Friday, July 9, 2010

Key, Singer, Church

Gloria turned the key in the weathered oak door and looked over her shoulder. Quickly she stole through the door. Like a mother closes the door on a sleeping infant, holding her breath Gloria closed it inch by adrenaline driven inch. When the latch matched up, she silently released the handle and listened as it clicked perfectly in place, locking out the dark night sky and whirling wind. She was practiced at sneaking in after years of doing so. Gloria locked the door and shuffled quietly down the narrow aisle avoiding the creakiest floor boards. Her right hand gently tapped the top of each worn pew as she passed, an obsession she’d acquired in childhood. “Forty-three,” she breathed out at the last one.

The piano shone just before her, it’s black skin polished by her capable hands every Sunday after service. As she laid her right hand on the spine of the piano, her shoulders relaxed and her customary limp nearly vanished. To the casual observer, Gloria would have looked like a typical woman of thirty-seven. The congregation, her friends and family would have been aghast at the transformation, a miracle surely proffered by God, for they knew she was nothing more than an unrelenting cripple. One which insisted on an order that made no sense and had no place in society. Without the charity of the church, she would never survive on her own.

Gloria sat on the bench, her back straight as a pin. Her feet hovered just above the push pedals while her fingers danced a mournful tune over the keys. A hum reverberated in her throat, growing in intensity and filling every nook and cranny of the small sanctuary. “Amazing grace,” she began. Her voice was one born of faith and oppression, the kind of voice associated with slaves working in the fields under a hot sun: melodic and powerful, emotional in a way that makes the heart stop and then fall into place with the percussion that is otherwise absent. Gloria was a singer of that rich heritage and mouth gaping quality. The smooth tones of the piano and the God that looked down through the stained glass windows filled with soft moonlight and sharp starlight were the only ones who knew her secret.

After an hour, Gloria slipped out of the church as quietly as she had come in.

*** This written for swap-bot. Criteria: use the three words in the title and write it in 300 words. I'm 100 words over. My attitude? Too bad.***

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