First Communion

He was walking down the aisle, all eyes on his pudgy little boy face. He blushed as his eyes found his father who was sitting up on the pew, camcorder in hand. The child raised his hand to wave, but stopped himself, forcing himself to remember what the pastor had said.
“Now I know you boys and girls are gonna want to, but you cannot wave to your parents. There are going to be a lot of important people here, so we can’t have any of you little screw-ups…” He choked on his words before grinning and saying “ I mean, we can’t have any of you little ones screw up.”
It didn’t matter anyways. He wouldn’t have been able to wave. His robe, fitted for more of a 10-year-old figure, seemed to have eaten his stubby 7-year-old arms. “Wasn’t Jesus supposed to have worn swaddling clothes?” He thought.
He knew he was going to wave if he didn’t gaze elsewhere and soon! His eyes darted to the floor just in time to catch a barely noticeable wave from his father in his peripheral vision. “Good thing I looked down!” He told himself. Now he had no choice but to look down or straight ahead, the pews were too dangerous.
It was then he noticed something horrible behind him. The little girl walking to the altar in tow was gaining on him. He quickened his pace in hopes to even out hers. He saw the nervous gaze of the boy in front of him. He knew that look. He’d had it on his face just moments ago. Like dominoes, the little boy that had stood in front him took his steps, no longer in stride, but more of a brisk pace as did the girl in front of him, and the boy in front of her, and so on.
He couldn’t help but look up from his feet, not to the sides, but to the front where the pastor met his innocent gaze with a disheartening glare. The boy offered all he could…a finger pointing to the girl behind him. If the pastor was pissed that meant god was upset and the boy just wanted to let God know he didn’t do it.
Finally, they reached the altar, all too quickly where the children were waiting to be given their first communion. Little did they know what they were in for by taking part in this landmark ritual in their young lives. He felt himself squirm under the harsh gaze of God, the pastor, and all those in the church. He watched as the others went on, one by one, making their way down the path to the eternal life as a catholic. He saw each boy and girl go up to the altar as merely a child. He watched every one of them walk away somehow older, wiser, as if they had grown up with only a crust of bread.
When he finally made his way up to the pastor, he gazed up, Bambi eyes batting as the pastor looked down his nose at the boy, preparing to become a catholic man. “Do you accept the body of Christ?” How was he to answer this? He was only a child, not even sure if he was ready for the 2nd grade, more or less to become a catholic. He knew from rehearsals what he was supposed to say, but when he tried to force the words from his lips, he choked. He strained for air. He wanted to dry heave right there on the steps of the altar. He felt the vomit rising up in his throat. He looked up at the pastor again, hoping for some sort of cue as to what he should do. The pastor recognized the pale face of the child. He knew that look. It was the look of a child about to be sick. The man looked at the child, raising his eyebrow a little as if to say, “I don’t know what you should do, but if you throw up here and now, so help me…” The child swallowed. At this, the pastor seemed to smile at this as if the boy had done well.
For fear of a repeat vomit incident, the boy nodded, avoiding words at all cost. He only opened his mouth to accept the foreign piece of what was supposedly bread or the body of Christ, he wasn’t quite sure which. He felt the bread begin to melt on the tip of his tongue. It tasted horrible. It tasted of fish, with the texture of cardboard. “If Christ was so good, why the hell did he taste so bad?” the little boy thought. He tried to push the wafer to the back of his mouth with his tongue, but he only succeeded in pressing it to the roof of his mouth. The half dissolved body of Christ made a decision to stay there, which it firmly stuck to.
This was when he remembered the second part of the ritual. The wine. The blood of Christ. He would take anything to get this horrid taste out of his mouth. He quickly walked over to the altar boy, the right hand man of the pastor, who was waiting with a chalice filled with the blood of Christ. “Do you accept the blood of Christ?” the teenage boy asked, his voice cracking at the end of his words. The boy tried to say yes this time, knowing that’s what the altar boy wanted to hear. He attempted to form the words, but his jaws wouldn’t separate. They were stuck together by the paste that once was the body of Christ. He nodded again, this being the only thing he could think of to do. The altar boy offered him the cup. The child raised it to his lips and drank. He drank and drank and drank. He was a kid, a lightweight to say the least, so he wasn’t ready for the effect the wine would have. Not so much the effect on his state of mind, but the effect caused when wine was mixed with this strange fishy cardboard paste. To put it layman’s terms, it makes things worse. Not knowing what to do with this foul concoction that lay in his mouth, for he was too afraid to swallow, he did what first came to his mind. He spat. The wine seemed to spurt out of his mouth. With such an instinctual action, the boy had no time to aim. Not left. Not right. Just straight. Straight onto the robes of the altar boy who had offered him what the boy had mistaken for salvation from the fish cardboard. Even worse, as he sprayed the wine, he accidentally let loose the remainders of his wafer which had now taken on the form of a flavorless, shapeless projectile as it clung to the robes of the altar boy.


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