The Cross

Melvin Rasp did a double-take as he sat at the dinette, looking over his newspaper when Helen entered the kitchen.

“When did you start getting religious?”

“What do you mean Mel?

“I don’t recall you wearing that cross on your chain before.”

“Oh, it’s something I found as I was going through mom’s stuff—you know the box of junk that we found in her attic after the funeral. Does it bother you?”

“I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like you, if you know what I mean.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“I guess I mean, well, did you wear a cross when you were young? Did you go to church and all that?”

“What do you mean, ’all that?’ “

“Don’t get defensive, OK? It’s just I haven’t thought of you being religious before. It’s not like you were a churchgoer when we met.”

“How do you know that?”

“Well, we weren’t together every minute, but you never mentioned church, or Christ or anything religious. Are you Catholic, or what?”

“That sounds like an accusation. What if I were Catholic, what would that mean to you?”

“Well, are you?”

“Are you yelling at me about whether I might be religious or have a religion? What is it to you?”

“It’s a pretty important thing for people to discuss before they get married, don’t you think? Why have you kept this from me?”

“Look, Mel, calm down. I just saw the cross in Mom’s box and I wanted to wear it. Mom wore it for a long time until after Dad died. Maybe she did it for him, I don’t know. It just feels good to have it and I felt like wearing it today, that’s all. Don’t make a federal case out of it.”

“It just feels odd, almost creepy to see you wearing it. Do you secretly pray to God and mumble all that stuff?”

“Where did you get all this from? What haven’t you told me about your past regarding religion? Did some priest get fresh with you when you were young?”

“Wow! Where did you get that from? What kind of mind do you have?

“I’m just the nice girl you wanted to marry, remember? I didn’t ask you about your religion or your lack of religion, or anything about religion or God or anything like that. I guess I should have. You’re the one who sounds creepy!”

“It’s like you’ve kept a big secret from me, Helen. It hurts. How come you didn’t insist we get married in a church? Why did you go along with the city hall idea?”

“It just wasn’t important to me, Mel.”

“But a cross is?”

“What’s the cross to you? What does it mean to you? Why are you so worked up about it? When are we going to stop talking about it?

“Not until you tell me why you really are wearing that cross.”

“Apparently, Mel, it’s to drive the devil away.”

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