THEY did not tell me what it was that I did not understand.
That night when Mother retired early and Father finished
smoking his tobacco, Enrique decided to head up to his
room. It's going to be another tiring day tomorrow, he
said. I better sleep early if I wish to do something more
productive. Good night.
Paolo and I were left alone. As was our custom, we decided
to sit outside our home to talk. Like every night, it was a
peaceful night. Stars dotted the sky and shone silently.
Paolo sat on the grass and I sat beside him. He looked as
if he wanted to ask something. I had a feeling I knew what
the question was.
He breathed. "Ate," he began. "You like him don't you?"
I looked up at the sky, not knowing whether to laugh or
cry. "How can you tell? Can you read my mind?"
"Have you ever loved anybody, Ate?" he asked.
I thought for a moment. I took in the stars that seemed to
spell out my answer. I slowly shook my head. "I have only
loved you," I said. "And Father...and Mother."
"Then how do you know that you love Enrique? It is not
something you've experienced before."
"It is just somethign I know. Something I feel." I placed a
finger between my breasts. "Here." I lifted it to my
temple. "And here. I can not explain it Paolo. I
just...know. I feel it."
He nodded. "Be careful, Ate," he said. "To love is to be
vulnerable. You will be weak."
"I have always been weak," I said softly.
"You arenot, Ate. Don't say that." He placed a hand on
mine. "One day you will realize how strong you are. But in
the meantime, be careful. Do not let your world revolve
"Why are you so concerned?" I asked. "He has done nothing.
I have done nothing."
Paolo grew silent. He beseeched the night to give him
words. A vein bulged out from his forehead. He was thinking
"I..." he began. "I dont know if I still want to become a
priest." There was sadness again in his eyes. "There
I slowly absorbed the things that he said. This girl. Has
she done something to you? Who is she?
"Is she pregnant?" I asked.
Paolo let out a small laugh. "No she's not. Thank God." He
was smiling. "She is a student of mine. I teach
"Your seminary is asking you to teach?" I asked, in
credulous. "ARen't they supposed to be teaching you?"
He shrugged. "Strange things happen in the seminary," he
replied. "But she is a student. A very beautiful one at
that. She, and a few of her friends, were assigned to me by
"Whatever for? You are the one in need of teaching. You are
the one who is going to become a priest. Not them."
"It doesn't matter," he said. "I am just doing my duty."
"Who is she?" I asked. "Who is she that she entangled your
heart with hers?"
"Her name is Leah," he said. "She does not love me. But
I...I have...feelings for her. Not necessarily love,
but..." He looked ashamed. "Lust."
"Yes," he said. His eyes moved back and forth. "I am
ashamed to admit it...but it's the truth." He sighed. "She
makes me feel...like I'm a man."
Enrique's words echoed in my head. I kept silent, urging
him to talk.
"She hugs me, Ate," he said. "Everytime, after a lesson,
she hugs me. And I...I can't help myself. I can't let her
go. I...want her. Every part of me wants her."
"Then take her," I said.
"No. No, I can't." Paolo shook his head. "If I become a
priest, I must promise to God that I remain chaste.
But...how can I promise something that I don't wanna do?"
"You are not a priest yet, Paolo," I said.
"I know but..." Paolo looked desperate. "I feel that, God
wants me to become a priest. Will I be just like them when
I become one? God's holy men...but unholy in every way."
"Paolo." My heart went out to my brother. "You can still
leave the seminary. You do not have to burden yourself with
"But I must," he said. "It is simply a choice between
denying God...and denying my own human flehs." He looked to
the sky. "What would it be? Will I do wrong? Will God blame
me for my decisions?"
I looked at him, letting silence fall on us, even for a
short while. Finally I spoke, my voice slightly above a
whisper. "I don't know Paolo. I don't know. All I know is,
we have been placed here for a reason. And we must serve