Sunday, December 7, 2014

CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR: "FINALE"


Picture it: a bright hot day.

The three of them -- Renata and Teresa and Art -- are sitting in the wagon pulling up to the convent in a cloud of red dust.

Dust and grime coat the face of each nun.


Teresa dismounts first and turns to help Renata down.  Renata wears a simple sky blue dress that hangs just below her ankles

Sister Gabriella, the nun thinning carrots in the convent's front garden, cries out,

"Renata -- Teresa -- they're here! They're here!" She jumps to her feet and soon all the nuns are outside. They crowd around Renata and Teresa like a flock of black crows. Everyone is asking, everyone wants to know what happened what happened.

Teresa raises one arm into the air. She wolf whistles as only Teresa can.  "If you all will quiet down," she says and the nuns fall silent.

She clears her throat. "Renata has been freed," Teresa announces. Cheers rise up. Goosebumps rise up Renata's arms and legs.

"Tell us," says Mother Yolla, "how did this miracle come to pass?"

Teresa turns to Renata: "You explain." So Renata recalls the miracle in the courtroom. Señora materializing to confound the judge and the Sheriff. Renata finally showing the judge the four pages so long missing from her journal. The pages that made it very clear that she was not the one who ended Antonie's life.

So now, both Teresa and Renata ask at precisely the same time: "Where is Señora?"

All of the nuns fall silent.

Mother Yolla speaks up. "She passed from this earth three days ago."

Teresa and Renata turn to each other. Then Renata calls out loud. "So this is truly a great miracle, because three days ago, she appeared in the courtroom. Señora is the reason I was allowed to go free."

No one speaks. Renata asks in a whisper. "Please, take us to her grave."

Mother Yolla leads the way. Behind the convent is the small cemetery, surrounded by a picket fence.

She points to the corner beneath a live oak tree.  "She is over there, at least that is where we buried her remains. But her spirit lives on, who knows where else she will appear?"

Renata crosses the cemetery, and kneels before Señora's grave. Her hands come up to her chest in prayer. "I have so much to thank you for." She drops her head to her fingertips and tears flood her eyes.  "May you rest in peace. And please know that you will be sorely sorely missed." She remains there, praying in silence. The other nuns remain outside the fence.

No one makes a sound.

And in time, Renata rises from the ground. She sighs and turns to join the other nuns.

"Mother Yolla, may I return to wearing the habit?"

"Of course my child. We have a set of clothing waiting just for you."

Renata inhales slowly. "Just so you know," she says, "it is so so good to be back here, where I clearly belong."

That night Mother Yolla gives permission for the nuns to stay up late into the night. Renata plays the guitar and the nuns are delighted to sing song after song. Renata hopes that Señora will make an appearance but no, the revered old woman is nowhere to be seen.

And so Renata is free and clear and she remains here at the convent for four decades. After Mother Yolla passes, Renata takes her role. Mother Renata. And she never forgets Señora -- indeed she visits the grave for a few minutes every day for the rest of her life.

And now we say amen amen, this book about the nun, is FINALLY done.