(Still trying to edit this some more)
She didn’t even realise that she was making deep half-moon marks on her palm with her nails until the line connected at last after five, six, seven long seconds.
“Heya.” the ever chirpy voice of Sam chimed.
“So…” she faltered, flexing her palm, “About that spare bedroom you once told me about…”
There was a sound of a laptop screen slapping down.
She started crying all the tears she had been saving up for later, much later.
“Lyla, listen to me.” said Sam, sitting upright on the bed, cursing all the people in the house his friend was about to run away from. “Get out of there. Now. I am coming.”
“I…” Lyla could barely throw the words out of her mouth, “I’ll be… I’ll be in…”
“I know. The bookstore.”
She started crying all over again, crying like she’d never known how to her entire life.
She somehow swallowed it in. “Yes.” she whispered.
“It’s going to be okay.”
“You stand up now, and walk.”
She relaxed her palms again and looked at the few more half-moons she had created, and nodded.
She adjusted her black habit with her left hand and flicked off the tiny bit of ash that had fallen on it.
She fumbled with the white cigarette between her fingers and quickly hid her hand behind her.
“The smoke, sadly, will not hide at your command, Sister.” he smiled.
She sighed and spoke in her misplaced Southern American tones, “So, you’re going to?”
Father Isaac’s smile turned a little melancholic as he said, “I don’t think I have the right to.”
She frowned at him. “What happened?”
He sighed and waited for many moments before deciding to say, “My niece came to the confessional today.”
She looked at him, eyebrows raised. She knew his niece very well, had seen her grow up into the accomplished girl that she was now. She liked her, even though she hadn’t stepped inside the church, or any church, for many years. “Go on.”
“She said her family had sent her and that she hadn’t wanted to come because she suddenly felt their God and hers were too different to reconcile anymore. So she had waited till she knew for certain I was inside.”
“Are you surprised?”
“And then she started crying.”
She looked at his pained face and simply nodded. He went on, words running one after another, the way he used to speak when he was upset as a child, something he had rarely ever done since.
“She told me she loves a woman. She doesn’t know how not to. And she doesn’t know why this loving is wrong, but that she knows it is because that is why she was sent here. And so she wanted me to absolve her of her sins.”
He looked at her, with almost no expression at all on his face. Almost. And then he said, “I suddenly didn’t know why, either. So I told her I couldn’t absolve her of a sin that I wasn’t sure was one.”
She paused before she said, “And then?”
“And then I came here.”
This time she paused for longer. He looked at her and said, “I just didn’t know.”
“Yeah, I know. I wish I didn’t know you what you mean.” she sighed, “But I know.” and slowly she brought her smoke covered hands carrying the still lit cigarette in front of her. “Want to take it all out by stomping on something vile?”
Father Isaac smiled as she dropped the smoking cigarette to the ground.