Chapter 6

Written by: Ray Stone

My breathing came heavy as Josh’s revelation shook me. He had saved my mother but killed another unnecessarily. Instead of grappling with Father Michael, his fit of anger, tinged with possessiveness and perhaps jealousy, had made him forget his vows for one terrible moment. 

“Then what happened,” I enquired. “Surely there was a trial?”

“Nay. Father Droon it was who Lianda and I spoke to alone. Fearful that the church would transport him, along with myself, to a mission in the penal colonies, his actions were immediate. Lianda was sent to the chapel to pray for forgiveness while I took Father Michael to the lepers graveyard and buried him without a marker. In the morning, it was decided that Lianda was to stay and I was to give up my Holy Order and remain as a gravedigger. We were forbidden to meet or speak to each other again.”

As he spoke with trembling voice, I saw a man much troubled by an inner turmoil that haunted him. The release of a confession from his heart was so deeply felt that tears freely flowed from closed eyes. “I saved the woman I loved and lost her at the same time,” he sobbed.

There was still more story to come as I tossed logs onto the fire. With my inquisitiveness peaked and, as much as I appreciated Josh’s state of mind, I was anxious to learn more. 

“You say it was after this that she told you how she came to be at the hospital. There were moments when you did see each other, then?”

Josh produced a large handkerchief from his grubby waistcoat pocket and blew his nose with great ceremony. “Yes, we met once each month while Father Droon went to meet with the church heads in Colchester, yet it was still another two years before she spoke of you.” 

Outside the cottage, the crashing waves and howling wind were louder and the sad clanging of the entombed tower bell more frequent. The bedlam was unnerving. Somehow I felt that our surroundings were in keeping with the atmosphere Josh created with his narrative. My body shivered despite the warmth of the fire.

“Did she speak of me?” I asked.

“She did. She spoke of you as her ‘untouchable child’ though told me more of her husband as he it was who caused the misery she suffered. It was after this talk that Mr. Kirkman arrived to replace the priests with nurses. Those afflicted were encouraged to see visitors and write letters, something I welcomed. I could comfort Lianda more.”

My heart sank. My earlier feelings were correct that I was indeed an unwanted child.

“Be not sad, Wilber, for your mother wrote about you to your grandparents when she was able.” Josh sighed deeply. “She also left a letter with Mr. Kirkman…for you.”

“For me…but I do not have it.”

“It’s with Mr. Kirkman. You must see him in person now you have seen me.”

Comments

"I saved the woman I loved and lost her at the same time," This line shows the depth of his loss and the paradox. Very good. You put us into the time with phrases like, "...he it was who..."
That is clever and gives us no doubt about the period you are writing about. Nice hook at the end as well. Keen to read on.
Thanks for your comments. They help a lot.