She expected the spider’s web to shimmer, having felt the draft an instant before. Nothing more than a peripheral afterthought, as she prepares her Rosary, in the heat of mid-afternoon. As she prepares to pray for him.
Her cell is modestly decorated in passing time and empty space. A single bed, made each morning with military precision, lies unkempt. Small depressions mark the eternities spent kneeling at her thirdhand prie-dieu.
Dust glistens in the light filtering through the open window. A mesmerizing breeze ushers in visitors destined for the spider’s web, in natural brutality. The room is otherwise closed, like the minds that came before. A requirement of its occupancy.
Staring out to the ancient oak, upon which sits an empty nest, she contemplates the wretched twisting of leaf and twig, where once were babies cradled. Its time has surely past; probably will chance never again to bear the young. Can that be true?
She feels the wooden beads between her lithe fingers, and wonders how many decades have past between them. How can this simple chain hold all of the mysteries, when it leaves only space for twenty?
Each tear in her fractious faith, each breath in her silent servitude, each heartbeat in her doubtful dedication, she counts. Numbers much greater than twenty, and mysteries all. Another tear falls, landing on the crucifix.
Rust has stained her hand red, as the peccant years passed with these vacillations. She looks down as her thumb runs over the engraved, nearly worn smooth, Made In China on the back. Not joyous, or sorrowful, or glorious, or luminous; it’s just a mystery.
A rap at her cell door lifts her out of reverie. It creaks open and the new Father greets her with a trepidatious smile. She returns it. Answers only ever come when the mind wanders freely, when not chained by the chain.
She diverts his attention to the bird’s nest outside. Extols its beauty and ultimate sadness, while moving toward the door. She prayed, and he came. The sound of the lock prompts the Father to turn inquisitively.
He stammers as she slides off her habit, letting her raven hair fall over her shoulders. She raises a red-handed finger to her lips and begins to disrobe. He backs away, but he’s young, impressionable. She places a hand on his chest, his heart is galloping…
And a rap at the door startles her from the unexpected slumber. Freedom is not a sin, sin is simply a choice of freedom. She dries her eyes before welcoming entry. Then the door creaks open, and she smiles as the new Father crosses her threshold.