Subscribe by RSS

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Soul wings and roundabouts

Photo by Dug Blane
"I'm worried," I confide in Carol, as I'm driving her home after her work. 

"What about?" she says.

"I think I've made a wee mistake and condemned my soul to everlasting torment."

"Normal people mislay their car keys," she says. "How did you manage to lose your soul?"

"Susan was going to church this morning and wanted my company," I say. "Everyone there has been praying for wee Sally. She had a lot on her mind and didn't tell me what to do."

"And you received communion?" she says.

"I did," I say.

"But you're not a Catholic," she says. "You shouldn't have."

"I know that now. I've looked it up. But it seemed rude to stay seated. I did it with respect and good intentions. So I'll be all right, won't I?"

She says nothing, as I slow down to let a posse of tiny tots in triple pushchairs, shoved by green-smocked nursery workers, get safely across the road. 

"Won't I?" I ask again, and my peripheral vision tells me she's staring at me. 

"I don't think so," she says at last. "I think you're screwed."

"Define 'screwed'," I say.

"Eternity in the big bad fire, tormented by demons."

"That's screwed," I tell her. "Can I get a second opinion?" 

"You should," she says. "Talk to the priest. Explain what happened. The trouble is you weren't in a state of grace when you received communion."

"Because I'm not a Catholic?" I say.

"Because your soul is stained with unrepented mortal sin," she says.

"I don't think so," I say. "I'm a good guy."

"You'd be surprised," she says. "It's a long list."

"Such as?" I say.

"Such as homosexual acts, idolatry, incest, lying and masturbation," she says. "You're in the frame for at least one of those, I'm thinking."

"I am," I say. "I don't want to talk about it. It's embarrassing."

"We've all done it," she says. 

"Worn an amulet of the Buddha and rubbed it at times of stress?" I say. 

"Oh, right," she says. "Idolatry. No, I've not done that."

The nursery worker at the tail end of the expedition smiles in our direction, and a ginger-haired squirt in the buggy she's shoving waves at us. I wave back at him, slip the car into gear and pull gently away.

"You are down for one on that list though," I say. 

"I am," she says. "I can't go to church now because of it."

"I thought God allowed gay feelings," I say. "As long as you don't act on them. Tell Him you haven't done it in a while."

"I'm hoping that'll change," she says. "I want a long-term relationship. If I promise God stuff I can't stick to, it'll make things worse."

"Worse than eternal damnation?" I say.

"Satan's inventive," she says.

"It's a high price to pay for being yourself," I say. "Reminds me of Jeanette Winterson's mum: 'Why be happy when you could be normal?'"

"Like you have a choice," Carol says. "And occasionally it is easier being a lesbian."

"Yeah, when?" I say.

"When I was stopped by the police a few months back. I got confused at a roundabout, with them in a car behind me. They pulled me over and gave me a hard time and endless questions. Then I mentioned my girlfriend and they're like 'Whoa', and let me go right away."

"Scared of being done for discrimination?" I say.

"Right," she says. "It's called 'playing the gay card'."

"Any idea what card I should play when I talk to the priest?" I say. 

She studies me in silence some more. "Perplexed Protestant," she says.

"I'm not a Protestant," I say. 

"Brainless Buddhist," she says.

"I can do that," I say.

"I know you can," she says.

No comments:

Post a Comment