I walk quickly, without pause, for fear someone will read my mind and discover my intent-to skip mass and enter the inner sanctum where only the invited can go. The church was once a movie theatre. It’s grand. Its expanse covers most of a city block. The three double sets of doors in front are brass. Above them is a larger-than-life statue of a young boy riddled with arrows. My throat and shoulders tighten, I look away.
Before entering the church I'm stopped by the roar of the train overhead. I don't want the loud mechanical sound to follow me as I walk in and draw attention. Inside I admire the marble floor, shiny and slippery. I stare at the distorted image of myself reflected in the perfectly polished brass holy water sconce as I dip my fingers in, knowing that I don't believe in its blessing. The brilliant brass chapel gate is locked like the pearly gates of heaven. The dark red velvet curtains of the confessional are ornate. The gold tabernacle like a treasure is set with gems.
The body of the church holds some mystery for me. It is a different place when it's empty. It’s peaceful with a mystical air. I imagine myself as a queen, the church my palace. I’d like to feel that I belong with the others but I never have.
I open the next set of doors and stand for a moment looking down the aisle. It's five after nine. Mass has begun. The church is full of people now and the eyes of some turn toward me. I inhale the soothing scent of Frankenstein, as I like to call it, and myrrh. I cross the back of the church then enter the narrow hallway that leads to a big room that holds the envelope system. I exhale with relief as I knock on the thick wooden door. Father Karl, tall, thin, his face chiselled, his expression stern, smells of cigar. He stands aside, says nothing as I enter. I’m expected and take my seat in a tall wooden chair with the seven or eight kids already seated around the long rectangular table.