December 07, 2005

The Eye of St Lucy Part 3

“It’s true -- Aunt Tom knows everything; she knows my sins before I even commit them.”

A slow shiver worked its way up my spine. The story made me ache. As a Unitarian, I knew there was no such thing as second sight, but I wished I were Catholic so I could believe in it.

Emmi gave me a chance to save my soul. In the past, I had used prayer as a means to practical ends: “Please, God, let me pass my math exam,” or “Please, God, make my mother and father get back together again.” It was always a last resort and I never put much faith in it. Now Emmi taught me how to say Our Father and Hail Mary and gave me a string of rosary beads. She urged me to go to sleep every night with a prayer on my lips and to thank Jesus and all the saints when I woke the next morning. I began reciting prayers in my head several times a day, finishing with the special plea Emmi learned from Aunt Tom: “Dear Jesus, please put a circle of love and protection around --” naming as many people as I could think of.

Even though I promised to quit smoking and swearing, Emmi continued to worry about my soul, since in my unbaptized state I could never go to heaven.

“Freddie? Freddie?!” She shook me in the middle of one night.

“What?” I mumbled, trying to get my bearings.

“Are you awake? Wake up. It's important.”

“I'm awake,” I groaned, pulling a pillow over my head. “What do you want?”

Emmi pulled the pillow from my face and drew what felt like an "X" on my forehead with a wet thumb.

“What are you doing?” I put up my hands to fend her off.

“Shh. I'm baptizing you,” she said. “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit...”

“You can't do that. You're not a minister.”

“Priest,” she corrected. “And I can too. Anyone can. It's called 'in extremis' and I'm pretty sure it works. What if you died in your sleep?”

“It won't do me any good. I'm Unitarian. We don't believe in baptism.”

“I do." Emmi’s voice sounded grave. “I want you to have a chance to go to heaven. But you have to be good from now on. Really good, I mean. From now on all your sins count.”

That worried me. I wasn't sure I could keep from sinning for the rest of my life. Just knowing I couldn't made me feel like screaming "SHIT!" at the top of my lungs. Also, I was pretty sure that divorce was a mortal sin, and I wondered how I'd live in heaven if my mother wasn't there with me.

New Year’s Eve, Emmi telephoned me to celebrate at midnight and to tell me January 20th was coming.

“What’s so special about that?” It wasn't either of our birthdays, and Christmas was over.

She breathed out an oh-so-patient sigh. “It's St. Agnes' Eve.”

“So what?”

“St. Agnes was a martyr, beheaded for refusing to marry a pagan. On the night of her birthday every January 20th, girls are supposed to dream about their future husbands.”

I scoffed, “That’s just superstition.”

“It's a lot more than that,” she insisted. “Wait and see.”

Sharing Emmi’s bed the night of January 20th, we could hear Aunt Tom snoring.

“How will we remember our dreams?” I wondered. “By the time I wake up, I’ve already forgotten.”

Emmi wasn’t worried. She showed me how to concentrate on the time I wanted to wake, say 3:00 AM, while banging my head against the pillow that many times, assuring me it worked like a charm; we wouldn’t even need an alarm clock.

Posted by pamwagg at December 7, 2005 03:18 PM


Dear Pam,
This time around, I'm getting even more enjoyment out of this story. Emmi and Aunt Tom get more eccentric with each installment. (Isn't this the way Dickens wrote his way to fame and fortune?)
With love and a happy smile,Paula

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at December 8, 2005 01:31 AM

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