Leaving the kitchen was difficult. Part of her wanted to sit and talk with him until they forced me to go to her cell, another part of her wanted to ask him if he had felt the shift in their conversation like she had. It had gone from happy and cheerful to odd and slightly awkward. Yes she knew was prideful and yes she knew she wanted him coming back to Louisiana to have something to do with her she would freely admit. And of course, when it seemed like it wasn’t well her pride and her ego were wounded.
While on the outside he was most certainly not the lanky skinny boy she had said goodbye to three years before. He stood before her now a man, that realisation scared her ever so slightly. She wasn’t sure how to deal with Eric the man, she had only ever experienced Eric the boy. Could the two be so different?
She knew that she too was different from the outside but that of course some things never do change no matter how many years we have on our list.
She decided that it didn’t really matter why he was back, he was back and that’s all that should have mattered. By the time she had reached Father Compton’s office her mood had found it’s happy place again.
Of course that happy place would be short lived when she entered said office and closed the door.
He was sitting at his desk looking over some papers. He didn’t look up or even address her as she entered and alerted him to my presence.
In fact there was complete silence for at least a minute before he shifted in his seat and spoke.
Not a good sign.
“Have you or have you not begun the process of being a sanctified member of this church, have you not begun your training to prepare you for your life as a servant of God?”
“Yes, Father you know I have.”
“Is that why you wanted to see-” She blurted out before being abruptly stopped by his hand up to signal her to stop.
“Sister having taken the vows that leads you on this path, the path to your final vows you have agreed to adhere to our way of life, have you not?”
His formal voice was starting to scare her a little. What exactly had she done now. And why was he the one dealing with it, it should have been Geraldine.
In a flash his calm albeit icy exterior was gone, he was mere centimetres from her face as he accused. “Then why were you seen in a questionable embrace with a strange man on our very scared grounds this afternoon Sookie?”
“I…” she stammered as he slammed his fist down on to the arm of the chair she was seated in.
“Who was he?” he asked in anger but as she went to answer he hauled her to her feet and pushed her against his desk.
“I saw you with him, I saw the look in your eyes …letting him touch you.”
She was scared but she had spent half her life learning to control and hide her fear, this situation was no different. The stone set look in his eyes told her that she wouldn’t be the one in control here, even if she begged. She was at his mercy and there wasn’t a thing she could do.
“It wasn’t like that at all, Father please. He’s a friend he’s my friend and it was innocent.”
“Sweet Sookie you are so naive to the ways of man, and that man embracing you in such a manner was far from innocent. How would it make you feel if I were the one breaking our rules and taking you in such a manner. It would be wrong wouldn’t it?”
She swallowed back her words as he leaned in close to her again, this time yanking the veil off her head exposing her hair.
“Such beauty hidden under these constraints Sookie. I can understand the temptation you provide men without even knowing it yourself. Do you know how tempting you are?” his slightly disguised southern drawl became more prominent then.
She didn’t speak a word, for fear of it snapping him completely.
“You have to understand Sookie. You are mine, and no one else’s.”
She looked at him questionably then and he explained his seemingly bizarre thought process to her.
“I’m your superior in all matters Sookie. You have no authority here you must realise that? Women barely have rights as it is, but women who give themselves to this life are at the mercy of their Fathers. And I, for all intents and purposes Sookie am that Father. I gave you the option of permitting me willingly but I was rejected again and again, and I was alright with that. It takes some a while to come around. But you are special, you I was willingly to wait for.”
Wait for what she wondered.
He grabbed her face then, with his other hand he yanked her by her hair forcing her to turn around bending over his obsessively neat desk. Her instincts were screaming at her to run, to kick him to stab him with his shiny letter opener, to scream for help.
But she realised he was right, he hadn’t told her all of that for nothing. She had no rights here, he was her superior just like Sister Geraldine. And much like when she’d screamed for help during Geraldine’s punishments…she knew it would do her no good. She willed herself not to cry to try and hold her breath as he pushed her skirted habit up around her waist before pushing her further on to his desk.
He reached for her underwear with one hand as he slid his hands down and around her thighs with the other. Just as he had yanked them down her thighs, there was a loud knock on his office door. Maybe miracles do happen ,she thought, as he yanked her underwear back up as roughly as he had taken them down, forcing her to fix her clothes and take her seat before he opened his office door.
Never had she been happier to see him than at that very moment. He greeted her warmly with a concerned look in his eye all the while questioning Bill on what he had just interrupted. He was no fool, he knew something was amiss, he thankfully pulled rank on Bill and excused Sookie for the evening.
Doing her best to keep her shaking to herself she thanked him and made her way back outside. She managed to make it to the side of the courtyard before she turned to the rose bushes and threw up the contents of her stomach. Dry retching until she couldn’t breathe any more.
She allowed herself to cry then, sobbing silently to herself as she dragged herself back to her small room, their rooms aptly named cells and at that moment she felt more imprisoned than ever. All thoughts of Eric were put aside as she embraced her fear for what had almost happened to her, for what she was sure would happen to her and for what she would lose in the process. Thoughts and tears followed until she couldn’t remember anything other than waking up, feeling 1,000 years old with swollen eyes and a headache that almost impaired her vision.
It all had to be forgotten, at least momentarily after all, mass was in twenty minutes and there was an image to up keep. She washed her face, re-braided her hair and fixed her uniform. Looking in the small mirror on her dressing table she barely recognised the person staring back at her any more.
Walking around the grounds in an attempt to find her turned out to be useless. All I found was Niall walking across the courtyard with a worried look on his face.
“Niall!” I called to him jogging to where he stood.
“Not now Eric…oh have you gotten settled in yet? Your room should be down the hall from mine on the third floor. You know where that is I assume…I must go I’ve so much to do!” he was in a rush and flustered but still managed to care if I was settled. I had to laugh.
“Niall, I’m here to help whatever you need doing let me do.”
“Have you seen Sookie yet?” he asked, that same worried expression clouding his friendly features.
I smiled. “I have, she was called to a meeting with some Father Compton? You know him?”
He grimaced at me then “I do now. Horrid little man. Go check on Sookie will you.”
“Why would I need to ‘check’ on her? Where is she?”
” Look forget I said anything I’m sure she’s fine now, just go get ready for mass will you boy?”
“Fine now? What’s going on?”
He sighed “Nothing, I just…she seemed a little shaken up that’s all. It might be best if you went and saw her perhaps.”
“But I don’t know where she is!”
“Then talk to her after service she’ll be there then. Eric I have to go, it’s my first sermon back and I need to find my notes!” flustered as I’ve ever seen him he marched over to the other end of the building where I knew his old office to be. Something wasn’t right.
I knew I would be able to see her from the front row, it’s where all the nuns would sit for every service. I spotted her arriving a little later than she probably should have, I realised her reasoning then. She looked tired and her eyes were all puffy as if she’d been crying. Putting two and two together wasn’t hard, whatever this bastard Compton had said to her had upset her something serious.
She filed out with the other sisters after the service, and in the hustle of trying to spot her as well Niall attempting to introduce me to the older members of the parish that attended the church regularly, I knew I’d have to wait a while before I saw her again.
I heard the tapping but I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, I thought I was dreaming at first and tried to ignore it. But it persisted until I was fully awake and sadly fully aware that I was not dreaming but that there was someone chucking what sounded like gravel, at my tiny window.
A cell was called a cell for many reasons, sparsely decorated, small, but it was the three large bars on the window that really sealed the deal with it’s prison like feel. I opened the hatch as far as it would go and the tapping stopped. I managed to poke my head through one of the bars to look out, not that I needed too, only one person had the gall to be prattling at my window at 3am.
“Eric, what are you DOING?” I whispered harshly, but quietly.
“Are you ok? I heard him whisper back in the darkness.
“Well, I was asleep! What the heck are you doing out there?”
“I want to see you, come down.”I groaned internally, and looked at my alarm clock.
“Eric I have to be up in two hours can’t I just talk to you then?””I can’t sleep, I know you’re not ok so just come down or I’m coming up.”
“You can’t come up here, it’s against the rules, look please just wait until-” I heard his footsteps move. Christ almighty he never listened to me did he. A few minutes later I heard a tap again, this time on my door. On opening it came my panic, what if someone saw him, oh God what if Bill saw him.
I looked up and down the hallway, spotting no one, before I grabbed his jacket pulling him inside, closing my door as quietly as I could and whispered “Seriously are you trying to get us in trouble? What is so urgent that it couldn’t wait two little hours Eric?”His presence took up my entire little room, he stood in the dim light taking everything in around the room before he finally looked at me again. He looked at me and then looked away forcing me to realise I was standing there in nothing but my old nightgown.
I attempted to cover myself with my hands but it wasn’t going to do much good. There I was underwear less in front of a priest, Eric for goodness sake. I knew my blush would be giving me away any second so I did my best to get an answer out of him.
He took a seat on my bed, and the old springs creaked under his weight.”You avoided me after mass, and I know something was up because Niall told me he seen you in that guy Compton’s office and that you looked…well…not right? So, what happened?”I felt the bile rise in my throat again, but I did my best yet again to push it aside. In hushed tones we continued what was for both of us a dangerous conversation.
“Nothing happened, and as you can clearly see I’m fine so you need to go ok? Honestly if someone sees you here Eric, we’re both in a world of trouble.””Why? It’s innocent” he smiled then sweetly “We’re only talking they can’t -”
“Eric the priests are allowed in our quarters, just like we’re not allowed in theirs and particularly not at 3am!”
He nodded, finally getting my meaning. “I’m sorry Sook, I never even thought…I was just worried about you that’s all.””And that’s very sweet of you, but look, see? I’m fine, no bruises or cuts so it can’t have been that bad now can it?” I tried to smile I really needed him to let this go, for both our sakes.
He stood again and I moved out of his way to open my door hoping that it wouldn’t squeak. He stood in front of me for a second, when his hand came up into my hair. I’d forgotten I’d taken it down before I shut off my lights, it had gotten so long now without care that it was long down my back without a braid to keep it in place. He ran his hand down through it once, smiling down at me “I miss your hair.” He echoed his words to me in the garden with a dorky grin on his face this time.
“You know what else you’ll miss? My guts, once Sister Geraldine gets wind of this now go!” I pushed him out my door, reminding him to be as silent as he could on his way down the hallway again.
Breathing a sigh of relief when he left, I finally had time to contemplate what happened. Eric was in my room, at night, alone, with me, in my …oh crap. I looked in the mirror and realised that with my beside lamp behind me you could see completely thought the white material. Great, just great. Another thing on top of everything else now Eric had seen me naked. Well, maybe he didn’t maybe he didn’t even notice…oh who was I kidding of course he saw me naked. I blushed at the very thought of it. Feeling guilty and ashamed even though no harm was done and it wasn’t intentional on either of our parts. I tried to brush it off, but the idea of him seeing me without my clothes it wasn’t as scary as it maybe should have been. Perhaps it was because it was Eric and he was the only boy I’d ever kissed or thought about in that way before? It was familiarity and strange all at once. Eric had changed even if he or I didn’t want to admit that, and I knew I had to some extend. I’d grown a lot, I’d become and made some best friends in people that I wouldn’t ordinarily have even met, I completed my requirements and became a teacher, my kids loved me and I loved them.
Yes life here wasn’t ever easy or comfortable but now I was to find that the place where I thought I had sanctuary for the rest of the world was in fact as corrupt as anywhere else I could think of. I’d always known that in Sister Geraldine there was a special kind of evil, I’d always been afraid of her ever since I’d first laid eyes on her. This was nothing new, most of the other Sisters were gentle souls, but there were a few that wanted to emulate her in the ranks which always led to beatings or whippings or whatever form of humiliation they could come up with that day. Father Compton however was a new bred in my eyes. The only Priest we grew up with here was Fr Brigant, one of those other gentle souls and kind hearts that seemed to only want to help where he could. Compton wasn’t a thing like him, and that was truly terrifying. I knew if I told the other Sisters, I risked getting myself into more trouble than I did him, and I knew that if I even so much as mentioned it to Eric, he would kill Bill and land himself in a scalding hot water. No, I could tell anyone. It was for the best if I kept this to myself.
EPOVI saw her naked. Sookie, was naked. Well no, Sookie was covered head to toe in a very Florence Nightingale kind of night gown. Up to her neck and down to her toes. But, what I don’t think either of us were counting on was the backlighting provided by her tiny beside lamp. At first I was shocked she opened her door at all. I knew the rules, everyone knew the rules but then again I’d never really been a huge fan of those nuns and their ‘rules’ and it was totally an innocent visit so I saw no harm. Of course they wouldn’t see it that way, they would have turned it into something perverse in a matter of seconds, which I guess I had done myself, internally I was waging a war with my body as I watched her stomp about her room panicking over my presence. All the while catching glimpses of her body for the first time, the swell of her breasts the hourglass curve from her waist to her hips, it was all a little over-whelming. Over the years it became a regular occurrence for me and the rest of the guys that shared the ‘boys’ dorm in the orphanage to talk about girls – the girls we knew, the girls we didn’t and the girls we wished we did. Wondering what they looked like naked was always a topic of discussion among the boys, most of us had no clue what to expect from a girl when we were twelve or thirteen, by fifth teen some of us had maybe gotten a kiss or two. By sixteen we’d crossed a few more lines. Few of us shed our ‘virginity’ tag I imagined until we were finally free of the orphanage. It was like most things in that place – forbidden. So of course, we did it.
But when they would mention Sookie I’d shut up. I didn’t like that the other boys were noticing her and how she was changing, I hated that she was the one they’d talk about, I guess even then I knew better she wasn’t just some girl she was the girl, the girl who was my friend and who could make me laugh or get me to talk and ramble like an idiot, even then she was special.
So when I sat on her bed, willing away the rather painful and hopefully not-so-obvious erection through my pants, I felt a little shame. It wasn’t that I was above those other guys and that I didn’t think about Sookie sexually, of course I had. She was beautiful and sexy without even knowing it and …damn her boobs were huge by the time she was sixteen so I blamed that then.
But now, I was older and I should have respected her enough to bury my own as Niall would say ‘urges’ shouldn’t I? I should have respected that she was my friend who had made a choice as I had and that she was innocent and pure and amazing…When in reality all I could think about was grabbing her by her night gown yanking it over her head and taking her right there in that little room. Touching her, kissing her, tasting her like I had wanted to for so long. The thoughts shot through me at lightening speed, I didn’t think something so simple as her naked silhouette could elicit such arousal but again I was wrong.
Masturbation may be a ‘sin’ in the eyes of the Lord, but you know what, so is taking a part of a persons humanity like their sexuality and attempting to erase it. I had a lot of qualms about the priesthood as I should have, but their ideal of turning their representatives into corpses from the waist down was something I didn’t think I’d ever understand. So that night I embraced that sin, twice.
I’d feel guilty tomorrow, like a good Catholic.