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In A Dark Mirror - Five

Written by afanen Hits: 15790

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Sister Claire checked the cupboards. “All well girls!” She said. “Off you go!” Luckily Sister Claire was on duty tonight. Usually doing the kitchen chores was a pain in the arse, as Sister Immaculata always found fault with something, which usually included a sermon on how they’d all go to hell, accompanied by strokes on the fingers with her bamboo cane.
Sister Claire usually was more laissez-faire, although she also would not tolerate any misdemeanour.
Heather and Aifric headed out as fast as possible, rushing into the dormitory. The other girls were still in the chapel, saying their evening prayer. Kitchen duty was the only occasion when the girls would be excused from the evening service. They were required to say their prayers now, in the dorm, but Heather had no plans to comply.
Aifric entered the dorm, and sat on her bed. As usual, she hadn’t been talking much during the day, and she was surprised that Heather was seeking her company so often. When they were alone, it was usually Heather who did the talking, while Aifric just sat there and listened, or sometimes she didn’t even listen. Heather didn’t seem to care. She had constantly tried to lift Aifric’s mood. To her everlasting frustration, never with much success.
Now she was sitting next to Aifric, instead of preparing for her evening prayer.
“Gosh, I’m happy I don’t have to be in the chapel,” she started.
“Aren’t you going to pray?” Aifric asked.
“Have you ever seen me pray?” Heather laughed. “I thought I’d only fool the penguins!”
“You’ll be in trouble again!” Aifric stated.
“I’m always in trouble, honey. Trouble is my middle name.”
“They say you were in jail?” Aifric bit her lip. Aislin had told her that in obvious admiration, before she was hushed by Mercedes.
“You bet I was!” Heather was far from offended.
“What happened?” Aifric could hardly imagine someone as caring and oft-times selfless as Heather being in jail.
“Long story.” Heather shrugged. “I broke some guys nose.”
“I was hanging out with some girls in the malls around Limerick quite often. I was living on the streets for some time. Fell in with the wrong crowd. Well, actually I was the wrong crowd.”
She continued. “I didn’t want to be at my mam’s place. You know, mam has been pissed as long as I can think, and those loser boyfriends she had used to beat me up. If she was too drunk to do it herself that was.”
“So I ran off. Hung out with some girls, you know. We were often nicking stuff. Got caught the first time we grabbed a car and drove around with it. Police got us. God, mam’s loser boyfriend beat me with his belt until I passed out.”
She shuddered, and took a deep breath before she continued. “Few months later I was caught stealing at the mall. The store detective gave me a choice, the bastard. He’d call the police or I be of service to him.”
Aifric looked puzzled. “Be of service?” She asked.
Heather rolled her eyes. “You’re so innocent, it’s adorable! He wanted me to suck his dick!”
Aifric was shocked. “What did you do?”
“I gave him my answer.” She clenched a fist. “Right on the kisser!”
“Of course no one believed my side of the story.” She sighed. “So they put me in the slammer.”
“I’m sorry!” Aifric put a hand on her friends arm.
“Not to be sorry. I deserved what I got, I guess. And jail was at least better than the Limbo here.”
Aifric was mystified. “The what?”
“The first circle of hell, also known as the Limbo!” Heather grinned. “And you thought you were the bourgeois highbrow here, didn’t you?”
“It’s from Dante’s Divine Comedy” she explained.
“You read classical literature?” Aifric was surprised.
“You’ve got a lot of free time on your hands in jail, even with all the therapy stuff and classes and all. All they had there was a not so well sorted library, with almost only really old stuff in it. So I began to read.” Heather laughed. “Doesn’t fit into the profile of the bad arse delinquent, does it?”
“No.” Aifric admitted. “It doesn’t.”
“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Aifric wanted to know.
“Nah,” Heather replied. “I don’t know why. I don’t think it was family planning, but more like being too pissed to fuck or something.”
“You? Any siblings?” Heather returned the question.
Eoghan’s face flashed before Aifric’s eyes. “A brother.” She answered.
“Where is he now?” Heather asked.
“Dead.” Aifric said gravely. Dead. The word hung in the room like thick black smoke. Dead. The smoke clouded Aifric’s view, and she felt her belly clench painfully, as if she’d just received a blow.
“Are you feeling OK?” Heather looked concerned.
When Aifric opened her mouth to speak, her voice failed her. The painful clench moved upwards, through her chest and into her throat. A pain stricken sob escaped her mouth. It came out so forcefully, it made her throat ache.
Alarmed, Heather leaned forward to put a hand on her friends shoulder. Aifric fell forward sobbing again, as Heather caught her, gently stroking her hair. The warm touch of Heathers hands pushed Aifric over the edge, and the flood rushed over her.
A feeling of loss and grief overwhelmed her, and it seemed all the tears she didn’t cry for the past months, where now breaking out at once, her eyes to much small to let them all pass through. Her violent sobbing shook her body back and forth, and the last thing she saw, before the drowned were Heather’s green eyes resting upon her calmly. Then the waves crashed over her head and she sunk to the bottom.
Heather gently placed her friends head in her lap, and continued stroking her hair.

* * *

When the flood finally receded, it was day. Aifric had no idea how long she had been gone. She had a splitting headache and her mouth was bone-dry. She carefully looked around. She was in the infirmary. Old cupboards filled with bandages and flasks, a small bedside cabinet and dark curtains.
Heather sat on a chair by her bedside. “Welcome back!” She smiled happily, but dark circles around her eyes belied her mood.
“Hey!” Aifric croaked through her sore throat. Heather took a glass of water from the cabinet, and held it to Aifric’s lips. The water felt cool and refreshing. After a few gulps she reached out her hands, to take the glass from Heather. She noticed her friends hands where stiff and her fingers where blue-black. Heather didn’t seem to notice, or at least she didn’t let it show.
“How did I get here?” She asked.
Heather smiled. “You don’t remember?”
“We had to carry you here. The sisters where not too happy, but even they thought you were in a bad enough shape to put you to bed.”
“How long am I here?” Aifric couldn’t tell, whether it was minutes or hours.
“Two days.” Heather replied.
“Oh.” Aifric tried to remember anything she might have done, but all there was was the searing pain, that still resided in her chest. She felt her eyes burn again, but there where no more tears. They had simply ran out.
Heather clumsily ran her fingers through Aifric’s hair. “What happened to your hands?” Aifric asked.
“I’ve been naughty again!” Heather shrugged.
“Did she hit you?”
“Yeah, as usual.” Heather replied.
“Because of me?” Aifric was alarmed.
“Don’t worry about it. You need to get better now.” Heather tried to avoid an answer. “It is my feud with the old penguin, nothing you need to rack your brain about.”
“I’m sorry!” Aifric whispered, taking her friends hand in hers.
“Not your fault” Heather replied. “You know how I can’t restrain myself when I’m upset.”
She locked her gaze on Aifric’s eyes, and Aifric felt the her glance trickle down into her chest, like a warm liquid. They sat there, eyes locked for a while, and Aifric gently stroked Heathers hands.
Sister Claire entered with some dinner and a glass of milk for Aifric. “Ah, you’re awake!” She said. “Here, you need to eat!”
She handed the milk to Aifric.
“Heather, you should go to dinner now!”
Heather sighed, and looked towards Aifric, who nodded. Heather got up, and made her way to the door.

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