|tell me how's the way to be
Author: gleeful.geek PM
A church and a red-headed nun might not have been her first choice, but she'll take comfort where she can. :Oneshot:Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Spiritual - Words: 1,061 - Favs: 1 - Published: 12-23-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2982188
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
tell me how's the way to be
She finds herself in a church.
There's irony in there somewhere, she's sure. She has never been a religious person, often favoring the agnostic side of the scale if not tipping all the way over into atheistic. She's never quite been able to believe in the just God that so many preach, not with what she's seen, much as she would like to think that people's lives mean more than they do. Churches in general hold no comfort for her, no peace.
But a church is someplace other than home, and it is open late on Christmas Eve when everywhere else is closed, and there is light coming from within; so she enters, albeit timidly. As if she is tip-toeing in on the middle of some strange girl's first communion.
The inside of the building is expansive, in contrast to the shabby exterior. For a few moments she looks around with something like awe, taking in the stained glass pictures that tell their own stories, the white ceiling that arches high above her head and makes her feel so small, the wooden cross and the altar that are meant to be the focus of the room. The rows and rows of empty pews.
She takes another step and it sounds too loud against the immaculate floor.
"May I help you?"
The voice is gentle but she still jumps, backing away instinctively, hugging herself without thinking about it. How did she miss—?
"Are you alright?"
It's a broad question. She shakes her head, meaning it as a refusal to answer, but the spark of sympathy in the other woman's eyes says she took it as something else. And maybe she wouldn't be so wrong.
The woman is a nun, she thinks, or something like it; dressed all in black with the wide white collar and everything she's seen in movies but didn't think people actually wore anymore. A mass of scarlet hair is pulled back from her face, standing out against everything else.
"Are you hurt?"
Still with the concerned-sounding questions she can't seem to answer. The nun takes a careful step closer. Now that her heart isn't beating out of her chest she can see that the other woman isn't so much a woman as a girl, maybe not much older than herself. They might have gone to the same high school in another life (maybe a better one, she thinks).
"Would you like to sit down?"
That's at least an easier one to answer. She nods slowly and sits at the edge of the nearest pew, every muscle in her body tensed to run if the need presents itself. Safe inside of her own paranoia.
Her companion is looking at her oddly, as if she can't decide whether to press on or savor her small victory and leave it at that.
"My name is Andrea," the girl-nun offers, a compromise between silence and interrogation.
She tilts her head in acknowledgement but volunteers nothing.
"Why are you here so late?" Andrea asks. "Isn't there anyone waiting for you to come home?"
She considers, weighs the technicalities of the situation against what's really being asked.
"No," she answers finally, voice a broken rasp due to lack of use. She finds she doesn't have much to say these days.
"I see." And there's something in her voice that says that Andrea does, so she doesn't resent it.
"It's quiet in here," the girl-nun continues. "It can be very calming. Or it can drive a person mad."
She thinks she can understand that, even if it's not something she would have expected a nun to say (even a girl-nun with bright hair). She thinks she might stick around to figure out which kind of quiet this place holds. It's warm and it's calm and she can imagine much worse places to be.
They stay in silence for a few minutes, the nun exuding nothing but patience while she looks awkwardly around. Her gaze catches and sticks on a pretty woman in white, carved from marble and frozen in time.
"That's the Virgin," Andrea says.
She clears her throat. "She looks sad."
A shrug, a ripple of red. "She had good reason to be."
After a while the nun tries once more.
"Why are you here?"
She finds she can't, or won't, come up with a satisfactory answer to that. She only knows that this place and this person are slowly filling her with a strange and alien sense of peace, one that she would like to hold onto for as long as she can.
"I know 'sanctuary' doesn't mean what it used to," she says quietly. "But if it's alright, do you think I could just…stay here, for a little while?"
It's evasive and not really an answer. Andrea cocks her head to the side. A few stray strands of hair escape their bonds to fall on her cheek.
"What's your name?" the girl-nun asks finally.
Andrea takes only a moment to consider before she smiles, wide and brilliant and welcoming.
"I mean to keep the old meaning of the word for as long as I can, Mary. You're welcome to stay for as long as you need." She hesitates. "May I sit?"
Mary swallows around the lump in her throat and nods.
They sit next to each other on the hard pew and—eventually—she doesn't have to battle the urge to run. They talk aimlessly about deep things and pointless things and there are hours that stretch on while they say nothing at all.
The silence here is definitely, she decides, the calming kind.
She knows that too soon the sun will rise and she will have to get up and move on with her life. She knows that sooner or later she's going to need to face the things she runs and hides from now.
But for now she has a quiet church and a red-headed girl-nun at her side, and she thinks that for the time being it's all she needs of peace.