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Valley of Tears

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Could the Maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart?
One life is all I am
Right now I can barely stand

Kalinda was never particularly religious.

Catholic school, yes. Kalinda had gone to St. Mary's, and even Leela had. It's no coincidence, really; every other diocese has a St. Mary's.

But twelve years in one tiny school, and you see all the dirty sides of religion—the youth group parties with vodka in the girls' bathroom, the abortion to hide the teen pregnancy scandal, the third great commandment: "Wives, be submissive to your husbands." And so the Church had vanished with Leela.

But every once in a while, she longs. She cries. She hurts.

It's so rare that Kalinda even acknowledges the hurt. But there in the elevator, she crumples. The slide down the wall continues until she's on her knees. The cool floor on her knees stirs muscle memory

-have mercy on us and on the whole world for the sake of his sorrowful passion have mercy on-

And she cries harder.

-conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee-

What a year.

-oh mother of the word incarnate despise not my petition-

Alicia was her last tenuous lifeline. She'd known it would all catch up with her sooner or later. She'd made preparations to disappear again, to fade out and resurface in Seattle. Albuquerque. New York. But then Alicia had come along. Perfect Alicia, sweet Alicia, Alicia who had no idea how deeply she'd been betrayed. Alicia who no idea just how deep and pervasive the ugliness ran in her world.

And she had loved Alicia.

-and help especially those most in need of thy mercy-

It was going to be okay, she had thought. She had thought, oh she thought that Alicia was a sign. That maybe restarting really was possible. That maybe there was some good in this world and she wasn't damned to a hell of her own making.

-mourning and weeping in this valley of tears turn then most gracious advocate thine eyes-

And here she is again. She can start over with Sophia, bide her time in Chicago until the past finally overtakes her, then vanish to the west, to the south, leave these bleak Midwestern winters behind.

She rides the elevator to the ground floor, back to the top. Down again. Miraculously, no one gets on.

-remember oh most gracious virgin mary that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection implored your help or sought your intercession was left unaided-

On her way home, she drives through Cathedral District, nods curtly as she passes Holy Name.

-of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit-

So be it. Amen.