His eyes widened in shock as if this was new to him. “Why do you say that?” he breathed.
“Because it’s true. Just think of the stupid shrub in our garden. I think about it every day. I’ve accepted it. It doesn’t matter whether I die because the plant says it or because it’s the natural course of things. I’m ready,” I said, squeezing his hand.
He gasped for breath. “Stop it! I told you it’s not sure the omen of death is meant for you.”
I smiled. He still tried to ignore the fact, poor Father. “We can’t control all things. I know you want to, Michael, but you won’t succeed. Like I said before, I’m ready.” I kissed him and left.
When I stood in front of the altar, I turned around. There was one question on the tip of my tongue. “Why did you let me report for duty if you love me so much and you don’t want me to go outside? You could have protected me from the very first day. It would have made things much easier, you know.” I could tell my words hurt him. I couldn’t change it. I needed an answer.
“If I hadn’t told you about it, you would have run straight into the monsters’ open arms, suspecting and knowing nothing. They would have found you and killed you. I wanted you to learn how to defend yourself and know what you’re dealing with. Maybe I was selfish. From the very first moment I lay eyes on you, I wanted you to be near me,” he said. He looked at me closely, trying to find signs of what I felt hearing his words. It was difficult to keep up the façade, hiding that his words hurt me, too.
“Is that the reason why you locked me into my room, when I wanted to see my daughter so desperately? Back then, you told me several times what my job is. Did you say that just because you wanted to make me feel miserable and to tie me to this place so I stayed with you?” I asked.
He kept silent for a while. His eyes lowered to his hands and the piece of black metal he held in them. “My job is to train, to support and to take care of the hunter. I cannot resist something that is greater than me. If I would have had it within my power to free you of it, I would have done so.” He spoke very matter-of-factly. Now, he was the authoritarian teacher again, a role that protected him from showing emotions.
I couldn’t answer him. I was all churned up inside because of what he had said. I didn’t know whether I should be angry or grateful. Angry because he could have spared me from a lot of things. Grateful because I had learnt how to fight and I had become much stronger, both physically and mentally. Was it better he had taught me all I knew and I had found the love of my life in him? Or would it have been better if he had sent me away back then, letting me walk the streets unprotected till the end of my life?
I had to give away my daughter because of that. But I might never have been a mother at all if I hadn’t have accepted my fate. The loss of my daughter had been and still was traumatic, yet I was still thankful, as I had experienced something I had thought I never would. And what about Father Michael? In that moment, I realized he was just a man and not the Saint I so often had seen in him. He could be selfish, heartless and cold when it came to what he needed. These qualities are in each of us, aren’t they? Father Michael wasn’t more selfish than me. I loved him. Maybe not because of these things, but they made him appear human in a world full of mystical and unreal things.
He was the one I felt comfortable with, as if I was at home. I belonged to his side. That place was the right one.
“Thank you,” I breathed, my voice cracking. I thanked him for the explanation and the truth. It was also a thank you for everything he had taught me. And it was a thank you for his love, which warmed and healed me whenever I needed healing.