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After the Sun Sets

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Summary

Lora grew up in a Catholic family and never doubted her faith. When her older sister commits suicide, Lora steps in to take care of her two young nieces and make sure their father, Jonathan, does not wander down the wrong path. Despite being several years older, Jonathan develops a liking to her and asks her to marry him. For the outside world, the two are a perfect example of true love, with young Lora sticking by her husband's side even after his crippling car accident. But nothing can be farther from the truth. And when she meets Dr Owen Shaw, the neurosurgeon treating her husband, Lora's world is shaken to its core as he fills her with emotions she doesn't know she is capable of and makes her question everything she knows. DISCLAIMERS *This story addresses disputes experienced in small Catholic communities, extreme beliefs and lifestyle choices and their effects on people. **There are no heroes or villains. Only victims. ***This story is based on real people and events. ****All religions (and lack thereof) are RESPECTED. This story in no way aims to disrespect or shed a bad light on any religion or belief.

Genre:
Romance / Drama
Author:
Alias Tummas
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
28
Rating:
5.0 1 review
Age Rating:
18+

Prologue

“Sacrifice should be an everyday habit. A way of life.”

The little girl with big, brown eyes stood on her tiptoes and scrunched her face towards the pulpit. She could only see part of the priest’s face and only when he leaned a little to the right. They were sitting in the third pew, right behind a giant of a man who would have seen just fine had he sat at the very back of the church, thank you very much.

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship,” the priest read from the holy scripture, his voice echoing through the halls of the vast church. “What does this mean? It means that we need to offer our living bodies, our life, our actions to God. Holy and pleasing. And so, every day our actions, our decisions have to be holy and pleasing. Remember! The Lord does not force us to obey. He sent His son to guide us. The Good Shepherd. He wants us to choose His ways, His path over our own mortal desires.”

The little girl’s siblings giggled beside her and her concentration broke. She peeped over at them. Her elder sister had her hands over her mouth to hide her wide grin. Her brother was trying to keep a straight face and he would have fooled her if it weren’t for the mischievous glint in his almond eyes.

“Is iiit... the moon?” he whispered out of the corner of his mouth.

Their sister giggled furiously and the little girl scowled at them. They were very much older than her and they always left her out of their jokes.

“How could it be the moon, stupid? We’re inside!”

“Maybe your little eye spied Father Louis’s bald head,” the young boy snickered, causing the teenage girl’s body to shake uncontrollably.

Their mother glared at them severely before catching their father’s eye and nodded towards the misbehaving children. The father turned to the guilty girl and wordlessly pulled on her ear. That’s all it took for the pair to become silent, their eyes solemnly back on the altar.

The little girl rolled her eyes dramatically and huffed, upset that she missed what the priest was saying.

“So you see? That is the ultimate sacrifice! To give ourselves to the Lord by living for His son, Jesus, every day, in spite of temptation, in spite of our trials and our tragedies. To give ourselves to each other and in return, be clean and holy and fit to receive the gift of eternal life and live in His Glory.”

The little girl looked up at her mother, then at her father and she understood perfectly what Father Louis was saying. It was what her parents did for her and her siblings every day. They chose them. Just like God wanted. They worked for them. They cooked for them. When they went out on Sundays, they went to the places they wanted. Well, mostly to the places she wanted. Her sister barely came along with them anymore and her brother was already complaining that he’d rather go anywhere else with his friends.

This often made their mother upset and dad would have to step in with his low but strong tone and harsh glare and send the young boy cowering to change his shoes and get his jacket.

The little girl always felt some satisfaction at this, but she suspected that it wasn’t because she thought her daddy was right. No. Mostly, she was jealous that her brother and sister preferred to go out with their friends, leaving her all alone when she so terribly wanted to fit in with them.

She lowered her head with guilt. Jealousy was an ugly sin. It wasn’t sacrificing her living body, holy and pleasing, to God. She wasn’t as good as her parents who never had bad thoughts, who never said bad words and always did kind deeds for them and their neighbours. She still had a lot to learn.

“And it’s not easy, brothers! Sisters! Especially in this day and age when temptation is not just around every corner but right here with us, around us, staring us in the face! Women wanting to leave their homes and going to work, eating away from the time they should be spending with their families. Why? Greed? Ambition? Self-fulfilment? And men going to places that are foul and unholy when they should be at home with their wives! Occupying their time so they don’t get bored. Taking good care of them so they won’t need to look for contentedness elsewhere. Being an exemplary figure for their sons and daughters.

“Children are growing up too soon, getting the wrong ideas from the television. What is the media today teaching them? That humans can do anything! They can be even greater than God! Be rough like a man, as if men are not sensitive. Wear revealing clothing and makeup, as if that is what makes a woman. No! Men and women are so much more than that in the eyes of the Lord.”

Towards the back of the church, a little boy with curly, light brown hair and infinite green eyes observed his mother. He noticed her dark eyes and red lips. She was tired. She barely slept. He heard her crying long after his dad left in the middle of the night.

He hadn’t come back this morning but he will. He will come while his mother is sleeping. He will call her lazy and she will pretend she didn’t hear him. And then she will wash her face, put on her headphones, turn on her computer and work until it is time for dinner.

He turned back to the priest, trying to connect the dots. Trying to apply the man’s resounding words to his reality.

“Humans are strong yet soft. They are there for one another, always kind. They are the pillars, the foundation of the Catholic Church. They offer shelter to the community. They are capable of great love. Love beyond what is rational. Love for others that is greater than our needs, our instinct, our appetites.”

The little boy fidgeted with the hem of his shirt. Needs, instinct, appetites. That was something he could relate to. But what is this greater love he spoke of? And what does it have to do with one’s needs?

“For we are not individual men and women,” Father Louis went on. “We are one. One living body of love, of holiness, of a life that is pleasing to the Lord. And that is our sacrifice.”

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