The Kids of Saint Anthony (Flash Fiction Friday I-02)

Photo by TrippyBeth

It’s amazing how wonderfully huge the world can be through younger eyes. A hedgerow is thick, dense forest. A row of suburban houses is a castle wall. By the same token, it’s amazingly tragic how much the same world shrinks in the eyes of an adult. A hedgerow is something to trim. The row of suburban houses, a wall meant to keep the public unpleasantness out and the private unpleasantness in. To the young, impressionable eyes that first set eyes on Saint Anthony’s Home, it’s facade is a castle filled with the tales of valiant knights and beautiful princesses. To the more mature eyes of the ones who spent her fair share of years there, Emily now sees it as just another old building filled with stories that she would just as soon forget.

There was a brief moment of time in Emily’s life where she thought it would be a wise idea to join a convent. Her personal demons whispered in her ear for most of her late teens, and she felt the only way to get them to stop was to give her life to the Sisterhood, which she did, for a few years. Because of her young age, and late indoctrination into the faith, her responsibilities mainly revolved around the well being of the children and not much else; feeding, cleaning, learning of grace and reader of the occasional bed time story. It wasn’t long before her demons left her alone. After ten years of acting as a surrogate, and realizing that she wasn’t going to progress any further, she packed her belongings and left the home in search for a more fulfilling life, and perhaps, if time permitted, a child of her own.

Years later, she returns to these halls. This time as the Home’s most loyal social worker. Although the stone walls are still high and the tile floors still amplify every heel from every step, they no longer hold the ominous wonder they did when she was younger. It was no longer a castle, it was just another office building.

Being an adult sucks.

 

~***~
Photo by Vesinia from Deviant Art

“Ah, it’s good to see you again, Emily.” Sister Mary Margret was always so cheerful; a smile seemed

permanently attached to her face, followed by the grasp of her cold, bony hand. It didn’t matter that Emily walked out on her so many years ago, Mary’s calling was to nurture and offer charity to an otherwise cruel world.

Emily tried to smile as she took her hand. The memories of every horror story from every child beginning to creep into her mind and pollute the otherwise Christmas Morning-type greeting that her former mentor doled out for free. “Afternoon, Sister Mary,” was all she could muster through a forced smile. As a teenager, she would open up her entire world to her. As an adult she is always all about the task at hand. There was little room for small talk or pleasantries, except when it came to Sister Mary. Emily would always allow a small concession. “How’ve you been?””Oh, I could never complain, child. It wouldn’t do much good,” said Mary with delicate cackle of a grandmother’s laugh. “I trust you’ve taken a moment to go over the files?”

“Yes,” said Emily as she flipped through the folder that was on the top of the pile, “Although, I’m a little confused. When we talked last, you told me that there was something wrong with this set of siblings that came to you recently.”

“Yes, dear.”

“Okay, well going by their most recent medical records, you had them go through physical and mental evaluations. First opinions, second opinions and even a note from the clergy, all giving clean bills of health.”

“Yes, dear.”

Emily has endured years of the tales of abuse from the runaways and orphans. Every story devolving into more horrific tales as the years went on. She has put herself through college and suffered the years of indignation from every male colleague and professor to finish in the top percentile of her class. She has survived a failed marriage. She even managed to live through her own daughter dying in her arms. She has survived. And yet, she still gets a chill down her spine whenever her former mentor would not be as forthcoming as she normally would be. It usually meant that something was beyond her grasp, and that usually meant trouble. Emily studied her poker face. She knew her expressions. The more dire the situation, the quicker her familiar smile would leave her lips. The Sister’s face was a few degrees above dire. Emily closed the file, took a deep breath, took a step forward and whispered at Confessional level, “I’m not going to like what I’m about to hear, am I?”

“Well, yes… and no, dear. Look, you and I have heard stories of the worst evil imaginable, in the case of these children that came into my protection, it doesn’t appear to be the case. There was no abuse, no trouble with the authorities, just three children without much of a past.”

“Oh, well then it’s just a case of tracking down their parents and their records and…” before she would let her come to her obvious conclusion, Sister Mary reached out with her cold, boney yet loving hand and placed it on top of hers. “I don’t think it’s going to be that easy, dear. Perhaps you’d better come with me.” They walked down the hall together, towards the familiar rooms where all the children lived, played and slept.
©2014 Anthony Payson/The Writers Bloc

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