I did my best not to meet Raguel’s eyes when we came to the table, but when the inevitable happened, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about all those things Ben had told me earlier today. A part of me didn’t want to believe any of it or even consider believing it, because after all: Raguel was the man who had taken me in on his own account. The other part of me, the treacherous part for my wavering soul, wanted it all to be true. What story would be better than Canlagos’s pastor not being the man who he said he was?
I sat at the table looking down at the soup, trying to avoid fulfilling my urge to know. The ongoing voices that I had been flowing in and out of my head all evening suddenly disappeared. Carefully, I looked up from my bowl and saw how each eye was looking at me with breaking patience. I swallowed and wiped my mouth, before I asked, “Sorry, I was somewhere else: in my own little world. What did you say…?” I still didn’t know who had initially asked me the question, but I could think it was Henry, since he was the one who met my eyes first.
“I said,” Henry took a deep breath and smiled, before he continued, “What were you doing in the forest up there? It’s a dangerous place to be, especially after dark."
“Yes, Ben told me that. Unfortunately, it was some hours too late,” I answered, looking back at Ben whose blue eyes reflected in the light from the lamp hanging just above. “But honestly, I don’t know. I was upset after something Ben told me and just needed some time to think.”
Henry opened his mouth and was about to answer, when Raguel interrupted, “Ben told you something?” He then moved his look from me to Ben, “What did he tell you, Angel?”
I swallowed again. This time it was not the soup, but fear. Once again I managed to meet Ben’s eyes that seemed to beg me to lie. I didn’t know what it was. Before I received that look, I was sure that the last thing I would ever do, was lie to Raguel; but the look Ben sent me… It was fear. He was scared - scared of Raguel.
I took a sip of my water and finally said, “Oh, it was nothing, Raguel. Really, it’s nothing to worry about. We were just talking about why I couldn’t remember anything.”
Henry and Eleanor seemed to believe it and smiled at me in understanding, but the way Raguel looked at Ben and I afterwards, told me, that my explanation hadn’t been good enough for him. The silence quickly fell over the dinner table. The only thing heard was Ben’s slurp while he tried to conceal his uneasiness.
I think Henry felt it was awkward as well, because quickly he changed the subject and said, “So, I heard a storm that is raging in the east at the moment. Some say it will be in Canlagos in a few days.”
“Hopefully it will be less intense by the time it comes here,” Ben replied, pouring more soup into his bowl.
Henry then explained how the last large storm that had came to Canlagos had decimated almost everything in its way. It was more decades ago, but he still remembered it clearly. The only thing that the storm didn’t harm at all was the church. Though, as Raguel said, it might as well just be a coincidence. More and more I found myself finding it hard to believe him and his words.
When the silence again interrupted the voices, I couldn’t help myself from asking the only question that I wanted to get answered more than anything.
Steadily, I came to say, “Raguel, I fell over a name today. Rosangela was her name.”
I quickly saw how Raguel and Henry looked at each other, after which they both stared at me. Raguel laid the spoon back in the bowl and responded quietly, “It’s not the time to talk about this, Angel. I will tell you later. Leave it for now, okay?”
Something told me I had just ruined the whole dinner. Raguel avoided looking at me for the rest of the evening, and Henry barely talked to me other than when I asked another question. It seemed that even my simple questions were now trying to be dodged and left halfway unanswered. I knew Rosangela had something to do with Raguel. Why else would there be an old mark of their names on an old tree? And interestingly too: what were Raguel and Rosangela doing in the forest up north, if it was such a dangerous place to be?
We didn’t stay for much longer. After thanking Henry and Eleanor for the dinner and saying goodnight to the three of them, Raguel and I started our walk back to the church. The moon shined down onto the whole town and made the settled snow glisten softly. A few minutes later, the church was now just across the street; but in the few seconds it lasted, I still had enough time to beg him to tell me the truth.
“Raguel, please tell me,” I tried, “Perhaps I can help you?”
Raguel let out a depressing laugh and paused before he replied as best he could, “I’m sorry Angel, but you can’t help me. No matter how much I love Rosangela, she will never come back. She's gone.”
He didn’t realize it, but he had already told me a whole lot more, than what he probably wanted to.
“Oh, so you loved her?” I smiled at him, meeting his shining eyes that suddenly glowed when they met mine. When he looked away, it was gone. I did the best I could not to stare at him and to close my mouth, but I could have promised myself that his eyes looked like shining halos for the short moment I saw them.
“Angel…” Raguel let out a sigh, pressing down the handle to the church and unlocking the door. Stepping inside, he said, “Rosangela was my fiancée; though, one day she just disappeared. That was years and years ago. But, when you ask if I loved her once; no I don't because I still love her even if she is gone and will never come back.”
The smile quickly escaped from my lips and I laid a hand on Raguel’s shoulder, when he sat down on the bench inside the church. I saw him looking up on the cross and folding his hands, just like he was praying.
“If you don’t believe in it, Raguel, then who will?” I asked in a gentle voice, “Or if Canlagos’s pastor doesn't believe in it, then who will?”
He didn’t answer me. He just nodded his head like he was going to tell me something but not a sound slipped from his lips.
“I have already told you enough for today, Angel,” He said, getting up from the bench again. “I think it’s time to go to bed now. Sleep well.”
With that, he left me alone and went into his room. I looked at him the whole way down the hall, until he turned left and was out of sight. Slowly, I walked back to my room and closed the door after me. There was something Raguel didn’t tell me; something secret. That night I fell asleep with more thoughts than my mind was able to have control over. What Ben had told me, the inscription on the tree and Raguel’s eyes that had seemed to shine, when he had looked at me this evening: nothing was coming together.