Dad moves the car forward in line then turns to Mom with weary eyes. “Please get them to stop fighting.”
“Cut it out,” She says, lifting her eyes from phone to glare at the children through the rearview mirror – Daughter and Son, kicking at each other, take no notice. “Or you’re both getting salads.”
Son stops to look out the window. “We’re at McDonalds?”
“No this is church, dummy.” Daughter says, then pulls out her phone to match Mother.
Son is mortified. “You mean we have to sit through church before we eat?” He whines.
Another inch forward brings the car to a halt in the sun – Dad puts his window down and the family is made victim of midsummer heat and humidity. “No Son, remember our talk about the virus? Church changed like everything else – we do it in the car now.”
“Kind of.” Mother chimes in – Father’s knuckles tighten to white around the steering wheel – another inch forward – she frees a hand to turn on the air conditioning – nothing happens – she sighs. “Forgot we weren’t in my car.”
“You could’ve driven.” Father says sharply, then takes a breath and turns to Daughter. “What are you up to, honey?”
“Makin’ a Tik Tok.”
“What did I tell you about using all of our data?”
Daughter puts phone down in a huff. “Mom lets me do it in her car.”
“Her car has wifi.” Dad sticks his head out the window, “Almost to the front,” He reports back, and now sweating he asks, “Everyone have their masks?”
“Ow! She pinched me!”
Mom whips around. “You. Tablet. You. Phone. Now.”
“Is that really helping?”
Dad maintains a silent, seething composure – then one of the kids kicks the back of his seat. “THAT’S IT I’VE HAD IT I SWEAR TO FUCKING GO-”
“Hello.” The Priest says cheerily, content to ignore the blasphemy as there are many cars behind the Family’s, “What can I do for you all today?”
“Father,” Dad begins, his voice betraying the blush hidden beneath mask, “Forgive me, for I have sinned.”
Only the real Dad laughs at the dad joke. “So just sacrament, or confession as well?”
“Uh…” Dad hesitates, “Four sacraments, and one confession. For me.”
Gloved hands give the Body of Christ a hospital smell aftertaste, and the one use cups the Blood of Christ is served in are an environmental sin – car becomes confessional as the 3 others put headphones in – Dad does penance in his head as they’re waiting to turn into traffic from the parking lot – forgiven, the family make their next pilgrimage.