A/N: Written in a spur of inspiration; a whim fic. No religious bashing intended, really... and I don't own anything, but that's obvious.
One afternoon, as Aja sat in premeditated wonder in front of the crappy church's grand piano after a long day of utter BS, she had never so badly wished to be musically inclined. After treading on the sostenuto pedal – that is, the one that ensured the entire room wouldn't be engulfed with her completely inexperienced note-prodding – she pressed down on an assortment of haphazard white keys, disconnected, melody-drone voices yelping back at her. She laid her fingers down flat, vulnerable to the bitter alabaster glare of the keys – and the people in the pews behind her.
Aja wished she could be musically inclined, but that would require passion, and Aja didn't have passion. At most, she had passiveness. She was a nebula: a cloud of dust and gas, only she'd never become a star; those were too high-maintenance.
The voice, however gentle, made her jump an inch off the sturdy bench seat. Aja twitched her lips in an attempt at a smile; priests unnerved her. They wore their stark white clothes like a veil of chastity and benevolence. Aja didn't understand how it was possible to be doused in white and buttoned up in a delicate straitjacket all your life. Reverence, it seemed, intimidated her.
"What brings you here?" the priest asked in his warm, inviting voice. He was an old, dark-skinned man wearing a pair of awkwardly fitting glasses and, of course, white.
Aja shifted uncomfortably. "Nothing, really. Just thinking about stuff." She slid out from under the harborage of the grand piano and smoothed down her black pencil skirt. She wondered for one sinful second what it would be like to try and seduce a priest, but wiped the thought away when he shot her another of his priestly smiles, only this one was a bit different. She felt like a glass sheet – he was seeing right through her.
"Well, if you'd like to talk, I'll be in the confession room." He bowed his bald, sinless head and headed for a narrow door at the back of the church.
Aja stood there for an aimless, hovering moment, deciding whether to sit back down or leave. There were only a few other people in the small church, ten at most, and they all looked absorbed in their own business. As her sharp black-brown eyes scanned the vicinity, she noticed a young woman at one of the frontal pews, kneeling and basketing her face in her hands. If one looked closely, they could see that her shoulders were shuddering with quiet sobs.
And if one looked from afar, they could tell that her chestnut brown roots were starting to grow back into her washed out, dyed blonde hair, and needed urgently to schedule an appointment with her hairdresser.
To speak or not to speak? It was ironic that Aja was being faced with a Good Samaritan situation in a church. Come on. Karma's going to screw you over soon; you might as well lessen the damage. After a brief game of 'should I or shouldn't I,' she started for the young woman. She'd hardly made it past the first row of pews when an ear-splitting ringing sound sliced through the consecrated air.
Embarrassed as every pair of eyes in the room drew to her, she slid her cell phone open. "Hello," she practically snapped into the receiver.
The reception was crappy, or maybe it was the fault of her phone, which was crappy too.
"Who is this?"
Maybe she would've responded differently had she known this phone conversation would change everything, pick up her boxed life and shake it so that the contents bumped and shattered and splattered. Maybe she would've just ignored the call if only she had caller ID; maybe if she'd spent just one more hour on the phone with her boss (who had fired her just this morning) and she didn't have anymore minutes on her phone, she wouldn't have picked up.
But life didn't give you options like that, and karma certainly would not be permitting Aja any get out of jail free cards anytime soon.
"Who's this?" she spoke in a hushed tone, making a beeline for the exit. People's eyes were still boring into her figure – hadn't anyone ever seen a phone before?
"You need to come home."
It had to be the static, because Aja thought she just heard them say – "Excuse me?"
"Angela Jaqueline. Please. Please come home. Please."
She came to a standstill at the final pew. The last 'please' came out as a choke from the voice she hadn't heard in so many years. She hardly recognized it now. "...Why did you call me?" she asked coldly.
"Please, it's been six whole years. I miss you. I want you to come home," came the pleading voice, and like a video recording over a previous one, all Aja could hear was herself going shut up, shut up, shut up.
"Well, I don't," she deadpanned, noting the lack of plural – we want you to come, ha, that would be the day. "Tell me how you got this number."
"Don't fucking call me that!" Her voice was shrill, her blood was boiling, and everyone was staring. "I never, ever, ever want to hear from or see you again. You hear me? I hate you. I hate both of you." She ripped the phone from her ear, feeling the tight bind in her chest that rendered her breathless and more than anything, angry. "Never call me again," she spat lividly into the receiver, and pressed "end call."
She stormed toward the exit when she suddenly remembered something. Spinning around, she snapped in a clear, barbaric tone, "Don't you know it's rude to stare?" and met eyes with the sobbing (but now bewildered) young woman at the front pew for a short instant before throwing open the grandiose exit doors.
And tripping off the edge of the welcome mat.
Now, Angela Jaqueline could practically smell karma hanging thickly in the air; it curled into her shoulder like a comfortable kitten, but with the deadliness of a poisonous snake. It smirked at her tauntingly before baring its fangs and devouring her.