Then I went in to confess.
I felt soothed the minute the walls closed around me. Warmed with the glow of the stained glass windows, the church interior was both lofty and cozy. The high ceiling made me feel small, but in a good way, like I was a small part of something huge. It was strange to be there without my family, but I didn’t feel alone. And I loved the silence. Padding quietly down the aisle toward the front, I chose a pew and settled in to wait.
There were two women ahead of me. Churches, at least Catholic ones, attract lonely women. My mom called them church mice. I hoped they wouldn’t take too long at confession. Then I felt bad for sneering at them as church mice and for thinking their confessions were not as important as mine. I heard a movement and a teen-aged girl left confession and headed up the aisle toward the back door with quick, quiet strides. The church ladies watched her leave, then glanced at each other. Then one gathered up her purse and disappeared into the confessional. Of course, everyone wonders what everyone else is confessing to. Was that girl pregnant? Her head had been down. Or was she abused and seeking help? Or, more likely, her mother sent her because they got into a spat, and the mother wanted to emphasize that God was on the side of adults.
I needed to focus my mind and get my confession organized. I started talking in my head: “Father, I have sinned. My sin is one of omission. I know of a bad thing that happened, and I didn’t tell anyone. My sin is also that it took me a long time to realize for sure that it was a bad thing. I was confused about that. My sin is that I don’t want the crime to be reported to the police because I don’t want to get involved in it. I feel bad that it happened, but I don’t want to have anything to do with it now. I just want to offload my guilt and get on with my life.” I stopped, stunned at myself. That last was part was my real reason for confession—I was there to offload the whole incident and get absolved, so I could forget about it. But the rape wasn’t mine to forget and leave behind.
A door clicked and heels tapped. Church lady #1 was leaving. She gave her friend a quick smile. I thought: They’re meeting for coffee or something afterwards. This is their social life. What was it for me? A get-out-of-responsibility pass? I didn’t wait for my chance to confess. Instead, I jumped to my feet with the word “rape” rocketing around in my head until it drove me out of the church like a whipped horse. I stumbled outside into the heat of the summer day where a blue sky was smiling and people were driving around doing ordinary innocent things, and I was the guy who didn’t deserve to be in church because I just wanted to forget about a rape.
Laura started off life as an artist. Even in early elementary school she could draw with near-photo realism. She liked to tell herself stories while driving, or doing boring tasks such as housework, but never thought of herself as a writer.
That is, until she got involved in the rescue of an abused dog. Her first book, a collection of short stories entitled The Dog Thief, made the Kirkus Review list of one hundred best indy publications and set her on a course of writing.
With one exception, her subsequent novels are in the genre of fantasy, though four have themes relating to current events, and three are also dystopias. Wild Hare, the story of a half/man-half/nature spirit and his feud with the local civic powers also made the Kirkus Review “best of” list.
The exception, I Once Was Lost But Now Am Found, is the nonfiction account of the largest dog rescue in the US to succeed without help of local authorities.
Laura is a retired teacher and lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband; her one-eyed cat; and her elderly, disabled and chronically grumpy shih tzu. She is volunteers at a rescue for unadoptable cats.