PRIOR TO LAUDS. | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Short Story - Introspective Bookmark and Share


Sister Luke spreads the bedcover down flat with the palm of her hand sensing the roughness on her skin taking in the dark brown colour the way it fits neatly into the sides of the bed and at the end just as her mother had shown her years back like an envelope tucked in neat and tidy no ends hanging out no odds and sods her father would have said then standing back she looks quickly around the room taking note of the crucifix on the wall above the bed with the cross she’d made with the palm leaf folded small and placed behind the back and shoulders of the Christ with the face tortured and eyes closed and the bloodied crown of thorns and the thin pins nailed into the plaster hands and feet and remembers the crucifix her parents had above the bed with a rosary hanging down and the Crucified (as her father called Him) looking distraught and old and haggered and pictures of saints on the walls and the smell of perfume and body sweat and hair oil and turning her eyes to the washstand she sees that all is as it should be the jug placed just right next to the white enamel bowl for washing and the plain white towel over the wooden rail and the soap in the dish thin and dull green and looking over at the window sees the roof of the guesthouse and the small bell tower in the cloister which was tolled for the meal times and other less important hours and the tree in the garth with its buds and birds and sun just coming over the rooftop and the first clouds of day arriving like bridesmaids for a wedding and looking away she gazes down at her black habit brushing off the crumbs of bread from breakfast in the refectory taken standing up peering through the high windows at the sky and the sound of silence entering her like a sharp knife and putting her hand down now to the rosary that hangs from the black belt she feels the beads and rubs her thumb and finger over them moving along until she touches the wooden cross and then rubs her thumb over the Christ over His head and arms then slowly down the body and legs feeling the small Christ chilled by the morning air and then releasing it lets it fall back against the serge of black cloth and taking one last look around she opens the door of the room and goes out into the corridor pulling the door shut behind her with a dull thud just as Sister Josephine had shown her that first morning not to allow noise to disturb not to disturb the sisters not permit disorder or disruption to prayer or contemplation and walking along the corridor she thinks of the passageway of Donal’s house dark and creepy with the talk of ghosts and phantoms over supper and Donal jumping out at her from some doorway and grabbing her from behind and kissing the nape of her neck and his arms about her rubbing against her holding her close his whispered words his lewd suggestions his hands feeling her and she pushing him back and away and wanting him gone and beginning to scream until he put his hand over her mouth and muttered for silence for hush for the hell she’d wake his mother and then there’d be hell to pay and then it was all gone as she walks to the stairs and looks down at the decending nun walking at the side by the wall head bowed hands tucked away into the habit out of sight and lets her go on and waits by the top fingering the rosary shutting the door of memories shutting out Donal and his hands and words and suggestions and the dark room and the bed and then the bell rings for Lauds breaking through the memories pushing through the dull images allowing light to enter the light from the windows the high windows and the cold air enters her lungs and the voice of her Christ bidding her come with each toll of bell and footsteps bringing her closer to her Heaven and miles away from that Hell.

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