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What to Do When You Forsake the Sixth Commandment | Maja Domagała

CHOICE #1: CONFESS

Murder is a mortal sin. But was it considered murder when David killed Goliath? His witnesses praised him, but there is no one here to deem you righteous. The stone in your hand is heavy, heavy, heavy, and you wonder if David launched his to rid himself of the weight of his conscience. Yours is firm in your palm, coated with blood and —

(Oh God, breathe. Breathe. Hold back the tears. You are used to this, far too used to this. Teeth gnaw your bottom lip, raw — )

More blood. Blood in your mouth, iron on the tongue. Blood shed for someone else, call that an emulation of Christ, call it martyrdom. No one else will see it that way though. You have come forward in the past, showing the bruises on your arms to those who are supposed to be your saviors, only to be told, it is not enough. Your vision blurs, shifting beyond the rock, lower, lower, lower —

(Oh God, oh God, oh fuck. Your husband, he is — )

Dead on the ground. Deader than dead. A shaky laugh escapes you. Deader than dead, what does that mean? Who is dead here? He is dead. There is a terrible stench in the air that almost makes you gag. Bloodied dirt, dirtied blood. Your garden is likening itself to a mausoleum. And that could have been you. You could have been dead. Dead on the ground. Deader than dead, if you did not do what you did, when you did, how you did it. Who will believe you? Who will believe that he wanted you dead, his own wife? How did those vows go? Until death do you part

(Oh God, breathe — )

St. Joseph’s Church. It comes to you like a revelation. Over the fence, there is the church that you were married in, the only building nearby aside from your home. Today is Saturday, the same day you often find yourself kneeling in a priest’s booth, confessing your sins. You can imagine yourself saying, Father, my husband, he’s — he’s dead. The priest would meet you with silence, and then, distantly: Oh, Lord… why do terrible ends befall good men? You are afraid you would laugh. You are afraid you would devolve into sobs. Why? Why don’t any of you understand

(Breathe.)

CHOICE #2: HIDE THE BODY

You breathe. You breathe, and you think, and you rationalize. Honesty is a virtue, so you face it — you never believed in God, and He never had much faith in you either. You are not good, you will never be good, the blood on your hands is your witness. There is no absolution for this. They will not find you at Confession this Sunday for your routine spiritual flagellation.

(Your husband attended weekly Mass but never went to Confession himself. It drove you mad, how he could not admit that he had done wrong. Not to you, not to the priest, not even to himself. He could not admit that raising an open-palmed hand to you was not honoring you to the rest of the days of his life. He could not admit a damn thing. Maybe you are less David and Goliath, and more Adam and Eve. Men refusing responsibility for their actions, women taking the blame. Humankind repeats, and repeats, and repeats.)

What would have happened to Eden if only Adam had been punished? What would have happened if God made an example of him instead of Eve? What would have happened if God asked Eve to return Adam’s body to the Earth? To dig a wide, wide, wide hole in the middle of Eden and lower him in? Cover him with dirt, let it be his penance. Allow Eve to return to the Garden and plant new seeds. Eden cleansed; Eden rebirthed under her harmless hand.

(But if you buried your husband in your garden, his body would rot it. You could drag him into the shed, the one he had planned to put you in. Someone would find him though. It would be a temporary solution. Think, think. Keep thinking.)

CHOICE #3: ASK FOR SOME GODDAMN HELP

So, you are not Eve either. You have always tried to be — Adam and Eve, Eve and Adam, Adam and Eve — but you are not. If you were, you would have not found salvation in a woman whose unrepentance made her holy. Maybe that is when you abandoned God: When you found religion on her lips, your shared kiss a sacred prayer. You could make new hymns together, you and her.

(You are not good; you are not good. You too have forsaken your vows. I promise to be true to you — )

But what do vows mean when circumstances change? When you find yourself nursing wounds and wondering, How did it get like this? What did I do wrong? When he tells you, Sorry, I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, and it does, and it does, and it does. How does this compare to a woman letting you into her home, cradling your face with gentle fingers, and without promising it aloud, loving you more than someone who swore they would?

(You should have been more careful. You should have not let him notice. He had been so angry — )

If you came to her with this, you know she would not turn you away. What she would do is simple. She would hold you close. She would tell you that it is okay. She would offer you forgiveness, even though she does not have the authority and you are unsure you deserve it. She would tell you that you would figure it out together. But that would not be enough. Her arms would tremble around you. There would be an unsure twist to her lips. She did not agree to this. She did not agree to the sleepless nights that would come. Who is to say she would not let you go? Trepidation has an insatiable hunger. It has devoured you alive. It is nibbling at the bare bones you have left.

(You cannot do that to her. You cannot be her ruin.)

CHOICE #4: RUN, THE WAY YOU ALWAYS ACHED

Ever since you were a child, you knew you were not meant for this. You knew you were not meant for the Church, and you knew you were not meant to have a husband, and you knew you were not meant to be a pious woman. Now, you do not know much of anything. All you know is that there is still the same urge tugging at you as when you were a child. The one that tells you to leave it all behind. To become anew. Are you worthy of a Resurrection?

(Running is the easiest answer. It is the simplest. Once you start running though, you will be chased by everything you left behind. The person you were supposed to be. The husband you could not face on most days. The woman you love but can’t bear to hurt. The crushing sense that once you start, you will never stop.)

Ding-dong! Ding-dong! Not far from you, St. Joseph Church’s bell tolls, as though to ask, Are you prepared? Are you prepared? It rings in your ears, forcing you to return. Return to the nauseating stench. Return to the deader than dead body. Return to the sun rising over the horizon. God have mercy, God have mercy. People are fragile; people are cowards.

One way or another, you will take care of this. But hurry, hurry. Think. God can only avert His eyes for so long. You were always good at burying things. This will be no different.





Maja Domagała (they/she) is an undergraduate creative writing student at Hamilton College. They were born in Nysa, Poland and raised in Philadelphia, PA. Their writing often centers lesbianism, gender identity, immigration, and mental health and has been published in Arcturus. You can find them on Twitter @mhdoma_.

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