Sister Thomas stepped into Meara’s path from the side hallway. In her rush to get back to her cell, she hadn’t anticipated anyone in the usually empty passage. Even though Meara checked her speed, she made solid contact with the rotund nun.
The nun kept her feet, although she grunted something under her breath. Meara didn’t fare as well and tumbled backwards. Even though she hadn’t heard Sister Thomas clearly, she was sure she used one of the same words her Uncle Simon had earlier.
The idea interested her. “My pardon, Sister Thomas.” She pushed to her feet, and brushed the dust from her tunic.
“All is forgiven, little sister.” A look of amusement flickered across Sister Thomas’s face, before she schooled it back into a somber expression.
The sisters came from outside the walls. Only Meara was born in the convent. Sister Thomas was a recent addition. Sister Gabriella referred to her as a rich, devout widow, which explained her girth. The fodder at the nunnery was simple and spare, which resulted in an involuntary weight loss among most of the postulants.
A sneaky thought popped into her mind, a forbidden one. Any talk about the secular world or past was against the rules. Since her entire past happened inside the convent walls, she had no secrets, except for her forays into the woods.
Those weren’t as clandestine as she previously thought. An image of Sister Gabriella standing by the berry bush calling into the bolt hole proved at least one person knew. Even knowing about her activities, the kind sister never prevented her from visiting her natural sanctuary. Still, if she were going into the unknown in a few short weeks shouldn’t she have knowledge of it?
“Sister Thomas,” she glanced down the hall both ways as she spoke. No one, it was relatively safe unless Sister Thomas felt the need to report. A few of the older sisters had borne witness against Sister Thomas for the great sin of whistling, which meant she’d might not be so quick to tattle, unless she wanted to prove how she conformed to standards. Her lips tightened as Meara considered the consequences of asking about the world outside. At best, her punishment
would last only two weeks.
“What is it little sister?” The woman angled her head and waited.
The term little sister annoyed her since she hadn’t taken the veil. Still, Sister Thomas was learning her way around and probably didn’t know her name. Having a name was a step up from one of the other convents that Sister Gabriella confided didn’t allow names since it was a form of vanity.
Another furtive glance revealed no one walked the hall. She took a step closer to the nun. “A relative has come for me, to take me away. Before I leave, it would benefit me to know what waits outside the walls.”
The woman’s habit rose at her chest as she took a deep breath, then exhaled. “Well, my girl, life outside the walls would be different for you than me. Could be a mixed blessing.”
Meara’s nose wrinkled as she attempted to make sense of her words. “Why would it be any different? It’s the same world no matter who steps into it.”