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New Orleans, Louisiana
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
He had been alone so long. Among the living but not of them.
Mary had come back for him. They'd been together all those many years ago, separated by his father's will and the whole screwed-up, broken-down world.
But that was the past. She was again within his reach, and this time they would not be torn apart.
It had begun.
He climbed the stairs to his grandmother's bedroom, treading softly, careful not to wake her. Moonlight crept around the edges of the closed drapes, creating bright knifelike slivers on the dark stairs.
He knew these steps so well he could climb them blind. How many hundreds of times had he carried up a tray of food or drink first for his mother, struck down while still so young, now for his grandmother?
He peeked in at her sleeping form. She lay in her bed, head propped up on pillows, coverlet tucked neatly around her. He wrinkled his nose at the smell—of age and illness. She'd become so frail over the past months. So thin, not much more than skin and bones. And weak. Hardly able to lift her head.
Unable to fight him off.
He frowned. Now, why had he thought that? He loved his grandmother; he owed her his life. When his mother had passed, she'd sacrificed everything to raise him. For these past twenty-two years, she had supported and guided him. She had believed in him. In who he was and who he was meant to be.
He shook his head, clearing it. He had told her about Mary's return. They'd argued. She'd said terrible things about Mary. Ugly, hateful things. Each word had pierced his heart.
But in this, his love for Mary, he would not be swayed.
He crossed to the bed. The jagged moonlight fell across her torso and onto him. He lifted his hands into the light, spreading his fingers.
Blood staining his hands.
The blood of the lamb. Splattering on impact.
He blinked at the clearly spoken words. He looked behind him at the empty room, then down at his sleeping grandmother. "Who's there?" he asked.
You know me. I am the one who's always with you.
"Father," he whispered, "is it you?"
Yes, my Son. What troubles you tonight? It has begun. You should rejoice and fear not, for through the Father the Son will be glorified!
"One of your Holy ones, Father. I had to. He came upon me so suddenly—"
A martyr. He will be remembered, sanctified for his role on this day of new beginning.
At his Father's words, certainty washed over him. Renewed purpose and peace. "Yes, Father. It is indeed the day you foretold and the one I have awaited. I'm in your hands, Father." He bowed his head. "I am your servant. Direct me."
Leave the old one now. Remember, only one can stand beside you.
Yes. Her moment is coming as well.
He eased one of the bed pillows from behind his grandmother's head. He gazed down at her, drinking in her face, emotion swamping him. What would he do without her?
Tears stinging his eyes, he plumped the pillow and bent and carefully replaced it, cautious not to awaken her.
He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Good night, Grandma. Sleep well."
Copyright © 2011 by Erica Spindler