3 february 1990
Until heading off to study for the priesthood, Tettnang was the only home I ever knew. Father had been installed as the priest in a church outside of town after a period of review following his return from Hörselberg. He was permitted to raise me, at least partly so his superiors wouldn't have to deal with any complications someone else would face with my nature.
The Church was too occupied with the war and the difficulties surrounding a divided Germany to pay much mind to a quiet, out-of-the-way priest, and aside from occasional checks to ensure he hadn't fallen into sin again and that I wasn't causing problems we were left largely to ourselves. By the time things calmed down, he was established and old and there was little need to change things. When he died on Wednesday morning, we knew the service would be at the church to which he had devoted over forty of his years.
None of my peers here had seen me since I left for school, and we were never very open about my nature, so there was a great deal of confusion over why I still looked like I was in my twenties. While there was some brief talk about me handling the service, or even of me being installed as the next priest here, I knew the questions raised by my appearance were ultimately going to prevent either. I didn't mind. This type of work hadn't been part of my usual practice for seven years. Aside from that, I was officially on sabbatical and not working, and with Eastern Germany opening again I had somewhere important to visit.
The service this morning was beautiful, and attendance was encouraging. After an uncomfortable supper with friends, I climbed into my rented car and pulled up to the church. I stared at it for a long while with the radio off, just remembering. I don't know if I'll see Tettnang or this building again, so I took it all in, one last time, before wiping my eyes and driving north.
7 July 1989
“Benedict,” he gasped, reaching out to rest his hand on mine, “how are your studies?” I smiled weakly, trying not to remind him. The doctor told me he was starting to forget, and while it went unsaid, I think we both knew the youth in my face would almost certainly make it harder for him. But I had to see him, and no one seemed interested in denying me that much.
“They’re well, father. I am...learning much.” He slowly nodded.
“Yes. And my books, they are helping?” I returned those books over a decade ago. I saw a couple of them in this very room as I entered.
“They have been a guiding light.”
“As they should be.” He began to cough; hoarse, dry bursts of thunder from a body too frail to hold still while they erupted from him. I tried to steady him as he began to sit forward, but once the fit had passed it was time to help him recline again. I waited as he caught his breath.
“You should get some rest. I can-”
“Bene,” he said, grasping my hand tight. “Hear me, son. While you are in school you may be safe. But out there, where they know--you must be better than them if you are to earn their respect. Far better than me.”
“You have been a great man.”
“Pah! I know my sins, child, do not think I forget them, not when they look into my face.”
“Papa, please. You have been absolved, Hörselberg need no longer haunt you.”
“I will carry it until it is stripped of me in Purgatory.” Another coughing fit. I tried to comfort him until it passed. He closed his eyes as he tried to regain his composure, the years etched into his face catching the shadows and displaying a mottled sort of serenity. We sat in silence for about five minutes before he opened his eyes again. “Benedict! I have longed to see you. You have not missed your studies to visit an old man, have you?” I briefly hid my face, then turned back to him.
“No, father. I’m where I need to be right now.”
Evidence compiled for use during the trial of Father Benedict de Monte.