The Vows We Break - Serena Akeroyd

art One

“Speak ill of me, or speak well of me, but speak of me...”



“There’s always someone worse off than yourself,” the old lady at my side mutters.

I cut her a look, wonder what she’s talking about, and then see she’s watching TV. It’s been playing ever since I arrived, but I barely noticed it, more interested in my phone than the news that’s on repeat.

“Savio Martin, a Catholic priest serving as a missionary in Algeria, has been abducted by the so-called Algerian Christian Revolutionaries. Unlike the Trappist monks of the Tibhirine, who were beheaded by the Islamic Salvation Front to oppose the presence of foreign ministries in the country, the group’s intent behind the abduction is unclear.

“In a nation being torn apart by civil unrest—”

I flinch at the sight of the country that flickers on the screen, showing images that belong in a nightmare. Rubble from destroyed buildings is strewn like Lego blocks on the roads, women and children are crying, huddled in one another’s arms in search of succor and escape, and men are bruised, bloodied, and dazed from fighting.

Then, the priest himself, Father Savio Martin, comes into the shot. It’s a small photo of him, and for some weird reason, it’s black and white, but man, he’s cute.

I mean, he’s so cute that it’s a tragedy he’s a priest.

I blink at the TV screen, speculating if it’s wrong to drool over a holy man, and then I kick myself because of course, it is.

It shouldn’t take fourteen years of Sunday school to teach me that.

At my side, the older lady who smells faintly of minty Altoids, tuts and mumbles, “Such a shame.”

Her remark has me asking, “They won’t hurt him, will they?”

She glances at me. “Who knows? Heathens. The lot of them.”

I frown at her. “That isn’t very Christian.” Especially when she’s condemning people as ‘heathens’ who call themselves the ‘Algerian Christian Revolutionaries.’

She just sniffs, and that right there is why I refuse to practice anymore.

I used to be Catholic. I mean, technically I still am. My parents make us go to church every Sunday, and I still run chores for Father Gonzalez because Mom insists I do them, but the second I’m away at college?

Nope. Not going to happen. I doubt I’ll ever set foot in a church ever again.


Because it’s a load of bullshit.

Here I sit, in a Catholic hospital, beside a woman who wears a crucifix she keeps fingering to give her strength as she chomps merrily away on boiled candies, and she just slandered an entire people over the actions of a few.

I find that a lot. Prejudice is more prevalent than dog crap—it’s everywhere. Even worse? Hypocrisy. That’s like gum on the streets, and once it’s stuck to you, it’s impossible to get off the bottom of your sneakers.


I don’t care if you’re black or brown, Catholic or Muslim, I’m never going to judge you.

That’s what free will is about, right?

See, I came to the conclusion a while back that I was a theist. I believe in God, but I just wasn’t supposed to be Catholic.

And the lady at my side has just rammed that home neatly.

Sniffing back at her, I focus on the screen where the cute priest is still taking up airtime. The newscaster is discussing what’s going down in the nation, why the civil war started—man, I feel bad for not knowing there was a civil war happening in Algeria—but all I can think about is the priest.

He has a kind smile.

His eyes are beautiful.

He’s beautiful. It’s like his soul is shining back at me.

“Do you think there’s any hope of his release being negotiated by the French government?”

He’s French?

Ugh, so he’s all kinds of pretty and he has an accent.

God, such a crying shame he’s a priest. Even more of a shame that he’s been frickin’ kidnapped.

Double ugh.

The door to the waiting room opens, and I’m glad the nurse wanders over to the woman at my side. Sure, that means I’m stuck here for a little while longer, but if she takes the bigot away, I’ll be happy.

Heathens, my ass.

Where’s the tolerance? Aren’t we supposed to love everyone?


All bullshit.

But me, someone who says she isn’t a Catholic, is sitting in this waiting room for a stranger.

A stranger I helped save.

At least, I hope the kid is ‘saved.’

I tug on my bottom lip as I stare at the priest on the TV, then shift over to look at the door. The woman at my side has scurried away with the nurse,