Martyrdom is a BITCH

The day was searing hot, the kind of suffocating heat that only the Mediterranean can conjure before nine o’clock in the morning.  The children were dragging their reluctant feet away from the beach at their backs and towards a set of old staircase at the top of the hill.

The church was looming ever closer, shimmering behind a veil of misty vapour emanating from the asphalt, setting mirages of water pools in the distance, reminding the children of their parched mouths; dying of thirst so close after breakfast.

“But we’re on holiday! Why do we have to go to church?” whined Jürgen a little too loudly.  Granny Eve stopped in her tracks two paces up front and turned sharply.  Her narrowed eyes honed in on the blaspheming grandchild and the air around Jürgen reached boiling point.

David chewed on the side of his mouth, suppressing the smile that flew to his lips in sympathy for his cousin.   The same comment had been dancing on his tongue, milliseconds before Jürgen framed his offensive thoughts into words.   The boys looked at each other in mirrored martyrdom and remained silent after that, focusing their strength against the unmerciful slope.

The heat was pressing on their bodies like a physical presence and soon the distant stairs became a reality.  The five-hundred-year-old staircase now assaulted their short legs with higher-than-normal steps.   David’s sight slowly became blotched by dark spots.  He formed saliva and swallowed, mimicking nourishing liquid that did not quench his thirst.

Not soon enough the final step came into existence and David sighed; “Finally.  That was a bitch!”

He only realised that the words were out when Jürgen’s horrified expression met his own.  But Gran’s person had already gone rigid by then.  “That’s it!” Her shrill voice cut through the heat like a hail storm.  David’s ear experienced a tugging that would throb in pain throughout the oncoming uneventful thirty minutes of eternity until the last Amen of mass materialised freedom to life.


This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

This is actually a non-fictionish rendition of a childhood experience that my cousins and I used to suffer through every day while on holiday at a beach resort we used to visit annually with parents and grandma.  Grandma is overly religious and back then we used to obey such commands as; “Wake up, we’ll be late for church,” when all we wanted to do was go to the beach and sculpt sand castles all day.


This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

Despite the drama, these holidays were actually the best time of my life.  Getting ready used to take months of planning; toys would be packed and unpacked, lists would be drawn up and compared until excitement levels reached unbearable levels.  Too soon the two weeks would come and go and we used to be sad for weeks after we were back home.  So I thought I’d honour these memories for this week’s Trifecta challenge where the key words is: BITCH

1: the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammals
2 a : a lewd or immoral woman
b : a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman —sometimes used as a generalized term of abuse
3: something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant

31 comments on “Martyrdom is a BITCH

  1. barbara says:

    oh my . . . so real. 🙂

  2. joetwo says:

    Good story well told!

  3. Kir Piccini says:

    HI Sandra,
    well first, I’m Catholic, so this was perfection. It was exactly like this, especially when I was little and didn’t have a choice about whether I wanted to go to church or not. (I also want to know where you found a mass that was only 30 minutes long!!! ) o_o.

    this was so good.

    • Sandra says:

      – Daily mass is usually 20 to 30 minutes long;
      – Sunday mass is between 45 to 60 minutes long; depending on the priest;
      – At weddings, public holidays and special occaions, mass usually hits the two-hour mark by which time tears would be streaming down my face and memories of a life prior to the time I spent sitting on a pew would be dwindling.

      Thank you for you comment, I enjoyed it 🙂

      • Kir Piccini says:

        I went to Catholic school for 13 years (preschool too). Church every Friday, etc. Believe me I know…was just teasing with the 30 minutes…although I rarely see one, sometimes in the summer, but it borders 45 minutes more often than not. The funny thing, after much thought, our boys will start kindergarten at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in September. They will experience Catholicism exactly the same way I have.

        this was like a trip down early childhood memory lane.

      • Sandra says:

        Haha 😀 Ok I get you. Poor little buggers!

  4. atrm61 says:

    So cute & all my sympathies with the kids here:-)Very well written Sandra.

  5. jwilliams057 says:

    Poor little thing. Being forced to go to church when the beach was all ready and waiting. 🙂

  6. Sandra says:

    Oh I can remember a good old ear-tug from my Gran too! 🙂

  7. kymminbarcelona says:

    Nothing like a sharp word and a tug on the ear from Gran to get you in line, no matter what the religion!

  8. I enjoyed the use of description here. The events flowed smoothly, and I wouldn’t have guess that it was narrative non-fiction. Inspired writing. Thanks.

  9. deanabo says:

    What a terrific memory! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  10. A little bit of a legalistic generational fiction – Oops, I meant friction. And, yet, it obviously didn’t ruin the trip or the overall memories! 🙂

    • Sandra says:

      Hehe no it never did. As kids, two seconds after the ‘ordeal’ was over we forgot all about it and ran to the beach for a day packed with fun 🙂 At least that is how I remember it and that’s what counts really.

  11. Draug419 says:

    I can just imagine those high stairs. What a wonderful piece.

  12. Fantastic! I love Granny’s “That’s it!” I need to start tugging on some lobes around this place.

  13. kgwaite says:

    I loved when he said bitch and I KNEW what has coming next. Perfectly done.

  14. lexy3587 says:

    such a vivid memory, I love it. My grandmother was baptist… I remember using the phrase “Oh my god” and getting the disapproving “Don’t say the lord’s name in vain” lecture many many times.

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