Refuge for a nightMature

Lazarus couldn't care less about how much his father wanted to punish him for running away. He just wanted to see his sister and make sure he hadn't punished Annabelle instead. He found her weaving baskets to sell with her mother. Both of them looked up as he stood before them. He tried to smile, but he couldn't seem to make his muscles work properly and he ended up grimacing.

‘Lazarus!' Annabelle cried. She jumped up, abandoning her half finished basket and hugged him. He returned the embrace warmly and looked over at his mother, who was looking at him in a way that told him he should be leaving town. Much like Ben had. He sighed and dislodged his sister who was clinging to him like he was a life line.

‘Did he hurt you?' he murmured, searching her face carefully. She shook her head, but began to cry.

‘We were out of the house before he woke up this morning,' she said quietly. ‘We didn't tell him you came back last night. I didn't tell him you took those savings, either.' She whispered, smiling somehow through her upset. His hand strayed to his pocket, where he pulled a couple of coins out. He pushed them into her hand.

‘Don't tell him that, either. Treat yourself to something, and don't let him know.' 

‘Are you leaving, then?' his mother asked, the basket shaking in her hand. He looked at her and his grim blue eyes told her before he could think of the right words. None came.

‘Yes.' Was all he could manage. He tried to ignore the look on her face. ‘I'm so sorry.'

‘Don't be.' Annabelle said, though their mother looked back at her basket, saying nothing. ‘You had to go, I understand. I'm glad one of us finally stood up to him. I hope I can follow you soon.' She hugged him once more and let go, standing back beside their mother.

‘I love you,' Lazarus half smiled at them and before he could change his mind about leaving them, he turned his back on them and walked away.

So it was in an act of cowardice that Lazarus freed himself from his father's domination, and though he didn't feel especially good about himself for it, he realised now, he could do whatever he wanted with his life. Anything. His heart picked up the pace when he realised this, and it wasn't because he was walking especially fast.

The only problem was... where could he go? And what would he do to earn money? He sighed.

‘Should have thought this one through a little more carefully,' he muttered to himself under his breath. He walked back past the inn and the brothel, ignoring the calls of the whores that tried to lure him into their bed. He shook his head and silently passed them.

‘Don't know what you're missing, sir!' one of the women shouted as he went to turn the corner. He paused and turned to her.

‘Why don't you show me what I'm missing tonight then?' he said coolly. The words weren't what made her falter; it was the look in his eye. Her gaze lingered a moment longer on his, and shook her head, forcing a smile.

‘Some other time, maybe.' She glanced at her friend as he walked away and then back at where he had stood. She shook off the cold anger she had seen in his eyes and went back to trying to persuade men to follow her upstairs.

Lazarus' mind was already made up about what he was going to do to earn money long before he knew how to go about getting there. His father had been right; the most profitable thing he had to offer the world was his music.

As he wandered away from the town, a sudden anxiety gripped him. He had never left the town before; he had no idea where he was going.

Which is probably why he ended up back at the seedy inn.

As he slipped money to the landlord for another night at the inn, he noticed Ben and a few of his friends laughing raucously at a table in the corner. Each of the men had a whore clinging drunkenly to him, giggling uncontrollably. The whore sitting on Ben's lap whispered something in his ear that made him grin and her hand snaked down between his legs. Lazarus shook his head and trudged up to the room he had slept in the night before. I will never let myself fall that far, Lazarus vowed to himself as he pulled off his leather boots, throwing them to the floor. Never.

He stretched out on the bed, wrapping the blanket around him loosely. Lying there, he tried not to listen as one by one Ben and his friends occupied the rooms around him. In his mind, he went over his compositions, playing them back to himself, trying to block out the sounds around him. He wished that he had a real piano to play. He closed his eyes and held an image of a grand piano in his mind, sleek and polished ebony wood, with keys paler than his own skin. The picture made him smile a little. Until one of the women screamed loudly, the laughter and animalistic noises coming from somewhere left of his head on the other side of the wall.

‘Fuck this,' he muttered angrily, sitting up quickly. Throwing the blanket off, he swung his legs out of the bed. He reached for his boots again, and pulled them on irritably. No one noticed as he stormed out of the inn, the night's laughter and games and drinking continued uninterrupted. He grimaced at people's dependency on alcohol and debauched nights at an inn to lose themselves and have fun. All he would ever need was his music.

As he walked down the dark streets, pushing through the drunkards spilling home, their cravings sated, Lazarus cursed. He cursed himself, his cowardice, his father, the whole town for its disgusting ways. His feet led him over the roads effortlessly, the route perhaps the most familiar to him. The well worn path beneath his feet brought some kind of quiet to his mind as he approached the stone building.

The church was always open, the priest always available. He had to be in such a town. Lazarus pushed open the door and took a seat in a pew alone, ignoring the solitary sobs of an intoxicated man in the corner, praying for god to forgive him for sleeping with another woman. The priest was awake, wandering serenely around the small chapel, murmuring words of comfort to the praying man and another woman Lazarus hadn't noticed at the front.

‘Lazarus, my child,' the priest sat beside him in the pew, greeting his newest night visitor.

‘Father,' Lazarus acknowledged the man with a nod and a quick glance. He clasped his hands in his lap, staring down at the floor at his feet.

‘I heard about your fall out with your father,' the priest said, letting disapproval colour his tone.

‘Yes, father. I'm sure you did.' Lazarus replied.

‘I also heard where you had resorted to staying. I trust you didn't fall to the temptations that place offers?' Lazarus looked up at this, and his icy blue eyes met the priest's warm brown ones, near hidden with the wrinkles that bunched around his face.

‘No father. I promised myself I would never let myself fall like that.' Lazarus answered and the priest nodded, satisfied. ‘I came here to pray for my mother and sister, rather than myself.'

‘You should honour your father, regardless.' The man reminded the teen of this and Lazarus scowled.

‘That man cannot be my father. No father would draw his own son's blood.' Lazarus said coolly.

‘It is unfortunate that he went so far, but you must find it within you to forgive him.' The priest ignored the cold words. Lazarus didn't say anything to this, gazing back at the floor.

‘Father?' Lazarus asked eventually.


‘May I seek refuge here for the night, please?' he asked, biting his lip a little. The priest paused.

‘Of course. We have no beds, but you're welcome to stay.' He said eventually.

‘Thank you,' the gratitude in Lazarus' voice was painfully clear.

The End

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