SISTER FELICITY’S DIG.

Sister Felicity dug in the trowel, moved over a handful of earth, saw worms and crawling insects that made her cringe. They won’t harm you, she could almost hear her father say in that deep bass voice of his, as he held her hand with his, showed her what was in God’s good earth; that was before his mind went, before the demons attacked, before the rot set in. For a moment, she could still feel his large hand over her smaller fragile hand; could sense the gritty texture of his skin on her smooth pink flesh of years ago. She watched the insects run for cover, leaving the overturned earth with love or fear of her. She spread the earth with her fingers, picked up a handful, crumbled it up to a fine texture, and then dropped it down. The cloister garth was warm; the sun was just to her right, and clouds hung still and silent in the sky above. Sister Paul, over on the other side of the garth, kneeling down over the flowerbed, was muttering to herself; she often did; some said it was her praying, some said she was hearing voices of the dead and was answering them, but Sister Felicity said nothing about it, thought that the sister was just a bit touched and loved her for the honesty of her odd ways, her squinting eyes, her childlike happiness in church when Father Damien raised the host, the Crucified, for all to see. Sister Felicity sat back on her haunches, breathed in the air, the perfume of roses nearby, the morning breeze, the smell of grass fresh mown. She’d sat with Lawson once up on the cliffs overlooking the sea, he gazing at her with his manly eyes, his tongue licking his lips, his hand touching hers; and a sun like the one above pouring its heat on them, blessing them, bringing them together on a fine day; and she waiting for the right moment to tell him it was all off as she was going to be a nun and a Bride of Christ; but couldn’t find the courage to tell him, couldn’t find the right moment; endured his wet lips on hers, his hand touching her thigh, moving upwards; and blurting out nervously at the final minute in one long babble of words, how she had a vocation to be a nun and God had chosen her and she couldn’t let him down, not the Crucified, not for all the rosaries in Rome. Lawson had stared at her as if she had lost her mind; removed his hand; sat upright; held his head to one side as if his brains had come loose and he was trying to set them straight. It had spoiled the day; she had not seen him again; he married some girl from an agency who spoke Spanish and did jujitsu in her spare time. Sister Felicity dug into the earth, heaved over more worms, and sighed softly. She remembered her brother, Jake chasing her with a worm in the garden way back, she screaming, he laughing as he put it down the neck of her blouse and felt it wiggle its way down her back and got lodged inside her knickers which made her scream even more. She shook her head at the memory, pushed it aside, as she had Jake’s comments when he found out about her becoming a nun, all the usual garbage about her wanting to hide form the world, wanting it easy, wanting to avoid kids and sex, and facing up to life in the real world. He was dead now; drove too fast after drinking too much; and that really stung her mother, really got her bitter: that her perfect son, her dear one, had gone had lost his life in such a manner; while her daughter, the one she found it hard to love, hid herself away in some convent with a load of sex-starved women and survived. Bitterness in her mother’s last letter that she had kept in between the pages of her copy of The Imitation of Christ. She moved away the earth with her hands, and turning round, picked up one of the plants that Sister Blaise had given her to put in, placed it in the hole, pressed it in all around. Earth clung to her fingers, its dampness refreshing her, its innocence bringing her back to the moment, God’s moment, His time, His bride and a soft breeze coming across the cloister garth like His kiss.

SISTER FELICITY’S DIG.

TerryCollett

Horsham, United Kingdom

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