Park Bench Confessional

“You know, we shouldn’t be here.”
“I know, but I had no other choice. I had to see you.”
“Couldn’t you wait till Sunday? Church isn’t going to disappear.”
“Father, you know how important this is to me.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just… never mind. I’ll let you continue.”

Jack took a deep breath, pinched the bridge of his nose and looked up to the sky. What do I say? Where do I start? How do I begin? He turned and looked at the priest.

“Father… I’ve… done… I’ve seen… some terrible things.”
“Go on.”

Jack stared at the priest, lost in his own thoughts. He didn’t know where to begin. He rubbed his hands together, unsure if it was because of the chilly weather or the sick twisting feeling in his gut. Was this a mistake? Fuck, why didn’t I just stay at home? I could be in bed right now and this wouldn’t be happening.

“I know I’m supposed to be a patient man, but as you know – I don’t have all day.”
“Yes, father. Please, give me a minute to compose my thoughts.”
“Very well.”

Despite the cold wind, Jack started sweating bullets. Fuck, I shouldn’t be doing this. He started to regret making the phone call this morning. He thought he was ready to confess, to unload the burden off his chest. But now, face to face with the priest, he was having second thoughts.

“I… I can’t say it.”
“Do you know the story about the boy who cried wolf?”
“Yes… but this isn’t like that. It’s a huge burden on my soul, and I have to let it out. But I’m just having trouble letting it out.”

The priest was normally a patient man, but it was his day off and he had other things to do. He was close to losing his patience but he decided to not let Jack get the best of him.

“It’s okay, child. If you can’t say it today, come back to church later this week and see me in the confession booth. We’ll talk then.”
“But father… Please help me.”
“There’s not much I can do if you won’t open up to me.”
“I know I’m trying. I’ve been trying. For many years now. And this morning, I felt like I could finally say it.”

Jack put his face in his hands, rubbing it, as though it would help get rid of the invisible muzzle around his mouth whenever he tried to speak. Life had never been this trying before. Not even when he was still coping with his burden. He looked up again and saw the priest who was now standing and buttoning his coat.

The priest looked at Jack, expecting him to say something. When nothing came, he turned and walked the same way he came from.

“I’ll see you this Sunday, Jack,” said the priest as he waved at the broken man on the bench.

The priest continued walking, pretending not to hear Jack. I have no time for this.

“Father! Ten years ago… seventeenth street chapel… I know… I was there!” Jack had finally composed himself enough to call out after the priest.

The priest stopped dead in his tracks. Frozen, his face suddenly many shades lighter. He took a deep breath and composed himself. Looking around, he made sure that there was nobody else in the park, and felt slightly relieved. However, he was now curious about what Jack had to say. The priest walked towards Jack, who was still seated on the bench. He unbuttoned his coat and sat down again.

“Go on, son. Tell me everything. Don’t leave anything out.”

Writing prompt from Reddit: Two people. Sitting on a park bench. The entire scene lasts 5 minutes in real time. No skipping ahead, no flashbacks, nothing otherworldly. Let dialogue drive your story.

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