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Pray for the Preacher's Daughter

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Sunday 23rd February 2014

It was long after the rest of the congregation had departed when Bonnibel finally shuffled along to the end of the pew and debated on whether to stand or not. She’d been sitting at the back for a while by this point, quietly contemplating everything that had transpired since she arrived. Which was to say, not a great deal really.

Her fingers fiddled absently with the frayed ends of the cushion in front of her. The seam was coming undone quite well, trailing red thread across the pew. Bonnie idly wondered when the last reupholstering had been done in here.

She rolled her watch over so she could see the face and sighed at the time. She’d been sitting in here for hours… well, nearly hours. Now, almost eleven in the morning, she’d been loitering in the church for two hours. Loitering. She mused on that word for a moment, amused by the image it gave when combined with ‘church’.

One of the doors creaked open, letting in a short breath of air, stirring Bonnie’s hair and causing her to look around. The preacher strolled through the doors, face adorned with a gentle frown, garbed in his usual black. He wasn’t a very bright fellow, always dressing in greyscale tones, very boring.

Bonnibel shifted unconsciously and his gaze whipped around to her, eyes widening. “Oh,” he said softly, stopping. “Are you… Why are you still here, dear?”

She shrugged. “I just… I just wanted to sit in the quiet for a little while. To think,” she murmured, not at all comfortable with telling him the whole story. That was… for another time perhaps.

Still, he smiled and nodded, sliding onto the pew beside her, his hands pressed into the red leather of the seat. “My son used to do that too,” he told her. “Some days he’d just sit in here for hours. He wasn’t sure why, at least he never gave me a proper answer. But sometimes it’s nice.” His eyes turned up then, glazing over as he disappeared into the past. “He said it was the way the light comes through the stained windows,” he went on in little more than a murmur.

Bonnie smiled, understanding exactly what his son had meant. “Yes,” she breathed.

The reverend turned back to her, eyes refocusing on the present, and cast a hand her way. “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced,” he said. “A shame, given you’ve been here a month now, correct?”

Repaying his smile with one of her own, Bonnie took the offered hand. “Bonnibel Banner.”

“Hansen Abadeer,” he replied. “You live with your uncle, don’t you?”

She bobbed her head in affirmative. “Yes, that’s right.”

He eyed her strangely then, but thankfully didn’t press the matter or even enquire after her parents. Those conversations always ended badly. His blue eyes searched hers though, darting from one to the other as if convinced he could find the secrets of her soul hidden in there somewhere.

“And you’ve settled in alright?” he asked. At her curious expression Hansen chuckled. “As the reverend it’s perfectly reasonable for me to enquire of your wellbeing. The souls of everyone in town are in my care. I have to make sure they’re all happy and such.” He flashed her a toothy grin that looked… familiar… somehow.

She shared his smile, only hers was somewhat hazier than his. “I’m doing alright, I suppose,” Bonnie told him. “As well as can be.”

Hansen lifted an eyebrow. “Friends? I hope you haven’t gotten mixed up with the wrong sorts.”

Like Ash? Bonnibel very nearly asked. For reasons she couldn’t place she held that comment in. “I’ve got friends, yes,” she said instead. “I’ve never been one to maintain a particularly wide circle of friends, but half a dozen is good.”

He laughed at that. “Yes, I’m familiar with that sentiment,” he said around a grin. “I hear you’ve gotten a job at the school, also.”

“Wow, Pippa wasn’t kidding when she said things travel fast in a small town,” Bonnie replied, hoping her tone was lighter than she felt. “I start next week,” she went on. “Tutoring is something I’ve done before. Never as an actual job, but I’m familiar with the way it works. Should be fun.”

Hansen resumed chuckling at that. “Fun… Hum, yes, well. If you can enjoy your work then half the battle’s already won, wouldn’t you say?”

“I suppose that’s true,” Bonnie agreed.

Abadeer! her brain cried exultantly. His name is Abadeer. Same as that grumpy girl. Bonnie blinked as the realisation hit her. Then she had to bite back a bout of what would no doubt have proven to be uncontrollable laughter.

Marceline Abadeer, world-class sour grape and glacial, socially inept rebel-child, was the preacher’s daughter. It was every bad movie trope all wrapped up in one person. And for inexplicable reasons, Bonnibel found the whole notion utterly hilarious.

Oh that was priceless.

Bonnie caught herself then, internal chuckles dying away instantly. She knew all about labels. Sucking in a deep breath, Bonnibel refused to get wrapped up in typecasts. That wouldn’t do at all.

Instead, she stood, excusing herself quietly with mutterings of having something she had to do. She didn’t, of course, it was just an excuse, but that was alright. Bonnie hastened from the church and stood on the grass, staring vacantly down the slope into town. Reich was small, pitifully small, consisting of a few shops (a café, a bookstore, a music shop, a few places for clothes, two restaurants, a pub complete with rooms for rent) and that was basically it. Outside of town were farms; lots of them, and the town had been set up on rolling grasslands. It was quite a nice place.

Bonnie headed down the slope from the church, aiming for the fringes of town. A hill there was capped in a single tree, spreading branches casting most of the hill’s crown in shade no matter the hour. It was a nice place, overlooking the lake (not the ditch, thankfully). The area out by the lake was sparsely forested, but on the town side of the shimmering water a swathe had been cut through the trees for fields.

Yes, it was nice to sit under the tree. Even in the late summer heat it wasn’t unpleasant. A light breeze coiled through the leaves, warm to be sure, but refreshing just the same.

Letting her legs fold beneath her, Bonnibel rested her head against the bark and exhaled. This was a good place to sit and just… not think. A good place to pretend everything was different.

She sat there until her stomach made her get up to eat. And if it hadn’t, she probably wouldn’t have moved all day.