Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 4

Grania Smith Hail Mary, full of Grace Hail Mary, full of Grace; the Lord is with you.

Blessed art thou amongst women The words stumbled - almost treacherously from her mouth, muttered, mumbling, choking. The next line: dear God. Could she, dare she, go further? There she sat, back against the wooden pew in the small convent chapel. Light filtered through the stained glass: Mary with her infant. Jesus, the cross, the wounds, the crown of thorns the blood. The all-pervading, slightly nauseous, smell of the holy water filled her nostrils; the stuffiness of the still place, and the pungent stale smell of sweat emanating from the robes of the elderly Carmelite nuns. Deep in contemplation, the nuns knelt at the altar rail, their fingers only moving the beads of their rosaries. She had come to teach, not to contemplate; her role in this isolated convent miles from anywhere in a distant corner of Ireland. Daon Hall, the convent and school, was run by the silent Carmelites, but with the teaching covered by nuns and the odd passing monk from other disciplines. The building was old, somewhat rundown and dilapidated. Ecclesiastical in design, it reputedly dated back to the thirteenth century. But did the fabric of the place matter? No one visited, no one inspected Daon Hall. On a good day (a rare sunny day), you would say that the grounds had a certain peaceful charm. But as the weather changed and the rain fell, it became dark and dank, a place of hopelessness and despair. Gazing from the window her eyes alighted on a group of pupils, the small class of year nine girls, thrown together by bad luck and misfortune. The thirteen year olds were laughing what did they have to even smile about she wondered? Misfits and outcasts: unloved, unwanted, mostly unheard of their histories reduced to a few pages of foolscap in the Mother Superiors office. Esther Jacobs, the love child of an erstwhile politician; Lin Sui parents lost in china; Laura Jones, daughter of missionaries who cared more for the children of the leper colony than their own; poor little Georgia, dwarfish her super model Mother unable to face her. Unruly Zoe with her Tracy

Grania Smith Beaker dreams of a Mother that didnt exist and wouldnt rescue her. Arabella Lane, the result of a liaison between an aged pop star and a drug addict; Samantha parents suicide pact; Avani father missing in Afghanistan, Mother not known. Sad, sad little waifs and strays; what future was there for them beyond the walls of Daon Hall? Turning back to face the altar, she had to continue, she had to make herself face this- she struggled for control. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. There. It was said. She walked from the chapel without finishing the prayer and, suddenly determined, her demeanour changed. She moved with purpose, shoes tapping on the stone floor, the swish of the heavy black robes, raising the dust motes from the sides of the corridor. Down, down the flights of stone stairs to the innards of the building. Excitement was growing inside her, her heart felt it was breaking free from her breast. She turned the key in the lock of the heavy door and forced it open The laboratory, secret only to her, out of bounds to everybody else. Her palms were sweaty; her whole body tingling with excitement. Is this what it is like? Her virginal body questioned, that coming together with that as ever faceless man. She took off her robe and replaced it with her white lab coat. Suddenly, business like, she glided among the rows of jars. After some speculation she took one and placed it on the marble slab in the centre of the room and undid the top. The smell of formaldehyde filled the room. Carefully, she lifted out a small but perfectly formed childs hand. Oh, what she could teach those girls about their bodies! She pulled the tendons and the fingers curled. She kissed the small palm with reverence and then began to cut at first controlled, and then, as excitement built, with sharp slashing stabbing movements. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners her lips unbidden, formed the words, the next line of the prayer. Shaking, she replaced her gown and, pale faced, left the laboratory. What was happening to her? She ran, ran back to the chapel Now and at the hour of our death. Amen. It was finished, she was seated on the pew, and the girls were still laughing.

Grania Smith The little misfits were reading a letter; Amber Jackson was leaving. A long lost cousin had written offering Amber a way out not just a holiday, a forever offer a normal life. A chateau in the South of France: swimming pool; ponies, all beyond Ambers wildest dreams. She didnt know she had a cousin no one knew she had a cousin but now it was real. Dreams did come true. The others were jealous, could they, too, have long lost relatives, saviours (or was Jesus the only saviour?). Amber at once became a princess. The girls showered her with gifts: little homemade book marks, lavender bags, badly scripted poems; Esther gave her a ring. Like a school mistress, she stood and an enigmatic smile unfurled on her lips. It was the year nines Biology lesson. She stood at the blackboard, black robe against a black background; the only white, her wimple and the chalk drawing. It was raining and the room was dark; the girls struggled to pay attention, their eyes cloudy with sleep. The hand, she said, The hand is a complex piece of machinery. Let me show you something. From underneath her robe she brought out a jar. Suddenly awake, she saw the disgust in the eyes of Laura; the recoil of Georgia; Samanthas hand covered her retching mouth; Lin Suis accusing glare; Arabellas uncertainty; Avanis horror; but she saw Esthers confusion. Esther saw the ring *** Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Esther stumbled over the words, her confusion increasing as the diminishing light left the chapel windows ominously dark and colourless; the flickering candles turning the shapes of the praying nuns into grave stones. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. What is his will, what should she do? Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses - as we forgive them who trespass against us. The answer appeared in those few words: Esther reasoned confession and forgiveness. She left the rigid, unsympathetic pew, her knees dented and bruised from the carved unforgiving kneeler. Genuflecting to the cross she turned and almost ran through the dimly lit corridors to the

Grania Smith door of Mother Superior's office. She pictured the small cosy figure of the elderly nun behind the door, her surrogate mother; the surrogate mother of all of her 'children'. Her lips moved automatically, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. The oaken door opened and she flew into the arms of the Mother Superior; that benign plump face - the only mother she had ever known. Agnes Dei - the Lamb of God - the lamb to the slaughter. The confession began, Esther's tears flowing down her young innocent face, Mother Superior mopping them gently away. The whole story. Oh murmured Esther, deliver me from evil. Mother Superior smiling sweetly, beatifically, her eyes flinty behind her thick lensed glasses. She cupped Esthers small face between her hands as she would the chalice containing the blood of her lord - her dark lord. Pressure, pressure on the slim stalk of the chalice - Esthers neck. Her life was, draining, slipping away. For thine, for thine is the kingdom resumed Mother Superior the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.