The Prequel, Chapter Sixty-One

"What do you think I should say?" Alexander asked as he stepped in the church door. Until that very moment, he'd refused to speak to anyone about his public confession. Now, however, he felt his heart rise up in his throat. Or was that bile?

"Apologize to the community. Other than that, I don't know what to say. Speak from the heart."

My heart is worthless. "Thank-you, Father. I'll try. I just hope people don't get up and walk out."

Alexander's uncle, William Hale, was in charge of the church while the regular pastor was recovering from a surgery he'd undergone two weeks before. Now, as Alexander sat down in the front pew, he wished to God that he'd never hurt his aunt's and uncle's almost-daughter, Jennifer, who had been raised by them since a few years back...

But no matter. What was done was done. Alexander would confess to the congregation that he had wronged many of them, and he would ask for their forgiveness.

Cassidy Hale, Alexander's aunt, was sitting in the next pew over, her stare hard and unforgiving. Alexander's parents had said that Cassidy had gone mildly mad over the years, driven crazy by her bitterness toward Alexander and what he had done to Jennifer...

Breathing heavily, Alexander fought to keep anxiety at bay. It would have helped if the voices of condemnation hadn't increased tenfold.

The service lasted far longer than Alexander had anticipated, and Alexander fidgeted nervously. William Hale was droning on and on about hellfire, something which Alexander still had not yet resigned himself to accepting. Stomach roiling, he tapped the pew with his fingertips and fought to keep himself under control.

What would the people say when they heard Alexander's confession? Would they scorn him or forgive him? Somehow, Alexander doubted the latter.

"Before we finish up for the day, I would like to tell you about something Alexander Hale has decided to do." Immediately, whispers rang out at William Hale's words. "Alexander wishes to address the congregation as a whole."

At that, some of the members got up and simply left the sanctuary. Exhaling slowly and deliberately, Alexander stood and made his way over to the front as calmly as he could.

Slow down, Alexander. Think straight. Don't let your nerves impair your judgement...

The End

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