Anser Journal

The Sister’s Vigil

By M Tomko

It’s late, late enough that someone wiser - or maybe someone more foolish - would have long gone to sleep. But when the knock sounds, Sister Crim is waiting for it.

Her shotgun is readied, poised at the door.

Poised at Marya.

“You were right about James,” Marya says, then sways like a door swinging from wild hinges. There’s no time: Sister Crim can either drop the gun or drop Marya. She drops the gun.

When Marya wakes, it could be minutes or hours. Time has no meaning here. There is no night in The Underground, no moon to mark time, but it has the feeling of those weak and waning hours between days. Sister Crim’s base of the week is a barebones place: four walls and a cot and not much else. Marya has been wrapped with her own cloak to keep warm. There aren’t comforts like blankets here.

Sister Crim stands with her back to Marya—a marvel. Either she holds Marya in high esteem or finds her too unworthy to be a threat. Marya hopes it is the former.

Sister Crim’s hands are clasped in prayer where she stands. The Sister’s Vigil get on their knees for no one, not even their goddess.

When Sister Crim turns to look at Marya, there is a smile on her scarred face. “You’ve come to your senses,” she says. She’s not talking about the wound.

“I like to know my options. James is… no longer an option.”

Marya has been a hunter, and Marya has been hunted. When Sister Crim steps closer, slow and certain, it feels like both. “James knows nothing of power,” Sister Crim says. “But you… you may learn it yet.”

Marya holds her gaze. “In this world, you have to take what you want.”

Sister Crim stands between Marya’s legs, close enough to smell the copper in the air. Her gaze shifts down from her eyes to the wound at Marya’s chest, blood blooming like poppies. She leans forward, tugs the loose end of her bandage. It unravels, as things often do. “These will need to be changed.”

Marya catches her wrist, draws her closer still, as close as two desperate people in the midst of a revolution can be. “Later.”

M Tomko is a Chicago based writer and playwright. Their works have been developed by Chicago Dramatists, Devious Maid Productions, Horizon Theatre, and Last Frontier Theatre Conference. When not writing, they can be found petting dogs, drinking tea, and pretending to enjoy cardio.