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Church Bells

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For the last four years of my life everyday has been the same. I attend seminary school in California where I go to liturgy, classes, church, community service, and eat with my classmates. No matter how hard my classes are, or how repetitive the liturgies get, the worst thing is dinner each night. Today, like every other day, I walk over to the closest table and set my tray down.
“Hey Tommy,” someone finally says to break the silence. I’ve know these men for years, but they will always feel like strangers to me. I smile and nod in their direction, say a prayer, and eat my meal as fast as I can. “Bye Tommy! Have a nice weekend!” the same man says as I get up to leave. He was only trying to be nice, but I walk away as fast as possible pretending to hear nothing. I head straight to my dorm, avoiding everyone possible.
Once I reach my dorm, I immediately open up my Latin textbook and beging studying for Monday’s test.
“In nomine Patris, et Filii…” I begin to read, then doze off.
“What even is the point of this? I mean it’s a dead language!” I say to myself. “Why am I here in the first place! Do I really even want to become a priest?” I question.
I sigh and lean back into my chair, giving me the perfect view to see the picture I hung up my first day of seminary school. It’s of my parents, grandparents, sister, and I dressed in our best clothing for church on Sunday. That was our family tradition, family mass every Sunday. The picture reminds me of why I took the path of becoming a priest. I remember how proud my family was when I told them I was planning on becoming a priest. I knew there was no turning back after I told them, I had to make them proud.
“Only a couple more months to go,” I mumble to myself, and get back to work until I finally fall asleep.
“Bang! Bang! Bang!” I jump out of my seat. I look to see it's 11:04, and cautiously walk over to open the door.
“Tommy!” my friends from college Pat and Justin yell almost simultaneously.
“Shhh! We aren't in a frat house anymore, please settle down before you wake up the whole school!” I whisper angrily, I didn't spend four years of my life here to be thrown out because of my old college friends I haven’t seen in ages. “You can't do this in here, Come on, follow me.”
I walk them all over to a tiny dinner nearby, the only place I know of that has 24 hour service. 
“What were you thinking? You guys could have gotten me kicked out!” I tell them argily.
“Sorry bud, but you haven’t responded to any of our texts. We wanted to have a reunion, and when you didn't respond we decided to surprise you,” Pat says to me.
“We wanted to have a boys night, you know like the old days? Nothing too crazy, just a weekend in Vegas,” Justin chimes in. “What do you think about it?”
“I don't know about that. Priests and Vegas don't exactly mix. Plus, I have a huge Latin test on Monday,” I respond, but part of me wants to go and change things up, to have fun like we used to.
“The tickets are already paid for, and we promise to have you back by Monday,” Pat encourages.
“The plane also leaves in an hour, so I would decide quickly,” Justin adds.
“Okay, fine,” I reply, trying to hide the excitement in my voice.
I pack up a small duffle bag for the weekend, and we hurry to the plane. I recline in my seat, and just before I doze off I make a promise to myself, I will not drink or do anything crazy on the trip.
“Tommy! Wake up, we're here,” Pat whispers as he shakes me awake. Half asleep, I get up and go into a taxi with them. We leave our bags in the hotel room, then rush back down stairs.
While running down the stairs a woman catches my eye. She is beautiful, with long dirty blond hair, bright green eyes, and rosy cheeks covered in freckles. She is exactly the kind of girl I would talk to, if only I was aloud to date. I avoid eye contact with her, but that doesn't stop her from walking over to me.
“I saw you checking me out over on the stairs and I thought I should introduce myself, I'm Erin. And you are…”
“Um, I'm Tommy,” I stutter, nervous and unsure what to else say.
“Well Tommy, I was planning on going to the club across the street to meet some friends if you would like to tag along. Or we could ditch them and hang out the two of us,” Erin asks, then waits for my response.
“I wish I could but I can't. It's not you, I just can't have any type of relationship right now.” I respond, genuinely sad about it.
“Oh, I get it,” Erin answers, looking down at her feet disappointed.
I go back to my friends, and we walk to the closest night club together, with them teasing me about Erin the whole way.
“You can’t go on a trip to Las Vegas and not drink anything,” Justin says looking over at me when we arrive at the club.
“You know I can’t,” I respond, but that doesn’t stop them.
“Justin’s right, plus one drink won’t hurt you Tommy,” Pat urges on while sliding me over a drink.
“Okay, just one,” I give in. One drink can’t hurt, what the worst thing that could happen?
I drink, and nothing happens. They’re right, I haven’t had fun in years, and a couple of drinks won’t kill me. So I decide to have a second, then third, until I can’t count them anymore. My vision is blurred, but someone still catches my eye. I can tell right away by her dirty blonde hair and freckled face that it is Erin. With my new found courage due to the alcohol, I stumble over to her.
“Tommy? You're the one from the hotel. You decided to come!” Erin says as she see me walking over, her speech slightly slurred. 
“Yeah that’s me!” I say laughing. “Anyway, sorry about before. You’re right, we should hang out.”
“Well I’ll drink to that!” Erin yells, handing me over a shot.
That night I spend drinking with her, having most fun I’ve had since college.
“It getting kinda boring here, what do you say we head back to the hotel?” Erin asks, a couple hours into the night. She grabs my arm to keep balance, as we walk outside.
I can’t keep if from her any longer, “I’m becoming a priest, that's why turned you down at the hotel,” I blurt out.
“Oh, I didn’t know,” she says confused.
“Well I don’t really want to be a priest,” I cut her off. “I just grew up in a really religious family and I know how happy this makes them,” I ramble on. “But that doesn’t change anything between us, I just thought you should know.”
“I get it,” she replies, even though I know she doesn’t.
We walk in silence for a few minutes until we pass by a small chapel. Through the window we see a young woman is wearing a short white dress, and a man dressed in a tee shirt with a tux graphic design on the front eloping. The two of them are too busy looking into each others eyes to notice our stares, but a lady who works at their quickly sees us.
“If you are looking for the perfect place for a wedding you just found one! All you need to do is fill out this page of paper work for your wedding licence and have photo ID. We provide the wedding license, and rings all for one small payment of $79.99!” The woman tells us with a huge smile across her face, and hands us each a page of paper work. Erin immediately begins to fill hers out.
“You have to be joking Erin. I just told you I’m becoming a priest, you know I can’t do this.”
“You also just told me that you didn’t really want to become a priest. What’s the point of doing something you don’t want to? You have to live a little!” She argues. I think about it for a second, and although it’s crazy, I go after what I love.
“You're right!” I grab a pen and begin to fill out the paper too.
The ceremony is short and sweet. They give us the license and cheap rings, but in the moment everything is perfect. We walk to the hotel room in a bliss, and I pass out from exhaustion onto the hotel bed.
The next morning I flutter my eyes open to see the room spinning around me. “Where am I? What happened?” I think. I sit up and hold onto the head of the bed until my vision clears up. I check my phone to see it filled with texts from my friends wondering where I went last night. I look around the room and realize there is no sign of Erin. “Thank God, I guess it was all just a crazy dream,” I think to myself, relieved. “This was fun but things should go back to normal,” I think as I get up and kneel for my morning prayer. Until the bathroom door opens.
“Erin?!” I exclaim.
“Yes, why do you seem so shocked? I mean we’re married,” she says laughing.
“No, no, no,” I shake my head. “This couldn’t have actually happened! Tell me this didn’t happen!” I look frantically around the room to find the license, proving my worst nightmare came true.
“Are you okay? Is there anything I can do?” Erin says, trying to comfort me.
“Just leave! I need a second to think!” I yell at her. She hurries out scared, but I am too preoccupied to worry about her. I close the door after her, then collapse to the ground crying. I just ruined my life.
“Pull yourself together!” I say to myself after a few minutes of crying. I have to think this through, their has to be a way out. I need a plan.
One option is I could embrace the marriage. Erin and I could buy a house, have children, live out our lives together. We could all go to church on Sunday as a family, like when I was a kid. But that only reminds me of my parents, the look on their faces of pride and joy when I told them I wanted to become a priest. I couldn't bring myself to tell them otherwise, I just couldn’t.
Another option was pretending this never happened. I could leave Erin, and fly back to school. But that would leave too many loose ends. What if she found me? What if someone in the church found out? I knew I couldn’t do that either.
I could divorce her. But, then it wouldn’t be possible for me to become a priest. So, that was out of the question too. I had to think of a new plan.
Then it came to me. Kyle, my classmate from seminary school, was married before he made the decision to become a priest. Him and his wife were happily married for a year until she tragically died in a car accident. Kyle, left a widower, felt he could never love again, so took the path to becoming a priest. If Kyle can become a priest after marriage then so could I. But that would involve the death of Erin, which was too crazy of an idea.
“I could never do that, I want to become a priest, not a murderer,” I say to myself, but get cut off by my phone ringing. I grab it, and see a picture of my mother across the screen, let it ring because I can’t talk to her now, she would be so disappointed in me.
I have to accept it, murder is my only option. “You have to become a priest, it’s for your parents,” I try to convince myself, but still am hesitant about the idea.
Now that I’ve come to the realization that killing Erin is the only option, I need to figure out how. I know from crime television shows that if she just went missing, the husband would be the first one the police would suspect, so I have to make it look like natural causes.
Could I hire someone? No, too expensive. Could I stage a overdose? No, Erin doesn’t have a history with drugs. Every time I would think of an idea I would find a problem with it. So, I pick up my phone to research.
While scrolling through some websites, I find an article titled, ‘How Air Injection Mimic the Effects of a Heart Attack?’ I click on the article and read  how taking a syringe filled with air to a vein placed between a person’s toe can mimic a heart attack. This is a perfect plan.
“Hey Tommy, sorry to bother you, just wanted to pick up some stuff I forgot in your room,” Erin says cautiously as she walks into my room and grabs her belongings.
“Don’t worry about it,” I respond while frantically clearing my search history. “You can stay here, I need to pick up some things from the store.”
“I'll just stay here and,” but I leave before I hear the rest and speed walk down the stair, threw the lobby, and out onto the street to a taxi.
“Could you take me to the closest drugstore around here?” I ask the driver, because that’s the only place I could think.
“There’s a cvs a few miles away,” the driver suggests.
“Sounds good, thank you.” I say, and the man starts driving.
He drops me off in front and I scan the store, but have no idea where a syringe would be. So, I grab a basket and walk down each aisle.
After walking down every single aisle at least four times, the cashier leaves the register and walks up to me, “Is their anything I could help you with?”
“This might sound odd, but I was looking for a syringe.”
“Aisle four, near the medications,” he tells me, and I purchase it.
I need to think, so I walk up the strip for an hour or so, pick up some food, then make my way back to the hotel. As I walk I go through the plan over and over in my head, making sure their is no room for mistakes. When I arrive at the hotel I find Erin sitting on the bed.
“I'm sorry I made a scene this morning,” I tell her, she looks up but doesn’t respond, “I get it if you're mad, I shouldn’t have done that.” then sit, waiting for what seems like an eternity.
“I forgive you,” Erin finally answers. I wait for her to continue, but she doesn’t. So I get up and ready for bed. I turn the lights off and I wait a few hours until I am sure she’s asleep. I tiptoe into the bathroom and fill the syringe with air. Once I return back to bed, I lift the covers to expose her feet. She tosses and turns a little, so I wait until she is back in a deep sleep. I place the needle between her toes, and inject the air. Feeling awful, I run back to the bathroom, not wanting to see what I had just done. I finally work up the courage to go back into the room and check for her pulse. Nothing. I can't believe I  what I had just done. I pick up my phone and dial 911.
“911 what is your emergency?”
“My wife isn’t waking up! She needs help! Please come quick!” I say, trying to act as frantic as possible.
About ten minutes later I hear a knock and rush to the door. It opens to two police men.
“Over here!” I cry, leading the men to where Erin is lying. “I just woke up in the middle of the night and wanted to talk to her, when she didn’t respond I tried shaking her away!” I lie. One of the men stays, attempting to comfort me, while the other walks over to Erin’s body and looks for a pulse. He then sends a signal to his partner, as a cue for him to walk me out.
“What is it? Is she alive?” I ask as I am dragged out, but I already knew the answer. More men arrive at the scene, and Erin is eventually carried out in a body bag. And that's when it hits me, I am a murderer.
I can’t stand to face anyone, not even my friends. So, I book the first flight back home. Once back at school no one knows anything about it. For all they know I could have been visiting family. But I will always know what I did. I stop attempting to socialize, and count down the days until I’m finally a priest.
Ten years later I stand on the altar at my local parish leading in the celebration of mass.
I prepare the bread and say, “pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father,” like I do everyday. While I wait for the people's response I look through the crowd to find the friendly faces of my mom and dad, smiling proud up at me.
Then I put my hands together and pray over the bread. The same prayer I’ve done everyday for the last ten years, a prayer for Erin, and for forgiveness.






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