forgive me, father, for i have sinned.
Wanting something—someone—and not being able to do anything about it is new to Clarice. What she wants, she gets, it’s always been that way. She wanted a family, people to share her life with, people to share God with. Nestor, Olaf, Mar-Beth, she loves them all in her own way, once they’ve seen the light.
They have children, lots of them, and teach them the ways of the One True God, make sure He is the only one they ever allow into their hearts. Clarice is their mother in all but fact. This is the one thing that’s been denied to her, having a child of her own, and maybe that’s why she adores Mar-Beth even more when she’s pregnant. But she doesn’t question God’s will, the destiny He picked for her, so she doesn’t even miss biological motherhood.
Everything has always been clear, her path laid out before her. She’s the Chosen one, appointed by God Himself to lead the non-believers into paradise. And Zoe’s mother, when she eventually meets her, is just one of the many. There’s Mar-Beth and their newborn child, Nestor and his little smile, Olaf and his unwavering faith. ‘Go with God,’ they say, a finger pressed to their foreheads, and she does. Always.
it has been many days since my last confession.
And now. Now there’s Amanda. Amanda Graystone, the woman she should hate, the woman she should kill. But Amanda gave her Zoe, and Zoe is the biggest miracle of all. Clarice knows it’s God’s will that she protect Zoe, that she find her and use her to make the non-believers see the error of their ways. Just like Zoe would have wanted. She found out long ago that Zoe and Amanda never had a good relationship, and if she hadn’t been able to tell truth from exaggeration, she would’ve despised Amanda after all the things Zoe had told her. But she can see how much the young girl meant to her mother now, and that’s enough to quell any negative feelings she might have had. She sees the brokenness inside, sees the things nobody else ever gets to see, not even Daniel, and it takes her no time at all to get Amanda to trust her.
They tell each other of Zoe, and she tells Amanda of God and heaven and believing in something bigger than humanity, in something bigger than herself. Amanda looks so innocent, so easily converted, that Clarice never suspects a thing, as they spiral closer and closer together, their lives entwining.
Both their destinies were written long ago.
father, my sin is a terrible sin.
She loves Amanda. She doesn’t, couldn’t ever, love the enemy; God would not give her that particular challenge. He has other plans for her. So she accepts that love, that pain, and holds Amanda’s hand through her own struggle.
They lie together on a bed, they smile and laugh and hug. And somewhere in there, Clarice starts trusting Amanda. Starts letting her in, further than she should, further than she’s let anyone else in since she found God or God found her, whichever happened first. But she doesn’t question that, either, because He guided her to Amanda for a reason.
Daniel features in their conversations, but not often, and whenever they’re alone together, Clarice feels the temptation, and she’s never wanted anyone quite this much. It’s not easy, staying away, she feels like a moth drawn to the flame of Amanda’s eyes, smile, life. Her blonde hair is soft, her body softer, but Clarice resists like God has taught her to.
She’s so wrapped up in that effort, and in her Heaven Project, that she misses all the clues. She takes her wife’s life in a flash of silver and a flash of red, and it doesn’t hurt a bit, not until she finds out the truth, much later.
It doesn’t take long for things to fall apart then—it never does, she shouldn’t be surprised, but this is the first time she’s misjudged God’s will this severely. She doesn’t start doubting her faith, and doubting herself would make her look weak (something she can’t afford now), so she lashes out against the only other person she can, the woman she thought was supposed to mean more to her than all the rest.
And even now, once everything comes to an end, she can’t wrap her hands around Amanda’s throat, can’t pick up a gun and pull the trigger. She finally feels like she has failed her God, and it takes all her strength not to turn the gun on herself.
god may give you pardon and peace, and i absolve you from your sins.
It’s not the apocalypse, but close enough. She almost breaks down, almost. But there’s still God and there’s still her faith, and neither of those will ever fade. Destinies are being rewritten, and she takes being alive as a sign of divine will. She doesn’t go back to the life she had before. She doesn’t go looking for another family now that her old one is dead, she doesn’t try to find Amanda again. The woman who led to her downfall, to the ruin of God’s plan—or maybe not God’s plan at all, maybe Clarice’s plan, maybe not ever guided by His hand.
Her penance, if it is such, is kneeling in front of the Divine Mother, her knees threatening to give out after half an hour of what would be humiliation if she wasn’t sure this is what God wants from her now. So she touches a finger to her head, ‘God is my light,’ and keeps her eyes averted.
The differently sentient are her purpose now, like her family was before this, like God has always been, like Amanda Graystone never should have become. She finally sees her for what she really was; a distraction, a temptation, the devil incarnate to guide her from the path. But at least Clarice was right about one thing:
Amanda was special, after all.
so say we all.