The local church holds a midweek service, after which the parish priest visits the Church of England primary school. Midweek sermons have to be brief, as the communion service should last no more than half an hour. There were about thirteen people present, which wasn't unusual.
So the priest, Reverend Alan Peart, 51, said his sermon would be the shortest ever, indeed consist of single words only by which he'd like to hear responses from the congregation of hymn titles or other relevant music.
"Grace," said the priest.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet thou art," sang Mrs Grace Smith, 60, sat alone.
"Excellent! Very good. Yes, Grace indeed! So next one we'll have is Pilgrim."
"To be a Pilgrim," said Mrs Eleanor Jones, 72, also sat alone.
"Yes, perhaps a bit easy that one. Cross."
"On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross," sang Mr Paul Wright, awkwardly, 62, alongside his wife, Carrie, 55, looking at him.
"Harder one then," said the priest. "Let's try the sea."
"Eternal Father, Strong to Save," said Mr Geoff Brown, 70, sat with his friend Mr John Jones, also 70.
"Very good Geoff. Well, a few more. Sending a letter. That's a hard one, perhaps."
"Dear Lord and Father of Mankind," said Mrs Ida Cartwright, 81, sat alongside her friend Miss Joyce Junkin, 79.
"Yeah. Very good Ida," said the priest. "Let's see, oh er. Making love our goal and..."
"Mem'ries, light the corners of my mind, misty water-coloured memories, of the way we were," immediately sang Mrs Janet Ward, 62, sat alongside Mr Peter Ward, 70, who turned slowly and stared at her.
"Yes, well," said the Reverend Peart, "I was going to say how God has a tune for every aspect of our life and world, but perhaps we'd better move on. Let us pray."
At this very same time Mrs Ward's daughter, Mrs Janice Capron, 30, housewife, once a born again Christian, and now nothing much, yet old habits die hard regarding her lapsed believing husband, was busy putting clothes into the washing machine. There was a knock on the door from their postman, Mr Peter Cornet, 55, who had some letters for them and a second bag on his person.
"Your last day," she said, noticing the other bag.
"It is," he said.
"I have a gift for you," she said. "Come in. What have you received from others?"
"Look in this bag," he said. "Three boxes of chocolates, quite a number of envelopes with money in I think, a set of some carriages for my 000 railway, a fishing reel, a fishing line, a book for birdwatchers..."
"I have two gifts for you. Come upstairs."
She took him into the bedroom. The bed had fresh sheets and pillows on, pulled back. "Undress," she said, and she did herself.
They got into bed, both naked, and she made skillful passionate love with him, after which he was quite exhausted, and yet had his round to continue.
"That was utterly fantastic," he said, getting out as she sat on the side of the the bed combing her hair before she got dressed herself.
"Did you enjoy that?" she asked, dressing, obviously knowing he had.
"Yes indeed. I cannot imagine what my other present is!"
"Oh yes of course," she said, and leaned over to a tube with pound coins in, released one and gave it to him.
"What's this for?" he asked.
"Your other present. No no, it's just your other present. My husband Robert said so."
"Your husband? What did your husband say?"
"When I told him that it was your last round today, and that we ought to give you a present, he said, 'Fuck him, give him a pound.'"
By this time the priest, Alan Peart, had gone into the local primary school, where he was invited in to the 28 years old Miss MacIntosh's class that included Janice Capron's 7 years old daughter, Jenny Capron, among a class of twenty children in total.
"I wonder," said Reverend Peart, "if you children can imagine going to heaven. I wonder about heaven. Would you float upwards, like head first, or is there another way to heaven? What does heaven mean?"
"Hands first," said Peter Wright, just turned 8, grandson of Paul Wright in the congregation earlier that morning.
"Oh," said the priest, who had been trying to suggest that heaven is something else. "How is that then?"
"Because they are praying, sir," said the boy clasping his hands and pushing them up into the air.
"Oh I do like that answer," said the priest. "But I wonder where we think heaven is, like is it..."
"Feet first," said Jenny Capron.
"Hello Jenny," said the priest. "Feet first?"
"Yes, because I went in the bedroom and mummy had her feet right up and her legs with no clothes shouting 'Oh God I'm coming I'm coming' and the mikman was lying on top of her stopping her otherwise she'd have gone to heaven."
Reverend Peart stood stunned, and said quickly, thinking of when he met Janice Capron, "I'm thinking heaven isn't up there, Janice, but is deep inside us. Heaven is, er, being good. Let's talk about being good, everyone."
He looked at Miss MacIntosh who had her hand over her mouth, because she was giggling and looking through the corners of her eyes at Reverend Alan.
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