PG, 500 words
His Dark Materials; Mary, Mary/Alfredo
Summary: "So that was how I stopped being a nun."
Notes: Ages ago, I snapped up a prompt of glass_icarus' to write something about Mary Malone. Here is a snippet, for the occasion of her birthday - happy birthday, sweetie, and have a good one! Summary from The Amber Spyglass, text within from Matthew Arnold's 'Dover Beach'.
Mary stood on the shoreline, sand creeping in between her toes, the evening breeze whistling around her ankles, moving her skirt back and forth against her legs. She felt loose-limbed, giddy, lighter than the air itself. She looked over at Alfredo, who smiled at her.
"Sister Mary, you're a revelation."
She laughed, sound flowing from her, free and unrestrained. She bent down, unfastening her buckles and removing those sensible shoes she'd always worn with such supercilious virtue. The sand felt soft, deliciously sun-kissed and extravagant beneath her bare feet.
"The revelation is all mine," she replied, heart singing in her chest.
Upon the straits;
"So tell me, a nun and a physicist, how do you reconcile that?"
"But do you not see in the workings of this world the miraculous power of God?" Mary replied, the phrase familiar on her tongue. This time, it sat differently. It was a lie. "It's not incoherent," she explained, "not at all. But it's false."
He looked at her oddly then, and she smiled, fingering the beads of the crucifix that hung heavy on her neck. The clouds parted above them, and a sliver of moon shone down, reflecting on the waves as they beat out their rhythms on the shore. The world was illuminated anew, and Mary saw it all, as though she had opened her eyes upon it for the very first time. It was wonderful, and so, so strange.
"Do you believe?"
Alfredo shrugged. "Lapsed Catholic, I'm very unoriginal. One brief Buddhist phase, but physics kept me too busy. I don't how you manage the two combined."
"Sheer stubbornness, I should say."
He face was lit once more with that crooked, beautiful smile. Mary wanted to reach out, trace the shape of it, feel the warmth of his mouth against her skin. She would, she told herself, and soon. And to think that such a thought, so good and right, should once have seemed sinful to her.
They walked on, and she was nearly there.
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
"It must be a comfort, especially for a nun, knowing you've got a space upstairs all ready and waiting for you."
"And what would I do there? There aren't any laboratories in heaven."
He laughed, warm and kind. "I must confess, when I heard we were getting a nun, you weren't what I expected."
"You and me both. Come on, I want to go right down to the water."
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
The Atlantic ocean lapped against her feet, cool and thrilling. She reached up slowly, unhooked the back of the chain, pulled her crucifix free from her neck, her clothes, her hair. She held it in front of her, the silver glinting in the moonlight.
Alfredo looked as though he wanted to ask her something, but she shook her head, then stared at the sky.
"I used to look up there, you know, marvel at the wonder of the heavens, the majesty of God. I never understood how anyone could gaze up at the stars and not feel his presence, not think that overwhelming feeling of majesty could be anything other than divine." She cradled the crucifix in her hands. "God died for me tonight. I don't know how, or why now, or what I'm going to do next. But I look at the stars now, and they are still just as beautiful all on their own."
She drew her arm back, sighted an eddy in the water, twisted her wrist to aim.
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore,
The necklace spun out over the water, seeming to hover, suspended, just for a moment as it travelled its course, then falling into the water, a gentle splash, barely audible.
"That's that, then," Mary said. She reached out her hand, and Alfredo was there to take it.
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.