AFTER MATINS | By: Terry Collett | | Category: Short Story - Religous Bookmark and Share


There's a chill in the six o'clock cloister Sister Catherine feels as she walks from the church to the rectory her fingers brushing against the rough brickwork along the top of the knee-high wall around the cloister pausing momentarily to gaze at the mulberry tree in the garth to see the birds there thenshe lowers her eyes to the frost on the grass the whiteness mingling with the green the sharp chill biting the fingers the wind hurting her cheeks as her mother's hand did once when she slapped her for kissing the Murphyboy next door in the porch after a party and the memory of the sharpslap still remains in her mind like a scar on flesh and her mother saying boys like him are only after one thing and once they get it they move onto some other slutand the anger in her mother's eyes stung her more than the hand slap and looking up the sky promises more chill the white frost on the rooftops of the convent and the bell tower and dark rooks in the far off trees and looking back to the cloistershe sees Sister Dominic pacing along head down hand clutching the rosary hanging from the blackbelt thefingers rubbing the dark wooden beads and her voice mumbling softly andsoSister Catherine enters the refectory smelling straight away the fresh baked bread the hot coffee from the urn on the oak table the polish from the floors the cooking from the kitchen and cutting a slice of brown bread with thesharp knife and pouring black coffee into the large white mug she walks to the table by the high windows and faces the wall taking in the brown red brickwork the light from the high windows falling gently like snow on the surrounding air and nibbling the bread she wants to sense God's presence needs to allow space for Him but senses only the chill of morning the hunger being slowly appeased the warmth of the coffee mug entering her fingers the coldness in her toes beginning to ease and lifting her eyes to the window above her head she remembers her mother dragging her to confessions to tell the priest all tell Father Cassidy everything you bad girl tell him every last thing you and that boy Murphy did do you hear me and her mother's voice awakens in her mind every word and presses against the walls of her brain and the memory fresh as eggs new laid and her mother's fat fingers pinching deep into her skin leaving red marks the pain of the slapped behind still there deep in her mind and gazing down she looks at her hand holding the mug the steam from the coffee rising like incense at mass like prayers said and turning around looks over and above the abbess's table at the crucifix on the wall the Crucified pinned to the stained wood the nails imbedded deeply in the hands and the handslike shells the fingers pointing inwards His face chiselled with hurt the blue painted eyes looking Heavenward a sadness there a rejection a pained expression touching her reminding her of her mother's last stare when she entered the convent and looked back at her standing in the convent parlourand saw that cold glare that seemed to say so you have left me alone to face old age you selfish girl you are just like your father just like him and lifting the coffee mug to her lips and sipping the liquid she closes her eyes to the hanging Christ and the memories that linger and like the chill in flesh and feet they hurt her still.


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