[click here for recommended mood music: composed by 12th century Abbess Hildegard of Bingen]
I am sitting, working, behind the altar with the inner fireworks going off. I smell her, underneath the pine cleanser that I scour with these cold mornings. I watched her yesterday, at the lake, at the noon hour when we have time to wash ourselves. I tried to be penitent, praying the entire time that this feeling would dissipate like the elder nuns have always whispered. But they were wrong, the yearning never went away.
She takes her time walking towards me while I am polishing the brass. She speaks softly, angelic, ‘Sister Lisa, may I ask of you, if the Lord wills it …?’ I try to speak, have many an erudite and witty remark at the ready, in my heart, but the passageway is blocked with black bile, and so I stand there, staring, just staring.
‘Sister Lisa..?’ she repeats.
I snap back. ‘Yes, my sincere apologies, Sister Margaret, what can I do for you?’ I say too quickly.
‘I felt you yesterday, watching me.’
My heart stops; like an old clock, it is neither working nor alive. ‘I… I…,’ is all my weary throat offers.
‘I heard you, walking up. The snapping, the cracking of the twigs?’ She is still, gazing at me, I can’t divine in her sight; she holds all the cards. I am just an ass waiting to go down, carrying her packs to hell.
‘And I knew you were there …’ She leaves it hanging. My heart starts up, makes up for lost time. I think I’m going to vomit, but use every meditation to force the stomach to retreat.
‘And yet you said nothing,’ I creak.
‘I’m saying something now. I’m saying I knew you were there.’
And that’s all. That’s all she says, neither invitation nor repulsion. I start to speak, but think the better of it. She walks away, albeit slowly, grabbing the books tighter against her soft breasts while turning to look me dead in the eyes.
‘I’ll be bathing tomorrow, so you know,’ she says with a possible smile. ‘After morning prayers, near the sweet white flowers …’
- Just a guy who likes to write and read. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) his attention spans that of a field mouse, and thus he confines his literary excursions to flash fiction, hoping one day to find that he has written the great American novel.