Sorrowful Burdens (Day 16)

Grace ran her fingers along the smooth white porcelain of the walls. They were different than she expected- no sign of ash, not one smudge of soot. The only sign was a faint scent of smoke underlying the heady smell of pine. Why wasn’t there any metal? Where were his coins or keys? Aidan wouldn’t have gone anywhere without his keys—-not even here.

Fists pounded against the door behind her. It was her father’s turn to panic now. “Grace, come out! You’re not well!”

She gave a slight shake of her head, wishing she had ignored him yesterday. A grid of symbols spread across the far wall- the fork of peace, a yellow smiley face, and religious icons from all over the world. Slowly, as if she were a dancer in a ballet, she extended a finger to give one of the buttons a brief, chaste kiss.

Her father’s pleas came faster, more frantically. Music started to play within the chamber. Amazing grace, how sweet thou art-

A sob escaped her and she slumped forward against the wall. Below her, a crescendo began to roar.

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