Priest -Free Short Story

Here I am alone again staring at empty hall which many men have preached in preceding myself. Not long ago, a week in fact, there would be people. Each man woman and child dressed in their best clothes patiently sitting together. Each member of the community gathered here for one day of rest. One day to sit and listen to the lord’s words. One day to listen to me. One day to feel the warmth of god.

Who am I to be so selfish that I pity myself for not having my countrymen here to fill the wooden pews?  I miss my many followers. I miss their loyalty and even their troubles. I miss their smiles. I miss their glares. I miss their crying babies interrupting my sermons. I miss standing before a newlywed bride and groom. Especially now I miss their smell. The scent of their labors in the town around us. Baked bread and cured meats. Mostly though, I miss me.

How could I possibly be the same after the tragedy the came upon our fair city. All of Europe knows its signs and all of god’s children fear its wrath. The Black Death. It is the Black Death’s fault that when I chime my bell there is no one in our town left to hear its heavenly ring. Its noise echoes through the valley until it becomes nothingness. I fear there is no one left in this world to hear it. I am alone absent the lifeless charred bodies piled just off the east road out of town. Burned to keep from rotting because I could only dig so many holes in a day.

The plague came to us in the spring. A little girl had what her father first thought was a dark bruise. Soon she began to become covered in bleeding pusing sores. The sores started under her armpits and between her thighs. Soon the sores spread to her neck and abdomen. The little girl spent the last three days of her six-year-old life wrapped in a pain that I cannot imagine. Her parents soon became covered in the sores and by the time we realized what curse had came upon us half of our community was covered in the sores. The other members of the community either left town or became ill as they cared for the infected.

At first, the sickness drew more of god’s children to my doorstep. Those who needed to repent for their sins and beg for forgiveness. It was then that I thought we could persevere through faith. But week after week the Sunday attendance became lower and lower. Each empty space was like a blade slicing away at my faith until finally it was shattered.

Now they are all gone, I cared for all of them. I touched their hands and blessed their bodies. I begged god to grant them entrance to heaven. I do not understand why the illness did not overtake me as well. I have buried every man woman and child who stayed in our town. God left us, the devil forsake us, and I. I could do nothing.

Now I ring my bell out of habit and never faith. I pray and hold mass for an empty room because of habit. God no longer speaks to me. I fear he does not hear my words. The only thing left to accompany me is the quiet whispers of my follower’s spirits murmuring past me in the air.

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