Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Architect's Tower: Part 4

Antoni felt the world crash in on itself. As he paused Beatriz rushed on, “They always say terrible things. I don’t know why I listened this time, forgive me, Antoni. When you first left they talked, they said, 'Antoni has lost his faith', 'Antoni lives life and does not care', but I knew in my heart that you cared. Even when they talked about the women …” She paused, “There were always women more … suited. But when the priest came last week, I couldn’t ignore it. He said you were 'a poet who had forgotten the words. You make the form but it is empty. You risk making it void.' I know that I am the least of your cares, but still, you are alone now, and you must know I have always cared.”

Antoni could hardly look up. His head swirled with all the things she said, people and places. Terrible moments he had forgotten made frantic entrances and piercing exits in his mind. It was true. He couldn’t dream of asking forgiveness now. Most of the people were dead, the rest had forgotten. Surely God would do the same. “I know, please, let me explain…” he mumbled, not even knowing how he would begin. “I should have returned home to see you. There are many mistakes that I would undo. Beatriz, you do not understand the politics here. It does not matter so much your belief, it matters the things you do. The amends you make. You ask the priests. Did you know there is no such thing as purgatory?” Gaudi laughed, “You should read the church history. There are lots of things the priests don’t tell.”

“Purgatory or no, amends or no, there is hell. You know that.”

“What hell could there be that you or I do not already know Beatriz? What God could be that cruel?”

Beatriz sighed, “There is sin, Antoni, you and I and the entire world together make life as cruel as it is.”

“But a God that allows it…”

“No Antoni!” exclaimed Beatriz, “Can you honestly say you obeyed and it turned out wrong?” she began to cry, and looked away. “Antoni, if you do not go to the priest. If you do not confess…”

“Then who would care? I have left beautiful things for people to look at, a cathedral for God to be glorified. God will see what I’ve done and let me into heaven.”

Beatriz didn’t even look up,“… when you left I was happy for you, Antoni. You had such dreams, such visions. They were gifts, to the world, to you. I was so certain you were would be alright, that we would meet again in heaven. It didn’t matter what you did, that you never visited, because I would see you again in heaven and everything would be right. In heaven I would not be this … woman. I would not have this past, this present, only perfection and forgiveness. Even when you had your women and fine clothes, even Carmita, Fransesc’s wife whom everyone knew was your lover; even then I believed it must be a mistake. You would not have forgotten. You would have confessed. There would be some reason, some mistake made by the person telling the story. Now, I question if you should have ever left. All this ... all these beautiful things you have made will be nothing, Antoni, nothing if what they say is true.” She finally looked at Antoni, with fear. “You can not excuse the things you’ve done. You cannot blame the priests for their lives. Each man must answer Antoni!”

“What about you Beatriz? Have you been happy? Have you dared to confess? I know about your past. I know what you have done.”

“It is not about me.”

“You Beatriz, who have lived your life in fear, never wanting anything for yourself, never daring to do anything, how would you begin to understand? You are not so perfect. You have lied, cheated. You even allowed yourself to go down to the barn where the boys met. I know. You dare to tear at me!”

“Antoni! I, I don’t know how you can throw that in my face!”

“Beatriz, you throw hell in mine.”

Beatriz set her chin firmly against the tears. “There are many, many things between my God and me. Heaven knows. The priest knows. You know too, Antoni. There were no secrets between you and me. There is no excuse, I know that, but I know there is forgiveness too. I only came because I thought…Antoni, your family is gone. I fear I am all that is left who will talk to you. If what they say is true...I will never see you again.”

“You do not know me, Beatriz. You don’t understand a single thing.”

“I know you Antoni.” She said in a small voice. “I know when you are scared.” She got up from her chair and took his hand. He struggled to get free of her grasp but her grip was as strong and she would not let go. She pried open his hand and held it. “Antoni, please. If you wish to be rid of me, fine, but please, Antoni, remember.” Beatriz let go of his hand and walked slowly out of the shop, alone.

Miss a chapter? Here they are:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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