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“3 days before the wedding, early in the morning, in the church

-I can’t understand why do you need to talk to my fiancee in private! She already signed the damn paper! Here, it’s written clearly that she’s marrying me willingly! Right sweetie? (she nodded) It’s getting frustrating and absurd! And I’m late from an important business meeting! So…let me take her home and you can talk to her all you want after the wedding!

The old priest smiled. She was looking down, but she could feel his eyes studying her expression, reading her heart and soul. With a calm voice, the priest spoke in a very firm tone.

-Matteo, that’s your name, right? I saw that she signed…she did it in front of me. Still, I didn’t heard her voice. I wanna talk to her so I’d be convinced that this marriage is truly what she wants. Alright? Other wise, there will be no wedding at all! Now, do you have any hidden reason for not letting her talking to me in private? No, right? I thought so. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure that your fiancee gets home safely.

He kissed her briefly on the cheek and left the church angry, slamming the door behind him. She took a deep breath. Not knowing what she’s supposed to say or do.

-Well, he really has a bad temper…Are you alright, Carissa?

-Y…yes…I just don’t know why do you wanted to talk to me. I signed the paper…

She was looking at the paper she just signed like she were contemplating her death sentence. Suddenly, without any warning, the old priest took the piece of paper from the table and tore it into many little pieces. She almost chocked.

-Wh…why? For God’s sake…

-Exactly. For God’s sake.

The silence became unbearable and she felt like crying.

-What will I do now?

The priest looked straight into her eyes.

-It’s a long time…and I thought, well, I hoped I wouldn’t see that again. Arranged marriages…what a sad sight for my old eyes…When I was your age, I had a parrot in a bird cage. He was hurt and we were trying to fix his wing…he died of sadness. You have that look in your eyes. Is it for money? Is it because you’re pregnant? No? That’s a good thing. Then why are you marrying him? Speak now, child. Speak freely because you may not have another chance!

She started to cry with a desperation she never knew before. Like all the pain she was carrying inside would be cleaned by tears.

-I’m not…I don’t have any other place to go. I have no one…and no place to go…They saved me…he did…

-He trapped you.

The words were said so simple that made her shiver inside. Trapped…abused…afraid…words she never even dared to pronounce.

She covered her face.

-Help me…

The words were whispered, but the old priest heard them. She obsessively repeated the words, like her life would have depended on them.

-Please help me…oh God, help me!

She was pleading with God, with the world, with herself…she couldn’t be reasonable anymore because it felt like now or never.

The priest smiled at her.

-By the power invested in me by this church, I offer you sanctuary. You are welcomed, as a child of God, to find refuge within our shelters. I also refuse to officiate your wedding. God loves you, Carissa, He loves you enough to save your life and your soul. You’re awaited in our monastery where you’ll have all you need to put your life back on track. Now let me give you my blessing. Go in peace, child and do the right thing!

She left the church feeling so free, so enlightened, like flying. And she knew exactly what is the right thing to do.

3 hours later, in Matteo’s apartment

Matteo was pale, livid, the look in his eyes was wild and scary. But she didn’t avoided his eyes this time.

-Please take back the ring and all the jewelries…I’ll pack my things right away…

-What’s this craziness? Carissa! Are you out of your f..cking mind? To leave three days before our wedding? Look, sweetie…don’t be stupid. I’ll pick you from a park’s bench tonight and then you’ll be all humble and grateful…let’s skip this part, will you?You’re not going anywhere!

She was dangerously calm.

-I am leaving, Matteo. For good, this time. It wont be any wedding and I wont be your doll anymore. That’s what you need, a pretty doll to show around, to make you feel powerful. Such a man! Such a true man! But tell me…did you ever felt like you have me? When you raped me. Was I really yours? Don’t fool yourself. I was never yours and I’ll never be! And there ain’t nothing you can do about it! Because you know what? All this time, deep inside my mind and deep within my heart I was making love to someone else. Do you hear me? Do you? Marry me…yeah…and you’ll feel like having left overs for the rest of your pathetic life!

He grabbed he face and she felt teary from the pain. All of the sudden, he let her go and she almost fell.

-One hour, Carissa. You have one hour to disappear. I don’t wanna see you in front of my eyes, never.

He left.

half hour later…

-Mom, please! I need your help…please don’t hang up! I will start a new life and I wont ever bother you again. But please, come here, help me with my things or just stay with me…mom, I’m afraid…

-You’re afraid? You stupid, spoiled, ignorant little girl! Do you realize that you’re ruining an event that costed…God, your whole life doesn’t worth that much…Well, I hope your future husband will deal with you properly…even if I feel sorry for him…may you burn in hell, Carissa for doing this to me!

She felt like crying again but she remembered the words of the old priest. She whispered for herself.

“Sanctuary. God, I need sanctuary. Please love me, or I’ll be gone! Guide me and offer me a home, please God, cause you’re mighty merciful and fair!”

She heard something and she rushed to the door. The image in front of her eyes made her froze. She wanted to say something but she couldn’t speak anymore. Hearing the beatings of her own heart. Knowing it may be the last thing she’ll ever hear.

-I can’t let you do this…I’m sorry, Carissa, I just can’t.”