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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Wow! (03/11/10)

TITLE: Zitas
By dub W
03/12/10


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Nan strolled along St. Charles Avenue, a lonely figure in the fog. She hadn’t planned to walk far, just a couple of blocks or so to clear her head. “Something isn’t right.” She spoke to nobody in particular, just to the passing traffic. She made one turn and then another and suddenly was on the edge of the warehouse district. She read a small plaque on an adjoining brick wall. “St. Zita’s Cathedral. Wow, I must have walked further than I thought.”

Nan McHough was a reporter for the New Orleans Herald Bagatelle, a competing newspaper in the old city. However, the Bagatelle tended to feature the more sensational side of the news. Her morning walk was the result of her discontentment of being the subject of interest in the homicide of a local street person.

The cold brick of the cathedral contrasted to the warm damp air around her. She made her way to the front entrance and pulled on the door. To her surprise it swung open. She had been to St. Zitas many times before, but never on a foggy September morning.

The musty smell of the old church tickled her nose as she stepped into the vestibule. As her eyes focused in the darkness she could see others moving about in the sanctuary. She was not Catholic but slipped into a pew near the back of the room.

The statue of St. Zita was surrounded by candles as were a number of other places in the sanctuary.

Nan felt a kneeling rail next to her shins. Seconds later she collapsed to her knees and began praying softly. Her long brown hair draped over the pew in front of her and her forehead touched her folded hands.

“Lord, is heaven waiting for me? Why am I here? Am I such a sinner that I can go no longer in this life? Why don’t You just take me away right now? Tale me before I harm someone or before I fall so far from grace that You will never want me in Your presence. Forgive me Lord, my sins I know mount like snow in the mountains. I am not worthy to even be in this Holy place, but You already know that.” A tear ran down her cheek, but she caught it with her index finger. Another tear followed.

She glanced around the sanctuary, the ghost like movement of a handful of people around the altar distracted her for a split second. She bit her lip, but emotion suddenly overcame her.

“Precious Jesus, what am I to do?” Tears gushed from her eyes and she felt her body heave.

“Ma’am, are you okay?” A young male voice over her shoulder startled her.

Nan jerked her head around. The pale face of a young priest was crouching at her side. “Uh, oh, like, uh, I was just praying.” She paused for a second. “And, feeling sorry for myself.”


“Oh, I’m sorry I disturbed you.” The young man straightened from his crouched position. “But, if you would like to talk.” He smoothed his gown. “I’m Father Bossest.”

“Oh, I’m not Catholic. I’m sorry I barged into your church.” Nan started to get up.

“No, please, you are welcome here to pray. This is God’s sanctuary, and last I heard, he didn’t give out name cards at the door.”

Nan felt the heat of embarrassment flood her face. “Thank you, but I really should be going.”

“You’re welcome here anytime.” The young priest stepped aside so Nan could exit.

When she stood she noted that she was considerably taller than the priest. “I can find my way out.”

He leaned on a pew back. “Interesting way to put it. From what I heard you are having a difficult time finding your way out of something.”

“Oh, you heard.”

He chuckled. “Only the last part and the sobs. But, child, the Lord heard every word, and believe me, no matter what, when the world sets against you, He is on your side.”

Nan extended her hand to the priest. “Thank you father.”

He took her hand. “Drop in anytime and we can talk over coffee. But, do understand, anytime a prayer from the soul is issued, the Lord hears it – here at Zita’s or anywhere. God be with you.”

Nan released the priest’s hand. “And with you also.” She pushed through the cathedral door and onto the street. The fog had lifted somewhat.


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This article has been read 393 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/18/10
This is wonderful, I still want more. Is it possible Nan was guilty after all? This was such a suspenseful series. I enjoyed it and looked forward each week to know more about Nan.
stanley Bednarz 03/18/10
Style is smooth, and captivating. I wish I could write with so much fervor and poise. I'm not brave enough to put my novel out in bites. But now that I have been reading this,I have been unwittingly reeled in like a New
Orleans catfish.
harvestgal Ndaguba03/18/10
Wow! I want more more more. Please I want more. It was so good. Thanks for sharing.
AnneRene' Capp 03/19/10
I'm snagged! This was great!!
Philippa Geaney 03/19/10
WOW I hadn't given a moment to the thought that Nan might be guilty!! I think it is a red herring but I will admit to the fact that I had unwittingly categorised sin into bad and not so bad -which is not correct. Very interesting and it would seem even more thought provoking than a who-done-it.
Karen Pourbabaee 03/20/10
Getting interesting...as I walked along St, Charles Avenue past Lucky's Bar & Grill last week, I wondered if Nan would walk out...however I had lunch at Copeland's Bistro, but your stories were in my head:)
Beth LaBuff 03/22/10
When I read the priest's message, "...when the world sets against you, He is on your side..." it gave me hope for Nan, despite her circumstances.

…and you enlightened me, I'd never heard of St. Zita.
Sarah Elisabeth 03/24/10
Perhaps this mystery is never solved? It happens too often...but I loved this installment showing Nan's personal struggle and God's continuing grace
Mona Purvis03/25/10
Your writing compels me to follow the story line. I love your characters and want to keep up with them.

Mona
c clemons03/25/10
I thought this started out really very good. I thought finally he is on the right track. But when I got to paragraph seven, it fell apart. I know you're trying to introduce a little more mystery or complexity to the character but...I didn't buy it.