Things had been distant between Willis and Bella ever since she talked to him about her feelings but Bella was beginning to think they were getting better. After she received her gift on Christmas she was coming back around to the Reverend. Even more hopeful, she received a summons from him. Perhaps they could finally talk about that night. They made it through mass and once everyone was gone from the service she turned to Willis and the smile she’d put on for them was gone. All that was left was a blank look on her face.
She didn’t want to seem like she had an opinion cause she didn’t know what this was all about but she was definitely hopeful. “You wanted to speak to me?” She asked, searching his eyes to see if she could tell what he was thinking.
Willis stood at the table at the back of the stage, clearing things up from mass. “Hmm?” He turned and saw Bella there as he put the stopper on the wine decanter. “Oh, yes. Thank you for hanging back Bella.” He gestured to the chairs that hadn’t been taken down yet, moving over to them so they could sit. “I was wondering… if there was something you needed to tell me. Get off your chest.” Confess. The Reverend sat down, folding his hands on his black pants as he watched her with an uneasy patience.
Bella cocked her head to the side at the Reverends accusation. Bella told him everything and she always took his advice. “Pardon me, Reverend I’m not quite sure I understand what you’re asking me.” She found herself a seat across from him and continued to study his face. From what she could tell, the Reverend didn’t seem too happy.
“Might I ask what sins I should be confessing to because I’m not really sure I know what I should be confessing for.” He always liked to play games when it came to sinners and Bella could see right through them.
“I know your handwriting too well.” He said with a small sigh. “Did you not think I would find out about the insensitive note you left?” Willis asked her with an arched brow.
Bella froze and blinked at him. She’d completely forgotten about the letter she’d left for Jean on Christmas Eve. One mean little gesture from her meant nothing but often it stayed with those who were on the other end of it. She was silent for a while, trying to figure out what she could say to repent.
“What about it? I don’t like her, I don’t see how there’s anything wrong with that.”
“Putting aside the fact that it’s not a kind thing to do, you don’t see anything else wrong with it?” Willis was hinting at her jealousy-envy- that Jean has attracted the Reverend’s attention- even if it wasn’t in the way Bella wanted it.
Crossing her arms over her chest, Bella raised a brow at him. “I don’t see anything else wrong. Why don’t you stop beating around the bush and ask me what you really want to ask me?” She often tired of the roundabout way he said things. Bella was too impatient to try and read someone else’s mind. What was the point.
It was his job to hear confessions, and yes test sinners outside of Zion, but if she viewed herself as justified. Well, it wasn’t his place to push. Perhaps she’d realize it later and come to him.
Will just shook his head and stood up from the chair. “Nothing, I suppose everything is fine.” He said, moving back up to the stage. “Your note did have a bit of an impact, but probably not in the way you intended.”
Her eyes softened at that. Maybe this was why he didn’t want to be with her, why she always felt so heartbroken by him. It was her own damn fault. She had so much anger inside of her all the time and no matter what she did it never seemed to settle. She sighed and bowed her head, letting it hang for a minute before she spoke.
“Suppose I thought you were interested in her romantically. I know it’s worse than what the little kids do to each other but I couldn’t help it. Every time I saw her flash a smile at you it felt like a thousand daggers being thrust into my heart.”
“Well you thought wrong.” Willis replied, his back still to her as he put the sacraments in a box to take back to his cot. “She was a friend, nothin’ more.” And now she was nothing. He’d overestimated how alike they might have been. Even without the religion. Ah well, he’d learned over his years that people could surprise you. He wasn’t perfect, and neither were they.
“Look at me Willis.” She demanded and when he didn’t turn around she felt the anger start to boil in her blood. That’s when she felt herself push the box of sacraments out of his hands without even touching it. “Look at me, Reverend.” She demanded again now that his distraction was out of the way.
Willis turned and looked upon her. He could feel her anger, so many threads he could pull, words he could say to boil her over- but he refrained.
She looked him in the eye and made sure he could see them before she knelt before him, her hands clasped in prayer. “Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been two months since my last confession.” She began, looking up at him with begging eyes. She didn’t want thing between them to be like this.
Willis nodded with a small smile. “Go ahead.” He said, allowing her as much time as she needed before he gave the prayer of absolution.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes as she finally began to speak. “I have committed an act of discourtesy and hate to another. I thought that..” she paused. Even though he knew the story it was still a confession. “...I thought her and a man I had..” she paused again. There was no point in lying in confession.
“...have feelings for was interested in another woman. That made me upset so I slipped her a note that told her to go home. I realize what I have done is wrong and I’m very sorry.” She said and that was the truth. She didn’t like her ugly side, she wanted to be a good person more than anything in the world.
With a small nod he put his hand on her shoulder. “It’s not always easy to admit our faults. It’s also not always easy to meet new people, or have them in your life. It’s easy to give into envy and pride. Easy to feel wrath toward another. But we must try our best to be better than our worst selves.” Willis meant what he said. He’d felt and committed sins himself, every man did. The real test was rising above them. Becoming a better person and letting god- or whatever term you like, fate, destiny, the spirits- into your heart. Let him forgive you and guide you down the right path.
“Admitting wrongdoing is the first step, accepting that some you may not get on will are part of your life is the next… and for the brave… apologizing if the final step.” Willis put his hand on her head. Once she spoke the Act of Contrition prayer, he recited the Prayer of Absolution.
A hand was held out for her. “Go forth in peace.”
“Amen.” She said and placed the father son and Holy Ghost gesture against her head before she stood to regard him. “I don’t want things to be bad between us. Truth of it is you’re my best friend and I’d do anything to keep you in that position.” She begged, hands coming to his to hold them firmly.
She couldn’t imagine a life without Willis and she was going to do everything in her power to make sure that didn’t happen. “I know you’re right about.. well everything and I promise I’m going to work on being a better woman and repent when I’ve sinned.”
“Things aren’t bad between us.” He assured her. “We’re only human. We make mistakes, God knows that. So long as we learn from them and do better-“ Will sighed softly. “I know it too, and believe that you’re good at heart and will always do the right thing in the end.” He knew it was what she needed to hear- mostly because it was near the opposite of what he wanted to tell her. What he felt pushed to tell her.
Willis squeezed her hand gently. “You have grown into a very beautiful young woman. You have nothing to worry about when it comes to us.”
And there it was, his choice of words that made her go weak in the knees every time. Why did she love this stupid man so much when all it ever did was cause her hurt. Letting go of his hands she used her telekinesis to right the items that were in his hands back into his box and brought it to her hands to give to him.
“You make me want to be a better woman, Willis and I thank God I’ve got you here to do that for me. Not sure how I’d be if it weren’t for you.” Probably kicked out of Zion for all the anger she had inside of her. Kristoph was patient with her when she was only a child but when Willis came to the carnival she was out of control and Kristoph was at his wits end.
He placed a soft kiss on her forehead before moving off the stage. “You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for.” He told her with a smile. “Never forget that.” Willis turned and continued down the aisle between the set up chairs until he got to the opening of the tent. “Oh,” He said, turning back to look at her. “And maybe next time, write the angry note and burn it. Get the hate out, without hurting someone else.” He nodded and slipped out.