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The Sun Hasn't Died

Man Out of Time

“I’m waking up to ash and dust;
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust.”
Imagine Dragons

“…Oh, you must mean St. Francis’ Episcopal Church,” the Roman Catholic priest in front of me looked almost apologetic as he put his hand lightly on my elbow and guided me back toward the front doors of his church. “Things have most certainly changed since…well…since the 40’s,” he titled his head back to look up at me a bit sheepishly. “But, the Roman Catholic Church still doesn’t ordain women. If it’s a female priest you’re looking for, then it’s an Episcopalian you’ll want.”

“There’s a difference?” I muttered a bit under my breath.

I had hoped he hadn’t heard, but the priest next to me chuckled softly and nodded his head.

“Quite a difference, I assure you,” he removed his hand from my arm as we stepped out into the cool, autumn afternoon. “But, theological differences aside, Mother Eli is an excellent woman to seek out these days. If you need an ear to listen, hers is the best.”

I stopped myself short before correcting the priest’s assumption. I wasn’t looking for “Mother Eli” so I could talk to her. Although, as I ran my hand through my short-cropped hair, I couldn’t help wondering why I was looking for her. I told myself it was just because I wanted to make sure that she was doing all right. The Battle of New York had left even me rattled – I just wanted to follow up on the brief meeting that we had had in the middle of Manhattan’s sudden war zone, and make sure that she was still sane and functioning.

I got directions to the Episcopal church, bid the priest goodbye, and wondered briefly as I loped down the steps of his church, if he was the mysterious, white-dressed priest I had met in the dark nearly two weeks earlier. I paused and looked back over my shoulder at the man, as he stood on the threshold and greeted a parishioner who had passed me on the stairs with her young son. I shook my head, thinking to myself as I looked him up and down – he was too tall and too thin for the man I had met.

There was no doubt in my mind that the masked priest I had met was also a man of the cloth during the day time. I’m not sure why I thought that, but my gut wouldn’t be convinced otherwise. It just seemed like a strange persona to adopt if one was not a priest – in my experience, superhero identities were just an exaggerated extension of one’s own truest self. Captain America and Steven Rogers were both soldiers; my masked alter ego was simply more “super” than my “normal” self, but really, we were one in the same.

Maybe I was making assumptions based on my own observations and on my own story of superhero-dom, but I still found myself eyeing the ministers and priests that I saw on the street a little bit differently now. I don’t know why it mattered so much to me, but there was something about that white-robed priest that had caught my interest. He had been soft-spoken and curiously unarmed, but there had been something about the set of his shoulders and the strength of his stance that suggested that he had a deep reservoir of personal power.

Plus, if nothing else, he had caught my attention because how many vigilantes disguised themselves as priest? He was unconventional, I’d give him that.

And then there was the…thing…that had been about to rip his throat out. That had caught my attention, too. I hadn’t mentioned anything to Fury yet, though. I wasn’t sure what had prompted my reticence, but I wasn’t quite ready to share what I had seen. Fury had his hands full at the moment, anyway – especially with Stark and his random meltdowns. Plus, everyone was still a little shell-shocked; it was only three or so months after the Battle and New York still showed the scars of her encounter with the Chitauri. It was entirely possible that I had imagined the bizarre scene.

I didn’t really, truly believe that the Thing had been a simple construct of my overactive imagination. But, I hadn’t stopped holding out hope that maybe, just maybe, the world wasn’t entirely unraveling down around my ears.

And if I told Fury about what I had seen…well, he’d tear down the city to find the fiend that had rattled the legendary “First Avenger”. He would, inevitably, find the Thing, and whatever it was, and wherever it was from. And I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to face the possibility that the “modern” world was even stranger than I already knew it was.

+ + +

I was so lost in my thoughts, that I didn’t really pay attention to where I was, until I stopped in front of a large, Gothic-style church. A lot had changed in seventy years, but the streets of Brooklyn had - by and large - remained the same. It was immensely gratifying to realize that I still knew my way around the main streets at least; what I didn’t know what slowly being remapped in my mind, as I prowled around at night. Especially since my encounter two weeks earlier, I had taken to prowling around Brooklyn on the nights I couldn’t sleep. Which, as it turned out, were most nights.

I got a nasty jolt of surprise, however, as I eyed the stone-encased sign at the edge of the sidewalk. I blinked at glanced up and down the street - I was precisely where the Roman Catholic priest had told me to be. The irony was, where I was supposed to be was a different church entirely in my memory. In fact, if I hadn’t been so distracted by my thoughts, I would have recognized the address immediately - I had gone to the same church for twenty-three years, before joining the Army. The last time I had seen it, it had been St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church.

Now, the sign said “St. Francis’ Episcopal Church”, plain as day. I pushed a sigh through my clenched teeth and glared at the sign in mounting frustration. Did nothing stay the same?

“‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven,’” a clear, authoritative voice drew me out of my momentary mope.

I glanced to my left, startled, at the woman who was leaning against the wrought iron fence that separated church property from the street. There was a smile around the corners of her mouth, but her eyes were gentle, almost understanding.

“Ecclesiastes,” I grunted, at a loss for anything else to say - was my place out of time that obvious?

“The Byrds, actually,” her smile was infectious and it took me a moment to realize that what she said had made no sense whatsoever.

“No...wait...that’s a quote from Ecclesiastes,” I shook my head as memories of my Catholic childhood surged to the forefront of my mind.

“It’s also a song by the Byrds,” she suddenly frowned, as if realizing that maybe confusing me over something that should have been perfectly familiar was not the best idea. “I’m sorry,” she sighed and reached over to push open the church gate. “I hope I don’t come across as flippant. There was a band in the ‘60’s that came out with a song based on that exact passage. So, you’re right...but I was specifically quoting the first verse of the song, not the Bible.

“Oh,” I pretended to understand and failed miserably.

I glanced from her, to the sign, and felt my mouth turn down into a frown. I usually tried not to mope around when I was out in public, but I couldn’t hide the fact that I was feeling rather overwhelmed. Even my month away from New York City and S.H.I.E.L.D., trying to acclimate myself to the new horizons around me, hadn’t really done much to prepare me for all the ways that my home had changed.

I also didn’t comment that I thought it strange that a priest would quote a secular song. Or, that a secular song would quote the Bible? In any event, the situation was over my personal threshold of “weird.”

“Remembering St. Paul’s?” she motioned for me to step through the open gate; I grudgingly obliged, no longer certain that I wanted to be here any longer.

“Yea,” I ran my fingers through my hair a second time in frustration.

I stopped and looked down at her. She was a lot cleaner than the last time I saw her and there was a welcoming smile in her blue-green eyes. She no longer possessed the grim-lipped and urgent look that had been on her face in the epicenter of battle. In fact, she looked quite at home and I marveled over the thought that she appeared perfectly suited to the collar around her throat.

“Mother Eli?” I stuck out my hand toward her - peculiarity of a female priest aside, I had let my manners slip long enough.

“Captain,” her round face brightened in a true smile as she grasped my hand.

She didn’t shake my hand like the women I was once used to; she had a strong grip, a man’s grip. Although, there had once been a woman who had shaken my hand as she had...I thought wistfully of Peggy, who had fought for her place in the world and had never apologized for the gender she was born with. I tightened my own grip in response and looked Mother Eli in the eye, as equals. She lifted her chin proudly, as if reading my thoughts.

“Please, call me Steve,” I found myself saying, although I hadn’t intended to drop the formalities.

“Steve,” her smile widened and she stepped back to usher me forward toward the waiting church. “Welcome to St. Francis’. Thanks for stopping by.”

“No problem,” I ducked my head and glanced sideways at the stone facade to the left of the red-painted doors; why did she make me feel so awkward? “I just wanted to drop by and make sure you were doing okay.”

“Oh,” this seemed to surprise her, as it was her turn to look away, toward the right. “I’m doing well. Keeping busy, that’s for sure.”

There was an awkward pause as I stepped into the cool shadows inside the narthex, the part of the church that lay immediately behind the front doors. I didn’t linger long there, but instead made a beeline for the nave, which would be the most recognizable part of the building from my seventy year old memories.

I didn’t realize, until I had stepped up beside the very first row of pews, that I had been holding my breath. I looked to the left and to the right of me and up toward the buttressed ceiling.

It was exactly as I remembered it. Some things were different, like the baptismal font and the color of the cushions on the pews, but everything else looked relatively untouched. The glass windows were the same as they had ever been; the chancel, where I had once sat with the choir in my day, was still the same dark, polished wood it had been before I left for Europe. If anything, the wood and the furnishings looked darker with age; I felt as if I had stepped back in time.

“You...they...it’s been well preserved,” I breathed in disbelief as I involuntarily sank into the nearest pew.

“Thank you,” Mother Eli continued to stand by my side, her hands clasped demurely in front of her as she joined me in staring contemplatively down the long length of the church, toward the same altar that I had stared at as a boy. “I’ve had to fight the vestry once or twice over modernizing the sanctuary, but thankfully, we’ve directed those efforts elsewhere. This part of the church has remained practically untouched, thanks to its status as a historic landmark.”

“Good,” I couldn’t think of anything more eloquent in order to verbalize my appreciation for finally finding something that, like myself, Time hadn’t touched. We shared a companionable silence for at least five or ten minutes; I enjoyed the sense of peace and belonging I suddenly felt. It was the first time since being unfrozen, that I had found some place where I felt like maybe I belonged.

“Where did you used to sit?”

The perception of her question threw me off guard. I looked over at her - even sitting, she wasn’t any taller than me - and flashed her a grateful smile.

“I used to sit up there,” I pointed to the chancel. “And when I wasn’t singing in the choir, I sat there,” I pointed to the far right seat on the second pew in the front. “Used to spend a lot of time in here after my parents died.”

I wasn’t sure where the voluntary personal details was coming from, but it was my experience that that sort of thing often came out around men of the cloth. I glanced sideways at Mother Eli again. Apparently, it worked for women of the cloth as well.

“When did they start ordaining women?” I blurted out.

I didn’t know how else to approach the elephant in the room. The sight of her, standing there in somber black, with her white clerical collar, was definitely at odds with her long hair and ample chest. I jerked my eyes down at my hands, after realizing that my eyes hadn’t quite made it the whole way up toward her face. I kept fixating on the area between her neck and her waist, and I could feel my ears growing hot in response to my unintentional rudeness.

“Depends on who you’re talking about,” if Mother Eli noticed me ogling her, she graciously overlooked it. “The Roman Catholics, for example, never have and probably never will recant on their traditional position. But, there are several Christian denominations who have started ordaining women. I’d say it’s a close tie between the Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ as to who ordained first. But, bottom line - women started being ordained for ministry in the 70’s.”

“I thought the Bible said women couldn’t be...well...ordained,” I finished my sentence lamely; I realized as I said it that I didn’t really know how to phrase that statement.

What did it say about women in the Church? I had been too busy surviving the Great Depression, Nazis, and seventy years of the Antarctic, to really argue the subtleties of Christian theology.

“Depends on how you read the Bible,” Mother Eli, who clearly had a better grip on the theological situation, quipped back with a small smile around the corner of her eyes.

“Er…” I didn’t have anything to say to that, except a very lame - “I thought there was only one way to do that.”

“Au contraire,” she looked me right in the eyes and I had to stifle yet another resigned sigh; things had changed way too much, way too fast. “There are many ways to perceive or interpret one single thing. Just...well...look at the Battle of New York,” she waved her hand toward the heavy oak doors behind us and it was her turn to sigh in frustration. “For millennia, we thought Thor and Loki were gods at best, or characters from ancient mythology at worst. Instead, we find out in the space of a day that they are neither. All preconceived ‘knowledge’ - poof!” she threw up her hands as if to simulate the way that precious and long-held beliefs had a tendency of suddenly evaporating on the unsuspecting.

“Bet you’re having a fun time of things lately,” I reached the conversation’s logical conclusion and shook my head slowly.

Was there even any point in believing in anything anymore? I didn’t dare voice the thought, but I was certainly not self-absorbed enough to think that I was the only person thinking such thoughts. I was sure that in the last few months, Mother Eli had had her fill of spiritual crises.

The last thing she needed was mine.

“It’s certainly kept me on my toes,” she chuckled wryly and shook her head as well. “But mostly, people are just hurting. And that’s no different than any time before.”

The silence of the nave seeped between her words and left the conversation dead between us.
I wasn’t ready to delve into my own doubts and insecurities - forget God, I wasn’t even sure if I was willing to have faith in my fellow man or even in myself. I stuck out like a sore thumb; half of what Fury, Stark, and Banner said went completely over my head. The only familiarity I had found was here in the church of my childhood, but even here, in the untouched, unchanging oaken pews, there were unsettling differences. Like female priests and talk of interpreting the Bible differently than in the ways I was taught as a boy.

Nothing ever stayed the same. At some intuitive level, we all know this. But...nothing drove the point home more than going to sleep in 1943 and waking up again in 2013. New millennium, new generation, new wars, new technologies, new beliefs. I was so lost - not physically, but I was a goner mentally and existentially. I was the wrong man in the wrong place in the wrong time.

Mother Eli seemed to sense some of my inner turmoil, as I stared unseeing straight ahead, past the altar, into a time I would never get back. She put her small hand on my shoulder and promptly startled me back into the present. I jerked underneath her touch, but she stayed steady and I could feel the warmth of her fingers seeping through my cotton-polyester-blend shirt to my skin below. I looked over at her hand and absently noted that she had painted her short nails a very soft pink - it was an almost peculiar gesture of femininity in a figure that was, otherwise, strangely neutral. I lifted my eyes and looked at her face; for a moment, I was surprised to see that she didn’t wear any makeup. She was still quite pretty without any of the usual feminine adornment, and under other circumstances (read: if she wasn’t standing in front of me in a priest’s collar) I would have been attracted to her.

She said nothing, as she stood there with her hand laying comfortingly on my shoulder, as if to ground me (however unwillingly) into the modern present. I was thankful for her silence; any acknowledgement of my apparent sadness would have been awkward to address with a total stranger. Especially, a female stranger. Banner had assured me that this was new era, where men could express their inner emotions without severe social reprisal, but I wasn’t buying it.
Until I knew her better...if I ever knew her better...I wasn’t about to drop the facade and show Mother Eli the boy from Brooklyn who still lived inside of Captain America.

I wasn’t showing that side of myself to anyone. I rather thought the chances of me putting down the internal mask of Captain America was as likely as Peggy resurrecting from the dead.


I shouldn’t have thought of her.

“Say,” I twisted in my seat so that Mother Eli’s hand fell naturally to the back of the pew; I suddenly didn’t want to be touched, didn’t want to think about the past. “Have you heard of a masked vigilante on the streets around here?”

Mother Eli blinked, clearly surprised by the sudden change in topic. To her credit, she followed my lead and carried the conversation forward toward a grounding discussion of the present. At the moment, I had no desire to speak of the past or the future.

“You mean Priest?” something like wariness crept into her hazel eyes.

“I would assume so,” I rubbed my chin thoughtfully; my eyes narrowed as I recalled the man’s peculiar choice of costume. “I ran across a man wearing a white suit, a clerical collar, and a red stole. Can’t say I got his name,” the sides of my mouth quirked up in a brief smile.

“Yup, that’s Priest,” Mother Eli nodded an affirmative as her expression turned thoughtful. “He showed up here about a year and a half, or so, ago. Been doing good in the streets since then. Nearly had Brooklyn’s violent crime statistics down into the double digits, before the Battle of New York."

“What do you know about him?” I perked up, instantly intrigued.

There were easier ways to get this information - if, in fact, Mother Eli had any information to provide - but all those ways included either Fury or Stark. And I had no interest in involving S.H.I.E.L.D just yet.

“Not much - no one does,” the petite priest shrugged her shoulders and threw her hands up as if to say, “don’t try to prove me wrong.” “I just know that since he showed up, crimes of all sort have decreased, and all of the churches and social services in the area have had a marked increase in patronage. Would appear he doesn’t just settle for saving people from the bad guys. A lot of us clergy have surmised that he seems to steer the down-and-out to services that can help them sustain a life off of the streets.”

“So, a good guy,” I said, as if to myself.

It helped me make sense of this crazy, crazy world, by putting things into categories like “good” and “bad.” I knew that they were horribly simplistic categories, at the very least, but they provided me some semblance of ordered thinking. Of course, such thinking could only get me so far…I still didn’t have a category for the likes of Stark in.

“Well, he’s does seem quite conscientious. As far as I know - and mind you, the police around here would have a better idea about Priest than I would - he hasn’t ever killed anyone. At most, he’s incapacitated all of the perpetrators he’s come across and called in the authorities to take care of them once he’s calmed the victims down.”

“You seem to know a bit about him,” I eyed Mother Eli with interest - she was proving to be as valuable a source of information as any law officer I could have approached.

“I have several policemen in my congregation,” she deflected my interest with a winning smile and a shrug. “Plus, Priest is a person of interest for us clergy,” her eyes danced mischievously and I was quite captivated by the sight. “Several of us have bets on who it could be.”

“Any leads?” I decided to ignore the admission that clergymen - clergywomen? - were betting.

“There are a few,” Mother Eli surprised me even further still by taking to the conversation with such relish and perching herself on the back of the pew in front of me.

Her foot nearly touched my knee and I didn’t think I could recall a more adorable - and contradictory - sight as her sitting quite inappropriately on the back of a hundred year old pew and kicking her feet back and forth above the floor. She pursed her lips and looked positively Puckish.

“We all agree it has to be someone short - unfortunately, we have quite a few short clergy in the area. Some folks think it might be Pastor Michaels, the Unitarian Universalist minister down on West 8th Street. Another popular candidate is Father Malone, at St. Francis’ Roman Catholic Church.”

“Been there,” I interjected; it was hard not to catch her unexpected enthusiasm and I allowed myself to grin conspiratorially at her. “I didn’t see any short priests.”

“Then you probably ran into Father Jones; he’s in training there to take over once Father Malone retires.”

“Retires?” I repeated incredulously.

“Yea,” Mother Eli seemed to read my mind and nodded sagely. “I say Father Malone is right out the running, because he’s well into his 60’s. I know Priest doesn’t kill anyone, but I do know he fights. Some of my parishioners have told me about how roughed up some of the perps are when Priest hands them over. I doubt Father Malone could rearrange the face of a six-foot, two-hundred-pound, twenty year old and still move the next day.”

“Probably not,” I agreed.

“Then there’s Chaplain Yancey, at Lutheran Medical Center. He’s the favorite; seems to fit the bill. The only problem is, he’s a conservative Presbyterian. I highly doubt he’d adopt a Roman Catholic persona.”

“Then it’s probably a safe bet to assume Priest’s a Catholic,” I suggested.

“That’s the argument of every Catholic clergy person I know,” she beamed at me and the smile transfigured her face; she looked years younger in an instant and her eyes sparkled. “We don’t know of many Protestants who would dress up as a priest. Or, so accurately.”

“You know what he looks like?” my eyebrows rose toward my hair line in surprise.

“Eye witness sketches,” she winked playfully. “Nearly every clergy person in Brooklyn has been asked to look at sketches of Priest and speculate on his identity. Although...some of us have admitted that even if we had a suspicion, we probably wouldn’t let on to it.”

I just stared. Clergy? Lying? I mean, sure, they were human. But to admit it so blatantly?

“Oh, don’t be scandalized,” Mother Eli wagged a finger at me. “We have a genuine do-gooder in our midst. Do you really think that, if we got down to it, the fine citizens of Brooklyn would try to uncover his identity, just to sate some media curiosity? The police who have shown us clergy the eye witnesses sketches aren’t really looking for an ID. I’ve had more than one of my parishioners admit that I’ve been shown those sketches just so the precinct can look at the newspapers and say, ‘so sorry, we tried!’”

I thought my eyebrows might start permanently residing in my hairline, but she had a great point. It was logical, rational...and just this side of honest. Despite her admonition, I was a little scandalized.

I decided, in the following silence, that it might be a good idea to redirect the conversation to safer shores.

“Well, if this guy is Catholic, who does that leave us?”
“That leaves us with a small handful of Anglican, Episcopalian, and Roman Catholic priests, which really narrows the possibilities down,” she gracefully followed the conversation as I switched back to the safer topic of Priest’s true identity. “There’s two possible Anglican priests - Father Calvin and Father Thorne - then there’s our sole Roman Catholic nominee, Father Malone, who we’ve already more or less ruled out. Then you’re left with one male Episcopal priest and five female priests.”
“Five?” I repeated, faintly.
“Yeah. Incidentally, that’s the exact number of female priests in Brooklyn. All of us are short of stature - the tallest female clergy woman that I know around here is Pastor Durman, the United Methodist minister down the street,” she jerked her thumb to the left, as if to indicate just where “down the street” meant. “And she’s only five foot seven or so.”
“You honestly don’t believe that Priest is a woman, though?” I tilted my head to the side and looked at Mother Eli curiously; she sure did seem to enjoy turning my assumptions on their ear.
“There is a distinct possibility, actually,” Mother Eli replied smoothly; she didn’t seem ruffled in the slightest by my doubt. “Although, the likeliest candidates are Mother Nan, Mother Jennifer, and myself.”
I hadn’t expected her to implicate herself. I stared at her, impressed.
“And what makes you three ‘likely’?”
“We know martial arts,” she answered succinctly and pursed her lips, as if to hide a smile.
“I see,” I was at a loss for words.
I did, however, glance over her with a critical eye. It was hard to ascertain her level of fitness; her button-up shirt and tailored pants didn’t really accentuate any possible musculature. In fact, she looked positively innocuous - curvy, with a pretty face and hair longer than Thor’s, but not particularly stunning otherwise. She certainly didn’t look like someone who could take a thug in hand-to-hand combat.
I thought back to Priest, recalling the set of his shoulders and the cut of his clothes. Ruefully, I admitted - if only to myself - that he hadn’t looked like the type of character to take on a gang of five or six men by himself, either. Priestly garb did not really call attention to a clergyman’s (clergywoman’s?) physical appearance. It was as hard to ascertain what kind of physique lay beneath Mother Eli’s conservative clothes, as it was to recall what kind of physique Priest had possessed.
In fact, with the exception of such a distinctive disguise, there hadn’t been much about Priest to really leap out to the casual observer. It wasn’t like his whole body was put on display in armored, skin-tight spandex. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat - I was not exactly a fan of the changes S.H.I.E.L.D had made to my classic look…
Back to Priest… The only thing I did remember about the man, was the sense of strongly controlled power that had exuded from him. He had comported himself as a man who knew that he was in possession of some rare quality that held him above the heads of normal men. I eyed Mother Eli critically one last time. She exuded a sense of genuine warmth and intelligence - but deadly power? I looked her over from head to toe. Not even a smidgen.
“If you look me over like that one more time, Steve, I’m going to ask you if you like what you see,” Mother Eli broke me out of my reverie with a bemused tinge to her voice.
I glanced hastily up at her face, to see her smiling wryly at me, an eyebrow cocked. A part of me was abashed at having looked her over so obviously. Another part of me was rendered completely tongue-tied by the suggestiveness of her words.
A priest? Really?
“Sorry, Mother,” I mumbled and ducked my head contritely. “I didn’t mean to be lewd.”
“It’s fine,” she laughed it off and touched my arm comfortingly as she slid off of the back of the pew in front of me. “You just keep looking at me as if you’ve never seen a woman before.”
“Well...it has been a while,” I admitted and then actually heard what I had said and fought the urge to smack my face into the pew. “I mean...it’s been a while since I’ve been around a woman,” I thought another moment and amended hastily, “A woman who’s not the Black Widow. I mean…” I completely lost steam and just looked at Mother Eli imploringly.
“A woman who is not a fellow combatant?” her smile set everything right and I nodded in relief.
“And well...in my defense,” I offered hopefully, with a vague gesture toward her throat. “I’ve never seen a female priest before. You’re a first!”
“Well, I hope I haven’t left you with a poor impression,” she slipped past me into the aisle and I caught a whiff of spice as she moved by.
“No,” I shook my head earnestly. “Can’t say I have any preconceived expectations. I’m just glad you let me come sit in here for a while,” I gestured toward the nave as a whole.
“You’re welcome here any time,” she smiled gently and I suddenly felt as if I had found a balm in Gilead. “Consider St. Francis your touchstone, for when you feel lost.”
“Thank you, Mother Eli,” I meant my gratitude as I had never meant it before.
I need it, I added to myself, as she moved down the aisle, further into the nave toward the altar. I watched her walk away and didn’t quite know what to think.
She was different - as different as everything else I had encountered since running out into Time Square and finding myself surrounded by bright lights, loud noises, and buildings I had never seen before in my life. If anything, Mother Eli perhaps encapsulated all of the differences and inexplicable changes that had happened to the world while I slept. I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around her, truth be told.
But, she had given me permission to visit St. Francis as much as I so desired. And, for that, I could never repay her kindness. My eyes lingered on the familiar altar, on the pew where I used to sit, on the stained glass windows that had remained unchanged. She had given me an oasis, a place to think and maybe figure out where I stood in the overwhelming strangeness of this brave new world.
I vowed right then and there, that I would not judge Mother Eli. Like Father Stoward, the priest who had presided over St. Paul’s when I was but a boy, she had shown me great kindness. I vowed to watch over her; it was the only way I could repay her generosity.
And, I guess, in that moment, our friendship was forged - Mother Eli’s and mine. I wasn’t sure where it would take us, but I was thankful to have finally found a friend. Maybe, with her help, I could figure out how to belong.


Apologies for the spacing malfunction in the later half of the chapter. I'm not sure what happened there, to be honest.... I tried fixing it several times and it would just end up deleting that entire section of text. >.<<br>
Please leave feedback! I thrive on reviews! :)


Ah!!!! I love this! It is so different from anything that I have read. Please please please keep writing. Eli is such a diverse character, I mean she's somewhat timid yet when she puts on the mask she fierce. Very believable character. Cant wait to read more!

caitlinjones012 caitlinjones012