Father Stuart told me to sit on the organ bench and face the wall calendar. This month’s photo was one of Jesus making the sign of the cross, his heart emitting rays of red and white light. At the bottom of the picture were the words, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”
We had this same calendar hanging in the kitchen at home. I’d asked my mom why Jesus had those rays of light around his heart. I told her he looked like one of the cartoon superheroes I’d seen on TV. “It’s showing the love that Jesus has for all of us,” she said.
I didn’t ask her to explain.
The priests had scribbled volunteers’ names under the dates on the church calendar. I’d once told Father Stuart I wished I was important enough to have my name there. He’d said, “We’ll see what we can do about that.” I saw my name written in capital letters on today’s square.
There was a portrait of the Blessed Mother above the calendar. She was looking right at me. She held a sprig of white lilies. Her heart was exposed, encircled by pink roses. A small dagger pierced it and white rays shot out in all directions.
The faint whiff of incense and candle wax drifted up to the choir loft. It mingled with the scent of Father Stuart’s aftershave and perspiration. He was standing behind me. He told me not to turn around. His breathing was getting faster. His left hand was gripping my shoulder.
I focused on the pictures of Jesus and Mary. Her heart dagger glinted in the light. Their heart rays shot toward me, mingling together in a brilliant, sparkling band of red and white, blinding me. I closed my eyes.
Janice Leagra is a writer and mixed media artist who holds a BA in English from Rutgers University. Her work has been featured at Spelk Fiction and on the Bridport Prize 2017 shortlist. She lives in North Carolina. You can find her at www.janiceleagra.com or on Twitter: @janiceleagra.
Image: Josh Applegate