Karolina’s Calling Card

The Meeting Place. SIXTEEN.

photo by shf

Her ambulations had been dizzying lately. Hiking north on beaches and through surf had been a fair ransom paid to the chaos and what she was racing against. The inevitable, redundant, unfailing reach of time.

Against the surfacing roots of the sycamore near the church, she stomped her boots to knock free accumulated sand. How long had it been since she’d passed through this gate to the relics of her memory? How much weight was she still holding of the losses that lived there?

The church bells indicated 6 a.m. as her hands rubbed the soles clean. She’d have to move quickly if she were to make it to the church to see the one she sought.

Facing an opponent was not easy, but what was the alternative but to face her brother and ask him what he meant to do for the woman fat with child and lost as a sailboat in a storm. If it required a tangle between Earth and Heaven, then so be it. It mattered to her that Albert knew that she knew. Karolina was done with hide-and-seek. Done with easy outs. Time had brought the two together for one more reckoning.

Her boot heels on the path through the cemetery drew him to the candlelit window in the rectory. Her eyes were on the large wooden door that would lead her inside. The creaky step of the old wooden floor undid her, and she cleared her throat in lieu of a greeting.

“Karol?” Albert squinted at the murky form materializing as it approached.

“Yes. I’ve come for a word with you.” She pulled at her gloves and slid them into her cape pocket. “About Samantha.”

“Ah, Samantha.” he turned toward the lit window and away from her, his body gone pudgy and his hairline thin. She stood taller seeing that she was now the healthier one.

“Ah, Samantha,” she parroted in a baritone as she stepped toward him and faced him eye to eye.

“You preach of the Father and you must now wear the raiment of one.” She walked toward the wall-mounted crucifix and touched the holy brow. “If you are who you say you are, Albert, then take up this cross or the consequences will fester.”

“Karolina! You are absurd!” He turned toward the growing fog at the window. “What makes you think that baby is mine?”

“What baby, Albert? Think before you speak, brother. I have witnesses who saw you go to her at the grotto where she told you about the baby. You soothed her with talk about a cottage near the sea, a new beginning. Maybe even starting a new church. And you told her you loved her, Albert. You said that.”

By then, Albert had found a chair, a red-velvet straight back with dark angular trim.”What will you do, Karol? Poison the water of the baptistery? Let loose a flock of blackbirds at the next wedding? You can’t threaten me. Your power over me ended long ago, sister, and I’m not going to ever give it up again.”

“As you wish.” Karolina pulled her cape around her and pushed open the door as a gust of rain splattered on the threshold.

Meet Karolina in the introduction to this project . This entry is the next appearance of Karolina in The Meeting Place.

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