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The Eyes of the Cathedral

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The man was thin and ragged and the soft, worn leather of his shoes slapped wetly on the slush covered cobble. As he came to the steps leading to the place of sanctuary, his numb foot caught on the stone, lurching his body towards the ground. Thrusting his hands outward, he caught himself, and small pieces of Notre Dame became embedded in his palm. He didn’t pause to check or clean out his minuscule injuries, instead, he stood straight up, and continued forward and upward. He kept his eyes lowered, watching the steps of Notre Dame. The great cathedral allowed him close.
Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.
The sound of wet leather smacking the wet stone. Raw hands reached out to touch the worn wood and they pushed forcefully. Notre Dame opened its doors to him.
Creeeeeak.
The door slide closed, swollen wood dragging against the floor. For now he was safe from the sound of the galloping hooves that pierce the otherwise silent night. He leaned back against the door, the surface causing his clothes to chafe against his back. Hesitantly, he opened his eyes to face it, the cross of Notre Dame.
And there hung Christ, in all of His glory, bathed in the flickering, golden light of candles that casted eerie shadows on the tortured expression of his face. He was looking down, the personification of humility and pain. A great man who suffered for our sins. Flower displays decorated the base of the cross, splashing the room with vibrant reds, blues, and violets, despite it being the dead of the winter. Beside and around the back wall there were life sized figures of biblical peoples, their lifeless eyes staring down at the mortals below to dissect and inspect their sins. The statues were highlighted with the blue of the night sky that filtered through the stained glass and Notre Dame bathed him in the light.
He stepped forward, his foot fall sounding as an echo through the massive empty space. His breath came nervously, and each exhale could be seen clearly as a puff in the air. Despite that, his palms were clammy and a bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face. He reached around his neck and grabbed for the wooden beaded necklace that hung loosely down his chest and under his shirt, close to his hear. Pulling it off, he grasped the small carved cross tightly in his fist as he kept making his way to the front of the enormous cathedral, holding it as if it were the only thing anchoring him to reality.
“Pardonnez-moi Père, car j'ai péché.” His voice came as barely an echo that was swallowed and muffled by the weight the air carried. The sculptures of Notre Dame heard, and they listened. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.
The eyes of Notre Dame saw through this plea. They recognized it as fear. They looked down at him, unmoved and not amused as he stammered the Lord’s Prayer. The words went in one stone ear and out the other, as meaningless and empty as the man who was speaking them.
The man was startled into a cry when the bells of Notre Dame began to chime and the door was forced open. The men who would deliver justice and drag him down to hell have arrived.
A man has been condemned by the bells and damned by the eyes of the Great Cathedral. For what are the eyes of Notre Dame if not the eyes of God himself?



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