RAPE & CRUCIFIXION.
Sister Lucia kneels down. Her knees sense the bare wooden floor. Hardness, roughness. She closes her eyes. The room is silent, the smell of polish, soap. She tries to order her thoughts. To calm them, to get them to focus. Her hands touch, the fingers entwine. Flesh on flesh. Words won’t come; the words freeze in her throat. Just back in the convent after two years away in the foreign mission. She can picture it; see the mission chapel, the small house with walls, the square cloister. The chill of the room touches her. The mission had been warm, often hot. She tries to utter words, prayers. Nothing, nothing but sounds and images. She can still picture the soldiers who raped her. Still feel them inside her. She feels the hard floor beneath her knees, the knees ache, the back stiffens. She utters an Ave, that usually helps, starts her off, but nothing follows. First one soldier then the other, each smelling of sweat and drink. One dark eyed and unshaven roughly undressing her, dragging her this way and then that while the other laughed. She senses them still, senses their fingers, hands, penises, laughter. Crucified on that ground, pinned down, struggling, feeling the heat, the thrusts, the skyline above empty of all but dull clouds. You have not broken your vow of celibacy the abbess had told her in the quiet talk they’d had a few hours ago, you never consented, you were raped my dear child. Yes, the word clings to her like a stain, a mark, as if they’d nailed her to the ground and hammered into her until she bled. She sighs. Squeezes her fingers tight against each other. Pain, pain. A sister nun stood by the bed when the doctor examined her at the mission, his hands touching, his eyes professional, but still a man’s, still looking, the sister nun blushing, averting her eyes, fingering a rosary, muttering a breathy prayer. The doctor asked her questions, felt her forehead, took her pulse, studied the bruises, the cuts, swellings. She gets up from the floor, walks to the window, and looks down at the cloister. Oh to be in England now that. She opens the window and lets in the sounds of birds, wind, trees moving. The breeze astounds her. She allows it to embrace her, finger her face, her eyes. One of the soldiers slapped her face until it went numb, her eyes stared, her lips felt swollen. Did they? Sister Thomas asked at the mission after the doctor had gone and made his report. They had she muttered through bloated lips. Raped and sodomized. Sister Thomas had watery eyes. The Sister nun standing by the bed stared ahead, eyes glassy, fingering the rosary. The breeze chills her and so she closes the window and stands looking at the large wooden cross on the wall above the bed. The cross symbolizes the I, the ego, the me, crossed out, the negation of self, the novice mistress had said years before. The denial of self, is the first step towards Christ, she had said, pointing to the crucifix on the wall of the chapel. She rubs her hands, warms them. What of her self? She thought she had crossed out her self, her ego, her me. She feels them still, their entering, the laughter. Brutalized, beaten, crucified. A share in Christ’s sufferings, one nun had said at the mission. Shared in suffering. Share in. Suffering. Still. It will take time, Sister Thomas said. Time, ticking clock, age, death. To forgive. Forgiveness, pardon, mercy, compassion. They know not what they do. They did. They knew. God forgive maybe. She sits on the bed and fingers with the large beads of the rosary. Undone, feels so undone. As if they had opened her up and tore out her very being, her soul. She feels the wooden beads as she fingers them. She holds the small crucified Christ on the rosary and kisses Him, senses her flesh, feels her faith clinging on by her fingertips. Don’t let go, don’t go, don’t turn out the light, don’t allow me to drown in the dull cold dark.