In the Gargoyle’s Grasp
Copyright June 2013, Sofia Bane
My girlfriend Alexis and I had been together forever, but this vacation to France was the first major trip we had taken. We were both graduate students, and were taking advantage of a rare lull in both our summers to get away. Alexis had been the one to pick the destination – she said she wanted to go see all the churches.
We didn’t just see them, though, we…embraced them. But I’m getting ahead of myself with this naughty story.
It was late one afternoon at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart – one that Alexis had set aside a whole day to see – when I wandered away from our tour group. The guide didn’t even notice, and neither did Alexis as she snapped shots of the high ceiling. I needed to have a bit of space, a bit of time apart from tour guides and brochures and all the rest of it. I ducked into a narrow hall and found a dimly-lit staircase, and I marveled at how the intricacies of the church layout made it that easy to slip away. If there were something good up here, I made a mental note that I’d have to show Alexis later.
Corridor after corridor, with only empty niches in the stone walls. Clearly this was the part of the basilica they didn’t expect visitors to see. And while I could intermittently hear the din of tour groups below – and even, what I assumed was a Mass taking place – I couldn’t quite work out how the building was all connected, or where exactly the noise could be heard from.
I should have been paying more attention than I was, wandering at random just to get away from everything. Because as the sun sunk lower, drawing out long shadows in the corridors, I began to realize that I had no recollection of how I first got up here. Or the way back. It was all unmarked, of course, since this wasn’t intended as a tourist area – no helpful “First floor this way” sign or anything. Shit. I began to backtrack where I thought I’d come from.