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The Condor and the Lizard

by Diana Pollin


The Sister was first a shadow outlined darkly against the bold block of sun. The figure stood against the window and welcomed the visitor, but it did not move, it did not embrace, it did not greet. The intensity of the light had robbed the figure of its features, the light created darkness and heat about the figure, detaching it from the insignificance of the room, separating it from the other figure demurely shutting the door behind her.

She shut the door the way she did everything, in a swift, sexless, apologetic manner. But her meekness was not an apology, the motionless figure knew, but a way of negotiating her solitude with the world. Observing her, the nun moved out of the light and into the discriminating coolness. The Sister seized Julie’s left hand where a diamond celebrated the finality of a love affair.

“The ring has been in Mayson’s family for more than 100 years. It was his grandmother’s. We just adjusted the setting.”

“So when is it to be? The wedding, I mean. I think you mentioned in June. He’s put it off several times.”

“September is the month. You will get the invitation. To be mailed next week.”

“Oh, I see,” the Head Mistress remarked coldly. “You really want to go through with it?”

“Go through with what? My marriage? Sister Tullier! I came here with the report!”

The nun spat out, “What are you doing here, Julie? Where do you situate yourself in relation to yourself? Did you ever really and truly want to be a pedagogical assistant? Did you ever really want to be a teacher? Did you ever really want to marry? Did you really want to marry Mayson? Did you ever really want to do what everyone else has wanted you to do?”

“I have always done what others wanted me to do,” Julie admitted solemnly.

But Sister Tullier had no need of the social graces; in fact she hated them. “Why are your eyes cast down? Is this a confession of a crime? Are you a naughty child caught with the cookies? Are you not bedeviled with this fine Spring morning? Bedeviled with the beauties that God has bestowed on us? Blah, blah, blah. Don’t you suspect that He might be pulling the wool over our eyes? He may be grandstanding, playing to the crowd. A crowd! I have no patience with bleating lambs; I detest cooing doves!”

The sofa, middle of the room. Bull’s blood pegged into lines of bloated boxes, it was in the nature of the designer to give it a wavy look, to rupture its leathery harshness into cushions. And Julie was dwelling in a leather bump... Dwelling? No, disappearing into the walls of its curves, scraping like a bug, in the matrix where it drew warmth and sustenance and, hopefully, died happy and unnoticed.

“I have always done what others have expected me to do,” Julie plodded the words out.

“Bah! I might say that if you are guilty of anything, it is running away from yourself,” the Sister said indignantly.

“We have to talk about the Brownly child, that is in the report, and then at 11 there’s Garrett...”

“We don’t have to talk about anything that is not essential, and for the moment the essential is you. I repeat, what do you want to do this fine Spring morning?”

“Right this moment? I want to take a walk. I want to go where my feet carry me.”

“Who is stopping you?”

“We have to discuss the Brownly...”

“I did not say what, I said who.”

“Why, no one!”

Proceed to part III...

Copyright © 2011 by Diana Pollin

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