The church was dark as Alexander entered, heart pounding nervously. He looked around. Yes, he was alone, just as he had thought. The preacher was in one of the adjoining rooms, leaving Alexander to think in solitude.
As he walked in, Alexander ran his hand along the back of one of the pews. How many Sundays had he spent here, letting his mind run wild while the preacher offered hope and truth to all who listened? How many times had he shut out God, afraid that if he listened, he would become even more dissatisfied than he already was? No, Alexander had never given God much of a chance. That was probably alot of the reason he was ending up such a terrible mess.
Walking down the aisle with weary steps, Alexander fixed his eyes on the altar. A Bible, a wine goblet, and a loaf of bread had been placed there, a reminder of the Communion and sacrifice Jesus had offered nearly two thousand years ago. Alexander stopped halfway down the aisle and let his gaze drift upwards, to the cross that hung behind the pulpit. For most, it offered hope and restoration to all who saw it. But Alexander only saw it as a mockery of all the wretched things he'd done.
Pausing, Alexander looked over at the Bibles that lay on the pews. Quietly, quietly, he sat down and held a Bible in his lap. He hadn't opened one in ages.
He was afraid to.
Letting his fingers trail down the sides of the pages, Alexander told himself that if he so much as dared to open the Bible, God would instantly punish him. Who was he to read the words of a Holy God? No, he had sacrificed the most sacred part of him - his purity - for the sake of a woman who was nearly the devil reincarnate. And to make matters worse, he had drowned the misery in a bottle of whiskey.
No, Alexander Marcus Hale didn't think he was the type that God would take kindly to.
The door to one of the offset rooms opened, and Alexander looked up to see Pastor Carey watching him with a worried expression. Alexander averted his eyes, then set the Bible down. He stood. It was time to leave.
Turning in the preacher's direction, Alexander nodded his head to show acknowledgement of the preacher's greeting. He dared not look into the eyes of a man of God. Surely it would only bring damnation down upon him.
"Alexander, are you alright?"
Sighing, Alexander shoved his hands in his pockets. "They talked to you, didn't they? My parents."
"Yes, they did."
Face heated with shame, Alexander began to walk away. "I shouldn't have come. I'm sorry."
"Why are you sorry?"
Alexander paused in the doorway of the church. "I don't deserve to be here. I didn't mean to cause you any trouble, sir. I hope God doesn't punish you for talking to me."
Pastor Carey was about to speak to Alexander when a frantic woman ran into the church, desperate to talk to her preacher. Alexander ducked his head and walked away, thankful for the diversion. He didn't want to get the preacher in trouble with God.
If I had any sense at all, I'd kill myself right here. Right now.
The idea was tempting.