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-Papi…

Lost in his thoughts again, his eyes open, he seems asleep, dreaming. He makes a fist, his jaw clenching, and then jerks backwards in his old wooden chair. I tug on his sleeve gently. Finally, he looks at me with his pale blue eyes, wondering how long I’ve been there.

-What sweetie?

-Why are there wars?

He frowns, and then rubs his gnarled hands together. He looks at me again, and pauses, trying to find the answer himself. We stay like that for a moment, both watching each other, trying to read the other’s mind. He continues to think, scratching his face as if he had a beard. Getting distracted, I look down at the brown floor tiles and start playing hopscotch around the room. I stop next to the stove to stare at the old black and white pictures on the mantel. The pictures, both grainy and tired, sit in simple metal frames. One picture catches my eye, it shows a family standing rigidly together, glaring at the camera. I walk over to the drawer and open it and it rolls smoothly on its tracks. I stick my hand in and grab a sugar cube. Usually I ask, but Papi is thinking and I know he won’t mind. I look back at Papi. He is still thinking, scratching his chin and drinking his coffee. I stare out the small kitchen window, and watch the roses soak in the sunlight. The red, pink, orange, and yellow flowers me of sunset, and maybe the sun is just another rose garden. I start imagining what sun roses would look like, but Papi’s voice pulls me out of my reverie.

-I don’t know why there are wars, Nolwenn. I just know that even when things look bad we must trust in God and his plans. God watches over us.

I read pain in his eyes, yet strangely they are fierce, burning with determination. I do not understand the faith in his eyes

-I don’t believe in god.

He looks at me, astonished at first, but then crumbles into sobs. He cries silently, watching me behind the veil of tears. My heart starts pounding, my pulse races. But, I cannot take back the words, cannot pluck them out of the air or erase them from his mind. He continues watching me, crying. Finally he whispers.

-What do we have when God is gone?

-Family. Friends.

-And when they die?

-Ourselves.

-And when we no longer believe in ourselves?

I do not answer, I wait, expecting his response. I pluck at a loose thread on my sweater trying to focus my attention on anything other than his eyes, transparent with pain and betrayal.
-We have God, Nolwenn.

I stay silent, refusing to hurt him anymore. I walk over to him, hug him, kiss his check, and leave, my heart hurting as much as his. He sits in the kitchen, heartbroken, staring absentmindedly at the forgotten cup of coffee.




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