Featuring a personage from the fifth line.
The man with the torn left ear put his weight into the heavy doors of the cathedral. He had to blink several times before his eyes re-adjusted to the sharp contrast in light. Outside was bright as the noonday sun but inside resembled a dungeon. He thought he was alone until he heard murmurs from the left, whispers to the right, and something like chanting coming from behind the rack of candles.
It had been five years since the man with the the torn ear last stepped inside the cold, damp walls of the cathedral. It had not been five years since his last confession, but it had been 1825 days since he was left at the altar. He was warned; he didn’t listen. As he walked down the center aisle, careful not to touch the dark mahogany pews, he noticed seven other people. One old couple hunched together and the rest spread out throughout the holy hollows. And then he saw her. He knew it was the girl with the argyle socks even before he ducked down to check. She was sitting three rows from the altar, her back against the pew and her head tilted up.
The man with the torn ear gingerly slid in behind her. He didn’t think that she heard him because she didn’t flinch. Yet, she spoke before he had a chance to decide whether to lean back or towards her.
“I told you she would leave you.”
“I also told you not to play in that game.”
The girl with the argyle socks turned around, her eyes were lined with bright crimson streaks, and her hair a tangled mass of black. “Look at what they did to your ear.”
The man reflexively reached for it with his left hand. The lobe was still intact, but half of the outer cartilage had been ripped and didn’t heal properly. When he was anxious, he would pick at his ear until it bled. The girl with the argyle socks continued to look at him.
“I want you to come with me,” he said before she could turn back around.
“I can’t,” she said as she leaned forward, sniffing the minty air around his face. “I’m waiting for someone.”
The man with the torn ear wanted to insist, wanted to grab her wrists and pull her away from the parallelograms of non-action and meditation. He didn’t want to believe that she could be waiting for anyone else.
“I mean it,” the girl said. “I can’t move from this spot or I might miss him.”
The man with the torn ear sighed and nodded. The girl with the argyle socks was always waiting for someone or some thing. Whatever was right in front of her was never the reward for her patience. This time, though, her resolve paid off, as far as he could tell. Minutes after she told him she couldn’t leave with him, the man with the torn ear saw the reason why.
The man with the rifle seemed to emerge from the shadows in the far, south corner. He was upon her in a matter of seconds, glancing at but not fully acknowledging the man with the torn ear. The man with the rifle enfolded his long fingers around the girl’s right hand and pulled her up. She gave the man with the torn ear one last look before being led out into the burning sky.