“It’s all true.” She spoke with a clear, determined voice. “I confess.” The priest turned toward her, distracted from his ranting.
Antonerri saw her shoulders shaking behind her bowed head. Her hands were raised before her face, pleading for mercy. “I renounce the shadow! I embrace only the light! Please, Father, save me!”
No. Don’t give in. Resist! But Antonerri had no strength to protest, or even call out.
“This is good, child, your punishment may be eased.” Turning toward Antonerri, the priest declared, “You would do well to follow her example!”
She lunged forward, throwing herself down at the priest’s feet and reaching for his robes. “Please, Father! I need redemption!”
The priest jumped back, unwilling to let his robes be sullied by her dirty hands. She shifted, and reached for the guard, grabbing at his tunic and leggings. “Please. I’ve been so wrong! My life is over! Help me be renewed!” The guard ripped his clothing from her hands and stepped back behind the priest. DeFrantis fell to the ground, shaking and sobbing.
The priest and the soldier exchanged glances, then with a nod from the priest, they stepped to the door. As they left, the soldier tossed a few more grains of incense into the bowl, which flared momentarily, adding to the smog in the room. Antonerri watched them go, then closed his eyes against the pain. He heard the door creak shut.
Only silence remained. DeFrantis had stopped crying and was lying, curled up, on the floor.
After a moment, he saw her raise her head and look at the door. Then she looked at him and curled her lips into a faint smile. What is she thinking? How can she confess?
She rolled onto her back and sat up. She brought up her hand, pointing her finger. Dangling from it was the large ring of keys from the guard’s belt.
In spite of his hurting, he shared her smile.
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