Friday, September 10, 2004

Alice and the Sacred Monster

ON SUNDAY MORNING, ALICE WICKERMAN excuses herself from breakfast and teeters into the hall. Frederick, her father, goes about chewing his sausage and dipping his pancakes in pools of syrup until he hears the distinctly unappetizing sound of retching coming from the direction of the downstairs bathroom. He sets his fork down, sausage still dangling from the end, shuffles over and knocks on the bathroom door. "You OK in there, honey?"

His question is met with more vomiting. Pushing the door open, he finds his daughter kneeling before the toilet, pale as a fish dredged out of an ocean trench, fifty thousand fathoms down. "Oh, touch of the old flu, eh?"

She wipes her mouth on the back of her hand and smiles weekly at her father. "Nope. I'm just pregnant."

This comes as quite a surprise as Alice, a devout Catholic since she forced her father to have her baptized at the age of seven, has a reputation unimpeachable, even by the most jaded skeptic's snickering. Faith, pure but hardly simple. That her virginity remains intact is a matter of faith to which Alice's Priest, Father Jose can attest, as he has been her confessor since she signed herself up for catechism class at age eleven. Ever since she hit puberty six months later, the girl's near constant visits had rattled the poor Fathers mind on its hinges, so detailed are her confessions of even the most trivial transgression of the most esoteric edict of the Holy See.

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