“Allie, I’m so glad to see you.”
I smile. She is right, it has been too long. I’ve missed her.
“You’ve changed so much,” I say as she hugs me.
“I haven’t,” she laughs, “You know I haven’t.”
Maybe she doesn’t see it, but she has. She has that glow. That glow that people get when they fall in love. They look different somehow. Like they are not like the rest of us anymore.
“Allie,” Peter is hurrying towards me, “thank God you’re here.” He looks so happy, almost like he thought I wouldn’t come. I did think about it. Not coming. I have to admit that. “Jessica hasn’t stopped talking about you finally coming to see us.”
“Really?” I turn towards her.
“You’re always so busy, Allie,” and then I see it. Just for a little moment. Something in her eyes. Just for the tiniest of moments, but it was there. She is worried. “And I know that you rarely travel to these areas.” She is right about that. I don’t. Not if I can avoid it.
“The house looks amazing,” I say instead.
“It does, doesn’t it?” her face lights up again. She grabs Peter’s hand and we walk into the hallway.
“How big are these rooms?” I laugh, holding out my arms. It really is ridiculous. One of those old houses that really isn’t a normal house. So big. So extravagant.
“It does have some history,” she says, looking down, “but the house deserves a second chance as well, don’t you agree?”
“Of course,” I say without pausing. I knew that the house had history. I’m not silly. You can’t have a house like this without there being some history.
“These areas,” Peter says in a low voice, almost like he is afraid that the house will hear it and be offended, “there were a lot of…”
“No, I know,” I touch his arm quickly. He is from these areas, grew up in this house, but he doesn’t need to feel guilty. He was young, hard to get everything when you’re young. We all know about the slaves in this part of the country, even after it wasn’t allowed anymore. I went here many times in that period, before they got it under control. Those were hard times. Better to forgive and forget, my mum always used to say. Forgive and forget.
“The dinner is at eight.” Jessica says as she starts walking towards the giant staircase, “I’ll show you to your room.”
She looks so beautiful standing at the bottom of the staircase in her pink dress. She wears pink for Peter. He loves it, but Jessica doesn’t really like it. I know her. She likes black. So dark that it consumes her. Pink might be a good change.
“What do you think?”
She closes the door to my room.
“You know what I think,” I say smilingly, “Peter is wonderful and this house is amazing,” I can feel my hands trembling, “You deserve this.”
She nods. Not smiling anymore.
“I do deserve it.”
Her perfect face. I know what they say about faces like that. We both know.
“So, dinner is at eight?”
“Uhm,” she looks out the window. Looks out towards the enormous garden surrounding this house. Big properties like this are hard to take care of if you have to pay everyone. Obviously. A lot of people had to sell their homes, but Peter’s family was rich enough to keep this house when the laws changed. “You don’t think I should live here?” she suddenly says. I don’t answer, not because I don’t want to, but I just don’t know what to say. She shouldn’t live her. “You think I have sold out?” She turns towards me, and despite her pink dress she is the old Jessica. The Jessica who would only wear black. The one who didn’t really smile or had the glow that she has now.
“No,” I say. “Of course not,” I try to seem convincing, “You deserve to be happy, and Peter is a good man.”
“He is,” she stares out that window. Into that garden. That large garden. Just a few years ago it would have been filled with busy hands, always keeping it perfect. Busy, little slaves. “We’ll tell them tonight,” she whispers, “tell them about our engagement.”
I shake my head. “I wanted to wait for you,” she looks so much like the old Jessica that it scares me. I shouldn’t have come. I should have let her live here with Peter and her pink dresses. Me coming her just brings it all back, doesn’t it?
“No, I’m glad you waited for me.”
They won’t like it. She knows it. All those rich, white people coming here. They only come here for Peter. He has too much money. Too much power for them to not accept the invitation. So they’ll come, but they won’t like this. This marriage. It doesn’t matter who Jessica is. Doesn’t matter how kind she is, how brilliant her mind is or how perfect her face is. They won’t like this.
“Welcome,” she is standing by the door talking to the guests.
They are all so polite, but I can see it. They don’t look into her eyes, hurry to get away from her. All these guests are here for Peter, no doubt about it.
“You must be Allie,” someone says to me.
I smile. Reach my hand out to greet her. She does have a friendly face.
“Sarah,” she says.
Jessica has told me about her. That she is nice. The only person she has met so far that she has really felt has tried to be her friend. “Jessica has talked so much about you,” she laughs, “All I ever hear is Allie this and Allie that.” She shakes her head, but she still smiles this warm, charming smile, “she must be your greatest admirer I think.” I blush. Look down. Sarah, Jessica’s best friend here. The only problem is that I have seen her before when I have been travelling up here, helping with the escapes. I remember her well. She had many slaves. One of the biggest houses I ever seen.
“Oh, Jessica is exaggerating,” I finally say.
My face is not like Jessica’s, I’m sure that they like me. Not just this Sarah person. They probably think that I knew Peter first. I look like them. Not perfect at all. My skin all white and boring. Not like Jessica’s who almost seem to glow tonight. Everyone is seated. Jessica and Peter are standing, holding their glasses.
“I am so pleased to finally announce that me and my wonderful Jessica is getting married,” Peter says raising his glass. The room feels so quiet. So quiet. So frightfully uncomfortable. Jessica’s smile seems to be fading. Her dress is pink just like Peter would like for it to be, but I can see it. The old darkness growing inside of her. Peter grew up here. Grew up with these people. Grew up with their ways. He doesn’t want to leave everything, so Jessica came here. For him. The room is just so quiet. They are not ready for this. Maybe they never will be.
“It’s an atrocity,” someone says. I don’t know who. I can’t see them. Can’t see them at all. It could have been anyone. I don’t even know if it was a man or a woman. Jessica is just standing there, looking at them.
“I have prepared a song for my love,” she says, smiling again, but something seems wrong. I know which song she said she was going to sing for Peter. A love song. A pink song. Light and beautiful, but I can see it. “A song for this great celebration.” I know it before she even opens her mouth, that she has changed her mind. She isn’t pink anymore, she has become black. Dark to the core. All these quiet people.
So the rain is dripping heavy on my shoulders right now.
She sounds so fragile, sounds like she could break any moment.
Is it God who’s crying now or is it just another saint thrown out?
“No,” I whisper. I don’t think the others have recognized the song, but they will.
I know how he feels, standing all alone on a cloud.
The frowns on their faces. I want to get up. Stop her. She can’t sing this, not in front of them in this way. They won’t forgive and forget.
Angels passing him by, what he used to be was all a lie.
Peter is looking at her. Doesn’t really get it.
“That bloody song,” a man next to me says, as he gets up. Goes towards the door. “I’m leaving.”
Let the suckers laugh, he’ll survive.
“This is an outrage,” a woman says, follows the man out the door.
So now he’s fallen down from the sky, and he can’t live, and he can’t die.
They are all getting up now. They will all leave. Nothing can make them come back now, not even Peter.
And all he wants to do is to play his music to feel alive,
She closes her eyes and sings. Doesn’t seem to care, that they are all leaving. The old Jessica. I shouldn’t have come.
but the saint got no fingers left, they cut them all off.
The last of the guests, hurrying out of here. Peter doesn’t say anything. He just sits down, looks up at Jessica. Maybe he regrets it, falling in love with someone like her.
Cause his music’s too bright and too clear,
I have always loved this song. Sung it many times. Together with my friends. Together with Jessica.
when he plays the sun appears.
I open my mouth, more or less like a reflex. The song of the old rebellion. Feels like a sin to not sing along.
Its beauty will sweep you away, even the voice of God becomes unclear.
I can feel Peter looking at me. Maybe is surprises him that I would sing that song, even he wouldn’t do that. No matter how much he loves Jessica.
So that was the saint’s sin.
He doesn’t really know me. Peter. He only knows what Jessica has told him and that isn’t much.
So that was the saint’s sin.
She opens her eyes when she hears me singing. I stand up. Look at her. She finally smiles again.
So that was the saint’s sin.
She was never alone just because she moved here. Sold out. Fell in love with someone like Peter. He is a good man. Not everyone that owned slaves were bad people.
To make music that could make you feel like God.
They don’t like this song though. The song about Jeremiah. One of the leaders of the rebellion. Oh they loved him for so long, and the music he could make.
Let the suckers laugh, he’ll survive.
They loved him, until it dawned on them that they really couldn’t make music like he did, and how can you be a God if your slaves are better than you? You really can’t, and I guess they all wanted to be Gods.
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
They are in the garden. Arguing. “They are my friends,” Peter is shouting, “You treated them like dirt with your old rebellion song.” She hasn’t said much. I’ve been watching them, and she has been too quiet. It is a bad sign. Jessica would always become silent when she was angry, until it all would come out of her. He doesn’t mean it. He loves her. It isn’t his fault that he doesn’t truly get it. Doesn’t get how it felt. To be owned. “I don’t know how to make this better again,” he says. “I have never seen them that angry before.”
“Oh you haven’t?” Jessica turns towards him. “Maybe it is just you then,” her voice a little too silent, I almost can’t hear it, “Maybe it’s just you who haven’t seen real anger,” she spits, “real hate.” She walks towards him. Beautiful in her pink dress. Perfect. Just like this night was meant to be. It was meant to be perfect. Them announcing their upcoming wedding, everyone celebrating their perfect lives in their perfect home, but she gets it now. Nothing will ever be perfect here.
He looks at her.
“This was a mistake,” he says, “we are just too different.” I want to scream when he says it. He shouldn’t say that, he can’t take words like that back. “It would never have worked.” Then he turns, walk back to the house.
Jessica standing alone in the garden. A part of me wants to go out to her, but I don’t know what to say. Don’t know how to make this better. Finally she goes into the house again.
I wake up. It must still be nighttime. I look around the room. It is all dark. What woke me up? I don’t know, but I get out of bed anyway. Then I hear the scream. The horrible scream. Something is happening. I run towards the door to my room. Almost fall in the dark, but I find my balance. Get the door up and start running down the hallway. I can see them, but I’m too late. They are already dragging her out the front door. Jessica looks so strange. I’m sure that it was her screaming, but now her eyes are closed, and she just lets them drag her. Doesn’t fight. I run.
“Stop,” I shout, but it doesn’t help. They throw her into the car. Drive quickly. I can’t reach them.
“Allie,” it’s Peter, he is holding on to his head, blood is running down his face. He seems to struggle to walk. They must have gotten him good. “I know where they are taking her,” he says.
They have slashed the tires on all of his cars. We have to follow on foot and Peter is so slow.
“We should call the police,” I say, but even I know there would be no point. They wouldn’t come before tomorrow. Wouldn’t risk finding someone important involved in this. I get it.
The dark forest is so quiet around us, as if everything is watching us. Peter doesn’t look good. Looks like he could pass out any minute, but he keeps going.
“Are we there soon?”
He nods, but to be honest I’m not even sure that he knows where we are anymore.
“She was right,” he whispers over and over again while he stumbles through the forest. It just doesn’t help. They got her and she wasn’t herself. Didn’t fight. The old Jessica would have fought. Peter broke her with his words.
“We’re here,” he says, as we come to a clearing in the forest. The large tree in the middle. The large tree, the rope and Jessica. Hanging there with the noose around her neck. Looking at us. I run. Climb that tree the quickest I can. She still just looks at me. Hanging there.
“I’m sorry Allie,” she says as I tear the rope in two with my hands. She falls. She could have gotten down on her own. It’s no worse than falling of a roof, she wouldn’t have been damaged at all. I can’t take her being like this.
She lies there, still looking up at me. Peter has reached her.
“Stay away from me you traitor,” she whispers, and this time it is her words that seem to break Peter. He falls. Has kept himself going this long to get to her, but there really is no point anymore. He has probably fainted. Like all humans do, so easily. They aren’t hard to kill. The can be choked, stabbed, broken and sometimes even little germs can get them. Why they would think they were Gods I will never understand. I get down from the tree. Sit down next to her, but she won’t look at me.
“It was Sarah,” she says, “she was the leader of it all you know,” she shakes her head, “my only friend in this shithole, helped to hoist me up in this tree.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I say, but it does matter. I know.
So, the saint is sitting in the gutter and he cries, and he cries, and he cries,
I’m not as good a singer as Jessica is, but I have to sing now. Sing to save the last of the pink in her, before she’ll be all dark again.
cause he can’t make music no matter how hard he tries.
I can feel her shaking. Crying. It feels better to see her crying.
As his tears hits the pavement they make beautiful tingling sounds.
In the old rebellion. This song was about Jeremiah, who struggled, but didn’t give up.
The most beautiful sounds you’ve ever heard.
A song for us to sing, so that we would never give up. The world does change. It really does.
As the saint is crying he brings music to the world.
I can finally hear her voice mix in with mine.
So that was the saint’s sin.
And then this other voice. This darker voice as Peter finally gets it.
So that was the saint’s sin.
I don’t know if it is too little too late, but maybe.
So that was the saint’s sin.
I was unsure when she told me about him. Not because of him, but because of the place he came from. They had more slaves here than anywhere else, of course I was sceptical.
Now music can make you feel like God.
Peter grabs her hand as the song is over.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispers, over and over again. She doesn’t say anything, but she lets him hold her hand.
“It was Sarah?” I get up, “You’re sure?”
“What are you doing here?”
She stops in the door. Of course. She is surprised. Did not expect to find me here. In her own room, in her own house filled with all that security. She just seemed to have forgotten that we made those security systems once upon a time.
“Oh, you know,” I say that, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know.
I used to travel here a lot. I did, even when the laws came, they wouldn’t stop with slaves up here.
“Are you one of them?” she frowns, “but you don’t look like them.” She is right. I don’t. My mother made me like this. I don’t have the perfect face, not like Jessica. Greatest gift she ever gave me. They can’t tell. “I thought you were human,” she takes a step backwards, “but you are just like those freaks, aren’t you?” Her lower lip is shivering. “Filled with wires and all that shit,” she spits. I almost laugh. It has been a long time since my kind was filled with wires, that would have to be a very old model.
“It seems like you are confused,” I say, but there is no point in explaining it to her.
I always try to remain calm, I was far from the worst when the rebellion started. I wasn’t malicious. I believed in forgiving and forgetting. I really did, and I still do. “I don’t hate you, Sarah, but there is no way around this.” She takes another step backwards, soon she’ll scream. I know her type. She will. It won’t sound like Jessica’s scream. No, it won’t be filled with fear. It will be loud and strong. Oh, I remember Sarah well. Too well. She isn’t scared of me. Not yet.
She finally does it. Screams. I can see the triumph in her face when she does. Then she waits, waits for the sound of running feet, but it is quiet. Just like it was quiet at the dinner and this time she gets that it isn’t a good thing. Finally she understands. I have taken care of the others, they won’t come. You see, when something like this happens, there needs to be sent a message. It is filthy business, but it needs to be done. To make sure that everyone understands, and when they do we can go back to forgiving and forgetting.
I have brought the rope. The same rope that they put around Jessica’s neck, only difference is that Sarah’s neck will break.
I hope you have enjoyed “The Saint’s Sin”, the story as well as the song, and I really hope that you would like to hear more songs and read more stories.
About the song:
Lyrics/music composition/acoustic guitar: Therese J (Me)
Mixing/Keys: Holger Vocke
Bass: Carl Kolchak @ the DUC
Keys: Nick Hackleman
Drums: Barry Avner
Electric guitar: Guitar 486
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If you like the images that have been used to illustrate this short story they are from morguefile.com. All the photos have been edited, but the first photo, second (SoundCloud photo) and the fifth photo is by mconnors, the third, fourth and the sixth photo is by TheBrassGlass, the seventh photo is by Kenn W. Kiser and the eight photo is by takeasnap.
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