I stand before the congregation condemned, though eager for forgiveness. Humility is nonexistent, though I am shirtless in the presence of so many. I am not thirsty, though the sun screams into my wan complexion as it tends to do so close to the buckle of the Bible Belt this time of year.
A man that I have known since birth limps my way with the look of furious disappointment in his eyes. Behind him, a small crate is chauffeured by two of his sons; their eyes as dead as their father's are boiling.
I slowly turn from them and press my body against the stone wall of the church. I know the ritual, for I have been witness to this many a time, but never imagined myself as the reason for this social gathering. I close my eyes and dig my fingertips into the stone, the dust from the mortar that holds our church together sliding under my fingernails like ten miniature avalanches. This mortar was created using the water from the river outside of town. I used to play in that river as a child. It was a time when I was relatively free, but still under the watchful and demanding eyes of the elders. Youth was my only excuse, but those times are long gone. This grit beneath my fingernails reminds me of my freedom. There is innocence in this mortar, but not forgiveness.
Tears well up on either side of the bridge of my nose, whether from fear or intense joy I can not tell. Is this rapture? Every thought pertaining to the reason I am here rushes through my mind; some parts wisping slowly, others flash by at break-neck speed, but all on top of each other. I hate myself for what I have done, though I enjoyed every moment of it. I try to concentrate in favor of forgiveness as I hear the congregation shout words of despise and verses of testament for my better good. Beneath their words, I feel the forked tongues and scaly skin upon my moist back. I both fear and trust the handler. I pray inside for the sin to be removed, a few words escaping for my brethren to hear and know that I am doing my part to cleanse myself.
The crate and its contents are taken away, and the crowd watches on while my body twitches and pulsates with harsh spasms until I close up into a ball, falling to my knees, seemingly praying to the man and his sons. The man looks down upon me while twisting off the metal lid of a rinsed mayonnaise jar. The squeaking of the lid grabs my attention and I stare upward, opening my eyes as wide as possible. I breathe heavy and sob rhythmically as the leeches are pulled from the jar. My sin was one of the eyes. Over top the windows to my soul, I soon feel the fluid of the devil being purged from my being into these vessels of the Lord.
Perdition? Penance? Peccavi.