God Pardon and Deliver You

THEN HE SLOWLY walked the great distance to where she sat and stood beside her, looking down at her profile bright against the dark panes as she gazed away from him at nothing. With his palms flat against her temples, he tipped her face to him, and she raised her own hands and pressed them against his so that each seemed to be preventing the other's escape while robed in shadow he heard himself pronounce like a stranger, "The almighty and merciful God pardon and deliver you, forgive you every face you cannot look upon with joy," and what he saw was Raggedy Ann with a mouth stitched shut in a ragged smile and the shoebutton eyes shining bright for maybe no more than a child to maul and mother her to life.

- Originally published in The Final Beast

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