Ghost Quiet

by Jack G


Jack G
An Awakening Hillside
A town in the hills of Santiago, Chile, slumbered on, its ghost-quiet stillness was interrupted by the ringing of church bells vibrating through every crack of its cobblestone streets at 6 a.m., coaxing the town to life for silent prayer. The aroma of freshly baked communion wafers floated into the air. William, an orphan, perched above the factory, observing Santiago in the distance, mesmerized by the city lights that gleamed like a distant constellation. Its cobblestone streets glistened from the remnants of last week’s heavy rain. Chancletas slapped the terracotta tile floors of La Mission de Dolores as nuns exited the convent for morning prayer. The scene of the parish lacked Mother Gruber because she was waking up the twenty-five orphans. This time, only twenty-four tiny faces lifted their sleepy heads from their pillows because William was missing from the picture. 
Miss Gruber, or Mother Gruber to many, strolled around the mission in her unusually grandiose
habit, trying to catch a glimpse of William. She studied the parish like a vulture languidly circling its unsuspecting prey. Mother Gruber’s eyes centered on Will. There he lay, on the top of the wafer factory, which was billowing steam from that morning's batch of wafers. Mother Gruber trudged across the courtyard shouting domineeringly at William for missing morning mass. William murmured passively and slid down the roof, avoiding eye contact to eschew yet another argument with Mother Gruber. He was far more focused on planning his escape from the parish. “You have a future here at Dolores Mission. Head to the statue of Saint Vincent and ask for forgiveness!” Mother Gruber exclaimed in her domineering voice. Head down, William docilely obeyed her, glancing at the chapel as he solemnly strolled toward the noiseless building, his plans disintegrated.
Beyond the Horizon
William stared at Saint Vincent and glanced out the window, looking at Santiago on the optimistic horizon. He repeated the motion of looking at Santiago several times, pondering, as he had done frequently, whether God really exists. He had never left La Mission de Dolores his entire life. His brain had been trained, in countless lessons from Mother Gruber, to worship God and his only son, Jesus Christ. However, his heart was somewhere else, intent on abandoning this life to explore the world. Gazing at the statue allowed him to make up his mind. He was going to leave this life, the only life he knew, to explore the world. Because Mother Gruber wanted William to become a future priest at Dolores Mission, the arduous task of convincing her that his future did not lie in the hands of God would be nearly impossible. He knew that, because she would never give him her blessing, he would need to sneak away from the parish. The week after the incident on the rooftop, William observed the
nuns leaving the convent into carriages, their destination unknown. He realized that his only chance of escaping the drudgery of his daily life was by stealing the horses that were used for the carriages. With nobody guarding them, a clear path without God emerged for Will. He must act now since a horse remained alone. Nobody was guarding it. Nobody was near it. Just William's guardian angel protecting the cobblestone road to salvation. Packing his bags, William tried to obtain the last glimpse of his room and stuffed a picture of his mother and father into his trunk along with seeds of the dainty daisies that bloom around the parish every April. 
A devout interlude
The clunk of footsteps echoed from down the hall. William was unable to hide his belongings as the footsteps stopped. The door creaked open, and Mother Gruber appeared. She viewed the scene of William stuffing his possessions and
belongings in his trunk with alarm. “What rubbish are you packing up my dear, you are not going anywhere,” she exclaimed with annoyance. Mother Gruber reminded William of the life he had ahead at the mission, a clear pathway to heaven. “And close that window before you let the winter air rush in!” Mother Gruber stormed out of the room and left William alone. William gazed out the window only to spot that the horse was absent. 
With no parental figures present that could understand William, he felt as alone as a sparrow fluttering about without its flock. In his case, he was lost from where he belonged, not at the parish. He became apprehensive about his future, wondering why he had been stuck in a dusty, old, and silent room for seventeen years. He thought about his diary and all the empty pages yet to be filled, and the adventures to come. He knew deep down that it was time for him to leave the parish, to move on from the familiar and