As Mathias explained the youth program to what felt like the millionth set of parents that day, he felt his mind retreating while his mouth continued to drone on. He had a perfect brochure voice that he’d practiced repeatedly, letting parents know that their child would benefit from this program more than any other. Even though they were the only Mormon church in the city, the closest one was 30 minutes away and it was a real competition for them. Mathias’ parents would always tell him, “There is no competition for the love of God,” blah, blah, blah, blah. He stopped talking.
Suddenly, Mathias felt awful for his last thought, and he just stared at the parents he was speaking with for a moment. His sister walking across the room caught his eye and he found refuge. He cleared his throat and smiled, “Sorry, I just noticed my little sister.” He directed his statement toward the daughter, “she’s exactly your age and I think you guys would get along quite well.” Her parents smiled at him excitedly, and he felt a huge sense of relief. No more talking, and a chance for him to ask for forgiveness for dismissing his parent’s words and making light of talk of the Lord.
Turning away from the people in the room, crowding around each other talking about how cute each other’s children would be together – practically arranging marriages still to this day – and whether or not the Hammel’s are still an active family in the church, he entered the chapel to apologize for all his little screw-ups of the day.
He kneeled on the floor, and began to ask forgiveness for his mistakes. It’d only been a minute or two, though, before he heard some shuffling behind him. He furrowed his brows but kept his eyes closed, trying to concentrate on the words he’d been speaking in his head. A few more noises and he finally opened his eyes. Not that he knew what “church-goers” sounded like, but this certainly wasn’t it. Most times he was praying in the chapel, he’d come in alone and leave not having noticed that three others had entered the room while he was using it.
Mathias ended his prayer session and stood up. A few rows behind him off to the left a man he’d never expected to lay eyes on in this church sat. He had never seen a person who was not, well, white in this building in all of his years. His parents liked to pretend that anyone of color didn’t even exist. The Mormon Church claimed that they’d set their prejudice aside in the 80′s, but it hasn’t. Not one bit.
All of this aside, he had striking features, and long, dark hair. He’d never seen a male with hair longer than his ears before in his entire life. Not in person, on TV, anywhere. He was beautiful, though, and Mathias felt an intense urge to meet this person. The intrigue he felt was stronger than any emotion he’d encountered in a long time.
He couldn’t stop looking at him, and when he finally realized he’d been looking at the man for at least half a minute now, he felt his cheeks burn with embarrassment.
“Hi,” he said, swallowing. “You look… out of your element.” And so… he blushed more. Mathias wasn’t just looking at him, he was looking at him in that way. The way he’d punished himself for after catching himself looking at others before this man. He didn’t even have words to describe it, and that was mostly because he didn’t want to admit it. He didn’t want to admit that he’d lusted after anyone, and he certainly didn’t want to admit to who the lust was aimed at.
Mathias walked up to the newcomer and held out a hand. “I’m Mathias.”
Up close the stranger was even more beautiful, and a strange feeling washed over him. Attraction. The word he never wanted to think of, and the species he never wanted to admit it was aimed at. His stomach twisted in a way and his throat felt thick. Guilt consumed him, and while he wanted to stare at this being, he wanted to run away.
He sat down next to him.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…