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by Em Liu


He’s at the train station when he sees her again—the girl from the archangel grotto.

She had found him lurking in the grotto a month ago, in the free hour between his Tuesday afternoon philosophy seminar and his weekly consultation with Father Kellegher.

The grotto is a secluded thing, nestled into the side of the sea wall, where the mangrove roots and living concrete have grown together and carved out a nook. Amidst the trees that protect the sea wall from the relentless beat of the swollen ocean, he finds a respite from the empty Human eyes, the cacophony of their voices, and the coldness of their company. In the grotto, it’s just him and the statue of the spear-wielding archangel, with whom he imagines a kind of kinship.

On his very first visit to the parish, Father Kellegher had given him a St. Michael medallion stamped with an inscription:

At that time there shall arise
Michael, the great prince,
Guardian of your people.

He keeps it in his pocket and feels for it …

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