The chapel is beautiful, ethereal. Called square, it’s actually longer along the east and west walls which are entirely made of saints and apostles, sculpted straight out of the sandstone, and lit with tiny lights making each of them glow; a heavenly luminescence that from a distance makes the whole building seem other worldly.
It’s a hot night. I drive up with the roof down, veil fluttering in the speed crafted wind as I find the car park for the gorgeous, holy building. I reverse into a space, one arm on the wheel, the other draped over the leather seat back as I look over my shoulder to make sure I don’t destroy anything with my oversized vehicle.
Once parked, I sit for a moment. Fingers rest on the smooth material of the seat, heat inducing a slick sweat between the two skins; one alive, one dead. I let the liquid fail friction and my fingertips glide over the gloss of the-
What am I doing?
No I mean, what is this that I am doing here?
Ignoring the voice of sanity I open the door and step carefully out of the car. The dress I have gone for tonight is stunning; I’ve really outdone myself. The material is thin to suit the heat of the night. I am wrapped in white from neck to ankle with the tiniest burst of tulle emulating a train. Can’t go overboard on the train when your driving. My arms are simply laced with white ribbon, as is my head; hair totally bound to my head in a cap of the slinky material. The tiny veil is as reduced as the train; covering features only, it moves only with my breath in this still, potent night.
I’m out of town. I have to be. I’m too recognisable in my own area to be doing this. But I need to do this. Well “I” is a worried pronoun here. I no longer know what is “me” and what is the creature I am creating by my indecision. The bottom line is, if someone sees a mad woman skulking round churches in a wedding dress, there’s no reason they will tie it back to me: head of research at the corporation that started all this…this debacle.
I walk into the church through the main entrance at the south. Despite the ancient look of the sculptures, very modern artificial cool air flows around me as I step over the threshold. I stop behind the first row of wooden benches, and as always, start to try and picture what could be. What could happen if I truly removed myself from the situation I am in. I imagine the bouquet between my grasping fingers; the adoring, approving friends cheering. My nostrils flare; no, that’s not part of my fantasy. He is here. Amazing. I don’t even need to look around. He is perfectly silent when he wants to be. But his smell is unique; subtle, but absolute.
I wonder if he is simply going to watch me then leave. I haven’t seen him for weeks; the weeks that I have been travelling these backwater towns, trying on churches for size like the dresses I hire under a range of pseudonyms.
I turn and sit on the back of the pew and start flicking my fingers over the spines of CDs, stacked in two piles next to a small player attached to the church’s sound system. I still don’t look up at him. I can’t decide if I’m embarrassed or not. He doesn’t exactly think about things in the way a human does. There’s no point guessing what is happening behind those unique eyes. I’ve learnt over time that being direct is the only way.
“So, pretty certifiable huh…” I try, still not looking up to where I know he is standing by the door. His reaction, as usual, surprises me. He laughs warmly and comes to sit at the other end of the bench’s back. “You, my dear, are off your rocker. That’s my certified opinion.” I finally raise my eyes, and see he is already looking at me, twist of a smile at one corner of his perfect mouth and body matching my position perched on the cold wooden bench. I can’t help it, his lack of mockery and acceptance of my ridiculous actions lift a weight I didn’t even know was there and laughter bubbles up inside me. Before I know it I am giggling and not in a crazy way; simply laughing with delight at his presence and not having to explain myself or worry that he is going to have me committed. At the sound of my laughter his smile changes to fill his eyes, and I know he has as little regard for my insanity as he does for most other things regarded as “human failings”. He’s simply happy to have found me, safe and not falling to pieces. Not quite. We sit and smile at each other; a warm, strange moment.
Copyright Mabh Savage February 2013