By Claudia Ricci
Note to readers: The on-line novel, Sister Mysteries, may need no introduction, as I have been writing it -- or at least the most recent version of it -- since last November. For those readers following the harrowing tale of Sister Renata, the nun falsely convicted of killing her cousin, Antonie, she is scheduled to die by hanging, as her plea to the Governor of California, George Stoneman, was turned down. But Renata isn't giving up without a fight. You might be very surprised at this new turn of events, and the nun's stubborn determination to go free.
Now the sun comes to the lip of the window. Now I see a straight way out. An hour ago I kneeled down in prayer, in total darkness. I asked Mary for a miracle -- a way out. I said the rosary with my eyes closed. I felt those smooth beads between my fingertips, and whispered to Her, PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME!!
Some time passed -- who knows how long. I'm not altogether sure that I didn't fall asleep. The next thing I knew I was rocking there on my knees. I was saying PLEASE PLEASE. I felt a slight puff of air, as if someone was there, right next to me, breathing against my face. I felt a wind -- ever so slight -- brushing right past my cheek like a feather.
I opened my eyes, clutching the rosary. At first I wasn't sure whether I was awake. To my wonder and surprise there She was, beside me in her powder blue veil! Her face was porcelain and her cheeks, blushed pink. She glowed with a kind of light I've never seen. The light was alive. It vibrated and made me tremble.
She smiled and nodded and pointed out the window.
"Go my child. While there is still time, go."
My eyes widened. Her voice was so very kind and so deep and intimate. It was as if she was speaking right inside my head.
And her smile. It filled me, and now the window, with that bright, bright light. A light splashing every which way. A light alive. I've got to find more words for how light can be so full of energy that it feels alive.
She was pointing still, gesturing to the sky gathering the same powder blue color as her veil. My eyes sailed into the distance, toward the navy blue rim of the low Santa Cruz mountains.
I blinked. For a moment it occurred to me, I must be losing my mind.
But no. No. Mary herself was there, I swear it. Glowing, nodding, pointing, offering me my freedom -- it was that clear and simple.
The road -- dusted pink in salmon light -- calls now. No one need know. No one at all is awake. The jailer, old Bean, drank a small tub of tequila at dinner. He's slumped under the staircase there in front of Kitty's cafe. The others -- Kitty, Teresa, Señora -- I hear one of them snoring.
I turn to the door. Do I dare? There is the way out. There now is a way to spare my neck from the loop of rope swinging at the gallows in the town square. If I don't go now, I will be heading tomorrow for the gallow stairs.
Do I go? My heart is slamming but I am moving -- quietly, silently -- toward the door.