Word Count 500
By Anne Nassar
There was a knock at the door. She froze, terrified. She told herself to calm down, and stop being melodramatic. It was Marisol. She was an Elder. There was no hierarchy amongst the Elders, nevertheless, the other Elders deferred to her. This was due to her advanced age, her regal carriage, her direct manner of speaking, but also because she was related to the majority of the church’s members.
I’m sorry to show up announced, Marisol said, but your phone is out of service. Nancy nodded. Is your husband at home? Marisol asked.
No, he isn’t.
Is it all right if I wait?
I don’t know when he’ll be back, Nancy said.
Where is he?
I don’t know, Nancy said.
When did you see him last? Marisol asked.
Over a week ago, Nancy said, and he was gone for several days before that.
What’s going on, Nancy?
I don’t know. He won’t talk to me.
Marisol pursed her lips. She looked as though her patience was wearing thin.
In your opinion, is he in his right mind? Nancy wasn’t sure what she ought to say. She knew that Marisol was no friend of hers. But she needed to talk to someone about what she was going through, and no one else had asked.
I think that he is having a spiritual crisis.
Based on what?
Based on…he said that he isn’t fit to be my husband, that I deserve better. And he’s stopped washing, and he’s lost a whole bunch of weight, and he’s been sleeping on the ground….
Marisol nodded and said, he’s fallen into sin. He’s penitent.
I don’t know that.
How do I find him? Marisol interrupted.
I’ve told you already, I don’t know.
Why don’t you call the police and file a missing persons report?
He wouldn’t like that one bit, Nancy said.
Oh, should I care what he likes? she said, and snorted, with derision, He is shirking his responsibilities. I am here because someone has died. His family would like to bury him. What shall I say to them?
Nancy shrugged – what could she say?
You are taking this very lightly! Marisol barked.
No, I’m not, Nancy said. She began to cry. She felt like she used to when she was an undersized girl, who got cornered on the playground by bigger girls who wanted her lunch money, her hair ribbons, her earrings.
Marisol said, If you are protecting him from the consequences of his actions then you make yourself an accomplice.
Look, Nancy said, her voice quavering, I have an onion and a can of tuna and then there’s no more food. I don’t have any money. I don’t have a job. I don’t have any friends or family in this state. And my husband has left me. Now, get off my porch. Go, scare the soul back into the dead guy.
Nancy shut the door.
It was awhile before she stopped shivering, before her body understood that the threat had been averted.