Church of the Bleeding Heart

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You enter a small room lit by candles and a single bulb on a string. They all look as if they’re about to burn out. As your eyes adjust you become keenly aware of your breathing and your heart thumps loudly in you chest. thump. thump. thump. You aren’t nervous, but something feels off. Is the floor crooked?

Once your eyes adjust you see a kneeler- it is very similar to the one you remember from Easter Sunday at your grandmothers church. The discomfort of youth floods back to you. The uncomfortable new clothes. The bread and wine. How do we do this? How do I take the wafer from the priest? Do I really have to drink from the same cup as that old man?

You approach the kneeler and notice the details are different. The cross-stitched cushion is more macabre than you think your gran would appreciate. The rails are damaged, look like they’ve been in a fight. As you kneel down in the now familiar pose of prayer you breathe deep and look up into the altar.

Your heart wrenches and a sadness overwhelms you. The altar looks strangely familiar. A dream you once had. Or a nightmare. It draws the empty spaces in your soul to the surface, but refuses to fill them. You feel the lack. It overcomes you and the tears start to well up.

You close your eyes and listen. thump. thump. thump. Breathing slowly you try listen to what your heart has to say but it just keeps beating.

You release.

You feel feel something die.

You let go.

How much time has passed? Your eyes open slowly and you half expect to see a black robed priest with a wafer and a cup in front of you.

But there is no one.

Only an altar, a book, a memory.