PROMPT #2 - RESPONSE

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last confession."
The voice through the small grating softly answered, "Go on."
Sitting in the dark of the small confession booth, the priest took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Father, I have been accused of pedophilia. Of - of taking photographs of innocent children...in my own chapel..." His voice cracked. The words just couldn't come out the way he had rehearsed them the entire night before. This was his chapel. He had been a priest here for five years now. Every day he walked the aisles of the building, arms tucked behind his straight back, happy eyes scanning the heads of those who had come for prayer. It was the very booth he was currently sitting in that he typically took the confessions of. And now, he sat within it, confessing to another.
The priest in the adjacent booth shifted in his seat. No doubt he now knew who confessed to him. It was all over the news. The scandalous photographs found, taken in this very chapel. Photographs of children. Photographs that made only Satan smile. And the point of blame was solely on one man's shoulders. He was the one who never left. Who all the children happily ran to. He heard the priest clear his throat tensely, then whisper, "My Son, it is - "
"Forgive me Father, but I am no son of yours. I need only to confess."
The chair creaked again. "Yes, go on."
"I must tell someone the truth, before the lies become the only truth." The priest clenched his eyes shut tightly, a hot tear squeezing out onto his cheek. "I did not commit those accused crimes. I say this in front of the Lord our God. I did not. I would never dream of...But Father, I have committed a crime far more punishable, if not here, then in the here-after." 
The shadow on the other side didn't utter a word. Waiting a moment, the priest leaned in close to the grating. "I found the man who did. Three nights ago, I walked into the chapel to do some personal prayers. And he was there. Some how he had broken in. And with him he had a little girl. My - my brain just froze. He was talking so sweet to her, holding the evil camera behind his dirty back. And Father, something in me snapped. I can't remember much." He ran a shaking hand over his face. Leaning his head back against the wood wall, he whispered, "But I do remember the girl running for safety. And the horrid look on the man's face as he ran for me. Then my mind cleared, and I knew it was in my hands to pass his judgment. He had been delivered...delivered to me."
The priest burst into tears, a sob erupting from his very soul. Looking down, he saw his hands resting on his knees, shaking uncontrollably. The adjacent booth was silent. For a moment, he wondered if the man had left. The world had stopped and he was the only one left on its wretched face. Then he heard the uncomfortable squeak of the wooden bench. The voice came through the grating, cautious. "What have you done?"
"I have helped rid the world of another of Satan's vile followers. Now - now my job here is complete." He stood up, slowly brushing the wrinkles from his robes. "Third pew back, left side, straight across from the Holy Cross...you will find him." As he opened the door, he paused, his hands suddenly still. "Father, it is only in the Lord's power to truly pass judgment on man. But we, in our mortality, still think it our right to assist in his powers." He took in a slow, shaking breath. "Amen."
(Word count: 644)

Jenni Merritt

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