Title: Confession
Subtext: Religious recession.
Date: 28 May 15 (Thursday in the AM)
Time: 1 minute
Replies: 19
Revisions: 17
Publicity: Superfeed

Walking up steps to the great brownstone cathedral I watched pigeons cluster and flee the decrepit courtyard punctuated by a defunct, dry, weedy fountain. Dusk settled behind grey skies looming over the bell towers.

The inside was empty, and quiet but for the echo of measured movements resounding across the caverns of stone. At the confessionals I stopped to admire a centerpiece of stained glass reigning over the altar. I pulled the heavy red curtain of a booth aside and went into the dark.

I was transported by the smell of pillows in my grandparents’ basement. When the screen opened, the sequence of things I said came mostly from memory, but I knew I was getting it wrong. At my age I also knew it didn’t matter. I confessed a general collection of things that made me imperfect and drifted into a fair petition for counsel, which came somberly through a worn voice.

“As you get closer to someone, they’re sometimes likely to do less for you, and certainly less likely to exalt you. And more able to do harm because of the intimacy, and the detail and accuracy of their knowledge. Their negativity is more likely to have a basis in truth, for they know you. Recall that a prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own home.”

When the screen opened, the sequence of things I said came mostly from memory, but I knew I was getting it wrong.

I never applied the right philosophy at the right time, even though each was good and right in its Platonic form. I didn’t take it personally, though maybe I should have. I just considered it bad luck, or chargeable to a history of schooling that rewarded conformity over novelty — a repetition of tasks and a recitation of information long ago thought to be useful without any lesson in application to the life I actually led.

*          *          *

I ignored my penance and sat by the fountain outside, picking leaves off weeds and tossing them towards the birds to observe their reaction.


Elk » Authorship
Elk » 8:13 AM 29 Aug 18
Bear » 9:09 PM 26 Aug 18
Elk » 3:38 AM 15 Mar 18
Elk » 3:36 AM 15 Mar 18
Elk » 6:33 AM 09 Dec 17
Elk » 7:52 AM 08 Dec 17
Elk » 7:50 AM 08 Dec 17
Elk » 7:46 AM 08 Dec 17
Elk » 9:45 AM 08 Nov 15
Elk » 10:54 AM 01 Jun 15
Elk » 3:05 PM 29 May 15
Elk » 11:16 PM 28 May 15
Elk » 5:54 PM 28 May 15
Elk » 12:12 PM 28 May 15

The Thread (19)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. Hate to break out Joyce again, but this one has a real Araby feel to it. That’s a good thing.

    First line is a little askew with the dangling modifier. Sounds like the pigeons are walking up the steps. Minor problem if really one at all.

    Instead of stopping short of the confessionals, it might read “at the confessionals,” as in the next line the curtain is pulled open.

    The ending is great. That the penance is skipped is unexpected and probably the best part. A real character building moment.

    The last line feels a little heavy-handed but maybe only because of the sentence structure. Maybe change to, “The church had earned its wealth.”

  2. Good thoughts. Changes coming.

  3. I made all those changes. Definitely appreciate the second set of eyes on this one.

  4. Pretty good balance between the vague and the specific in your descriptions. I also like skipping the penance in favor of picking leaves/weeds and tossing them at the birds. A lot here to leave the reader with some thoughts.

  5. This edges Lemon-Lime as my favorite Elk piece.

  6. Obliged.

  7. @god — What of the last line and potential application of Rooster’s Rule No. 1?

  8. Slice it. Also consider ditching the * division.

  9. Sliced, but still starred.

  10. I was married at this church — so it stands to reason.

  11. Maybe “weedy” rather than “weed infested.”

  12. And maybe “Dusk started” rather than “Dusk settled in.”

  13. Roger weedy, a shortening. But settled feels more dusky than started, given the traditional notion that dusk is an end, not a beginning. Though now you’ve got me thinking.

  14. I pulled an Elk and just went ahead with some changes. You know the drill. It’s a damned good piece.

  15. Quite a bit to talk about, @bear — the general theme of your work seems to be reduction, which is appreciated. You eliminate some words like it and their, which to me help identify the object of discussion, and I can see how it’d work to disinclude them, but I’m not sure about the style of it yet.

    I liked “observe their reaction”, why did you feel it should be excised? If it is, I like at as a proposition instead of to, it’s just more inconsiderate, which is the character shift we were looking for.

    I like over instead of above, and removing “standing alone”. But I think I need the more pertaining to negativity, because negativity is everywhere, but it’s more potent from those who know us.

  16. The original was toward. I read the gesture (tossing the weeds to the birds) as good natured, so to made sense to me. As such, I read “observe their reaction” as detached, contradicting the good natured gesture.

    The more I removed and your argument for its inclusion are too subtle for my taste. Stylistically, it seemed intrusive.

  17. As is, I like the ending. I like that the character ignores the rote rite of penance and has instead found what seems to be a personal penance. That’s a character I think an audience would root for.

  18. @bear — Check the revision, bounced a few things around, lots of could-go-either-ways, especially that last clause.

  19. Worked as was and as is. Nice choices.

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