"I can't," Winry said, her voice exhausted. She had been sitting up late, a clean white cloth spread over the kitchen table and the innards of a client's automail laid out before her. "I can't do this any more, Al. I just can't."
(more) Alphonse had been sitting up with her - automail was a bit beyond his ken, but it was a little too warm in the upstairs at the moment, and besides, if he set foot in the same room that Edward was in right now, no one would leave happy.
He looked at the ceiling as Winry covered her face with both hands. She wasn't crying this time, just exhausted, and Alphonse could relate. It was weary work, trying to heal someone who did not want to be saved, and Alphonse for the life of him could not figure out what was going on in his brother's brain right now.
Edward, who had not spoken a word in the two weeks since he had been home. He had not hardly eaten a bite, he barely moved, sitting up in his bed and staring silently out the window, looking for something no one else could see.
Alphonse understood he had been hurt. Everyone had been hurt in the conflict, it was hard to lose someone you were so close to - but this living death that Edward seemed to exist in was almost worse. And nothing seemed like it would snap him out of it, not even when Alphonse had punched him.
Winry ran her hands up to her bandanna, leaving small flecks of oil on her cheeks and forehead. She sighed deeply, and looked at Alphonse, eyes red-rimmed. "We have got to do something," she said firmly. "He's family."
"I know," Alphonse said. "I just don't know what."(less)
"It's a monster."
"With no trees."
"And strange tentacles underwater snaking everywhere."
"It's one snarled mess of concrete and steel."
"And the tentacles are the subways."
(more) "It needs googly eyes, so it can be a real monster."
Crossing into NYC I don't feel the pangs of home, not like when I see Portland from the air and its mostly green and blue, not like when I drive without thinking into town, out of town, i-5, i-84, 405, 205, to a place i know and knew and even though the facades shift almost daily to a constructed kitsch, it is still home, and i will forever crave it's quirk. approaching new york though, is familiar, but more strange. from the bus, nyc is a cluster of concrete, too tight, too close and where are the trees and there are people not trees and people don't grow that tall so you can't see them from jersey, or from the sky or from the water. buildings, monster buildings.
one year, two years, three years, people tell me. you can't expect it to happen overnight. and besides, that other place, the green place will always be your first home and the job that brought me to nyc ended. the kids were great, but it was the worst relationship. teeth gritted through open smiles. yes, i don't mind. yes, you can change the temperature. 76 degrees, though, is too too much.
i have never been more criticized, never felt so much of the unsaid push against people--text across the office in a meeting, gchat to the person sitting next to you about the person sitting across from you. yes, it was bad, and soon, the job will be finished and i will be free to live in nyc and not hate my job.
let me be clear:
impossible-fortunate one day will be
the girl who takes your hand, for she
so blesséd needs no more prayers follow;
i myself with heart so hollow
brimming now with only hate,
(more) hypocrisy (my middle name),
& shame for how i mistreat all--
so blind-intent to make her fall--
ignore all else in wicked haste,
sip pleasures with a vulgar taste,
& use & misuse & abuse;
wise all would be to stay removed
from me--no possibility
it seems, i'd best abandoned be.
not knowing incredible how you are seen
does place precariously me
as now to fawn would only serve
your rage--despite how much deserved--
so (as requested) i shall pray
& answer questions best i may
to bring the ending you so need
then stay away. don't pray for me.(less)
His breaths are shaky exhales and inhales. The polished railing is strong and solid, and he clutches it like a babe would a doll.
Below, the chanting continues, a tide of voices rising and falling. Another time, he thinks, will kill him. It would be a good death(more), a worthy death.
Not one he wants, not one he can justify to himself. He did not choose this, plucked from the woods where his mother had left him. Their will, he was told, time and time again, and he wishes he had been left to die of cold like the rest of them, unwanted children lined in a row like so many trees.
They cosseted him and doted on him, made lovely noises with their bright red lips, rocked him to sleep at night, and prepared him for sacrifice.
He reflects on this, but he knows his thoughts mean nothing. He is not what they want; they are uninterested in him, but they love the image they have been presented.
He steadies himself on the railing, forces his body up, feeling as Atlas holding the sky.
He wants to fall, but he is not allowed.
So he doesn't, and the waves of worship continue to wash over him.
promise me you'll pray for me.
i'm gonna be gone soon you know.
my weak heart barely beats,
and i can barely see you're pretty face.
promise me that, until i'm gone,
you'll sit here and hold my hand.
(more) i need a hand to hold.
i feel so lonely now.
are you still there?
are you still holding my hand?
i can feel you now.
you're so warm.
you're hand is so warm.
i'm so cold.
so very cold.
can you stay a little while longer?
i'm gonna be gone soon.
i can feel my heart weakening.
if only i had hair,
to make me feel beautiful
as i lay here, exposed, in front of you.
i can feel myself slipping away.
death feels funny, dear.
it's not actually that terrible.
it's like falling asleep.
oh, but before i go.
know that i love you.
i love you so much.
please stay until the end.
don't cry, please.
i can feel your tears.
they're so warm, dear.
i'm so cold.
please pray for me.
there's a light there, right there.
is it for me?
it's so pretty.
i think i have to go now, love.
pray for me.
when my mother is on her knees
with her hands clasped and shaking
and her eyes squeezed shut in concentration
I know she prays for me
when tears leak through those clenched eyes
(more) and she bows her head in resignation
when her shoulders shake as she whispers
I know she prays for me
I know she prays for a daughter who will never be pure
whose vibrant white has been marred with red
I know she prays for forgiveness to a crime she did not commit
forgiveness for being unable to do better
what she does not know
is that if a God really did exist, if he really was there
he wouldn’t have time for me
he’d attend to the brave, the virtuous, the deserving
but still she prays for me
"I'm not nervous," I said flippantly, before my entrance. "Pray for me."
I guess you did, because God certainly blessed opening night. I was Sylvia, the main role...and somehow I didn't forget my lines, or botch a note, and was able to do a split at the end for(more) the first time.
And then I was at your house, right after you kissed me for the first time, and the hugest darn spider ran out and jumped on my head. You squashed it with a book. "You better pray for me," I said in horror. "I probably have rabies from that thing."
We went off to college, naively hoping we could make a long-distance relationship work. "Pray for me," I whispered in your ear as we hugged for the last time.
Two months later, I called you and told you it wasn't working between us anymore. "Pray for me anyways," I begged you. You hung up.
Somehow you ended up as my skydiving instructor on my twenty-first birthday. I was strapped to your chest and you helped me fit the goggles on. We faced the insurmountable sky.
"Pray for me. I'm nervous," I muttered in sheer terror.
"Have been. Always will," you murmured back. Before I could even blush, you hurled us out of the plane and I screamed.
Backstage, before my first Broadway performance ever, I was hyperventilating backstage. You came up to me in the darkness and prayed for me.
I didn't miss a note and got a standing ovation.
Now, it's twilight. You're kneeling in the wet grass, looking lost.
"Cat got your tongue?" I ask, even though I'm buzzing with nerves.
"Pray for me," you stuttered. "I'm nervous."
I prayed, and you slipped a ring on my finger.(less)
I wonder why you made your choice? I wonder why you told me one thing and did another? I feel forsaken. I feel, and am almost positive, that the things I was told were said to keep me happy and quiet. You said what you did to make me(more) feel good about who I was; but in reality you thought that I was a good for nothing and would never be anyone. Why did you do that? Why couldn't you tell me what you really thought? Why did you lead me on? Did you like the attention, perhaps the feeling that you were liked? I sense a touch of hypocrisy. You complain about a person in your life that is similar from my perspective and yet you can manage to do the same thing. Now, I do have to keep in mind the way you feel; there is a reason that I have this issue. Don't get me wrong, I am happy for you. I want the best for you, because I love you. Though, why did you go against your word? Why couldn't you end it at the beginning? I love you, I always will, and I will never forget. I have some questions I want to be answered before I go. I can live without anything, but I can't live without love! No matter what I say, or what I do. I truly and deeply love you as much as a human being can. So, through my life and travels; pray for me. I will, and have done the same for you. Pray for me.
[A love letter to a girl that will never get it.] (less)
Sancta maria, mater dei; hora pro nobis, peccatoribus. Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
Now and at the hour of our deaths.
One cried into the other's shoulder, and they held each other close as the bombs wracked their bodies.
"They'll be here soon," sniffed the smaller. "They'l(more)l reach the north, and take me away, and oh god who were we to think we could get away with world domination-" His frantic ramblings hitched into another round of sobbing.
"Shush. We will survive. We have both lost wars before- what makes this one any different? A bigger scale? A different opponent?" The blond rubbed his- friend's?- arm in an attempt at reassurance. "It will be months, possibly years of suffering, but I will think of you in the darkness. Pray for me, let your faith sustain you like it never could me, and I will let my memories of you do the same."
And so the smaller, the weaker, he full of life, crumpled within himself, hands folded in desperate prayer to a god even he had begun to doubt.
"Have faith. I have not perished yet," comes Germany's voice, and the tears come again, tears for a broad-shouldered love as much as a tiny one.
The stars are cold and harsh in the Alps, as troops march on a tired populace and a government full of hate. Two men lay curled together under them, savoring what may be their last night together and praying for just one more day.(less)
He didn't believe in praying. Hadn't he said it time and time again? His brother prayed, said, in their 'line of work,' it was never a bad idea to bow to the option that someone was listening. He, however, had seen too much shit to pray-- and even if(more) he did, and there was somehow an upper deity, he hated the big guy with all he had.
So why was he praying now?
He didn't pray religiously, just when he was getting ready to enter an especially dangerous hunt, his olive eyes would glance to the skies, his mind falling on one person. Not person. Angel. He knew his angel wasn't god, that he couldn't 'bless' him or whatever. It wasn't even that this angel was an angel. It was that he was /his/ angel, his personal guardian to look over him.
'Pray for me, man,' His mind would produce unconsciously, as though his head didn't even create a coherent thought. It was just how he felt, forming into faint words in the back of his mind. Gun in hand and holy water pressed to his chest, guarding his optimistic, hopeful brother who had been kicked into the dirty every time he dared to pray, he moved on. On his shoulder, he felt a gentle warmth. Not something to make him sweat, but more like the light touch of skin on skin.
He looked up at me, his eyes emptier than I'd ever seen them, and with a voice that was only just loud enough to hear he said "Pray for me tonight. I might not be able to pray for myself."
Then he disappeared into his house, the front door(more) slightly clicking closed and the living room light blinking off. It could seem as if no one was home. Looking back, I guess that would be foreshadowing when he no longer would be.(less)
Christina had daydreamed about visiting other planets, as any other science geek with an active imagination would. But to actually be going? And there were people there, and she would be defending them? It was mind-boggling. She stepped into the small church near Central Park that she attended every(more) Sunday, like clockwork, like the good Christian girl she was and had been raised to be. She usually listened intently to the sermon, but this week she was too distracted. "Do these people even know me? Do they pray for me?" It was a good question, when one lived in a huge city like New York; most people just went about their business and didn't talk to the others they encountered. But it was weird in a church, weird that it didn't feel like a community like the Midwestern megachurch - much bigger than this one, and yet closer - that Christina had grown up in. She knew God would be watching her from wherever planet she was expected to travel to, because God never left. But suddenly, the fact that none of these people would miss her and none would be looking out for her felt like it mattered when it never had previously. She stared up at the heavens, faintly hearing the minister's words about "original sin" or something-or-other, and asked God to let them know she was there, let them know she was fighting for all of them and always would be, no matter where she flitted off to in her future adventures.(less)
Ask him for me, ask him to absolve my sins and remove this hole in my soul. He'll listen to you (he loves you afterall), he'll hear you even when you think he's waging his private wars Up There. Cas has always heard your prayers, and maybe he can make me(more) whole again even though I don't deserve it, after everything I did, after Ruby and Lucifer and the demon blood. Cas has always heard your pleas, even when he was filled with ancient beasts writhing and fighting to stop him from heading your pleas.(less)
"So," he starts, pulling out a pamphlet. "I got another one."
"Seriously?" Setting her mug down with a fair bit of force, she leans back in her chair. "How many times is that this week, five? Six?"
"Don't be ridiculous; it's the fourth one."
"Like that(more) makes it any better! I swear, I can't stand those self-righteous assholes." In a swift, irate motion she snatches the offending literature and tears it in halves, quarters, eighths, stopping only when the laws of nature deemed the scraps small enough. She shoved the pieces in a plastic bag she carried in her purse, joining them with their predecessors. There's going to be a bonfire in the future, no doubt about that. He laughs at her ferocity, and she turns her furious gaze towards him. "How can you sit there and laugh? These people, they're awful. You shouldn't have to deal with it!"
"Eh, I don't really need to get mad - you're angry enough for the both of us." At her affronted expression, he quells his mirth. She really did get herself worked up on his behalf, and it really is endearing. "It's really not a big deal," he offers, shifting their chairs closer. "At this point they can't really do anything to me."
"But-!" She grabs his hand, suffering pain of impotency. "They can't... I just want you to be able to love who you want without shitheads making a fuss about it."
"Hey, this guy was a lot better than the lady who stopped by on Tuesday. Remember how she went on about me burning in hell for my egregious sins?" She nods, seething at the memory. "This guy just shook his head sadly and said he'd pray for me. Now isn't that sweet?" She huffs, torn between amusement and annoyance.(less)