Long gone spark in his eyes

by Max Saucedo

She was counting on her fingers, smiling and laughing.  Then a flash of bright light appeared, followed by the sound of screeching metal.  Father Craig Orsini woke up in a sweat.  The dream kept happening, but for some reason it didn’t make sense.  His doctor had assumed he was depressed and prescribed anti-depressants.  They hadn’t worked.  It had gotten worse since then. He would wake up screaming and sweating.  He had begun drinking heavily.  In a sense he had become a robot, able to switch on the charming priest willing to listen to the cripplingly depressed alcoholic he now was.

He arose, feeling lighter today.

“Why today,” he mused.  He saw his voicemail had messages on it and he thought about shaving.

“Today is it.”  He took out his razor blade and pressed play before he began.

“Father Orsini, hi. It’s Patricia Clarke from the liturgy committee. Some of the youth had questions about having a say on committee matters.  I told them that would be unlikely, but they still persisted.  Perhaps you can say something?  Thanks.”

“Patricia Clarke,” Orsini thought.  “The busiest worker bee who wants to be queen.”  Why couldn’t she just be content with things in this life?

He began moving the razor up and down on his cheek.  The second message began.

“Hey, Father it’s me, Evan Riley.  We talked a few months ago at festival.  My fiancée and I were very impressed by the homily you gave on fidelity and honoring promises.  We talked about it and even though we had already chosen a priest, we would like you to marry us.  How about that?  Will you do it?”

“Not if you’re not planning on telling your fiancée about your fling with Ms. Saunders,” Orsini scoffed. “What’s the point of all this if they don’t listen?”

He continued shaving so wrapped up in his thoughts he nicked his cheek.  Looking for some sanitizer and not finding any, he opened his cabinet and reached for his bottle of whiskey.

“Same concept,” he reasoned, rubbing some on his open wound.  He took a swig, emptying the remainder.

“Not a problem,” he thought, reaching for another. His hand searched and searched, but could not locate another.

“Oh shit,” he thought. “It’s OK, it’s OK.”

Orsini ran to his drawer, searching.  He found nothing.  He was shaken up, unsure of how long he had gone without drinking at least once a day.  And he wasn’t sure how long he could take it.

He walked back to the mirror shakily.  Staring into his own eyes, he traced a long curved scar above his eye. Suddenly he was blinded by a flash and felt intense pain, again hearing screeching metal and screaming.  He staggered back against the wall.  He tried to steady his shaking hands.  For so long, he  thought he had the answers, when he was young and the spark was in his eyes, the spark he had been told existed in everyone, It was the spark of something more, of something divine.

That spark was long gone.  Orsini tried to recall a recent moment when he had been happy, even accepting and loving, but he couldn’t.

Angrily he screamed, “God dammit!” and lashed out at the mirror, crushing it.  His hand left an impact, a few shards of glass fell down, but the mirror stood intact.  He looked at his image, fragmented and distorted.  His hand was bloody.  It wasn’t enough.   He hurled the bottle across the room, shattering it against a wall.

How had this happened?  He clutched the counter for support as his arms shook.  He had meant to get his prescription refilled a few days ago, but put it off.

“And now when I actually need it, I don’t have any because I already took it all,” he fumed.  His body trembled.  He was already feeling sick.  He was a coward, too terrified to face what he’d experienced.  So he buried it and lost faith in what he once believed in.  He closed his eyes and remembered.

He sat across from a young girl on the bus.  She was counting to five, showing her mother excitedly.  She showed Orsini with her hand.  He smiled, and was about to speak, when the crash happened.  A semi-truck collided into the bus and sent it spinning.  Orsini spun and landed on the window, cracking the glass.  When he came to, all he could see were the girl’s eyes as he heard her pleading for her mother to wake up.  But Orsini knew her spark of divine was long gone from this world.  Her neck was twisted at an odd angle.  As he pulled himself out of the wreckage, he heard the little girl. He collapsed and closed his eyes, keeping them closed for a long time.

When he opened them again, he saw himself.

“One last cut,” he thought, “before this is over.” He put the blade under his chin and finished.

One month later, sitting in a group of men, introduced himself.  Nervously, he patted the picture of the girl in his chest pocket as a small angel and rose to his feet.

“My name is Craig.  I’m an alcoholic.  Thanks for letting me be here.”