[P] I’d call on my lord but he can’t help me now
Warm, humid air blew through the cracks and crevices of their drafty little home, bringing the smells of high summer with it. Evelyn breathed slowly outwards and closed her eyes.

The promises of summer were quickly turning to ash in her mouth.


When she opened her eyes again, she found concern on the face of her eldest son. How long she had been inside of herself, lost within her thoughts and her concerns, she couldn't say. Furrowing her brows, she held Calhoun's gentle gaze. However long it had been, it was long enough to make him worry.

"Hn," she grunted softly, looking away. "How is he?"

Calhoun shifted his eyes onto his young brother and shrugged subtly. The gesture looked familiar to Evelyn and she swallowed the despair that had begun to climb up her throat. "Sleepin'." He shifted his weight and Evelyn felt his eyes on her again. "I finished my prayers."

She nodded gently. "Good boy." Evelyn had lost her faith in God a good many tragedies ago, but she did not deplore the beliefs of her son. Turning her eyes downward at the puppy in her lap, she ran her bandaged palm along his flank and willed health back into his small, thin body.

But she knew better.

"Go on now," she grunted at Calhoun, glancing up quickly. "And send for your father if you see him."

And, meeting Evelyn's eyes briefly, the broad de la Cruz bowed out of his family home and left his mother to endure the silent decline of her youngest son.

[WC -- 263]
OOC: sorry for the delay! ;v; || WC: --

Calhoun was a good, young man - every bit as good as his late uncle, and worked hard to keep things afloat as little cracks appeared, and despite his grand size, he kept his hands folded, his posture polite and pious whilst he dealt out his mother's summons. This should have been a good summer.

Should've been an absolutely thrilling summer, quite frankly - Fatherhood, second fold in the midst of a prosperous season - the horses were in good health, his children strong. Or, at least, almost all of his children. Thiago's soft, trembling breaths kept him up at night when the thoughts of Luciana didn't.

Perhaps for this reason, he'd already grieved, and thought himself callous to the weakened state of his youngest son. When he meandered inside, his gaze was fleeting over Evelyn's shape, and he forced himself a smile.

"Miss Escuella," he started, the look not quite reaching his eyes. What had he done?

What had he put Evelyn through? What had he continued to do to his family in the newfound negligence that stunted him with inaction. His eyes fell to Thiago, and he paused, letting his expression fall.

"How is he?" It was all he could do to mirror her own worries, an echochamber of bitter concern.

Indeed it should have been a good summer; a summer meant for the enjoyment of all of the long-overdue comforts and the triumphs and the god-forsaken peace earned after endless waves of violence, loss, and inequality.

What they were given instead was sand at the bottom of a dried-up well.

She hummed a toneless tune as she sat alone with her youngest son, her bandaged fingers rolling over his soft fur in gentle movements. Thiago did not stir, but the light and the shadows that accented his protruding rib cage still moved softly with his shallow breathing.

Evelyn had never been known as a fool. Childhood was dangerous and life was fragile; not everyone born into this ugly world was given the chance to see it changed.

Santiago entered into their home just as her mind began to wander onto Luciana. She was grateful for the distraction, even if the pain did not flee.

At least she could welcome a little anger inwards to join in her anticipatory grief.

"Not good," she said, her tone sharp despite the quiet of her voice.

Evelyn watched her husband without expression and without blinking, holding her eyes there upon him until Thiago wheezed and drew her attention away.

What anger she had allowed within her melted away, banished to the shadows but not forgotten. With a wave of powerful resurgence, her anxiety and her grief was renewed and Evelyn found that she could not do this alone.

When she looked at Santiago again, her eyes glistened with rare emotion and a silent request for his warmth; his nearness; his support.

[WC -- 270]
OOC: ;w; lil thiago... || WC: --

The shallow rise, and dreadful stillness after the fall of Thiago's ribs stirred something withing Santiago that he dared not to look at too closely - palpable, and tangible, and wild, and visceral, it growled and snapped its teeth at the proverbial tentative hands that reached towards it, apprehensive, and examining.

Whatever it was, it was hungry, and at the precipice of devouring him whole. This grief was a chilling one - with it was the knowledge that life, above all else, was cruel. And life, of course, was not sentimental. Those little moments were always fleeting - ones where he could truly feel satiated with the domestic bliss he'd carved after this lifetime of work-weary hands and hardship. The knobs of his knuckles felt stiff, his knees aching, as with a single look, he was bid to bow and settle alongside his wife, just as weathered and worn as he was, his lips pressed to a thin line as he swallowed back his own reservations and his sorrow.

His arm stretched out over the small, dainty form of her back, and fingers squeezed at the curve of her shoulder, firm and reassuring as they both looked to their weakened son with his wheezing, rattling breath.

Some time, long ago, it felt, he would've swore at some unseen force, and placed the blame there. Thiago's pale pink tongue peeked from between his soft lips, before he sucked down another breath, and Santiago's own eyes went wet and dewy as the pads of his ring and middle finger took a moment to trace over the top of the boy's downy soft head, his arm squeezing a little tighter around Evelyn, and his jaws jittered before he turned his face to press it into the side of his wife's to supress his own emotion in the guise of shared affection and support.

His gravelly voice was wafer-thin and papery.

"We did our best. It can't be helped, sometimes-- these things-" His face found her hair, and he breathed deep to steady himself, blinking away the bleariness from his eyes.

Thiago had scarcely even begun to live and, with every shuddering wheeze of breath, he was ever nearer to crossing that veil into the unknown.


It was no stranger to those who had fled for their lives among the Drygrass Posse. But however much she understood the unfairness of life, and the universality of death, it still felt especially cruel that a parent should have to bury their child.

"Hn." The grunt was meant to stop him and, when he did not continue, she breathed quietly out. "I know," she murmured with uncharacteristic gentleness. There was neither fight nor defeat in her tone; neither blame nor guilt. All she had left in her arsenal was the radical acceptance of a situation in which she did not like, but one which she could not change.

Leaning into her husband, Evelyn carefully shifted until Thiago's small form was nestled atop her breast and cradled between his mother's arms. She ran her tongue over his soft head, cleaning his ears and clearing away the fluids that dripped from his little febrile nose. And then she drew her knees up to sharp peaks and, resting her head against Santiago's shoulder, watched as every ragged breath took their son a little father away from them.

They could talk funeral rites and reasons why afterwards. She wanted silence now -- just a mother and a father sharing in the tender final moments with their dying infant.

The last they would ever have with him.

[WC -- 251]

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