In the pale moonlight, Faith’s slender body looked like an apparition. Butch thought of his father, nearly a foot taller and perhaps twice as heavy, his muscular frame hardened through a lifetime of labor. I won’t let him beat you, ever again . . .
“Momma.” She twisted her head back in the direction of Butch’s voice. “I’m scared.”
She forced a weak smile. “We’re safe, for now. He’ll stay at the church until the fire in his soul is extinguished.” She turned, walked back towards Butch’s bed, her body disappearing in the darkness a moment until she sat, her face framed in brown hair coming back into focus. “I will talk with him. I will pray with him.” Butch felt her hand, cold and soft, grasp the top of his right hand. “And the next time his demons torment him — I’ll be ready.”
Butch swallowed. “I want to help.”
“I know.” She raised a hand, brushed fingertips across Butch’s forehead as if sweeping hair away, a totally unnecessary act given the teen’s crew-cut. Her lips parted — “His eyes. You’ve always had his eyes.” Her touch was comforting, yet somehow unnerving to Butch.
“Momma — ” she blinked, lowering her hand — “did you know my mom?”
For the first time that evening, Faith’s face erupted in its customary delight. “Oh yes! Polly, your mother, was a wonderful Christian woman!”
“Simeon told me she was an athlete.”
“Nobody could run faster than Polly!” His father, though large, suffered from poor reflexes and coordination, and since he had begun fencing Butch had regretted not inheriting his mother’s physical abilities. “She could throw, and shoot as well as any man.”
With relief, he asked the question he’d held back for years. “How did she die?”