Sergio Cilla is introducing Tales of the Chesapeake, a collection of short stories that will certainly lead to reflection. Today, St. Mary’s City, and the need to conceal our guilt.
St. Mary’s City
Catherine arrived at St. Mary’s City too early for the check-in. She wanted to stay in the historic area but could not find any hotels there. She left her luggage at an Inn in Lexington Park, and drove twenty minutes to the Great Brick Chapel. That had to be the first place to visit.
She had reconstructed her past, and had surprisingly discovered her ancestors had landed at St. Mary’s City over three hundred years before. They were the first Catholics in the area, fleeing persecution and execution in Protestant England.
It was Catherine’s first sabbatical at college, and she was meant to write at least two articles to be published the following year. “I need to go somewhere for inspiration,” she had said to Barbara, her girlfriend, as she found it really hard to explain why she wanted to stay two weeks at that small, beautiful town. Actually, she did not know if there was another reason.
Catherine was absolutely breathless when she arrived at the chapel. Even though it had been reconstructed twenty years before, Catherine could scarily feel she belonged to that place. She got in, sat on a bench, and breathed in the sacred ambiance for a few seconds. She remembered what she had read: “… it was the first place in Colonial America where Catholics could pray without fear of execution”. And even though she did not follow any religious practice, and she felt culturally Catholic, she started to pray.
All Catherine’s research was based on different archeological digs all over the United States, and Saint Mary’s City was an important excavation site. Nevertheless, she supposed the reason for being so interested in this trip was completely different.
She had confessed to her best friend she also needed some time off from Barbara. She did not know why, but she was feeling tired of that relationship. But she did not like what her friend had for her. She had heard that theory before, that every time one of her relationships was going well, and it was time to move forward, she would start questioning everything. Besides, this time her friend had added: “I guess you feel guilty for being a lesbian”.
Catherine went on praying, although she did not know how, but she felt the urge to be talking to God, to ask that unearthly figure a few questions. And she eventually received an answer. She sat back on the bench and felt immensely relieved. She did not know why she was there, but she knew she was looking forward to that sensation of respite and liberation.
“She is wrong this time”, Catherine thought, while stepping out of the chapel. She took her phone out of her bag and called Barbara. It was time for a fresh start.