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My First Confession

by Phyllis Reilly

“Bless me father for I have sinned, this is my first confession.”
“What sins do you wish to confess?” 
"I broke the seventh commandment."

"Do you know what the seventh commandment is?" Fr. Murphy is trying not to laugh. A child’s first confession is serious business. He waits and listens.
“Yes, father, I do.” 
“Whom did you break the seventh commandment with?” 
“Oh father, it wasn’t a person. It was the gumball machine outside Sam’s candy store on Rogers Avenue. The penny was already in the slot. I just turned the knob and out came the gumball. It wasn’t really stealing but I don’t think I have broken any of the other commandments. I’m only seven years old. I haven’t lived long enough. Maybe as I get older, I’ll have more sins to confess but right now, the seventh commandment is the only one I’ve broken.”
Behind the sliding door of the confessional, Fr. Murphy is laughing so loud that I’m sure the people waiting in line for confession can hear him. I am too shy to ask him what’s so funny.
He gives me absolution and tells me to say three Hail Mary’s and to learn the Ten Commandments. 
He is still laughing when I leave the confessional. 
When I get home, my mother asks me,
“How was your first confession?” 
“I told the priest that I broke the seventh commandment with a gumball machine.”
“What commandment?”
“The seventh commandment. You know the one that says Thou shalt not steal.” 
When I tell my mother what happened, she smiles and gave me a hug.
“What’s so funny? Why are you laughing.?” 
“Nothing. It’s just the idea of you having to tell a priest that you stole that penny, when you didn’t. It was just there in the machine. It didn’t belong to anyone. This was your very first confession. You did a great job, But I think Fr. Murphy is right-- you need to brush up on the Ten Commandments.” 
“You should have said you broke the eighth commandment, Thou shalt not  steal. No worries, Fr. Murphy gave you absolution so you’ll make your First Holy Communion tomorrow. Your father and I are so proud of you.”
“Mom, What ’s the seventh commandment?”
“I can’t remember. You might ask Sr Regina, she’ll know.”
“ I won’t ask her anything. She’s too mean.”
We never spoke about it again. It was a few years later that I realized I had confessed to breaking the seventh commandment, thou shalt not commit adultery, with a gum ball machine.
No wonder Fr. Murphy laughed. 

About the Author

Phyllis Reilly returned to writing after a ten year absence.  She started the Croton Writing Group and is a late bloomer. 
At seventy seven years old she has published her work in a variety of literary magazines: 
Brevity Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Pif Magazine, Ponder Review, Passager Journal, Cottagebytheroad, and Prometheus Dreaming

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