Lord my path has gone astray

i'm just trying to find my way

POSTED: Tue May 28, 2019 11:03 pm

i'm just trying to find my way, oh dear Lord hear my prayer
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"Aly, I think we need to talk."

The one in question instantly turned on her heel, peering up at the male with curious, deep blue eyes. "Yes?"

He came to a stop, causing the girl to tilt her head in confusion. Her brother remained oddly silent, his lips pulling into a small frown. "... Immanuel?" she asked, taking a timid step closer. "What's the matter?"

Immanuel swallowed, his brows furrowing and his floppy ears flicking. It was a nervous tick of his, one of several. He was just as spineless as Aly, if not more so, and it seemed he was starting to break.

Licking his dry lips, the man finally spoke. "Look, Aly. I know we've come a long way from home, but..." He sighed, gesturing to the heavily wooded landscape around him in exasperation. "This -- this isn't where we belong. You know where we're heading that --"

Alejandra's armed crossed over her small chest in indignation, and she huffed. "Manny, please," she interrupted with all the grace and elegance of a child. "I know where we're heading and I know we'll be fine. Those are just old stories, anyway. Not everyone is going to be that dangerous." Deep down, though, Aly was a bit wary of encountering those packs she had heard of -- the ones ran by vicious coyotes that had left her people's forces in shambles.

But they weren't really her people. Once, but not now. Boreas was a distant memory.

Shaking his head, Manny drew closer to his sister, grabbing her by the shoulders with little force or conviction; rather, he appeared desperate. "Alejandra," he pleaded, shaking her softly. "You know what Ma said, you know what those people have done. I just don't... don't want us accidentally getting caught up with those -- those coyotes." He tried displaying more anger, more decisiveness, but it still came across as weak.

Aly shrugged her shoulders forward, ridding her of his loose grasp. "Manny, I think we'll be okay," she said dismissively, looking back toward their path. "Besides, we won't be there for long, anyway. All we will do is find some folks to trade with -- maybe even, I don't know, an outpost or something if they have it -- and voila, we're done. And we can go home. Right, Manny?" She looked back at him, beaming hopefully, but this smile quickly faded when she saw the male had stepped further away from her, heading back the way they came. "... Manny?" she called his name softly, her face falling.

He looked conflicted, hurt by her answer. His jaw was set, his fists clenched as if to hold onto the one decision he had made this whole journey. Immanuel shook his head.

"No, Alejandra."

She ran back over to him, trying to grab his hands. "Immanuel -- "

"I said no, Alejandra!" he yelled at her, causing the girl to shirk away, as if he had struck her. A bit of shame passed over his face, but he gulped again, harder, and spoke. "I... I've followed you all the way out here and I didn't even want to. I never wanted to leave Ma back home alone, but you just kept pestering and bringing it up and... a-and you guilted me into it!"

Alejandra's eyes filled with disbelief, with sad, bitter tears. Why was he acting like this? And when they were so close? "Manny, I... I didn't know you..."

But he just shook his head again, taking another step away from her. "No. You knew. You just didn't want to admit it."

"Then why did you come with me?" Aly shot back, hurt morphing to anger. "I could've just gone by myself. I could've done it without you."

An odd, knowing smile settled on Immanuel's face, and he forced out a laugh. "Yes. That's right. You don't need me. You can do this alone." He pulled away from her again, turning his back to her for the last time, and set off for the west.

Aly stood there in confusion, in shock, her heart beating so loud she wondered if he could hear it as he left. As if that would make him turn around.

But it didn't.

She choked out a sob, her hands shaking as she watched him walk away. "M-Manny, please," she called after him, but aside from hesitation in his gait, he did not stop. He was steadfast and in control. Even if it hurt him.

"Immanuel," Aly cried again, stumbling a few pathetic steps after him. "Immanuel, you can't just leave me here. Please, Manny."

She hadn't meant it, any of it. She couldn't do this alone. But she couldn't just go back with him either, as far as they had come. As close as she was. Her life back home had felt so empty, aside from the sewing work she threw herself into. They lived in fear of wolves they hadn't seen in months. As if they really cared that much to drag them back to Boreas anyway.

Alejandra just wanted to feel free. And Immanuel was trying to take that away from her.

Finally, he paused, slowly, painfully. But he did not look back. "... Please... take care of yourself, Aly. And come home soon. You don't belong out here." It was as if he didn't believe she would actually continue on alone, as if she would come around. Maybe not now, but soon. As if she wouldn't commit.

With that, he was off again, leaving his sister in the dust.

But she did not seek to chase after him. Instead she sunk to her knees, the tears flowing freely from her face, her sobs hitching and wavering. How could he, when they were so close? When he knew what this meant to her?

He was out of sight, but she could still sense him. She could almost smell the salty tears of his own he had hid from her.

Aly sniffed, wiping her face with her tulle skirt, her shoulders shaking with every shuttering breath. He really had so little faith in her, he always had. Both of them had, Immanuel and Ma. And the one chance she had to prove herself, that she could trade her beautiful clothes for something more, perhaps wares to support the family -- they didn't even want her to risk it. And part of her hated Immanuel for even entertaining the thought if he had planned to abandon her long ago. But perhaps he didn't think they would get this far. Perhaps she was proving far more capable than he had anticipated.

And yet a part of her knew that he had never had faith in her.

This was just a test. Everything happened for a reason -- according to His will. If Immanuel was to leave, then He had a plan for her. He would make a way. He would see her safely to her destination. And if it was not in His will -- she cringed, her head shaking suddenly to dispel the thought.

No. It was His will.

Immanuel was long gone now, his scent disappearing from the air. And with it went Alejandra's sadness -- at least for now. She pushed aside these feelings of hopelessness, grief, and betrayal, and she instead rose to her feet once more with a stronger resolve, an unshakable will.

She would make it to this foreign land. She would make her family proud of her and her determination.

And she would prove them wrong.
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