A/N: This chapter deals with some very sensitive subjects – just a little warning if you’re of a delicate nature.
There was yelling—it’s all I really recall—while I felt Bill’s hands in my hair, dragging me towards Geraldine’s office. They yelled at each other, then they yelled at me. That’s when she slapped me across the face so hard, I spun into her filing cabinet. There was blood—I could feel the warm liquid dripping from my eyebrow. That’s when it registered with me what they were arguing about. They insisted that I ‘get rid of it,’ and when I refused, Geraldine decided to take over and make sure I did as she wanted. Both she and Bill took the reins as I was dragged back to my cell. That’s when they made sure I couldn’t leave.
“What is that?” I asked her, as she pushed me back on the bed. I tried to get up and away from her but she wouldn’t let me up.
“Just a little something to calm you down. We can’t have this, Sookie. I let you back in because you needed us. You can’t have a child do you hear me? This can’t happen, and I simply won’t allow it.”
“He was going to rape me, Geraldine! This isn’t right, it’s not right!” I cried, and I guess in a way thankfully, that’s all I really remember before I blacked out.
I woke up, this time more lucid than the times before and I somehow managed to stay awake this time. The room was still spinning, my stomach felt empty, my mouth dry. My skin hurt all over. I felt like I was dying.
I tried to move my hands, but I couldn’t. I was tied to my headboard.
I coughed and tried to free myself only to be told not to in case I hurt myself.
She sat in the corner, pale and gaunt, dark circles under her green eyes—green eyes that were filled with unshed tears, staring in my direction.
“Why?” I sobbed.
“Sookie, I am so sorry, child. I tried to stop her, I really did… But…”
“You couldn’t,” I croaked. She came to my side with a glass of water and wet my lips. I took a few sips of the water and it made me cough harder.
“Did she do it?”
Her tears finally fell.
“Did she kill my baby?” I asked even though I knew the answer.
“Yes,” she sobbed. I knew she had done it; I knew in my heart and in my body that was now empty. The baby, mine and Eric’s baby, wasn’t there anymore and it never would be again. I wanted to break down in tears, but I was just too worn out to cry.
“Why am I tied up? It’s not like I could do anything.”
“You… tried to run away.”
“I did?” I clearly didn’t recall this. Whatever drugs she’d given me had seen to that. “How long have I been here, like this?” Hours, days, weeks maybe? I had no clue.
“Eleven days.” She said solemnly.
“Aggie…” I used Eric’s nickname for her, causing more tears to fall.
“Sookie, I am so sorry. But you shouldn’t have gotten yourself mixed up in trouble like that. You know he came into mass, walked right up on to the alter and knocked Father Compton right out, demanding to see you. He’s trouble, Sookie.”
“He wasn’t trouble…Well, he was, he was Eric, and I loved him and he loved me and it was a beautiful thing Aggie, and I don’t regret it for one second.”
“Hush, now child. Don’t let her hear you speaking like that.”
“What’s she going to do? Kill me? She may as well, she killed my baby, Agnes. She’s ruined me.”
“Please untie me. Please? I just…want to sleep. Like a human being. Please don’t tie me down? I promise not to run away again.” I pleaded.
She looked hesitant. But I begged and she relented.
She told me to sleep as it was late and I’d need to get myself back to normal soon.
Normal—did I even know what normal was now? My thoughts were racing. Everything from sadness to pain, grieving to hatred, revenge to escape.
For the second time in my life, I felt something snap inside me. First was when I decided to go with my heart when it came to how I felt for Eric, and now, I was going with my head and possibly my soul and getting the hell out of here.
I waited until I heard Agnes’ breathing even out. She was curled up on an arm chair at the head of my bed. I was weak, but I wasn’t stupid. My brain still worked just fine even if it took my body a second to catch up. I saw the means to my escape sitting on the edge of my bedside table. A needle, with what I assumed to be the stuff used to keep me sedated for the last eleven damn days. I took it and jabbed it once into Agnes’ leg. She woke with a shock, and I had just enough time to tell her how sorry I was, before it knocked her out cold.
Whatever this stuff was, it was strong. My legs were like jelly, so weak and unsure. But I took one step, then another and soon the feeling began to come back. I looked down at my nightgown, the once snow white material now spotted in blood. I checked the clock on my table, it was just after four, which meant I had a good forty-five minutes to get myself sorted out before Geraldine woke up.
I made my way slowly and carefully down the hallway of the dorms. Being barefoot in December wasn’t fun to say the least, especially given that I was only wearing a thin nightgown and nothing more. Somehow, with some unknown strength, I made it to Geraldine’s office door. Knowing that she kept a spare key in the plant beside the door made accessing it easy. I opened the door and flipped on the lights. Her office was as it always was—sparsely decorated and cold. Just like her. I didn’t know what I was doing there, only that I knew I had to be there. I went to her filing cabinet, still unsure of what I was looking for. I found her personal file, a file on Bill, mine and Eric’s. I reached for them all, ignoring the dozens more in that drawer.
Hers had her entire background—employment history, date of birth, when she took her vows, where she took them. I skimmed through it before moving on to Bill’s file. It had his place and date of birth, where he grew up—apparently, he was adopted. He was inducted in California where he served as a priest for a number of years before requesting a transfer—here specifically.
Why anyone would want to voluntarily come here I’d never know.
Then I saw my file, the small faded photo in the left corner pinned to my details. Parents death, unwanted ward of the state—all of it was there in black and white. As was the face of the little girl I’d once been. Even then, there was something sad in those familiar blue eyes. I sobbed again before moving onto Eric’s record. His was similar to mine and had an accompanying photo of Eric when he first arrived. His floppy blond hair almost hid his sad tear-filled eyes. My heart clenched.
I needed information, but sadly the files told me nothing. I left them spread out on her table as I searched her desk. Letters, bills, invoices, other kid’s files. Then a I stumbled upon a sack—a mailman’s sack—in her bottom drawer. Again, I don’t know why but something told me to open it.
When I did, it was like getting shot in the heart and right through to my soul.
There were letters, dozens and dozens of letters, addressed to me.
They were from Jason! Dating back as far as my sixteenth birthday. Christmases, my eighteenth, nineteenth and every birthday since. He’d written to me. He hadn’t just forgotten about me like I thought. The tears were flowing from my eyes as I held back my sobs while reading the letters my brother had wanted me to see. He’d told me that Bartlett had finally died and that he wasn’t sad, but it meant that he was the man of the property now and could come get me. That was when I was sixteen. He’d written again when I was seventeen saying how odd it was that he wasn’t allowed into the convent when he came to see me on my birthday and that he’d try again at Christmas.
Christmas, he’d come to get me, but again wasn’t allowed to see me. He said that he loved and missed me and hoped to see me soon.
By my nineteenth, he’d been told I’d taken vows, and that as such he’d not be allowed to see me. That, for one was a lie, as family was allowed! He wrote that he didn’t understand my decision but he’d respect it since he ‘didn’t know me no more’—his words. But that if I ever needed him, to come home.
That was my sign.
Then I noticed a newer bunch of letters at the bottom of the pile—post dated New York and in Eric’s handwriting.
My heart stopped. They dated right back until a few days after he’d left. One’s postmarked for Louisiana.
He told me he loved me, that he wasn’t the one that chose to leave—they made him leave. They’d forced him out and wouldn’t even let him say goodbye to me. Once he was out, he wasn’t permitted back in. He wrote that the distance was killing him; he missed me and he needed me and he wanted to protect me. He felt like he had failed.
I found letters marked Louisiana everyday for two weeks before they changed to New York. He told of how his cousin had come and taken him back to New York, and that he didn’t want to be there, at least not without me by his side. That if I’d only write back and let him know I was safe, one way or another so that he would know… and again that he missed and loved me. And that he’d never give up on me.
I was dry sobbing by this point. I assumed I just had no more tears left to cry. The last letter from Eric was in messier handwriting but I could tell it was his.
“Dearest Sookie, I know now that if you are in fact getting my letters that you have chosen not to respond. And if that is the case then I’ll grant you your silence and leave you in peace. If that is what you want, love. But if that is not what you want, I implore you to respond, in anyway you can. I just… I need to know that you’re okay, and if I know that and you still don’t want to see me again then, as hard as it will be—I will leave you to your peace. I’m so sorry if my actions caused you any unnecessary pain or anguish, my Sookie. Know that it was never my intent to leave you alone in that place… But if it is what you have chosen, I cannot and will not force your hand. I love you, I will forever love you. But it seems I am to love alone.
As I read back through his letters, the first one I read being the last one dated, I sobbed harder. He hadn’t left me, he hadn’t abandoned me like I thought he had, like they’d told me he had. He was still out there, worried and in love with me. I was a fool. He offered me a new life on a plate and my stupid fear and doubt wouldn’t accept it, and for what? The love of a faith that had failed me. Where was God when this was happening? Where was God when my parents were taken and my life was confined to this place. Not only my life, but my mind. I’d grown to think of this as home, as safe. How could I have been so stupid?
I heard the key shuffle in the lock, the lock that of course I had unlocked. I froze, but not so much that I didn’t have my wits about me. I grabbed the first thing I saw and ran behind her door.
I heard her shuffle into the room. She gasped when she saw the state of her desk. I slammed her door shut and turned the key in the lock. Holding the key in one had, and her gold letter opener in the other, I stood my ground.
“What are you doing out of bed, and how dare you go through my things!”
“Don’t you mean MY things? Those are MY letters, addressed to ME! How could you keep them from me?”
“You had no need for them.”
“From my brother? All those years you let me go on thinking that I had NO ONE IN THE WORLD and I had him and you kept that from me. Why?”
She didn’t answer, she just sat at her desk, as if this was a perfectly normal conversation.
“Because what good would it have done you? You were a wilful petulant child who needed to be disciplined. Having him coming in and out of here would have only encouraged that. We couldn’t have that, there needed to be discipline!”
“You crazy old whore, I could have left here at sixteen. I would have never been back. Or is that why, huh? You wanted to keep me here as your little experiment in discipline?”
“It’s of no matter now. You need to go back to your room. Where is Agnes anyway? She’s meant to be watching you.”
“Agnes went for a little nap. With the aid of that horse tranquilizer you kept me down on.”
“It’s a mild tranquilizer. So you wouldn’t be awake when—”
“When you killed my baby? That’s right, just another thing on your to do list, isn’t it? YOU MURDERED MY CHILD!” I raged at her, but she sat still and unaffected.
“Yours was a bastard child conceived out of wedlock. You are a NUN, Sookie or have you forgotten? Such shame would not be brought upon this house, certainly not for some wanton little slut who couldn’t keep her legs closed.”
I lashed out at her, overcome with rage and sheer anger. The result was her hand pinned to the desk, by her knife shaped letter opener. She screamed in pain but she couldn’t move since it apparently only made the pain more intense.
“You’re insane!” she screamed at me.
“Maybe, but who drove me to the insanity? You? Bill? Eric? Me? This place? God? Who knows…”
She was sweating from the pain, there was blood on her desk, and blood on the files from her hand.
“Why’d you keep Eric’s letters from me?”
Even though she was in pain she still managed to roll her eyes.
“That simpering moron and his sonnets of love… that really amount to jack since he left you? Left you high and dry with his little bastard child to shame us all.”
“YOU made him leave! You made him go. He never would have otherwise.”
“You really believe that?” she scoffed. “First whiff of that baby and he’d have been off like a shot. Believe me, I know.”
“You know? How would you know?”
She didn’t look at me, she didn’t need to, something dawned on me.
“Oh my God.” The dates, the dates were the same. “You’re…”
She pushed her lips together.
“You’re his mother.”
Silence, but her eyes gave her away. Her eyes, where the same as his. How had I not noticed that before?
“How…I mean…Why? I mean…”
“It was a mistake and one I paid for dearly. I gave birth in the home with the nuns where I was sent by my family when they realized I was with child. He was born, they took him away, and I took my vows all in the same place. That’s it.”
“That’s it? And he just so happens to become a priest, and just so happens to come HERE?”
She looked away.
“You knew didn’t you? When he got transferred here that he was your son, didn’t you? Does he know?”
“Yes, he knows,” was all she said.
“What was the plan, huh? Get rid of Niall, get rid of Eric and have free reign? What were you both planning on doing? Niall knew, you know. He knew something was up but he wasn’t sure exactly what it was.”
She was silent.
“Tell me or so help me God I’ll chop off your hand next time.”
“No, okay? That wasn’t the plan. Look, I wanted nothing to do with this. It was his idea.”
“And what was that?”
“The money. It was shaved off the top of things since he got here. It’s why the medical bills weren’t allowed, why we cut down on certain things, why the school has been recycling books for almost a year. The money is for us—both of us to get out of here—to leave this place once and for all.”
“So, he was stealing then? Did you know all along? It’s why Eric could have died being moved from that hospital, it’s why Niall could have died, too! You selfish old bitch. And the girls, did you know about the girls? About me? What he tried to do to me? What he was doing to Selah?”
“NO. I swear that I didn’t know about that. Discipline is one thing, rape is entirely another.”
“You think whipping a seven-year-old girl until she bleeds is discipline? You’re just as warped as he is.” I pushed the letter opener harder into the desk, and subsequently, into her hand. She screamed again.
“It’s not fun is it? When someone takes away your right to chose, takes away the power you work so hard for, takes away your rights. You abused us all you old hag and you’re not even slightly sorry for it.”
“If you say discipline, I will kill you.” I was serious too. I wanted nothing more in that moment than to see the life drain out of her like she’d drained us all for so long.
Suddenly there was a knock at her office door.
“Tell them to leave, or I will make sure you don’t walk out of this office,” I whispered in her ear.
“Don’t come in! I’m busy. What do you want?”
“It’s Bill,” said the stern voice on the other end of the door.
“Yes, Bill. Still busy,” she struggled. “What is it?”
“Christmas morning mass will be starting shortly. Don’t you want to take your seat with the other Sisters?”
“I’ll be out shortly. Carry on,” she replied, trying not to move her hand that was still bleeding rather heavily under the old rusted letter opener.
“Good,” I said once I was sure his heeled shoes walked away from the door.
“What do you want from all of this, Sookie? It’s all a little overly dramatic, even for you.”
I looked at myself in the mirror behind her door. My once white nightgown was now damaged beyond recognition. The metaphorical irony wasn’t lost on how something once clean and whole was now ripped and stained in blood and dirt. I was bruised everywhere—the ones I couldn’t yet see, I could feel. My eye was blackened, and I had a small cut above my eyebrow on the left side. My hair was matted and frizzed, and the blood, there was just so much blood on my gown that I shuddered to think how much I lost. I was as white as my gown once was, so pale it made my eyes seem sunken into my head—though that could have been from all the crying. All in all, I didn’t recognize myself, much less knew what I wanted.
“I don’t want anything from you,” I said, resigned and possibly with leave of my senses. I walked out of her office with my pillowcase shaped sack of letters. I went in the direction of the laundry room. I needed clean clothes, and something else, but before I got to the bottom of the stairs I saw Selah. She was laying there, still as a statue. Her neck was obviously broken.
I wanted to scream but I just didn’t have the strength. She was most certainly dead. How she’d ended up at the bottom of those stairs was obvious to me. I assumed she’d outlived her usefulness and someone got push happy with her, just like they’d gotten push happy with me.
I ignored my need for cleanliness and decided that getting out of there was the best option, before I ended up like her.
I knew there was another way out. I knew I was covered in blood and it was something that didn’t seem to factor into my decision when I walked out of the convent, through the church.
The beautiful voices of the choir as they sung “Silent Night” where interrupted by the gasps and screams of the women in their seats. I guess seeing a nun in her nightgown, covered in blood might surprise you at Christmas morning mass.
“Oh my God! Are you okay? Someone help her!” one woman screamed. That’s when I saw the Sisters at the top of the church turn in concern, and it’s when I saw Bill. The singing halted, and he was making his way down the aisle.
“Sookie, what on earth!” He faked concern.
“Don’t touch me, don’t you dare touch me! Not after everything you’ve done. You pushed her didn’t you? You pushed her down those stairs just like you pushed me?”
His eyes were doing a horrible job of hiding his rage. “You’re causing a scene, look at you.”
“YES look at me, Bill. Look at what you’re mother did to me. It got a little messy murdering my child I suppose.”
There were gasps coming from all over the church.
“I need someone to call the police. There’s a body at the bottom of the stairs,” I said to whomever would listen.
There was a scream and a chorus of gasps again from the women as Bill tried to hush me into a corner.
“You get back here you little slut! This is just want you wanted isn’t it? Attention. Well, you’ve certainly got it now. You get back here and you get back here, NOW!”
I looked at him then, so out of control though trying his hardest to maintain his composure for the public.
“Go to hell, Bill.”
And with that, I walked outside. It was snowing ever so lightly and the road was already covered. I knew he’d be coming after me. I’d caused a scene, and one simply doesn’t do that. Not in Bill Compton’s church. I ran up the road barefoot, freezing, stunned and possibly still bleeding from popped stitches when it happened. Many cars passed me, some slowed to see but ultimately they drove on and then a cab stopped for me.
“Ma’am? Ma’am, can I give you a ride?” he asked slowing to a halt beside me. I nodded slowly.
“Okay, wherever you want to go I’ll take you, okay? But you need to get out of this weather, ma’am. You’re in a nightgown.”
I got into his beaten up old taxi cab, glad that his heating system worked and I felt it instantly.
“Thank you,” I sobbed.
“No problem. Got anywhere I can take you? Maybe you should see a doctor.”
“No, no doctors. I need Amelia. I need to go to her, she’ll know what to do.” I shivered from the cold or the shock of everything that had just happened, I wasn’t sure.
I gave him her address and he set us off in her direction.
“What’s your name?” I asked after a short silence.
“Jesus. Jesus Vasquez.”
I laughed. He probably thought I was insane. But, Jesus—Jesus saved me.
“Jesus, you have no idea how grateful I am that you showed up when you did.”
“Did you come out of the church?” he asked, taking in my state again.
“I did, and I don’t ever want to go back, okay?”
“I’m Sookie. Sookie Stackhouse.”
“Nice to meet you, Sookie Stackhouse. You look like hell.”
“Jesus, you have no idea.”
We pulled up to Amelia’s apartment, Jesus being a gentleman and knocking so I wouldn’t have to leave his cab. There was no answer, for almost twenty minutes he knocked before one of her neighbors looked out.
“May I help you?”
“Yes, ma’am. This woman is a friend of Ms. Broadway’s, she’s looking for her.”
“Oh dear, Amelia moved. Two weeks ago now, she and that beau of hers. He was offered some construction job in New York. So they up and left.”
“Oh,” Jesus said, looking to me confused.
“Are you Sookie?” the woman asked suddenly, squinting in my direction.
“She asked me to give this to a Sookie. I had no idea it was you.” She pulled a small envelope from her breast pocket handing it through the cab window to me.
“Dear, are you alright?” she noted, taking in my state.
“I will be, ma’am. Thank you.”
“Where to now, Sookie?”
“I don’t know his address!” I suddenly realized, thinking of Lafayette.
“Lafayette Reynolds. He’s a cook over—”
“I know Laf. I take him twice a week to see his momma in a hospital in Shreveport. I know where he is,” he smiled.
“You’re a lifesaver, you know that?”