“It wasn’t my fault,” I’d say to St. Peter if he called me on how well I did this first week.
“I was in Vegas for the first few days. I tried, but there was so much–”
“Sin?” he’d ask with one eyebrow arched as he jotted a note down with his quill on a gilded page.
“Well, I was going to say fun and distraction and stuff to do.” I’d push at whatever passed for ‘dirt on the ground’ when you’re standing on a cloud. “But fine. Sin. Although I didn’t really sin. I mean, unless you count the gambling and the unkind comments I made about all the hideously-dressed women, and the sips of alcohol and the general gluttony of food and…”
He’d look up through gold-rimmed glasses that he didn’t need, but had a powerful effect on the penitent.
“Right. Quitting while I’m ahead. Plus, you’ve probably got all that written down.”
“Indeed.” He’d set down the quill, fold his arms, and lean back on his throne. “And how did you compensate for your shortcomings?”
“Well, I pointed out the chorizo in the nachos Gina and I shared on Friday…after her first couple of bites anyway. I’d forgotten about the whole meat-thing she does. But it was after my first bite, so i think that counts. And then I helped that one kid at the blackjack table who had no clue what he was doing and…”
I’d be cut short by the arched eyebrow and simultaneous glare through the glasses.
“Oh. You mean about the whole ‘giving up not writing’ thing, don’t you?”
One curt nod.
“I managed to squeeze in a couple of reviews one morning before everyone else got up, but that was the only time I could really write without sacrificing time with my friends or husband, and you wouldn’t have wanted me to do that, would you? When we’d all worked so hard to give Gina that awesome surprise trip. You guys and Gina are real tight.”
He’d be silent, but I’d know I’d scored at least half a point.
“Anyway, I only came home a few days short and I didn’t want to just not-do those days because that’d be too easy of a cop-out, so I tried to make up the difference as quickly as possible.”
“Well, I doubled up on Monday–”
“Writing an article enabling more people to sin , you mean? That’s how you compensated for slacking on your promise?”
“Yeah….” I’d clear my throat and study the cloud again. “Oh! But Tuesday night, I tried fiction instead of a blog post about Elliott or Charlotte! And that was after a long day and a rehearsal and everything. That was pretty good, right?”
“It lasted all of 20 minutes instead of the pledged 30.”
“Fiction is hard!” I’d whinge. “I was so out of practice and it was so late and I was tired and grumpy and I was still sick so I was coughing every few minutes and driving Ryan crazy.”
I’d hold my hands up to stave off what he was about to say.
“I’m not saying that 20 minutes was worthy of a day running around the desert being tempted by the devil, but it was way harder than anything else I’d written so far this Lent. It was humbling, even.”
“So by Wednesday afternoon of your first week,” he’d say as he checked the tome once more. “You’d skipped four days, but compensated for two of them, which means you technically pulled off six of the eight days, even if three of them were about or inspired by your vice-filled weekend.”
“And I was planning on writing more that evening, so by the end of the day I should have been almost caught up. That’s pretty good, right?”
“And did you?”
“Um…..” I’d look around the clouds for a moment and lower my voice before continuing. “I don’t know, It’s still Wednesday afternoon. I’m writing a blog post where I have a fictional conversation with a fictional construct so that it counts more as Wednesday’s ‘writing’ exercise and less as a status report.”
He sits back again, clearly satisfied, and the gates to the rest of my day slowly open. I exhale.
“So long as you don’t justify that single effort as both a post and as fiction.”
“No sir,” I say as I curtsy in my robe and skip on through.