I'd never gone to a Catholic Mass before. Growing up Baptist (American, not Southern) the lengthy rituals of Catholicism were always arcane and frightening to my more laid back, "Jesus loves y'all" style. But she was Catholic, so I went.

I don't know a word of Latin, but she knows all the chants, hymns... hell, I bet she could say the Hail Mary backwards as fast as forwards, and she was beautiful. I didn't read the words, I watched her lips, mouthing along, feeling guilty about what I was thinking in a church. It was too much and not enough all at once, and my eyes stayed fixed to either the ground, or her.

The ceremony and pomp went on around me. Altar boys, Priests, the works. If I had stopped to watch I would have found it amazing, like some eerie clockwork display. I glanced up, once, when I thought someone was staring, only to meet the eyes of that terrifying portrayal of Jesus they have hung up in the front. I went back to looking at her.

When we got down on our knees, me slightly after everyone else of course, I shut my eyes. I wasn't praying; even if I knew the words I wouldn't have. Her voice spoke for both of us, in a way I hadn't anticipated. I could tell in some small way that she was praying for me. Not in the goodwill, bless you yada-yada way, either. A shiver ran up my spine.

We stood again, for another song, or chant, or something. I kept listening to her voice, carefully, unobtrusively. My eyes, for once, wandered; my throat grew dry. It felt like every single pair of eyes was staring at the back of my head, hoping, praying to see me foul this up, to see that I needed saving.

I bit my tongue, fingered my pentacle in my pocket, and shut my eyes.

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