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Saint Sebastienne

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I

The first time you prayed you were not on your knees
or giving offerings of smoke and drinks.
You were standing tall, looking at the plastic cage that held him
and praying to all the names your abuela had in her shrine,
the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit
and the warrior and the messenger
and the healer that shared the name with his father.
And in that litany you remembered me
and I listened
for I know the pain of losing a mother, a father, a child.
I listened when you called in the day light
when those who call me do it hidden in the night.
I listened because you wanted him to live
when those who say my name want someone else to die.
And I gave him a blessing - all he needed, he clung to life
the same way you clung to your robe all that time
and when you finally held him in your arms
I knew that I had earned one of my many names
when I saw you smile.

II

The second time you prayed he had just come back to you,
abandoned by his father in the middle of the night.
He came wheezing, trembling, crying all scared,
having tried to work it out with his dad -
never meeting his standards,
never reaching his heart -
just a human, really, like many others
that had let greed and ambition rule his life.
You prayed that he weren't disappointed in his father
that he would still smile if he saw him one more time
but the matters of family are not mine to touch
and he had already made up his mind,
he already knew he would follow you
to the end of the world and back,
so I gave you a shoulder to cry on
even if you couldn't feel it in the night.

III

The third time you prayed
you were scared, you were crying
for you believed you had screwed up,
you saw him neck deep in trouble -
you had lost him
and didn't know how to get him back.
And I stood next to you, hands tied
since the darkness had ripped him from your tight
embrace
I saw him become a monster
and I wanted to guide him, to chide him
to be the godmother that you had asked me to be
but these were the lessons he had to learn on his own
and all I did was watch
feeling my own essence ripped apart
but remaining whole
for my job was to guide those that were destroyed
in the wake of the monster that had claimed -
that had gutted him - to be his sire.

IV

The fourth time you prayed
you didn't even know.
You were numb, you were quiet
you had just seen him in his true form
what he had become
and that scared you.
And all I could do was let his words
reach your heart
remind you of his courage
of his strength
of all that you had taught him in his life.
I told you to look at him again
to look at the young man he had become
and you did, and you remembered
how you had raised him,
and you whispered words of courage,
ignited a fire crimson red in his heart
and for a moment I stood, proud
of you, of him,
and for a moment I thought that maybe
that night
I wouldn't have to reap anyone.

V

The fifth time you prayed
was between an awkward flirt and a true fright.
I was standing next to you
seeing you prepare
for me to take you back.
And all you asked for was for him to be safe,
but then, and I don't know why I was surprised,
he knocked at my door - willing to trade
his life for yours
(remember when I said 'To the end of the world and back'?)
and I had to stand witness to his trial.
And the old oak accepted his sacrifice
and claimed him and his brother and his sister,
the King, the Fool, the Knight
as its guardians against the dark
and I knew he could do it
an inferno ablaze in his heart.
That little spark you gave him
now shining red in his eyes.

VI

And here I am looking
at the Darkness that now surrounds you,
him,
their hearts.
I see his brother slipping down,
I see his family of wolves falling apart.
But fear not comadre
for I know you,
I know him,
I have faith in you,
in him,
I believe he'll survive - no, he'll thrive.
And if he doesn't,
well,
I'll be here to take his hand,
and guide him into the light.