Her reflection was dreadful. It was clad in strips of cloth tied together to keep her body hidden. Its body was slowly dying from lack of food, and its breasts had shrunk and the muscles had vanished. It was bones clad in a skin suit. Its face was gray with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes with dark circles. The hair was dull and thin and its once full lips were pressed into a thin line.

She wanted to scream, but didn’t have the energy. Anger flared for brief moment when she said, “Why are you doing this to me?” She didn’t have the energy to sustain the anger. I have prayed. A the temple. On the street. Before I sleep. When I wake. I have not stolen and I have not sold my body. “What more do you want of me?” she asked in despair. Despair did not require energy, and so she had an overabundance of despair.

She saw a street urchin like herself asleep behind some trash bins. “As you have forsaken me,” she said to her un-hearing god, “So shall I forsake you.” She pulled an empty bottle from the trash and hit the sleeping urchin on the head. She put her hand on his chest. He still had a strong heartbeat. She was weak, and he was small and starved just as much as she, but she could carry him. She put him over her shoulder the way a mother would with her baby and walked to the black temple. It was only a short way down the street

She walked in and looked for private alcoves. The white temple had them and she found them here too. She went to one and laid the boy on the small altar meant for animal sacrifices. She had heard that animal blood brought favor with this god. She reasoned that something as precious as human blood should bring great favor. In a slot at the end of the table was the sacrificial knife. She pulled it out and examined the edge. It was very sharp.

“Are you certain about this sacrifice,” a man said from behind her.

She turned to see an older man, a dark priest, standing in the doorway. “You’re here to stop me.”
“No. This is a mighty sacrifice, and it is my duty to determine that the one performing it knows the consequences.”

“Then tell me and go.”

He walked to her and put his hands out and said a prayer. As he prayed he moved his hands down the length of her body without ever touching her. “You cannot make this sacrifice.”

“I can,” she said.

“Yes, but it will be for nothing. You belong to the white god. The dark god can grant no supplication if you are not his.”

“The white god has cast me out.”

“I say again, you are his.”

She turned to the boy and held the knife over his body then flung it at the wall in frustration and fled the temple and found a dark, safe corner and cried herself to sleep.

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