Afterwards, Solomon knelt on a step beneath the marble-gray moonscape altar, cursing low to no one, sweat seeping down the creased channels of his forehead, looking up, looking down, opening and closing and staring at his clamshell fingers.
He leaned down, touched the bloody depression on the small of his sister’s back, told her to get up.
She did. They went.
They exited out a side door to an alley, where Father Tam could not reclaim their souls for Jesus unless they chose to return, which they would, eventually, through a different door.
Later on, the towheaded sibling pinned on the back pew shrieked and whimpered, the familiar echoes inconsiderate of the reverent silence that draped itself upon her like the belly of some great sleeping cat.
From the rectory bedroom, Solomon listened, his small fists clenched, his fragile bones curled tight and low beneath a small corner hutch.
He crossed himself for fear that his tiny soul would ascend too fast into the ceiling fan blades that whirled above him. When at last the blessed quiet returned, he fixed his brown eyes on the calendar that hung lopsided on the textured wall, and dreamt of distant lands.
Chaz Siu has published flash fiction stories in ezines since 2000. He currently resides in the sleepy coastal town of BIO:
"Reverent is really a window on abuse, and originates from a priest our family knew when I was young. This priest was one of the first priests that was identified by the diocese very early on for misdemeanor pandering & abuse, but he was shuffled around the system without letting any parishioners know, including our church, where he became a good friend of our family. He never abused any of our family (too strong willed and talkative), and he was a very good friend to our family.
I was the last member of the family to visit him, during college in the late 90's at his new church. He took me back to his rectory and showed me around, including his bedroom, which at the time, I thought was odd, but I shrugged it off.
A few months later, he was arrested with a rolodex of 5000 named boys and girls, along with stats, etc that he had compiled & had contact with, and that began the whole US controversy of the later 90s/early 2K with the church hiding abuse. In this story, the church is inspired by the classic gothic stone churches of