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By: Terry Collett


Mary and Martha sat on the warm grass watching the sky. They smoked their cigarettes, thought of school, what freedom truancy was away from the talk and learning stuff, and the stern looks of the teaching nuns. Martha brought out a crucifix attached to a rosary; brown wood; small, well worn by someone's fingers, not hers. She removed her cigarette, kissed the Crucified, small, silver, tarnished by time and other kissing lips. Mary gazed, shook her head, and smiled. Magdalene had been right; Martha was losing her marbles; this kissing of crosses was a nun thing, Mary mused, watching as Martha brushed the discoloured Christ against her cheek. She couldn't see her in nun's cloth; couldn't see her lost to that virgin cause, she muttered to herself, watching Martha twirl the rosary about in her hand, place the cigarette back between her wanting lips, breathe in a huge suck of smoke and air. Mary pulled her school skirt over her knees, the breeze from down hill was chilling, the thought of Brian, his wandering hands, his sticky lips against hers, made her nauseous. Magdalene had kissed her a few nights ago, odd, yet strangely warming, unexpectedly, just as they sat watching TV, the music in the background. She took in a draw of her cigarette, stared at Martha's fingers rub against the Christ's body and head, with the cigarette held tight between lips, her knees pressed closed to keep out the wind, Sister Lucy's image in mind, her thin hands pressed tight in prayer, her eyes shut against the world's lust and greed. Poor Sister Lucy, Martha mused, feeling the Crucified between finger and thumb, wishing she were more like Lucy, less sinful with the smoking and drink, the four letter words that poured from her lips like sour wine on the ears of the cursed. She turned and gazed at Mary, took in the bemused look, the smile, the eyes wide open. Mary spoke of Sister Lucy and Father Joseph, the word about them in the confessional, the sights seen by girls, the talk in the toilets about kisses and such like. Martha didn't give a cat's pee; it was all talk, nothing solid, nothing to get the teeth into. Secretly, she doubted the rumours; doubted the talk, it was just girls and their sexy smut, their wants and feelings boiling on the edges of their minds. Mary took the crucifix from Martha's hand; twirled it between her fingers, felt the smoothness of the wood, the tarnished Christ, the look of age and time. She wondered how many prayers had been muttered against this, how many fingers had pushed and pressed, had kissed; let their faith linger into the wood and silver of this Christ. She inhaled deeply, sensed the smoke hit her lungs, sensed the sensation, remembered Brian's fingers touch her thigh, the lusty feel, her hand against his face, the look of shock on his dumb features. Good riddance on the lusty loon, she mused, thinking of Magdalene, the kiss and warmth. Martha took back the rosary, pocketed it in her skirt, held her cigarette aloft, watched the smoke rise like prayers, studied the clouds, smiled at the thought of Sister Lucy's touch and talk, the cold cloister, the mass, the office of Matins, Lauds and such, and she a nun, some years hence. Mary turned, gazed at the sky and the rooks that rose from the trees, dressed in black like the sisters, the sounds, and the black against the blue sky, the sensation of Magdalene's hand against her thigh, the feelings of butterflies touching her groin. Martha sighed, threw away her cigarette, pulled at her skirt, took out the rosary, held it to her cheek, felt the Crucified, wanted His love, wanted Him there, wanted to be His bride. Some day, she mused, reaching out for Mary's hand, sensing the flesh warm against the chill wind, the rooks rising, like the sisters rising from prayers.

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