Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Chapter 23: "Sister Renata is Going to HANG!"

September 13, 1883
Old Vallejo Jail

My Dear Teresa,

Can you see me here, trembling as I write? Can you see what I see? This newspaper in my hand that paints me as Antonie's killer? This newspaper that spells my doom? This newspaper that assumes all of my cousin's horrific stories are true?

All around me, Teresa, I stare at
yellow slime that looks and smells like urine dripping from the walls. I am caged in a cell that is barely large enough to hold my frame lying down.

This narrow metal cot here, this is bed and bench and my world. There is a tiny window that is shoulder high, but I dare not look outside. There is nothing more out there than the choking yellow dust of the courtyard and the gallows...and the dangling rope!


Can you see me here my dear Teresa?

How is that I have landed in this hellish place?Sometimes I wish my cousin had sliced not his own throat, but mine!

That word food, it has no place here. And with the smell, is it any wonder that I haven’t the least bit of appetite?

I pray night and day. I ask Mary that there may be some miracle. Because I need one here. A few minutes ago, the jailer, smelling of whiskey, threw the newspaper with the story between the bars. He was cackling again. "Read this, princess," he said.

Reading these words: "
I promise you, she will hang" -- a warm flood of fear spills through me. I think my dizziness is going to sink me to the floor.

I may die here before they hang me. I may decide not to drink another sip of that water that tastes like the rust of these bars. I may stop eating and drinking altogether, and I may just pray for a quick demise.

I apologize my dear Teresa. I realize that my giving up all hope like this is just so hopeless…

I close my eyes now and say another prayer.

I so look forward to your coming Teresa. And now, just thinking of you, I feel so much better.

I can see you in my mind, my dear Sister, I see your cheerful face and your eyes that match the blue of the sky and suddenly, now, here, I feel my spirits lifting.

Yes, Teresa, I feel that you are here beside me in this hellish cell.

I am so so thankful that you brought me the diary and I thank God and Mary too that you argued, and that they allowed me, finally, after all your arguing, to keep it.

Perhaps this is after all, the miracle, that I can sit here and write my own words.

Words that are even stronger than the words of this hateful newspaper. (All lies, all because of the hateful stories my cousin Antonie told!)

But now, I see, I see you and me together, and I realize that I have the power to spin my own tales.

I have the power of words that lift me out of this hellish cell, I can tell my own story that takes me up the hillside there
behind the convent,

do you see us there beneath the branches of the oak?

I do Teresa, I do. I see you and I see me, I see us together again, I see it all, the blue sky, and the trees, I feel the warm dry breeze on my face, I feel the blanket on my back, and now, yes, the two of us, we just sank down there in the shade

and yes, now we are laughing and telling jokes again about Father Ruby, and now I taste the sweet and sour lemonade that you have made

This is bliss these pictures I have made.

So yes, you know that I will keep writing here, have no fear about that, and I will keep the faith too, as you told me, because what else can I do except pray and sob and write and write and hold onto some hope for a miracle?

Note to readers: Chapter 23 of Sister Mysteries is also Chapter 17 of Castenata.

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