That night and the following one, I patrolled. Every night, I went hunting though I knew I wouldn’t find any monsters. Hunting had become a normal thing for me. It belonged to my daily routine. I took the opportunity and went to places I loved the most and where I felt comfortable. Each night, I said goodbye to them like they were old friends. Maybe I was hoping to find a monster, but I would never admit that, not even to the Father, who had dragged me into this whole thing.
I thought back to my former neighbor, Mister Hawk, who had set the ball rolling by asking me to help him with a box of clothes that he wanted to donate to Father Michael’s church. Stupid, old man, that Mister Hawk! I would never see him again. Nor little Sarah and her brothers. Never again would I see the Chinese restaurant with its paper lanterns hanging in the windows or the avenue in front of St. Mary’s church with the big, strong trees. St. Mary’s church. I sighed at the thought of it. The only place in the world where I was safe from all the chaos.
The more time passed, the more I became aware of that fact. It was a terrible feeling! I had told the Father I would be ready to die. But now, my heart started to beat faster just thinking of it. I could barely eat or sleep. I couldn’t sit still. It was the same with Father Michael. The only difference was, while I walked up and down nervously, he stood in front of the monitor next to the portal, showing the square in front of the church. For hours he stared at the blurry image, seeing nothing special. Sometimes, he mumbled to himself, folding his arms. He brooded over what we could do. He was still hoping to find a solution to save me. But the days and nights passed until there were only twenty-four hours left till the ultimatum would be realised and I would meet my maker.
Wide awake, I roamed about the underground rooms. I crossed the living room, my favorite room. I sat down on the sofa and examined every inch of the dark wood and admiring the remarkable collection of bibles in the shelves. I explored the glass casket with the crystals, in which was the piece of paper showing my daughter’s hand and foot prints. I remembered the very few moments we had shared together. I would never forget the way she had looked at me when I took her into my arms for the first time. I would never forget her little sweet round face smiling at me. It was the cutest smile I had ever seen. I didn’t know whether she had recognized me or knew who I was. But I liked the idea of her feeling some sort of connection with me, knowing I was her mum. The little girl had been such a friendly and happy child. She had radiated happiness and purity. I still could hear her cheerful squeal at my silly behavior to entertain her. I saw her rosy face in front of me. The big, brown eyes glowed with admiration about the world. But they were also full of wisdom, just like her father’s eyes.
Tenderly, I stroked over the paper, which was a testimony, proof that the little girl really existed. Often, it seemed to be just a dream. But when I saw the small impressions I knew she really was there. She would continue to exist, unlike me, who would soon be gone.
When the living room door was opened, I was startled. Quickly, I closed the glass casket, as if I had been caught holding something forbidden. Father Michael entered the room, closed the door behind him and came over to me. When he stood next to me he discovered the object I was holding. He smiled and put his hand on mine. The little treasure chest was safe in our loving and strong hands. That was the only thing that was strong about me: my hands. Everything else was weak, broken and shook with fear. I closed my eyes. Sighing, I leant against the Father’s chest. I felt like crying, but the tears wouldn’t come.
“You’re shaking. Are you cold?” he asked. He put an arm around me, warming me just in case.
“I’m not cold,” I said. “I’m scared.”
He made his “Mmm” noise. I smiled. I would miss that too. I leant back. For a moment, I looked at his beautiful face, became absorbed in his eyes, which had seen so much of the world, beautiful things and terrible ones. I hoped I was one of the beautiful things they had seen. He was among the most beautiful things to me anyway.
I took his hands in mine, intertwining our fingers. As always, they were warm and not like mine, which were typically cold as ice. Gently, I put the glass casket with the imprints of our daughter’s feet and hand prints back into the shelf. Then I took Father Michael with me to his bedroom.