Father Paul

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Mary went back to God after Liam. His departure was unexpected; all had seemed well, Mary'd thought they were happy. Until one day Liam told Mary he'd met someone else and he was leaving. No discussion, no second chances, he just quickly packed his suitcase and walked out of the door. For the next few weeks Mary was sad and lonely. It was more like a death than a divorce. In fact death would be easier, if Liam was dead, he wouldn’t be having sex with a woman half his age.  
God had made it easier; church was a chance to get out of the house, to forget about Liam, and a chance to listen to Father Paul. Father Paul was gorgeous. Imagine a younger, more handsome Jose Mourinho, dressed like a priest, and you had Father Paul. His voice was like chocolate – dark, rich and full of promise. Mary found herself hypnotized by his words, she could stare at him all day. Every Sunday she put on an extra touch of make up and wore a slightly shorter skirt. She smiled sweetly at him at the end of every service and enjoyed him smiling back at her. She imagined that smile was a special one, just for her. During the week she went to the church coffee morning and helped clean the church hall just to be close to him. She knew she was being stupid; he was a priest for heaven’s sake! But that didn’t stop her dreaming of his touch as she lay awake at night.
Mary decided she had to tell Father Paul how she felt about him and ask him if he felt the same way too. She thought he might; he always looked pleased to see her and never missed an opportunity to put his hand on her shoulder or on her arm. She decided to go to confession and tell him her secret. She’d tell him directly, to his face - well through the screen that divided her from the priest.
As she approached the church she felt nervous. What if he said no? What if? What if? She lived her life by the rule of what if. It was time to take a chance, not be scared of failure.
‘I lie awake at night, dreaming of a man touching me,’ she told the priest. ‘Sometimes the feeling is so strong I touch myself.’ She listened to the breathing on the other side of the box. ‘I think I’m in love with this man and would love to feel his hands on my body. I want to tell him I love him. But this man is not available.’
‘Why is he unavailable?’ the priest asked. ‘Is he married?’
‘No.’ Mary took a deep breath.
‘Then I think you should tell him.’
‘He’s a priest,’ she said nervously. Mary listened to the silence.
‘I see,’ Father Paul said.
‘It’s you,’ said Mary.
It sounded like Father Paul's bible had fallen on the floor. There was silence. She waited. Father Paul said nothing. In fact, she couldn’t even hear him breathing.
‘Father?’ she said. ‘Father?’ Nothing.
She left the box and knocked on the door of the other side. Nothing. She opened it, and a pale, grey priest fell off his seat. Mary screamed.  
Mary didn’t ever want to go back to the church. She never wanted to see Father Paul again. Her stupid words had caused him to have a heart attack. She’d heard that Father Paul had got better, but he wouldn’t be coming back to work. She was completely miserable; first she’d lost her husband, and now her priest.
Then, one day at the beginning of June, there was a knock on her door. No one ever knocked her door, ever. She opened it and was rather surprised to see Father Paul standing there smiling. He looked very well, a lot better than last time she’d seen him.
‘Father Paul,’ she gasped.
‘It’s just Paul now,’ he smiled a smile that said I want you
‘Do you still…’ He stepped forward and kissed Mary.
Mary kissed him back, enjoying the moment but she was slightly disappointed. Without the priest’s uniform, he didn’t seem quite as attractive. 

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