My faith is quite literally being exercised into exhaustion. From one day to the next I seem to have wild swings. I’ll climb to the highest peaks of belief and then fall to the lowest bowels of depression. I jump from contentment with my lot to anger at every step I have to make with the only pause to stop and shed dry tears of frustration. This day I can see God in everything. The next I wonder if I am not suffering from some malady that is making me delusional. I’ve always judged my faith deep and constant but I begin to worry that my mind is slipping. I’ve seen things that were not there and not seen things that I knew were.
I have no wish to die crazy, what would that say of my faith? I can hear it now. “Her emotions carried her too far beyond the commonsense God gifted her with and she fell off a cliff.” Bah! Perhaps I am a little mad. The sand, the wind, the loneliness, the barely plodding pace that I am keeping … they are rubbing my mind raw in places.
I am not like those in the ancient texts that can hear God’s voice like He is in the same room. Were I to hear some disembodied voice tell me that I must walk around a security wall barefoot with only a marching band to accompany me while those inside the gate howled and snickered I am fairly certain I would commit myself into the hands of the Sisters so that they could cart me off to a convent … a nice quiet convent with cushioned walls so I could be no danger to myself or others. Nor do I think I could resign myself to repose in the belly of a great water beast; and should such a monster puke me up onto the shore I would likely run screaming away from any voice rather than to it. And as much courage as I try and have I know that if someone were to tell me to stand firm and let myself be walked into an oven to be roasted for the crime of faith I would instead fight tooth and nail. I would not make a calm and accepting martyr, I am much too ornery. Even Nat has said so.
If Nat could hear my thoughts right now I think he’d likely tap me smartly and give me a lecture on blasphemy. In fact I know he would. But Nat is not here. No one is here. I have not heard another human voice … for … for? I do not know how long I’ve been traveling. I have lost count of the days. Long enough that all I have left is the water that I collect at each seep that I find. Long enough that all this walking has caused me some embarrassment as I’ve been forced to remove my under girdle because I could not tighten it enough to make it stop slipping around and chaffing my skin where it has become too large.
My body may have been strong at the start of this journey but it is getting weak right along with my mind. I do not want to seek this travel. There have been a couple of times that I’ve considered just giving up. But my purpose remains as it was … duty, honor, status … and yes, faith. I have to believe that if I just continue trying that in the end my walk will be rewarded in some way. Although, after long consideration I am fairly certain any reward will be in some other form than what I would first expect … or perhaps want. Things are starting to get so confused.
By all the saints I am but sixteen, why do I have to bear these terrors? Haven’t I been through enough? Yet I know there are others that have been through more and worse. With every loss I experienced there has been at least some small gain. What of those other Linder wives and children that I never met? At least I have my life such as it is. At least I’ve never lost a child or had one born with corruption. At least I had a chance at living after becoming a Linder when so many others became a Linder only to die because of it.
In truth same for being a Harper. I’ve puzzled and puzzled why. Why would someone focus on these two families? The Harpers were indeed important, the Linders still are, but so were many other families in their time and place … Cormans, Lathrops, Kiplings, McConnells, and more than it is worth my time to remember. Why would the tortured curse of one man drive so many to commit the atrocities all for some half-baked idea that a Harper and Linder progeny would destroy their world? Insanity.
And control. Perhaps it is that factor more than any fact that has perpetrated this nightmare farce. And now that there is only me they are worried that their power has come to an end. I have no idea what that signifies except a lack of imagination. There are certainly things in this world more frightening than a female that trips every few steps because she’s lost so much weight she can’t keep her girdle up. And yes I realize that is crude but by all the martyrs it is the truth.
Sheriff? Are you thinking of me? I would give much for you to be underfoot right now. I’d give even more just to know the angels haven’t carried you off. Part of me wishes with all my might that I had been bolder and spoke of these feelings I have for you directly. I hope you did not think me a coquette out to tease you. It isn’t true. Before you the thought of anyone else … even now with nothing in my stomach I am close to vomiting at the very thought.
Another part of me is relieved I did not face the temptation because of the mess I would have likely made of the situation. Who am I to flirt and lure? I never did understand the silliness of that type of action. Not even when I was young and innocent and in childish infatuation with Rom would I have dared to take such steps. I would have laughed myself into oblivion or shame.
And then there is the last part that is sad because it appears I will never know the outcome either way. I plod along, slower every night that passes. My goal further and further out of my reach. What am I doing out here? Why is God doing this to me? What have I ever done to warrant this fire that has descended upon me? I am so tired. I must stop earlier than I planned. I won’t make it to the next seep this night. Another goal I’ve failed to reach.