Friday, November 20
She’s been sitting here awhile and she doesn’t feel any less out of place, alone in the low light of this sanctuary, where welcome and hope are found in abundance, and where faith is tested by adversity.
Before she arrived unexpectedly, Lindsay had been at the gym for the better part of the afternoon, completing her final workout before her bout with the one man riot, Hughie Freeman, and by the time she finished, evening was upon the Windy City. Normally she’d head home from there, but something compels her to swing east towards the Lake rather than west towards Damen Avenue and the warmth of her house.
Although the clock in her car says it’s dinner time, and hunger’s teeth gnaw inside her stomach, food’s the furthest thing from her mind. As prepared as she feels for Freeman…as much as one can be prepared for how unpredictable the Pikey is…a sense of unease begins snaking its way along her spine.
The last thing she needs right now is to feel out of sorts before this match. Maybe some time sitting by the water will calm her mind.
She doesn’t quite make it that far, though. Just up the street, the soft glow of lamplight from a small, stone church cuts through a blanket of trees, beckoning passersby to seek shelter for a time from the chilly November night. None who are out walking are tempted to take the invitation, instead zipping their North Face and Canada Goose jackets a little higher.
Lindsay, however, pulls over without giving it a second thought and hops down from the driver’s seat. It takes her a minute to feed the nearby parking meter, and then she finds herself pulling open the heavy wooden door, walking inside, and having her choice of seats.
She might have been nine the last time she willingly stepped inside a church for something other than a wedding or a funeral. Her father was still alive then; tall, with linebacker shoulders, a mischievous grin, and dark curls that she inherited. Her mother was gone, died in childbirth, but the patriarch still made his children attend Mass every Sunday, until he too passed far before his time. Lindsay and her sister Alaina eventually went to live with relatives who weren’t very religious, and even if they were, the Queen’s relationship with the Creator soured at a very young age.
In her tiny eyes, if God could take away the people she loved, then there’s no need for them to be on speaking terms anymore.
Which is why she finds it strange, so many years later, to be sitting in a house of worship, of her own volition.
“I’ve noticed you’ve been here for some time,” a voice rings out from the front of the church. Lindsay looks up and watches a priest make his way toward her from the sacristy.
“I have.” She nods and scratches the back of her head, not quite sure of what else to say. “Truth be told, I’m not even sure why I’m here. I was on my way home and I…just needed to not go there yet.”
“I see,” the priest says with a smile. “I’m Father Fredericks. May I join you?”
Lindsay gestures to the whole of the church, inviting the cleric to have his pick of seats. “Be my guest.”
He takes a position in the pew in front of Lindsay and faces the front of the church. “So, you saw the lights in the windows and decided to take refuge here for awhile, yes?”
Lindsay nods. “You could say that, I guess. Like I said, I’m not even really sure why I’m here. I’m not even really a churchgoer. I was at the gym, and I felt very unsettled after I left. Anxious. I was going to head to the Lake but I saw this place and something drew me in.”
“Most people are able to quell their anxieties during a workout.”
“I usually can. In my line of work, hitting someone is a great stress reliever.”
The priest pivots his body to look at her, a quizzical look on his face.
“Don’t ask,” she continues, with a chuckle. “I told you that I’m not a churchgoer, and the truth is that I turned away from God when I was a kid. For the most part, though, I think I’ve been a pretty good person. That might make me OK in God’s eyes, at the end of it all…but the people I’m up against, the GOD I’m currently up against and those that worship him, he thinks I haven’t done right by him, and for that I’m being punished.”
“Hmm,” Father Fredericks says. “I don’t know anything about this God of yours; I assume he’s a person, an earthly one. Probably your boss.”
“I mean, he’s a dick, if I’m being truthful.”
Fredericks frowns at the curse in the house of the Lord. “What I can tell you is that God doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle. Your God might want to see you suffer, but if you are strong, and I believe you are, then you will be able to overcome. You were strong enough to recognize that shelter was available here, and you acted upon your instincts to walk through the door. Nothing is too tough a challenge for those who believe they can persevere.”