The rain that came down from the heavens that morning was thick and persistent. It would not yield, it would not relent. It was deliberate. The sound of the slapping and splashing was almost maddening. In places on the paved road where the ground was sloping, the rainfall created a fine spray, and sloppy, uneven puddles collected where it was uneven. The mists that had come over the sea and found their way to this small crevice of the country had grown denser and seemed to fill the whole village. As Tom sat in the long black car with two of his children beside him, his mind circled around what had happened, and what was happening, hanging unspeakable in the air like the mist. Only one coherent thought came across: now that it is here, it will not leave.
The church was overcrowded. Nearly everyone in the village had come. Rows upon rows of umbrellas were clumped in front of the little church, held by the people who couldn’t squash in. The crush of people made it difficult to see or hear much of the service; however everyone caught a glimpse of the smallest coffin as it was a pure, radiant white. It caught the eyes of the people standing as it was carried to the altar, and of the people lining the pews as it stood out starkly against the two common brown coffins flanking it. And through the long wooden beams, and from the cold stone walls, everyone could hear Father Hegarty’s words: “Calvary has settled in our community.”
Tom did not listen after that. After the priest’s weighty proclamation that “the way of the Cross has come to the village of Cross,” he could not listen. He couldn’t listen or speak or his mind would burst like a dam. But his eldest daughter spoke, and spoke of them with such warmth and fondness that fissures began to spread through the walls. Now it is here, it will not leave. Sacrificial, was it? They have been taken away and carried to the hill of skulls. Did Christ ask for this, will this to happen? He thought about his son’s baptism, how the tiny bundle writhed under the droplets that assailed him, the droplets that were supposed to wash away his sins and cleanse his soul and open his spirit to God. In a matter of moments, the rain would be dripping down his shiny little coffin. He thought of the small vial of holy water his mother in law brought with her everywhere, now tucked into her clasped, lifeless hands. He thought of how his tears collected around his wife’s cross necklace when he cried over her body in the morgue. He pictured the whole country awash. Now it will not yield, it will not relent.