In the church, it was another sacrifice not to close her eyes from the warmth of so many bodies packed tightly within those eggshell-white walls.
Because her mother was preoccupied keeping her place in the crowd and fingering the beads of her rosary while listening to the priest,
Aside from candle melt, sweets and flowers, there was sometimes a miniature or two left at the foot of the statue of a saint or the Virgin Mother.
These miniatures were often chipped, faded or dirty. These were gone after a week or two.
The statuettes, she believed, were taken back by the owners when they thought these had absorbed some of the power in the church statues.
The girl imagined that infinite knowledge and infinite acceptance were reflected in those lacquered eyes fringed with stiff, brush-like lashes.
But even the hushed tones of her mother telling her about the Body of Christ in the tabernacle had failed to impress
If anything, the red curtains reminded her of the stage backdrop put up in the plaza during fiestas. That plaza curtain covered cracks and holes gouged in the wall.
When the parish priest approached her mistress about a youth choir he was organizing, the devout lady volunteered
Once, after choir practice, the priest instructed
A day before she was to leave to become a helper in Dumaguete, she went to church, not to hear mass.
But she did not see him. Or if it was the same priest, he wore a mask. When his lids swept down and hooded his eyes,
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* Published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Dec. 3, 2006 issue