“Mom, I need to go.”
“Sit still. Mass is almost over.”
“I really don’t feel well.”
“It’s almost over. See, we’re starting communion.”
“Buck up, kid. Get moving.”
I made my way into the aisle. Beads of sweat hung tightly to my hairline and my red face began turning white with the pain from standing erect. I slouched. Reaching over my brother in the slow line making its progression to Father Frank, mom flicked my shoulder. I stood tall and bore the pain.
The line moved painfully slow and those beads began to lose their grip. My other siblings made their way to receive the transubstantiated body of Christ. I was at an age when I flirted with possibly sticking out my tongue at Father Frank to receive the holy bread. The world was at an age when the Holy Grail containing the holy blood was wiped with a hanky between consumers. Dipping wasn’t in back then.
After my sister cleared the way, I corrected yet another slouch to look up at Father Frank and that holy wafer protruding from his thumb and index finger. The pain from straightening stabbed me again and I slouched. A flick caught my shoulder and I put away the dreams of challenging Father Frank to place the wafer on my young tongue without getting his fingers wet. The pain was excruciating. I folded my hands together and open to raise them. Their motion brought my eyes back upon the wafer, which now looked like a stained glass halo before my eyes.
As Father Frank said, “This is the body of Christ, shed for you,” I collapsed into my brother’s arms. The light of the world rushed from me and as I felt my heels dragging across the carpet I heard my brother say, “You better not be faking, kid.”
Twenty minutes later, the lights came back on.
That was over twenty years ago. It was the end of my appearances before Father Frank. After fifteen of those years, I looked for a new title in a man on the pulpit, and a place that didn’t create these lines every week, but rather on a monthly basis. I’d heard dipping was in now and the hanky was therefore unemployed. Of course in these halls the lack of repetition also resulted in the lack of transubstantiation.
Tonight, now twenty years since I subconsciously refused “the body of Christ, shed for me,” I feel slouched from abdominal pain and my pale face wears the dripping beads. My brother is not here to catch me. My mother is not here to flick my shoulder. Reverend Ryan now offers the loaf to tear and dip.
But I am not a dipper.
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