Despite the efforts of Darrius Papadas, a demon has come into the world. His failures don’t stop there. Unable to convince the Athenian government to rally the troops, the guilt-ridden Darrius works his way home…fearful of facing the demon again.
After years of tranquility, young Phideas’ life is disrupted when an odd-acting monk visits the monastery. Soon, others are acting strangely, including the donkey which tries to strangle the servant. But a miracle has also occurred…or has it?
border-bottom: 1px solid #d7d7d7; padding: 5px 0px;
float: left; padding-right: 20px;
–>Chante McCoy’s books on Goodreads
“Body or Soul” is a direct sequel to “Inside Monastic Walls”
by Chanté McCoy featured in The Crimson Pact, Vol. 1
Body or Soul
by Chanté McCoy
An earthquake rips through my body. I gasp, my breath taken away. Never before have I felt such pain. I’m afraid it will rip me apart. Is the time already so near? Will I find Darrius Papadas before the blessed event?
The pain recedes. Slowly, my lungs work again, and I push off from the wall of the tall rocky tower to continue down the etched steps, each footfall hesitant until I feel the stone beneath me. The stairs are too steep for my short legs. They shake. And my mind still spins from being sent from my home atop the mountain and the vision of Deacon Stefanou lying bloody at the feet of the Reverend Abbot. How quickly the world changed after years of sameness.
The village, my destination, sprawls in the shadowed triangular plain below. From above, with their white walls and red clay-tiled roofs, the houses look like a cluster of square-cut revani almond cake. My empty stomach gurgles at the thought. I’m thirsty too from the climb down. I suck the insides of my cheeks.
It feels like I’ll never reach the bottom, though I near the canopy of sycamores and laurels reaching toward the sky. On the narrow stairway with its long drop, I feel suspended between the ground and the open blue above, an odd purgatory bridging heaven and earth. The winter wind sliding around the mountain side threatens to push me earthward. At its calmest, the wind chills me, billowing my loose tunic cinched at the waist. My thin leggings do little against the cold. I wish I’d had time to grab my heavy cloak.
Another tremor ripples through me. Not as bad as before. I stay upright, although it is harder with the growing child inside. No longer a quickening, it pushes out my sides and kicks and shoves within. When it stretches, my skin grows taut, and bumps rise and fall along my left side. I walk lopsided, increasingly hunched from the sharing of my body with another.
I should have told the Abbot about the baby. I know that. But, when I first realized it, I was scared. What could I say? Was it blasphemy or a blessing? I couldn’t decide. I can read the Holy Book, taught by the monks. I studied it at night, after my chores, hoping to find a clue as to what was happening. The scriptures that rang true, speaking to what can only be a miracle, were the stories of Mary and the miraculous conception of Christ. Perhaps the Holy Spirit had also visited me.
I approached the Abbot to tell him all, time ran out. He sent me fleeing from the monastery. Now I wonder whether I will ever see home again.
Over the years, I’ve entertained fantasies of being “discovered” and sashaying down the red carpet, cameras flashing, in the company of George Clooney, the lead man and co-star in the latest blockbuster. It’s a glossy cover life with adoring crowds, black cocktail dress parties, celebrity shoulder-rubbing events, and tummy tucks and Botox….
…a life never meant to be.
Ever since my debut on stage—narrating “The Little Match Girl” for the Christmas assembly—and that moment my mind totally blanked when the audience echoed back a line, I realized my adoring crowds would never materialize. And that’s okay. Coming back to reality, I admit I’m uninterested in actually working at becoming a star. Acting lessons? Bah. Singing lessons. Bigger boo. Eating like a rabbit to stay a size four? Don’t see that happening. Performing in front of people? Kill me now. I don’t want to relive that ninth grade fiasco.
Lack of ambition, a failed venture, and introversion (a little point I failed to mention) are a lethal combination for any acting career. Believe me, I’d hate the crowds and paparazzi anyway. My only remorse, beyond not hanging with George, is that acting looks like fun. I mean, actors get to ride horses and rock climb. It’s part of the job description. They learn how to sword fight, joust, sled race, kick butt with kung fu, waltz, round up cattle, fly around on high wires, build log cabins. The list goes on. The beauty of it: someone is paying them to pick up these new skills. Oh, and they get to do so at exotic locales. Nice gig, if you can get it.
Instead, I sit, my rump splayed in my chair, staring at a monitor, inside four walls, with a messy desk I should clean. Doesn’t seem so glamorous. But, let me assure you, there are compensations. Just have to make a leap in your mind. I do learn about exciting new places (“setting”) and fabulous new skills (“character”). I never even have to leave my chair, except for a bite to eat and bathroom breaks. Since an executive producer isn’t ponying up the big bucks to help me on this front, I do it on the cheap.
Take a recent short story I wrote: “In the Shadow of Meteora.” With Google, Wikipedia, and Dictionary.com, I learned a lot. For example, I can tell you about the town of Kalambaka beneath the Meteora in Greece, the monasteries atop, and the Byzantine basilica in the valley, built in the 12th century and its various renditions since. I now know how to milk a goat and how a Greek woman dressed around the turn of the 20th century. Need a natural-made dye? I have a few recipes. My research also elucidated me on the Eastern Orthodox religion, the vestments of priests, and the architecture of churches. Curious how to ward off the evil eye? I can recommend the charm and prayer to avoid affliction. You never know when these things will come in handy.
Ah, the writing life. A good life, full of adventures, complete with a cup of coffee and bag of salted sunflower seeds. I doubt Meryl Streep would beg to exchange places, but it’s the life for me.