When the service was over, people talked for a while, so I had enough time to change my clothes to accompany them home like I did every year. Father Michael had never asked me to do it. I myself had offered it. I wanted to make sure, that they all arrived safely at home. The eldest people looked at me thankfully. The younger ones were all excited, as they could see the huntress doing her job. I heard Sarah’s brothers say they were hoping for us to bump into some monsters, so they would see me fighting. Well, I didn’t agree. I didn’t want them to see that.
I think an armada of guardian angels accompanied us on our way, because all members of the parish arrived safely at home. That’s why Sarah’s brothers were quite disappointed. When I said goodbye to the boys, I knelt down in front of them, ruffling their hair. “Do not tease your sister that much. One day, you are going to need her help. I’m sure you want to receive it, right?” I told them.
The two looked at me thoughtfully. Then they turned around without saying anything and entered their parent’s house.
“Children. They are so light-hearted,” I thought, smiling, and said goodnight to Sarah and her mother, too.
It was hard for me to leave the little girl. I really would have liked to spend more time with her, but I guess it would have been importunate, if I’d asked to stay overnight. So, I turned around and went back home.
When I entered the church, only a few lights were on. The Paschal candle, standing on the altar, attracted my attention first. I bolted the door behind me and walked along between the wooden benches. Only when I was standing right next to him, I noticed Father Michael sitting on a bench. His dark figure almost completely fused with the shadows in the church.
“Welcome home,” he said. He got up and came over to me. He put an arm around me. Together, we watched the yellow flame gutter due to a breath of wind coming through a crack in the church’s leaking walls. After a brief moment of weakness it calmed down again and burnt strong and firm as ever.
“I saw you taking care of little Sarah. What happened?” Father Michael asked.
I shrugged. “Well, her brothers teased her. I thought it would be better to get her out of danger.”
He laughed. “I well remember their christenings a few years ago. They have always been very lively boys. Their mother is separated from the father. The boys are with her only occasionally, so she has a hard time with them,” he told me.
I nodded. “I could see that,” I said, smiling. “Sarah really is a good girl. She is so cute,” I added softly.
I could hear Father Michael making one of his Mhhs, but it wasn’t one of the foreboding ones. It was a simple, understanding Mhh.
“I had to think of our baby a lot,” I whispered.
The Father’s hands, caressing my arm, paused for a second. Then he continued to caress me. “I know,” he said, hugging me tightly. “I saw it in your face, when you looked at the girl next to you. I felt the same, Ada. When I saw you with her, I thought motherhood suits you really well,” he said.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I was choked. I lowered my head even more, as I didn’t want him to see me crying.
“As we prayed, I begged the Lord to protect our child,” he said softly. I heard him swallow hard. The thoughts of our daughter, who was living so far away from us, hurt him, too. Father Michael took a deep breath and added: “I prayed for you to see her again. One day.”
I didn’t say anything. There was nothing you could say to that. I cried uncontrollably. My tears left wet traces on the grey stone beneath our feet.