The hardest part was not knowing.
Why had her parents returned her like a defective toaster? What was her flaw? Was her soul so stained with Original Sin that only the Sisters could scrub it clean? Was that why she was left to their ministrations?
Don’t worry,” they told her when she questioned, and she questioned just about everything. “Wisdom will come if you are pure. You’ll understand when you grow up.”
That promise of wisdom kept her going, made the pain of abandonment a little more bearable.
The expectation that she would understand someday carried her through many long, dank years living in the Home, where the door to salvation slammed in her face over and over. It supported her through an endless stream of goodbyes as friends too left her behind, departing with new parents to live in a different sort of home.
In her darkest moments, she replayed Sister Martine’s words to sooth herself. When I grow up, she thought, my soul will be clean and it will all be clear.
But when she did grow up, she still didn’t understand. And she was pretty sure that her soul was just as stained as it had ever been. Wisdom eluded her.
Once on her own, like an explorer in the Land of Endless Confusion, she searched everywhere for that elusive wisdom. She tramped through failed careers and disastrous relationships, looking in every dusty corner and under every rock. But all she found was more pain, more confusion.
Then, one day she discovered the ruby light, glowing warmly in liquid enticement.
What the hell, she thought. With a stained soul, I’ll never find heaven anyway. It occurred to her that perhaps this was the wisdom she’d been looking for all her life.
She dove in, and heard the angels sing.
Written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory .