The sound of her hard-soled dress shoes hitting the marble floor echoed through the eerie emptiness of the church. She raised her gaze to meet the eyes of Mother Mary and baby Jesus at the altar, a painting so realistic it might have as well been the very Mother of God judging her with those cold, blue eyes.
A while ago looking at them would bring elation to her very soul, a wondrous feeling of her very being fluttering inside of her with awe and wonder as the entire mass sang or recited prayers, rhythmically, all in unison.
Nowadays every prayer left her feeling singled out. Burning under the stare of the God above her in what was supposed to be the moment when she felt most connected with the Lord. The communion bread had stood dry on her tongue, her throat clamped as she struggled to accept His body, the essence of the Lord’s disappointment with her.
No one else came to confession this early. Or this often.
She moved the shroud away to kneel against the dimmed window, intricate metal patterns in the barrier between her and the priest. She mustered a quiet greeting.
“Praised be Jesus and Mary”
The priest already knew what she came in for. He was familiar with her struggles himself, and since she’d first confessed to him, he was comfortable with being the one to console and guide her through her temptations.
“Forever and Ever”, He replied.
Seeing the girl was oddly quiet today, he decided to break the ice of the confession.
“So, Foo Fighters”, Father Pucci spoke, “Which woman was it this week?”
Foo’s family had already told her a notorious biker gang was passing through the town. Charity, they claimed, but it was hard to imagine those indecent men and women, dressed in leathery, skimpy clothes, ruining their bodies with ink and metal in their skin, doing anything to help.
“Away from their families and parents, rebellious, abandoned, junkies and bullies. Nothing good can come from them”
Foo Fighters was inclined to agree. It’s not as if she knew any better.
It’s not as if she was any better.
The late evening mass ended at half past ten in the night.
Father Pucci had recommended it to her. In order to “have as little time possible for sinful thoughts” as he put it. Foo wasn’t feeling any better nor cleaner, though, as she walked towards her home, counting the rosary beads through prayers still.
“…I have sinned, through my thoughts and my words”
She took a breath, struggling to keep pace. Weariness weighed on her like a heavy cross.
“Through my fault, through my fault, my most grievous fault…”
What happened next was almost too much for her tired mind to process.
Footsteps she couldn’t hear before snuck up on her and a fist had nearly driven itself in the side of her head, merely grazing her scalp. She was lucky to dodge it as she turned around, but the shadowy figure behind her didn’t waste time. They grabbed her by the arm and tore away her purse, and there was something metallic, shiny under the moonlight, in their other hand, aimed at her-
The mugger suddenly stilled as an arm wrapped around their neck at the elbow. They gasped for air, dropping the knife and clawing at the interrupter. With a swift swing, a classic wooden baseball bat came into contact with their thick skull. They were tossed aside immediately, limp but breathing.
“Well, almost glad I didn’t manage to kill the guy”, the unfamiliar, feminine voice spoke.
Foo looked up, utterly terrified, adrenaline pumping through her veins making her shake.
The tall woman picked up her purse from the attacker’s hand and stretched her own out to Foo. She took a moment to collect herself and examine the new stranger before accepting.
The strength with which she was pulled up likely startled her more than the initial attack.
The face she met was young, about her age, and with an angel bite piercing above her lip. Her features seemed of Asian descent, and bright green hair covered her forehead, followed by two dark buns on the back. She wore a black leather jacket, and on the arm she pulled Foo up with there was a tattoo - some sort of a heart or butterfly design.
She must have been a memeber of the biker gang,
“Sorry, I could have interfered earlier”, the woman said, “I’m Jolyne Kujo, just visiting the town for a couple of months.”
Foo Fighters had never seen such a beautiful woman in her life.
This was a very, very stupid thing to do.
Impulsively, she asked for the girl’s number after the incident. She had to make up for the help somehow, right?
That’s what she was telling herself, at least.
What she was frankly more terrified of was not attending her regular confession yesterday. Those…eyes. Those arms. The way she towered over her and yet it felt like Foo was flying high above, her heart soaring in her ribcage.
She wouldn’t be able to talk about that to father Pucci. Not now.
Foo made an excuse to her family - she’d be going for shopping, she needed new socks because the washing machine appeared to have been eating them up. It was early afternoon, so that was as believable of a cover-up story as any.
She opened up her phone, looking up the charity building again where Jolyne had her stay, along with the rest of the gang.
The last message read: “This is the place! My friends will be glad to meet you. Plus you can help us run some errands if you want ;)”
That “;)” made her cheeks flush. Wishful, impossible thinking, and still she made her best efforts in her looks today. She was very likely going to feel guilty about this afterwards, but she didn’t want to think about it right now.
Jolyne was waiting for her in front of the building, a small, endearing smile upon her lips.
Foo Fighters had completely stopped going to confession. For the first time since her early teenage years, something felt right and complete. She didn’t feel wrong, burdened, or damaged. When she was with Jolyne, she felt… alive.
What sealed it was one late-night hangout, when she moved away from the fire upon which the rest of the bikers made marshmallows and drank to their hearts’ delight. It had become to loud for her, and she retreated to a log a dozen meters away. It was a cool summer night, and the stars shone brilliantly, unobscured by the faraway town lights.
Though she’d hoped her retreat wouldn’t drag much attention, soon enough she heard gentle footsteps muffled by the young grass.
She wasn’t afraid, though. It was easy enough to guess who it was.
“Anything wrong?” Jolyne said, a tang of concern in her voice. She didn’t seem tipsy at all.
Foo Fighters met her eyes, offering an apologetic smile.
“Nothing in particular, it’s just getting a bit too… rowdy, for my taste.”
Jolyne huffed, her ever-so-slightly slanted eyes shimmering in amusement. For just a moment Foo let herself be lost in the happy wrinkles of her face.
“Sorry if I’m worrying you”, Foo continued.
“No, not at all.” Jolyne waved her hand in a negative gesture. “I’m really not that big of a booze fan either.”
She gazed up at the sky.
“And the stars look really pretty tonight.”
Foo lay back on the grass, relaxed. Jolyne followed along, casually crossing one leg over the other in the air - one of the little, expressive ways she managed to captivate Foo with even more.
They lay there in silence for a few minutes. Foo was nearly overwhelmed by the closeness, peace and the sense of calm and rightness.
She took in a deep breath. She wouldn’t be able to take this much longer.
She sat up and leaned towards Jolyne, placing a hand over hers.
“J-Jolyne. There’s. Something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while.”
The still laying girl was staring at her with an undecipherable expression on her face. Foo swallowed.
“I want to thank you for the past two months. I’m sorry if this is coming out of the sudden, and I completely understand if you’ll want to break off now, but I don’t think I’d be able to see you leave w-”
Foo felt strong, gentle hands grab her shoulders in an instant, and her lips captured in a kiss.
It was short, shallow, as awkward as a first kiss can be, but Foo could swear a star descended from the sky and erupted in her chest that very moment.
“I love you too”, Jolyne breathed, smiling brighter than Foo’d ever seen.
Next week, Foo Fighters was packing her bags. Her family was out for dinner, and she felt it would be the best time to run away.
Rummaging over her drawers, she found the rosary she so devoutly carried for years.
She hadn’t been to confession in almost three months now. But somehow, inexplicably, she’d never felt better. And she didn’t want it to stop.
Foo closed the drawer, leaving it where it lay. There really was no time for thinking about it, and she didn’t have the energy for it, either.
Her girlfriend was waiting outside, motorbike’s engine revving in anticipation.