along now?”

Father Mark hesitated. “Unfortunately, I haven’t talked to him in years.”

“Well, gee, Father, that was some pep talk.” Emily snorted laughter.

He shrugged. “We had a falling out. We’re both very stubborn people.”

“But he’s your dad!” she protested. “Whatever it was, you should call him. Talk to him. Even if my mom is a pest, I can’t imagine cutting her out of my life.”

“It was the other way around.”

“Oh.”

He smiled and dropped her a wink. “But see, now you feel better about your mother don’t you?”

She did. “Sneaky.” She stuck her tongue out at him.

He laughed. “So… be honest. Have there been any more incidents?”

Of course, she lied. “No.”

She wasn’t about to tell him about last week’s prank-someone had put her name and number on the bathroom wall at St. Luke’s offering free blowjobs to all interested parties, apparently, because her cell phone hadn’t stopped ringing since, asking for service. She’d let the battery die and hadn’t recharged it, realizing at that moment that she’d probably missed her mother’s weekly calls. But she wasn’t going to tell her, or Father Mark, anymore. She’d learned to keep her mouth closed, because no one could do anything about it. Telling people-from their dorm mother, Sister Francine, to Father Mark, who told her he’d talked about it with Bishop Avery, who ran the school-hadn’t stopped the pranks. In fact, they’d gotten worse. So she had just decided to ignore them as much as she could and hope it would go away.

     

 

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