You wake up sore, tense, and hungover. You wake up with scabs on your knees; there's still dirt and pebbles in the wounds. You wake up to the knowledge that you'll have to face your family soon.
As much as it pains you to think it, you're in no mood for church today.
You're in need of painkillers. You're in need of a drink too, but think better of it, for Matthew's sake. You don't want your brother to see you like this.
More than any of that, you're in need of penitence.
For the first time in over a year and a half, you consider going to confession, to cleanse your soul of the sins you've committed this past week. If it were that easy. Your senses are against you, reacting to phantom impulses. You can rid yourself of the physical evidence of last night, can scrub yourself clean, inside and out, throw out the trash with its incriminating wrappers inside, but brushing your teeth does not rid you his taste, taking a shower does not rid you of his scent, donning a suit does not rid you of the feel of his skin on yours.
You're sure even Declan will be able to tell what you've been up to. No amount of body spray will mask that. Maybe it will even draw attention to it.
Church, usually, is a place where you feel welcome. There is something comforting about the simple act of entering a church, of dipping your fingers into the holy water, of saying a short prayer in your heart. It's a place of routine and happy memories, of family, even though there's only one person there you want to see.
Today, however, you don't feel like you belong. You imagine everyone staring, knowing what you did, condemning you for it.
Sometimes you wonder if your soul can still be saved.
It's not the first time you've had thoughts too unclean for this place, but somehow, so far, the hymns and the service have always managed to deliver you in the end.
This, however, was different. This was not finding your pulse going haywire whenever you see him one lane over, grinning at you through the window. This was not getting wasted on one of his parties, hoping to pick a fight. This was not discovering his dick pic on your phone – the one he sent to Gansey – and fingering yourself to it, imagining its taste, its texture, its tumescent quality in your hands, hot and hard and pulsating. Alive.
This was the real thing, the one you've seen coming for weeks, inevitably, and yet have been unprepared for, disappointing and exceeding expectations all at once as it has been.
You wonder if there's a way for your soul to recover from this, from the hunger it has both sated and instilled in you. You ought to go to confession, yet to confess would be to repent, and you're not sure if you're ready for that.