But I wanted to cry, too. I wanted to sob and tear pages out of sacred texts and have the pleasure of rejecting someone’s touch when they attempted to comfort me. I wanted to have my tears without feeling as though I was letting someone down by being anything less than strong, resolute.
Ava brushed the last of her tears from her puffy face and let out a long, unsteady breath. “We’re gonna be fine, Elena.”
A lonely stream of blue light wrapped around my wrist. I watched its dark hue dart between my skin and the blue sky of the stained glass. I wanted to leave, to remove myself from the efforts the stained glass was making to involve itself in my anguish, but I found I did not want to move. Something about comforting Ava had drained me of the comfort I would have wished to leave for myself.
This was Peyton’s favorite pew, too. When he had still clung to withering wisps of faith, he had sat in this very pew, staring at Jesus’ ribs and simultaneously digging his fingernails into his wrists, almost sacrilegious in the placement of his wounds. He, too, had offered up his blood as a sacrifice of atonement, trying to pay for his pain with the crimson trickle of blood down his forearm. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
It was eerie, mourning Peyton in the very place in which he had once sought redemption. Some small portion of my soul feared that this association would damn my heart, too, starving me entirely of whatever hopes I still claimed. I broke these disturbing thoughts by standing and nodding to Ava. “We should leave before anyone finds us.”
Ava’s emotions had, apparently, shifted from hysterical to nonexistent. She stood, her face devoid of feeling, and followed me wordlessly down the aisle and to the heavy front doors. I leaned my whole body against the door, and it creaked open as I lay my weight on it. “I’ll follow you to the car,” I told Ava. “Give me a moment.”
Ava did not say anything. She merely walked through the door as I held it open for her.