Father Andre Delacroix gave himself to God at the age of twelve. He had liked God just fine before that point, but at the age of twelve, he truly understood and appreciated God’s love, and knew that his purpose in life was to be as loving and grateful to God, to repay him for his kindness. He considered him a friend, a companion, who could guide him, and show him the way through the crazy maze that was life.
As he sat at his Father’s funeral, doing his best to suppress a smile, he knew that everything he had ever learned at Sunday School was true. God loved Andre, and God would punish the wicked. He was certain that his whole life, all twelve years of it, had been building to this moment of clarity. While the room around him crumbled into tortured sobs and anguish, Andre could hardly keep from singing.
He could still picture his father falling to the floor, clutching his chest, gasping for air, gasping for God, and though he questioned whether it was an image he should enjoy, Andre was certain it was an image God intended for him to see, so that he could truly understand his love.
He had thought of that image as he had dressed for his father’s funeral. He could almost see it in the mirror before him, as he fashioned the tie around his neck into a messy knot, and combed through each sandy strand of hair he had inherited from the man he was preparing to say goodbye to.
His father’s funeral had pushed him into God’s embrace, each prayer, hymn and eulogy sending Andre a coded message.
“Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.”
While it hurt Andre to watch his mother so distressed, her grief spilling down her cheeks, as she clung to his older brother, howling in despair as loss consumed her, Andre knew that it was God’s will, and the best thing for her, among others. It was better this way. Nobody had to know the truth. It would hurt for a moment, but one day, they’d feel what Andre had felt, and they’d know that God loved them too.
“But the wicked will be cut off from the land And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.”
He felt each shake and tremor, coursing from his mother, through his brother, down onto the pew, and back up to his own body. Pure trauma, leaking into the church, and surrounding its occupants, but, in his new enlightened world, Andre knew that while it was cold, and frightening, it was a message from God, that his children were safe, and that evil had been destroyed. He felt slightly superior, knowing that God was sharing this good news with him, and he considered it a gift, to make up for the journey he had taken to be there, and receive it.
Father Andre Delacroix gave himself to God at the age of twelve, after God killed his father.
“For their calamity will rise suddenly, And who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?”
It had been fifteen years since his father’s funeral, and while he had been to many funerals, as both a mourner and in his capacity as a priest, nothing could prepare him for the funeral of his mother.
Winter was on the way, and had surrounded him as he had walked from the home they had shared to the church, the fall rain marched as one with relentless icy winds, down the streets of New Orleans, yanking at his well meaning but ineffective coat, and reminding him of just how alone he really was, despite the community passing him by, with warm wishes that couldn’t hope to bring any relief.
After watching so many collapse under pain of loss, offering as much comfort as a bible verse and a listening ear could give, he finally understood the devastating ache of death stealing your heart, and devouring it in front of you. All he could do was stare, motionless at his mother, so close, but out of his reach, and wonder if he had been wrong for all those years.
As Andre grew up, he had taken many steps to distance himself from his father. Dying his hair, reverting to his mother’s maiden name, and perhaps most important of all, choosing a life of worship and service to the church, so that he would always be sure that he was purer than the man who had made him. He dug his fingernails into his palm, pleading with the tears to stop, and some words to come. His brother was at his side, locked in his own turmoil, and Andre ached, so sure that he had caused it all. His bastard father was ruining his life, even though he had been dead for years.
He had seen her again last night. The girl. She had been sat on the end of his bed, legs crossed, a few strands of her once immaculately plaited hair strewn across her tear stained face. They stared each other out for a few moments, before she spoke. He didn’t want to look, and a part of him thought that regardless of his revulsion, he shouldn’t look anyway, but she, despite her small stature, was in control of his gaze, and she wanted him to look.
“You liked to watch, didn’t you Andre?” He tried to shake his head, but as usual, he was frozen. Shame and guilt washed over him as he continued. “It’s in your blood.” Her eyes fell upon the blanket, and she sighed in a way far beyond her years, and he didn’t dare to follow their path. “Just like your father.” Her words burned, like the hands of Satan himself, and Andre felt the air around him cool to icy depths, and then suddenly rise to hellish fire, over and over, as her torture continued. “Your daddy was a rapist and one day, you’ll grow up to be just like him.” He knew it wasn’t true. He had felt sickened by his father, then and now, but the repetition of her accusations left him in tears of anger and helplessness all the same.
“I tried to help you.” He spat. He was drowning in disgust, once so sure of his good virtues, but feeling more abandoned by them with every passing second. “I tried to make him stop!”
He did try, as much as a twelve year old boy could, when nobody believed that his father was a peadophile. He prayed, to the only person he thought would listen. He prayed to God that his father would stop.
“I made him stop.” He whispered, his voice shaking as much as his body. He was sure it was true, and he had seen God’s proof that it must be, but, as was always the case when he saw her, he couldn’t make himself believe it.
“No.” She advanced on him, his body frozen and full of fear. “Invierno made it stop.” It normally never went on this long. He could normally pull himself from the horror of his past, but tonight, the past was persistent. “You and your God were too weak, so she had to protect me.” He had never heard that name before either. Invierno. “Invierno!” The name echoed as she screamed it, almost on top of him. He closed his eyes tightly, praying even though, in that moment, he had never felt so abandoned by God.
As quickly as she had arrived, she was gone, though the scars of her visit left Andre with a sweat covered body, and a sleepless night. He had struggled into the day, knowing he had to be strong, but unable to work out how to do so when faced with the only thing he had feared more than her presence.
Back in the blinding daylight, that poured in through the stained glass, casting a rainbow on a sombre scene, Andre tried to cast her from his mind, leaving the nightmares to the night, but he couldn’t escape the feeling that he had been mistaken. History had shown that there were often none more foolish than the young, and he was beginning to think, as he waded through a constant state of horror and dread, that he had been arrogant to believe that his father had been the only wicked one in his family line.
As he sat, silently, across from his mother, watching the service, and counting in his head, to keep him busy before it was his turn to speak, he couldn’t quite silence the voice that echoed inside of his mind, as he waited to say goodbye to his mother for the last time.
“You and your God were too weak, so she had to protect me.”
Father Andre Delacroix gave himself to Invierno at the age of twenty seven, after Invierno told him the truth about God.