I'd be interested in people's interpretation...polite ones of course!!
The watery sun has enough strength to cast shadows; the tombstones mirrored on the short cut grass. The yew trees stand, magnificently green, amid the carved marble memorials. The church entrance has appeared before me, worn stone slabs leading into the dark interior. I cannot see anybody else. The church is silent. As soon as I step into the church’s porch I am surrounded by priests. They fuss around me, their richly embroidered cassocks flapping like agitated doves. I am wearing a long white dress and the priests place me at the front of the group of people. They are there, behind me, but I cannot turn to see them.
“It is not my wedding,” I tell the unhearing priests.
I enter the lopsided church. We are on the far right of the church; the altar curves away in front of me and a vast expanse of pews, endlessly stretch to the left, their limits lost in misty haze. A small set of pews, encased in a dark wooden frame, sit in the shadows against the right wall. And then the bride arrives to a growing background murmur. I can hear her marching to the front and she throws her bouquet onto the altar where it lands with the sound of a pile of heavy books. I look to her; she is wearing a trouser suit. I don’t understand why she is there, she clearly doesn’t want to be. The priests remind us as to the response we should give to the prayers but I can’t hear them. Looking at the altar I find a bright yellow piece of paper upon which is written the response in pencil. I pin the paper to the altar cloth so we can see it when praying. When I look at it again the black ink is blurry and I cannot make out the words.
Turning I find I am alone at the altar, so I walk to my mother and father sat in the dark wood pews and tell them I do not know what to say, I cannot see the words.
“This is a fifteenth century Catholic church,” my mother informs me. “The response is still the same, look it mentions the king.”
“I didn’t know the bride was Catholic,” I venture.
“Nor did I,” my father concurs.
“A converted Jew, she is a converted Jew.” My mother seems to have all the answers.
An altar-boy moves me to the left of the altar, away from everybody else. The congregation is a faceless mass of murmuring bodies.
“This is wrong. I am more important than this. I have an important part to play in the proceedings,” I tell him.
It is then that I notice I am clothed in a long pale blue robe with sandals on my feet.
“Are you the first lady of Christianity?” the altar boy enquires, stepping back.
So the altar boy leads me back to my original position. I feel better; in the right place. Organ music starts to play. It is as if it is being played high up in the church’s rafters. I look up but see only the church extending upwards with no pinnacle to the roof, just clouds. I look back to the altar where a black and white monkey sits. The bride and groom are standing silently beside me, unmoving, like living statues. I talk to the monkey; meaningless words to soothe it. The monkey moves about the altar picking his way between the candelabra. I pick him up and half-turn, hoping someone has a camera to take a picture of me with the monkey in my arms. Then I notice yellow patches on its fur, like sticky urine. I put the monkey back on the altar, careful not to touch the yellow stains.
“What are you doing?” The monkey looks at me with sad eyes.
“Putting you back.”
“In case you wee.”
“I won’t wee. I’m trained.”
The monkey lies on his back, wanting his tummy to be tickled. I oblige.
“I hope this ends soon,” murmurs the monkey. “I want to get back to my woman. She is waiting for me. She is from Tenerife.”
The monkey stretches and smiles. The monkey’s keeper appears at my shoulder.
“Don’t do that; he gets too excited.”
I withdraw my hand and turn to look at the keeper. He is no longer there.
Slowly, as if a curtain is drawn over it, the church recedes.
©Deborah Cater 2011
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