Hours passed, afternoon retreating making evening shadows on the walls of the cathedral where she prayed, and Deloris watched the crucifix. Fissures in the marble columns veined toward the ceiling where the frescoes painted long ago were thin and tired. Tapestries that hung since she was young, thick with dust, muffled sounds of traffic in the streets. Bricks cold and dead around her holding centuries of supplication.
Deloris had a child who’d cried since he was born. Day and night, weeks and weeks he’d cried, and all she did for him fell short of bringing comfort. So after time she gave her hope to god. She left the boy with nurses and instead of working went to church where she could plead to someone higher for relief.
Deloris always chose a pew close to the cathedral’s center, a place with utter quiet where the ancient building’s nave weighed heavy and the air was too opaque to carry sound, where her cries were whispers and her whispers silent.
Deloris begged for numbness, beseeched the empty church to dumb her child’s voice. But each day she left her prayers, and at home the boy was bawling.
It was an irrigous summer evening, and Deloris felt the light recede, hues of stained-glass spreading dim and muffled on the broken tile between the pews. Again she prayed for respite from her child’s cries, and as she did, an old and crumpled man came through the heavy doors, shuffling belabored to the altar. He smiled as he passed her, his teeth sparse and yellow, his tattered clothing loosely hung and skin above his cheeks slack and droopy. He smiled as he knelt beyond the altar, reached into a pocket and sifted a handful of coins across the floor. Deloris felt the sound as if the heat from nearby candles, but she didn’t hear it. She felt the massive door thunder behind the man after he left. She left and felt the traffic brushing by, rushed breezes pushing aside her dress, but the cars were noiseless.
Deloris saw the nurse holding her boy and watching birds from behind their picture window. They smiled as she neared. When she walked inside, the boy’s eyes flashed ocean green, and he bellowed with a laugh she couldn’t hear.