Short story: RESTRAINT

**The following is a FICTION STORY**

The more repressed you are, the more desperate you are for power.

Sixteen years-old attending a strictly religious private school — chains, so many heavy chains. Your own home is a prison when your parents keep you under constant surveillance. And the only freedom from home is yet another form of jail. The teachers, the principal, and even your own classmates who wouldn’t hesitate to go running and report you for breaking the rules — everyone is watching you. Their eyes are the chains. 

The only way to survive was surrounding myself by people like me, who were so desperate for freedom, so power-hungry that we would do anything for just a moment of slight relief. A slight relief from these heavy chains. 

There are many ways you can break the rules. You can decide not to do your homework, or choose not to study for a class. You can shut your ears off during lessons, dozing off into a limitless daydream. These things sound so small, but they can take you so far. 

The look that your teacher gives you when they hand back a failed test, or leave their palms out empty-handed when you don’t have an assignment to give them. That moment when they realize that they can’t control you. They can give you detention or punish you in any other way — but that’s because you made them. It sounds so little, so minuscule, but these are the tiny ways you fight for power when you’re feeling repressed. 

The slippery grades were only the tip of the iceberg, especially by the age of sixteen. When you belong to a deeply religious school, you get abstinence shoved down your throat every day. That was the opposite of what all my friends and I were doing. And every act of lust was payback for the teachers, the parents, the priests — all of the authority figures who chained us down. 

I felt a demon growing inside of me, though, when I had fallen into the habit of casual meetups. I started questioning who I was really rebelling against. Were these chains repressing me or actually keeping me safe? I reached a point where I could no longer handle the emotional toll of what I was doing. 

My best friend yanked me aside after class one day, senior year. She asked if we could have a private talk somewhere, so I nodded as we walked towards the woods where no one could hear us. She had a confession to make. 

She told me that she had been fooling around with one of the priests at our school. My heart sank. That’s when it became all too real. She wasn’t proud of it, but I believe that I was more scared about it than her. 

I could only imagine how powerful it had made her feel. To be merely a student, a minor with no rights, a complete subjection to authority — and have such power over nearly the most powerful person here — must’ve been a trip. But as powerful as she was, she was just as much a victim. 

At first, I thought she had come to me for advice, or at the very least a cry for help. I certainly wasn’t the right person to come to about this. All I could say was “tell someone,” because that always seems like the right thing to do — even though I often resent those type of people. I told her to tell someone — not me — someone who matters, someone who can actually do something about this. Let’s get this disgusting man in trouble!

But I quickly realized that she wasn’t asking for help at all. She just wanted to tell me. And then she begged me to keep it a secret. In fact, I almost got the feeling that she was bragging. Was she? Maybe not. I wasn’t sure. I had no idea what to think, honestly. 

All I knew was that this had become too real. We were on the verge of graduating, going out into the real world. Everything from skipping class to hooking up with random boys behind the school was all fun and games until it wasn’t. Who were we rebelling against — the authorities or our souls?

I fell out of touch with that best friend, and most of my other similar friends, as I transformed into someone who I said I’d never be. I became a nun. 

No longer running from a life of chains, I now embraced it. But this time, these chains were not being forced upon me. I had chosen them.

I spent the next ten years trying to undo the person I had become in my school years. I was tiptoeing very close to becoming that school girl who had the affair with her priest. I was almost that girl.

And now, ten years later, I belong to a convent… and there is a priest here who reminds me of the one from school. It’s not him, but it looks a little bit like him. What reminds me most is that charm. And it scares me. It makes me wonder if he’s as capable of the same abuse. 

But he’s different. I remind myself, just because he reminds me of him, doesn’t mean that he is the same exact person. When young girls, teenage girls, come to service on Sundays, I watch him a little more closely. I try to protect these young girls in a way that I was unable to protect my best friend back then. 

And then I go back and forth — once again, reminding myself that this is not him. It’s a new man. It’s a man I only met last year since he joined this church. 

I’m having a flashback to sixteen, when Father Arden called me to his office on the loudspeaker. We nicknamed him “Father Arson” — at the time because all of my girlfriends and I thought he was hot, but now I still refer to that name in my head for a completely different reason — because he’s a criminal and a destructor. 

I recall him subtly flirting with me. At the time, I thought it was in my head. But you get older, and you learn the difference between appropriate verses inappropriate. He placed his hand on my shoulder and let it linger there too long, as it nearly cupped my chest. All I had to do was tilt back slightly, I could’ve even pretended it was an accident, and he would’ve felt me up. But I didn’t. I wonder if that’s what happened to my friend — did he give her a window and she followed? Or did she not even have a choice?

So, when I’m walking through the church — in present day — this new man, this completely different priest, Father Noah greets me with a smile and subtly brushes his arm against mine, almost as if it’s an accident, but it’s most certainly not. And I wonder if I’m overreacting or not. 

Thus, I watch him like a hawk. I take notice of him around other women — but most especially young girls — to see if he does the same. I’m not a schoolgirl constantly being watched anymore — I’m an adult with actual rights and authority. But now I am watching him, and these eyes are his chains. 

Here is the irony. When I was sixteen, I thought I was reclaiming my power by being promiscuous. In reality, I was giving my power away. Today, I am a celibate nun, and I’ve actually never felt more power. I have chained down my power and reserved it only for God — this is the only power exchange that comes right back to you. 

And now the only being who threatens my power is the priest who is killing me slowly. The space between us and our joint promises of chastity will always keep us apart. But no one really remembers much about the people they’ve slept with… The people you toss and turn over, obsess over, are the ones that you never had.


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