The prayer cushion felt rough through Kathleen’s stockings. A fine bead of sweat broke and trickled down the back of Sam’s neck. They were kneeling near the back of the draughty church as the priest led the flock in a language dead to the world.
Kathleen’s God-fearing Irish family would not entertain the idea of her marrying a Protestant. Get shot of him! It’ll be a practicing Catholic or nothing. Joke really, given that she’d been hanging out in Gracey’s Tearoom with Rose Gilfillan every Sunday from about the age of fourteen, ever since Father Murphy had probed for all the ins and outs of the sinful thoughts Rose had confessed to having about Bernard McKinney, behind the black curtain.
Sam embraced the Catholic faith to be with the woman he loved and was to be confirmed this morning.
– Are you sure you want to go through with this? Kathleen whispered.
He attempted a reassuring smile which she saw through to the lost look in his eyes.
– Because you don’t have to, you know. She linked her arm through his.
What choice have I got Kathleen? Your family.
– We could walk out of here right now and first thing tomorrow down the registry office and arrange a day.
– You’re serious, my god, you crazy woman. He squeezed her hand and his whole handsome face smiled. Kathleen had not seen Sam smile like this in weeks, which made her laugh which made him laugh. Waves of love washed over them.
– Sssshhhhh. They looked across at the woman in the fox fur stoll in the pew opposite. She tutted, turning her head and the fox’s back to the priest.
Sam stroked Kathleen’s cheek and she wiped a tear from his eye.
Sunshine beamed through the stained glass and their path was bathed in purple, red and green as they walked up the aisle together.
They giggled their way across the graveyard and Kathleen automatically crossed herself.
Fiona Thomson, Margate.