The bells struck six. The twilit cathedral majestic as ever, its white walls orange and pink in the evening sun. Its twin towers casting imposing shadows on the town in the valley below, where rows of cars were lined along a trail. The stained glass in the rosetta above the main doorway consisted of several abstract shapes and only being inside the church at high noon during a sunny day revealed its true purpose – an image of the Holy Spirit in the middle of a circle on the floor of the church, right in front of the altar. Now, however, it only presented the people in the cathedral with multicolored square lights right below the ceiling.
The door was open ajar, as the summer heat would otherwise have caused all of the attendants of the ceremony to dehydrate in fifteen minutes at most. But even before entering the imposing doorway, the minor cords of Caccini’s Ave Maria could already be heard. The most curious thing about that particular Ave Maria is that it is probably one of the most popular compositions based on the text, and yet it is completely fake. Its clear, diatonic harmony was unlike anything that could be composed by a Renaissance composer, and the form and melody was beyond simple. It was actually a fraudulent piece written in the 20th century by an anonymous Russian composer, sold to people as Caccini’s in a time when knowledge and curiosity were not widely considered virtues. And yet, people still love it and use it during weddings, due to its simple and catchy melody.
The piece seemed fitting to Candace, in a way. Though she had no idea about music history, she knew this specific Ave Maria was the perfect match to her wedding. As she stood facing Jim, listening to the haunting aria, the cords played by the organ almost mournful, she could not help but look away. She looked to the left row of benches, to her family. Batches of white roses dotted with red were spread along the benches. All of the women and some of the men had tears in their eyes, and yet some showed it more than the others. On the wall next to them an enormous window with a beautiful, yet painful, rendition of the classical Pieta in stained glass. The tears on Mary’s face akin to those on Candace’s mother’s – slow, dignified, with the face neutral, emotionless, disguising her inner torment with a façade of stoicism.
To the other side she saw the groom’s family, though she could not bear to look at them, instead focusing on the stained glass opposite the Pieta. It was an image of St. Longinus with his gaze fixed at the ground. He was holding a spear with blood dripping from the tip. His face was expressing grief, remorse, and absolute humility. Candace felt that if Jim’s family knew what she was desperately trying to hide, it would be as if they pierced her with that spear, staining her pure white dress with black, unclean blood. Yet their faces would express no grief or remorse.
She did deserve all that, that much was certain to her. None could forgive what had happened two days ago, when her medication was all used up. When her condition made her make the wrong choices. When she chose to undress. And with whom. It was killing her and all she was wishing for now was for St. Longinus to pierce her breast. Anything but having to face a normal life again. She knew there was no way for Jim to find out about it, yet that seemed to be the least important of her worries.
Jim, however, knew about everything. He was actually perfectly fine with it. In fact, everything was going according to plan. He wanted to break her. It was all too easy. And he knew, without a doubt, that it wouldn’t take long until she fell off the edge. He thanked God from the bottom of his heart that he got to meet such an ill, broken, exploitable rich girl.