Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.
"Ivan." The voice was light and playful, echoing. It was coming from far away, and invited him to come to it. "Come on, Ivan." Ivan felt warm, as if he was wrapped up within a bundle of blankets. The world around him was so... blue. He could smell the dew in the grass as he lay in it, feel the wetness tickle the back of his neck and tiny hairs on his arms, see the little droplets in the palms of his hands. The teen exhaled, his breath coming out in a puff of white smoke, then inhaled sharply. The cool air felt so good in his lungs, he almost moaned. "Ivan," the voice called out again. What did it want? Who was it? There was no one else here in this wide, open field but him. Could he be imagining it? "Ivan."
"What?" he finally asked, slightly irritated. A part of him felt annoyed that the voice was ruining this peaceful moment, but he felt too good to actually care. Birds flew overhead, singing a familiar melody. The arranged chirps slowly transformed into actual words. They sung about the lord, an all-loving god. The voices were beautiful. It made him smile. "Ivan, Crow's going to be upset with you." Crow? he thought. Who's Crow? Just as the thought faded, a crow came into view. The large, black bird flew circles over him. It cawed, a sound that pierced his ears. The dream was no longer peaceful. Ivan woke up... to a pair of black eyes staring back at him.
"Ivan?" Anneliese asked, a smile on her thin, pink lips. She was the female version of himself. Her pale face was rounder, her nose smaller and cuter, and her lashes longer. His dimples were in her cheeks, his hair was atop her head, but longer. "You shouldn't be sleeping right now, y'know," she scolded, though her eyes sparkled mischeivously. "Crow's gonna get mad."
Crow. "Why don't you just call her 'Mom'?" Ivan asked, as if that was really the important matter at the moment. What was more important was that he didn't know where he was, and he no longer felt warm. It seemed like the cold air was invading his thin clothes, up through the sleeves of his t-shirt and the legs of his pants. He couldn't see anything with Liz's face blocking the way.
"Because I just don't want to," Anneliese answered.
She rolled out of the way finally, taking a seat by his side. He remembered where he was now. The cathedral was large, the ceiling seeming the height of the sky. The architecture was beautiful, wood turned and twisted, colored glass woven within. There were three rows of pews, each long enough to fit about ten people. Far off up ahead was a choir, the voices of the birds in his dream. The choir was all women, and their harmony was just as beautiful as their faces. It took his mind off of the chilliness of the building. "But she's our mother, Liz," he whispered, so he wouldn't attract the attention of the few other people in the room. "I don't see how 'Mom' is so hard to say."
"I do call her 'Mom'."
"Only when she's around."
"She doesn't mind," Liz protested, though her voice wasn't so sure. "Besides, does she even act like a mom to you? Aunt's more of a mother, Crow's just that woman. Who knows? Maybe she just found us on the street somewhere."
"But we look just like her." Ivan was done arguing with his twin over this. He realized that he didn't really care in the first place. She was right, Viktoria wasn't much of a mother, but he still found it strange that Anneliese did not address her as such. Did Liz even love her mother? Did their mother even love them? He had been asking himself these questions throughout the past ten years. Sometimes he thought the answer was yes, but other times he just couldn't tell. There always seemed to be a huge space between the members of his family, the elephant in the room. Atleast they had food on the table and a safe place to live. Other kids didn't even have that. A dysfunctional family without a father, with a disturbed mother and a purposely irritating sister, wasn't all that bad. "Where is she anyway?"
Anneliese put her feet up onto the pew in front of her, tossing her head back to stare up at the gorgeous ceiling. "She left with a woman earlier. They're somewhere in the church. She didn't tell me where she was going and I didn't ask." Those lips frowned, and her eyebrows wrinkled. Ivan didn't know what was going through her head, and he didn't ask.
[Sisters of Faith Church--Jelhal]
"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned," Crow stated. She stared darkly at the door in front of her. She didn't like enclosed spaces very much, but she wouldn't complain. Crow was a woman of no complaints.
"And what has been your burden, my sister?" the woman in the room beside her responded. Her voice sounded young, like early twenties. Crow could make out her form through the wall between them. Her back was straight, her hands clapsed together in her lap, every inch of her unmoving except for her lips. "Share it with me. Allow me, a messenger of the Lord, to lift the heaviness from your soul."
"I have murdered my husband."
The younger woman in the other room jolted, then quickly regained her composure. She was silent for a very long time. Crow could feel her disgust. It was as if a snake had traveled from her silent lips, and under the door, into the enclosed space, hissing at Crow's feet. "Why have you done such a deed?"
"I don't know." That was as much of the truth as she was willing to say. Crow closed her eyes, a sour taste on her tongue.
"Let us pray together. We shall ask the Lord to forgive you."
"The tower has fallen! O woes me! No, no, no, no! What shall I do?"
"What shall you do, Bethany? Why, you shall do nothing! That has nothing to do with us. It's not as if our stairway has fallen." The nun snarled at her friend, whom sat in front of the small television, face against the screen. This was where the two spent most of their time, while Sister Mary gave her sermons to the church. "What is with you and that gosh darn television?!"
"I was watching the award show in Prianth," the nun cried. She gripped her own blond hair with both hands, face twisted in despair. "The tower exploded! You could see it in the background! Karen! Oh Karen!" Bethany got to her feet and ran to her friend, sobbing into her chest. "O woes me!"
Before Karen could push her away, the door opened, and a man walked into the room. No, not a man. A boy. But what height he had! "Are you lost, my child?" Karen questioned him, suspicious.
Ivan gave her a weak smile, eyes on the television. The Prianth tower was in flames. "I am looking for my mother."
"Your mother?" Karen ran a hand through Bethany's soft hair as she wept. "I believe I saw a woman being escorted to the confessionals. She was wearing a black dress and hat, as if in mourning. Is she your mother?"
Ivan nodded. "Yes."
"I'd go check there then."
Ivan nodded again, gave a short bow, and left the room. How was he to find the confessionals in this huge church? What did Viktoria even have to confess? As much as Ivan knew about his mother, it could've been anything. A murder, even. It wouldn't have surprised him.