Creative Writing Contest: Third Place – Estéban the Sassy Monk

Alyssa Sheets

Estéban let out a loud sigh of disdain as he gazed upon his homely monk’s robe. The religious garb left much to be desired; its knobby brown material was frayed at the bottom from constant use, though he had only been issued it two months ago. The utilitarian cord belt hung listlessly from his angular hips as a dead fish hangs from a fisherman’s line. Estéban stared at himself in the mirror, hating what the reflection had become.

In the bygone days of his youth Estéban had been known throughout all of Venezuela for his flamboyant fashion. Throngs of people in Caracas would swarm around him in the central plaza just to catch a glimpse of his latest style. Tall hats made out of fruit, bejeweled sunglasses, and oversize caftans gave Estéban the nickname “el Rey,” or “the king,” of Caracas.

As Estéban reminisced on his previous fame, he suddenly whipped his head up and snapped his fingers as he said to the reflection, “I may be a monk now, but as God is my witness, I am still sassy!” At that moment Estéban felt some of his old confidence begin to creep back. He turned and walked out of the chapel to Tía Garcia’s fabric store across the street.

A few hours later, mass began in the chapel. The communion was made ready, the alter boys were patiently waiting, and the candles were lit, but Estéban was no where to be found. Just as the organ player was about to play the first note of the processional music, the chapel doors swung open. There, in all his glory, stood Estéban in a glittering magenta monk’s robe. His wrists were encircled by stacks of gold bracelets, and his feet were adorned with embroidered silk slippers. Estéban strutted down the church aisle, beaming with pride and basking in the fifty pairs of eyes taking in his ensemble.

“¡Ay Dios mío!” exclaimed Father Juan at the sight of Estéban. “What has gotten into you, my son? Don’t you know that monks are meant to be modest?” “It may be difficult to understand,” explained Estéban, “but now I feel that I am finally showing my true self. I just know that God would want me to express my passion to the world, and bring joy to others through my fashion. This is me. This is the real Estéban.”

With that Estéban turned around and took another lap down the church aisle. Children giggled with delight and all the parishioners clapped and whistled to show their support. After striking one last pose, Estéban quieted the crowd and signaled for the organ player to start the service. Estéban conducted the rest of the service as he always did, but this time with a sense of rejuvenation from his new style. From then on, citizens from all over Venezuela would come to Estéban’s chapel on Sundays to see the famous sassy monk.

The church was so delighted by the enormous amount of donations from the visitors that it even gave Estéban a stipend to allow him to create more outlandish outfits. Eventually Estéban even earned enough money to start his own sewing shop, where he employed impoverished Venezuelan mothers to make colorful robes for monks and priests. The robes were readily exported to countries all around the world, and soon Estéban became a billionaire.

But rather than spend his fortune buying new robes for himself, Estéban came up with a brilliant plan. For one month Estéban took a leave of absence from his church, and locked himself in his sewing room. The citizens of Caracas worried about Estéban, and rumors quickly spread about what he was doing. Finally, on the first day of spring, Estéban threw open the doors of his sewing room and carried out armfuls of fine silk robes. He invited the whole city of Caracas into his home and distributed thousands of the robes. There was a robe waiting for everyone, no matter what size or shape. The robes were so beautiful that some of the recipients cried at the very sight of them. A big smile spread across Estéban’s face as his saw how happy he had made his friends and neighbors. He knew that his sassiness had paid off after all.