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Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Flash Fiction: Confession

I've gone back and forth about posting this one for
a couple of weeks. It falls squarely in the category of "things I wish I'd had the guts to do in high school." Feedback, as always, is welcome.


Victoria was in danger of turning into that most hideous of beasts: The Perfect Child. Her natural intelligence had predisposed her to PC standing, and here she was at fifteen, ostracized for being a "smart kid." The way she saw it, she had two main problems: her mother and her religion teacher, Mrs. Bead.

Oh, yes, Victoria counted down the days until she could get her driver's license because her mother refused to take her anywhere if it would conflict with a Bible study, lay missionary meeting, or any of the other myriad activities that the Catholic cult (Cc) her mother had joined demanded of her time. Any complaints were met by, "You don’t want to be the reason I'm going to confession!" Consequently, Victoria ended up with during-school only activities only unless her father, who traveled frequently (more so since Mom had joined the Cc), could pick her up.

Then there was her "Religion and Morality" teacher Mrs. Bead. The woman with the uncanny resemblance to the Wicked Witch of the West minus green skin had a penchant for telling the class they'd be damned, usually preceded by a "lookit!" Apparently Mrs. Bead felt herself to be exempt from such a fate, particularly since she delighted in sharing her and her husband's sexual exploits with the class as excuses for failing to grade their papers the night before. Not that sexual congress among married people was sinful, but rubbing it in the faces of your hormone-hyped sophomore Morality class? Cruel, especially because no boy would touch Victoria because "her mother was a nun, and she wouldn't do anything, anyway."

Victoria's opportunity to escape PC status occurred at the nexus of the clash between the two forces of Mrs. Bead and her mother. When she'd gotten out of the car that morning, her mother had told her, "I have a meeting at the Monastery at four today, so come straight out after school. No delaying, or I'll be so upset I'll have to go to Confession, and you'll be grounded for a month!"

The cute guy in the saxophone section in the band had actually approached Victoria at lunch the day before, so being grounded was out of the question. She needed that chance to fail her Morality homework and have to go to confession!

By the end of Morality class, Mrs. Bead had, miraculously, run out of things to taunt them about. She had resorted to the generally ineffective "Peer Pressure" method of discipline and control:

"You may work on your homework, but if anyone makes a sound, the whole class will have to stay after school for fifteen minutes!"

Victoria took out a book. The rest of the class started out quiet, but soon whispering emerged. It spawned giggling, which grew to laughing, taunting, and finally...

"That's it!" Bead shouted. "You're all staying after, and if anyone says anything, it's going to be another fifteen minutes!"

With her mother's threat echoing in her head, Victoria raised her hand.

Bead glared at her. "Not. A. Word."

Victoria's stomach tightened. Then her heart pounded between her tonsils, and she tasted something sour at the back of her mouth. This wasn't fair! She hadn't done anything, and now she'd be grounded for a month! She glared at Bead, who calmly surveyed the now silent classroom and ignored the dirty looks from all sides.

"That's it!" Victoria's voice sounded high pitched, and squeaky even to her, but she stood. No spotlight shown on her, but the surprised looks of everyone including Mrs. Bead warmed her neck and cheeks. "My mother told me not to be late, and whatever punishment you give out, it's not going to be worse than what she'll do to me."

Bead opened her mouth, but before she could say anything, Victoria continued.

"Oh, and in case you're wondering if I care about punishing the rest of the class, yeah, I do. More than they obviously cared about punishing me. What you have to realize is that they don't give a rat's ass about how their actions affect me. I'm a nobody, just one of the smart kids that no one sees beyond the GPA on the honor roll board. So, sorry y'all have to stay to 3:30, but my mother is waiting, and keeping us all here because of the actions of a few is patently ridiculous!"

She grabbed her book bag and walked out of the class with hasty but deliberate steps -- no point in tripping and ruining the moment. She heard a single clap, and then a few more, like fat raindrops on the edge of a thunderstorm. Then applause rained down, and a few cheers rolled through the noise. Everyone grabbed their bags and marched out after her. She smiled, but she was breathing too hard to respond to the murmured congratulations. Oh, there'd be hell to pay the next day, maybe that night after her parents got a call from the Principal, but for the moment, she relished being the Not Perfect Child. Maybe the cute band guy would hear about it and call her...

"How was your day?" her mother asked when Victoria got into the car, only a few minutes after three.

"It was good, but I think I may have to go to confession.

Oh, I almost forgot the dessert. Since I waffled on posting this, it's a Belgian waffle with Nutella sauce and whipped cream:


  1. Having been a child of Catholic school, I particularly am applauding Victoria. She did something I never would do. Even if I thought it!

    Love the line: "...no point in tripping and ruining the moment."

    No point, indeed!

    Really enjoyed. There should be more Catholic School stories. :D

    And adore Nutella so am salivating over that dessert!

  2. Thanks, Marisa! Yes, this was based on a true story, and I have replayed that moment over and over in my head, wishing I could've done what Victoria did.

    You may have just hit upon the idea for a blog tour... the I Survived Catholic School tour!


  3. Never went to Catholic school... but was raised Catholic and well-versed in the Catholic mentality.

    Public school was rough at times... but at least it wasn't all that bad!

  4. I am a parochial school survivor, too, though not Catholic. Oh, if only I'd had Victoria's guts...

    Great story, Cecilia. Go, Victoria!

  5. Hmm...I was the kid hanging on the street corner smoking and cutting classes, you know, the one your mother told you not to end up like?

    I enjoyed the story though!

  6. Cecilia;
    I'm a convert and I've heard the horror stories from my cradle Catholic friends on what Catholic school was like. I saw a girl stabbed in public school, though, so if I could go back in time I might want to trade places. One of my church girlfriends commented that the only thing you get in real trouble for in Catholic school is having your shirt untucked or your skirt too high. This was a fun story. I'm glad she rebelled. It's good to rebel once in awhile.

  7. Stephen and Maria, I heard horror stories about public school. Trust me, I'm grateful for my Catholic education, especially since it gave me character and story ideas. :)

    Gracie, I bet all parochial schools are similar, no matter what the religious philosophy behind it is.

    Laura, I'd be honored to end up like a talented woman like you!


  8. Bravo for the smart kid!! This one reminded me of high school so much. I myself, am a product of an all boys Catholic school.

  9. I never went to Catholic school, but I heard the horror stories from friends. Smart kid indeed and my hero. You should think about doing a series with this and see where it goes. Really well done.

  10. I was the one standing beside Laura. :)

    Love this story Cecilia, so perfectly told. I particularly like this line: "She heard a single clap, and then a few more, like fat raindrops on the edge of a thunderstorm."

    Yes, please give us more of these from Catholic school. Having gone to public school, (most of the time I was inside the building, pinky-swear), I need to be educated.

  11. Peer pressure punishment never ever worked, not even in public school. There was always some jerk who didn't care about spoiling things for everyone. But what a nasty teacher! Fun story.

  12. Anthony, I'm adding you to my list for the "I Survived Catholic School" blog tour. :) Should've figured with a name like Anthony that you'd have that in your past.

    Rachel, thank you! Victoria may reappear sooner rather than later. We'll see how her quest to be the Not Perfect Child goes.

    Deanna, LOL, riiiight, I don't believe that you were a dreaded Perfect Child for a second.

    Thanks, Valerie! Why do teachers think that works? I wonder if it's still used.

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments!

  13. Since my family were "Prods", I was never exposed to Catholic school, but heard terrible things from friends and neighbours. One year, in grade 9, the community public school I was being sent to was so awful I insisted on enrolling in the Catholic school. The school had to accept me since in that province it was part of the public board. My mother had a fit. She was sure I'd convert. But it turned out the local Catholic school was quite gentle, at least to me, their pet Protestant! heh heh The teachers, some of whom were nuns, were kind to the max to me. I loved it. Then we moved, of course. We moved a lot.

    Great story, Cecilia! That's the beauty of being a writer. We all get to go back and be fiesty, for those of us who were shy back then! ;-P

  14. Not a Catholic, nor have I spent much time smoking on the corner, so I feel completely left out, except that I thought this was a great story. One suggestion is to put a (PC) after "perfect child" just as you did for (Cc). I can relate to the perfectly quiet, well-behaved student who's ready to blow any minute. I guess that's universal.

  15. Good story! Congrats to her for standing up for herself. Even if it will mean a boatload of trouble later. At least it might get her a date...

  16. Donna -- LOL, we had one lonely "Prod" in my class in grade school. I don't think he got treated any differently, though.

    Kim, I'm glad you can relate. Yep, that was definitely me as well.

    Eric, thanks, and I'm thinking that she will get a date with the cute band guy. :)

    Thanks, all, for your comments!

  17. Nice one! There are so many times I would have loved to have done this. Really great display of emotion.

  18. I am a Catholic School survivor myself. This story is a victory for anyone who ever wanted to just tell their religious nut job oppressors off. Loved it.