Ashlynn came to large, wooden doors with ornate, metal handles. She had a hard time opening the door because of its weight. When it finally loosened up and opened, she almost fell. She was entering a dignified place, so she straightened herself up. She closed the door behind her and looked around. It was a very large cathedral with old, wooden pews. There were two aisles with a red carpet which led up to an altar. The altar had a podium, and candles surround the altar and aisles. The church was pretty empty except for a few scattered people praying.
Ashlynn saw some long, dark hair on the left. She was looking down, and Ashlynn assumed she caught her in the middle of a prayer, so she approached very quietly. As she got closer, she saw that the woman was smiling at her phone. Ashlynn still didn’t want to interrupt and studied her for a moment. After all, she had not seen her in twelve years! Cera did not age the most, in fact, she looked the youngest, but she had the looks that changed the most. She obviously spent more time on her appearance than she used to, and perhaps living life got her more experience that may have altered her physique. She remember how sheltered Cera was before, and she maintained an adamant attitude towards staying that way. Hopefully she broke out of her shell a little, Ashlynn thought.
Suddenly, Cera noticed someone staring at her out of the corner of her eye, and she became very nervous. She quickly changed what she had been doing on her phone, feeling embarrassed but trying not to let it show. “Just looking up a scripture!” She glanced over and did not expect to see Ashlynn. “Oh my goodness! I thought you were a priest or my parents, but it’s you! Wow, I didn’t recognize you at first!”
They gave each other a hug, and Ashlynn sat next to her. “Do I really look that different?”
“Well, last time I saw you, you were skinny and brunette. Now you’re blonde and..” She blushed, not wanting to finish that sentence.
“Thanks,” Ashlynn said dryly. “You look great! But you act the same as ever. Do you work here or something?”
“No, I just…” Cera looked around to see if anyone besides Ashlynn could hear her. When she saw that no one was close enough to catch wind of their conversation, she said quietly, “Honestly, I’m tired of it. Trying to be perfect is exhausting! I feel like there’s so much of life that I haven’t experienced. Actually, just now, I was being a little naughty on my phone-looking at pictures of men!”
Ashlynn responded, “That’s not naughty, it’s normal. I mean, come on, everyone looks at porn once in a while!”
Cera got really uncomfortable. “Porn? Oh no, I was just looking at boys on a dating site. I’m such a sinner!”
Ashlynn stared blankly. “How is that a sin?”
“Well,” Cera explained, “in my religion, thoughts are considered actions, and I’m sinning at the the thought of what I want those boys to do to me!”
Ashlynn looked a little confused, but decided not to press the issue since she was also pretty amused. “Whatever you’re imagining can’t be that bad if you’ve never seen porn or actual action!”
Cera had not considered this before. She mulled it over for a second and changed the subject. “What are you doing here?”
Ashlynn told her, “Well, I’m back in my hometown-unemployed and living with my parents, just like in high school! One redeeming factor is I have a mission to complete. Tadd had a meltdown and his birthday is in a month. I want him to feel happy again ’cause deep down he is still the same guy and shouldn’t celebrate a milestone like this. Tomorrow, we’re all having dinner together to cheer him up a bit and start planning. I hope you can come!”
“Yes, I hope I can ‘come’ too!” Cera laughed and immediately felt guilty. “I have to go to confession!”
Cera ran down the aisle towards the door that Ashlynn came in and went into a curtained booth. Ashlynn followed her. “So, will you be there?” Cera stuck a thumbs up out the curtain. Ashlynn laughed and left.