Miss Cherry used to frequent the church a lot. She wasn’t after quick fixes or anything of that sort. There was a community with warm hearts and the youth programs run by the church were very child friendly. She could always find an eager child minder amongst the faithful.
Father Miguel was not the typical priest-though he appeared to be exactly that to the average church goer. Sporting a long main of dark hair and wearing a glum face-he delivered his sermons from the pews every Sunday morning.
One peculiar Sunday-Miss Cherry had a troubling issue on her mind that she could not put up with for much longer. She sat nervously on one of the long row of pews. The pews were way too many, outnumbering the thin herd that graced the priests Sunday sermons.
She twiddled her fingers and bit her lips softly, as impatience gnawed away at her senses. She wanted to jump off her seat and drag Father Miguel straight to her doorstep.
Sarah-Lou was sat next to her and seemed to be quite occupied with staring at the dark corners of the Church. There seemed to be odd shapes moving across the wall. Sarah-Lou giggled to herself and knocked her ankles together, as shimmering lights cascaded across her giddy face.
After a few harrowing hours of enduring the priest’s lengthy sermon, the mass was finally over. The priest proceeded to the exit and engaged in shaking hands with people, as they trooped out of the arched passage way at the front of the large cathedral.
Miss Cherry waited patiently for everyone to leave. She held tightly unto Sarah-Lou's wrist and did not allow her to leave the pew where they were sat.
“I am bored mummy!”
“Isn’t it time to go yet?” Sarah-Lou muttered, as she attempted to pull her arm back from Miss Cherry’s grip.
Miss Cherry turned her face away from her unruly, impatient ward and caught a glimpse of the approaching priest. Father Miguel was flicking through the pages of a Bible, as he walked towards Miss Cherry’s pew. He seemed to be so engrossed in what he was doing that he started to walk straight past them without noticing that they hadn’t left yet.
Miss Cherry leapt from her seat and dragged Sarah-Lou along with her and trailed behind the priest.
“Father Miguel! A moment of your time, please!” Miss Cherry waved at the jumpy priest, as he turned abruptly to face her.
“Oh! Cherry! I didn’t see you standing there!”
“Is there something I can do for you?” father Miguel laughed, as he tugged on his collar with his fingers.
Miss Cherry looked behind her and around her-then she moved closer to the priest and spoke discretely, “I need some help with something; something that the doctors haven’t been able to help with. My daughter-she sees things and won’t stop talking to some woman that just isn’t real. She doesn’t even sleep much anymore.”
“Will you do a blessing at my home?”
“Uh, I guess that could be arranged. I haven’t got much on my plate at the moment, so I guess I could come to your home right now. Wait here while I get my tools.” Father Miguel gestured with his hands, as he walked away from Miss Cherry and Sarah-Lou.
The priest soon strapped himself into the front seat of Miss Cherry’s old beetle car.
“Okay, I am all kitted up now! Lets get out of here!” Father Miguel grinned, as he casually wrapped a religious scarf round his neck.
Miss Cherry drove the car slowly away from the front of the cathedral. It was a slow, silent drive. The priest had his eyes shut during the entire journey. It was almost as if he was doing some sort of meditation ritual.
When they arrived at Miss Cherry’s home, She and Sarah-Lou entered the front door first. The priest trailed behind them. He took off his black hat and placed it on the coat hanger.
“Shall we hold hands and make a circle.” The priest stretched out both of his hands, wearing a stern but reassuring look on his face.
Miss Cherry placed her hand in Father Miguel’s coarse, and wide hand. Sarah-Lou was a bit skeptical about participating in what the priest was about to do. She looked up at him with apprehension in her eyes.
“Go on Sarah-Lou! Father Miguel isn’t going to hurt you!” Miss Cherry winked at Sarah-Lou.
With frayed nerves, the hesitant child reluctantly placed both of her hands in Miss Cherry’s and Father Miguel’s hands.
The priest proceeded to recite verses from our lords prayer and the psalms. He repeated the lines several times.
Unexpectedly, there was a disturbance in the house. The floor beneath their feet tremored violently and things started to fall off the shelf. An aery wind tore through the insides of the house.
“This is bad! This is really bad!” The priest shouted, as he looked at the ruckus that was unfolding around him.
He quickly disentangled his hands from Sarah-Lou and Miss Cherry. He sprinted towards his black bag and fished out some odd-looking items.
The Native American priest grinded some animal bones to powder and burnt it in a small crucible. He smiled to himself and waved his hands over the bowl, doing a chant. His eyes brimmed with confidence, as he moved closer to the little girl.
“Don’t let him near me. He is going to hurt me mummy.”
“No! No!” Sarah-Lou screamed, clutching tightly to Miss Cherry’s leg.
Miss Cherry tried to bury her emotions. She wanted so desperately to spare the child any discomfort, but she could not dismiss most of what she had seen. She couldn’t explain any of the weird, strange things that had befallen her since Sarah-Lou was thrust into her life by the most unforeseen of circumstances. Her sister-Grace-had died suddenly of unknown medical causes which was very strange. Grace was as fit as a fiddle and enjoyed being very physically active.
She cycled every morning with Sarah-Lou strapped in a carrier on her chest. The very moment when the Police knocked on Miss Cherry’s door to deliver the tragic message was still very raw and fresh in her memory. The emotion that overwhelmed her on that black day, and the warmth of an infant that had been thrust into her care, played on her senses.
She wanted desperately not to let her dead sister down. She wanted to do right by Sarah-Lou, even if it meant giving in to unorthodox, unscientific things that she didn’t believe in.
She held Sarah-Lou down while the Native Indian Priest blew the smoke from the crucible over Sarah-Lou's face. The child screamed and yelled. Black veins sprouted quickly on the child’s neck, as she twisted and turned, breaking free from Miss Cherry’s grip. She had become unusually strong, growling like a big dog.
“There is nothing for you to save here priest. You should not have come. He won’t help her, you know.” The little girl smirked, chuckling loudly.
“I know, creature. That’s why I’m doing things the other way. This will be very painful for you if you do not depart willingly,” the Shaman spoke calmly, keeping his feet firmly rooted to the spot where he stood.
The girl growled and opened her mouth really loud, coughing out black gunk. There were nails and razors amongst the black gunk. The little girl picked up a razor and cut her wrist with it, smiling at the Native American Priest as she unwillingly hurt herself.
“You can’t do that! Please, don’t hurt the Child!” the priest shouts.
“Oh I’m not-I’m hurting you,” the little girl snarled.
“The Authorities would love to learn how a deluded priest hurt a little girl with his brutal archaic practices,” Sarah-Lou Smirked.
The Priest was about to reach out for Sarah-Lou when the front door fell through. Policemen came rushing in, pointing their weapons at the priest. He dropped the herbs and wicker doll that was in his hands, falling to his knees. The officers put him in cuffs and dragged him off, reading him his rights.
Everything Miss Cherry had witnessed was dismissed as some sort of Night terror manifesting as a dream before her eyes. Her family psychologist thought she was simply stressed and recommended strong sleeping medication.
Sarah-Lou seemed to have quit her withdrawn and erratic behavior. Days had passed without any further incident and Miss Cherry was beginning to enjoy some semblance of normality in her life. Her home seemed to be less hostile towards her and she ceased to have feelings of claustrophobia-the kind that felt as though someone was constantly invading her personal space.