Of These Stones

Paul Cézanne. Le Château-Noir, 1900-1904. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Slowly, he circled closer to the hill where the Château Noir loomed above dark pines. To Anatole, its black roof and three windows in the shape of pointed arches made it look like a monastery. Heavy with guilt, knowing what awaited him at his brother's hands, afraid to imagine what worse thing might await him if he failed to appear, Anatole parted the tangled bushes and entered the gloomy hollow overarched with pines that his brother Marc called his chapel. In an instant, Marc swung down from a branch, his boots thumping against Anatole's back, sending him sprawling. Both boys swung at each other wildly. Marc pummeled him, aiming right where the bruises from their last encounter had not healed yet.

"Confess. Say it. Forgive me Father for I have sinned. Say it." Marc twisted Anatole's arm behind his back and sat on him. "Say it!"