A/N: Edited version up 23 July 2009. Title based on Judy Bloom's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. Companion piece to "Who's Afraid of the GI Bogeyman?"

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Are You There, God? It's Me, Francis.

He whispers into the night, crouched by the side of his cot in the same way that he had knelt by his bed as a child. There is something comforting about being child-like in This Man's Army and in This Man's War, something pure that Francis wishes he could bottle and use to bathe the foreheads of the dying.

But how long could something remain pure in hell? Even Mary, untainted by sin, virgin unto death, has been marred by this place. His sister made him a rosary long ago. Each of the fifty-nine beads was rough blond wood, but now they are a dark mahogany black, stained with bloody, sweaty fingerprints from every time he has clutched them in desperate but futile prayer.

Oh God, oh God, why have you forsaken me?

The hymn of Christ's Passion. Francis hears it often in the dark recesses of his mind. It is a question he rationalizes away.

Why have you forsaken me?

Were you ever there?

There is one thing of which he is sure: this god in whom he has always placed his trust is not so attentive to his children as Francis once believed. This god lets lonely men die comfortless, faithless, godless at the hands of other comfortless, faithless, godless men. This isn't the god that Francis pledged his life to. This is a heathen god who delights in the torture of his creations. Or this is no god. Oh God.

If there be a god, God knows he prays. He prays so forcefully, so faithfully, as if the very strength of his desire could will Divinity into being. If there be a God, He must know the power of a single man's amen.

fin