The Beloved Woman's Punishment
Odette Lavigne, an affluent, riveting, and famous woman in Paris, watched agonizingly as her elder sister confessed her sins to Saint Garnier. Felix Garnier was the Pope of Chapelle du Saint-Esprit, a young man in his early 30s; dark-haired, spotless, and athletically built. He had the demeanor of a fox, cunning.
Belladonna Lavigne knelt at his feet, staring intently at his newly polished shoes. She didn’t dare glance up when she spoke, didn’t once meet the man’s cold eyes:
”I….” Bella paused, Odette could see her body trembling with fear, “I confess…the rumors are-“
She was cut off, ”Speak louder, Mademoiselle Lavigne.” Saint Garnier spat the words out like a deadly venom, glaring at the young woman who knelt on her knees before him.
Belladonna flinched, then cleared her throat and continued,
”I confess that…the rumors of me are true. I have indeed been sleeping with other men, men other than my husband.” she spoke in an unstable voice.
The people of the church gasped, their eyes widening. The words hit Odette hard, like a dagger to the heart...sinking in deeper and deeper the longer she processed those few sentences her dear sister had spoken.
No, they would kill her.
The pope narrowed his dark eyes, now clenching the silver dagger in his fist, its blade covered in the dried crimson of the citizens of Paris, France;
“Very well then, Belladonna Lavigne. I believe this cannot be forgiven. As written in Hebrews 13:4,” he pulled a scroll from his pocket, then began to read from the yellowed parchment,
”Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Felix Garnier’s guttural voice echoed throughout the large room of the church, bouncing off the colorful stained glass and back to the center where a beloved Belladonna knelt.
The Pope turned to his bishops, the members of the highest order of the ministry; he waved his hand at The Lavigne’s oldest child as if he were shooing away a fly,
”Take her. She must be punished.”
Belladonna yelped as she was gripped by the men, a scream leaped from her throat,
”No! I apologize, I-I was simply curious, as there were no other jobs I could take; I needed the money!” she shrieked, obviously in distress and fear for her own precious life.
The man they called their Saint let out a low chuckle, then knelt at the young woman’s level and tipped her chin up to meet his sneer,
”They say curiously killed the cat, Mademoiselle. Now, Kitty, say farewell to your ninth life.” he jeered.
Odette looked away as Belladonna was dunked into the bath of holy water, and held down as she kicked and struggled. The eldest Lavigne’s movements became puny; she stopped struggling as she went entirely limp in the water, bubbles floating up to the surface from her red-lipped mouth.
Odette began to pule, choking back her screams of terror and fury. The woman Saint Garnier had called ‘Kitty’ floated up to the surface, her fire-red hair sticking to her face in wet strands. Her beautiful blue eyes were blank, any signs of light had fled them.
She was gone, dragged down into eternal hell as the church always said.
Her body was bathed in the warm sunlight of the afternoon, and the colors of the stained glass reflected off of the waters- Odette Lavigne believed it was far too gorgeous of sight for something so tragic.
The pope peered into the crowd of people, some young and some old, with a look of insanity in his eyes,
”Well, who’s next?” he barked.
Nobody stood; no one moved a muscle. Every citizen simply observed the lifeless body of the woman whom they had adored. She was the oldest child of a well-known family, the wealthiest family in the country:
They have been rumored to keep many dirty secrets hidden from the church, the church that controlled them like puppets hung by strings. This was just one of the confidential things that the family had hidden for so long, so as not to destroy their reputation.
After all, even as Belladonna’s body lay in the tub of holy water now, Mr. and Mrs. Lavigne would not let go. A good reputation kept them stable, it kept the rich family afloat in the ocean of crimson blood that was their city. Their country.
Saint Garnier scowled, giving Odette Lavigne, who was the youngest and considered the most beautiful of the daughters, a glare out of the corner of his eye.
The young red-headed woman dabbed at her tears with a silk cloth, her eyes darkened over with melancholy and pure, raw fear. She tried to cover up this fear, staring only at the maroon velvet of her ballgown.
Fear was what the Pope fed off of, then fed it to the God he served.
Though he claimed to be a saint, Felix Garnier was Satan himself; he was the Devil in the horrible disguise of a pope.