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  • Hiding in Plain Sight

    Sister Marie Celeste pushed the big dust mop down the hall. The floor was worn into two deep valley-like grooves from the footsteps of hundreds of nuns. Sister Marie Celeste had to turn the mop sideways sometimes to pick up things that drifted into the low areas where the mop’s fingers couldn't quite reach.

    She went into the sewing room, after checking to be sure that no one else was in the room. She preferred to not have Mother Superior watching her work; it made her nervous. And Sister Francis Catherine, who often supervised the sewing room, was just plain cranky lately.

    Sister Marie Celeste dusted under the cutting table, where material was laid out to be cut. It wasn’t black or white, the normal colors for the habits and attire of the Nuns at St. Isadora convent. Curious, Sister Marie Celeste leaned over the table and stared at the brilliantly colored fabric.

    Then she jumped back.

    She leaned forward again, slowly, then looked around the room and listened in the hallway for footsteps.

    Sister Marie Celeste looked again. She saw the Virgin Mary. The Virgin looked like a tearful flapper, but she was clearly there. She was wrapped in a head-covering, and all her features were plainly visible, eyes, nose, mouth, chin. Her skin was pink, her head covering brilliant green and blue.

    Sister Marie Celeste leaned the handle of her dust mop against the wall and looking both ways, hurried down the hall and up two flights of stairs to her room. She retrieved her cell phone, slipping it into the deep pocket of her habit, where her keys jingled as she walked.

    Back in the sewing room, she hurried to the table, afraid Mary would be gone or Sister Francis Catherine would come back. But Mary was still there. Sister Marie Celeste carefully held the cellphone over the image and snapped it. She checked it, and then hurried down the hall to Mother Superior’s office.

    “What is this?” Mother Superior snapped, when wordlessly, Sister Marie Celeste held out the phone. “Why are you not attending your duties?”
  • Sister Marie Celeste emailed the image to Mother Superior. “Please,” she said, “please look.”

    Mother Superior looked. Sister Marie Celeste shrank into herself, awaiting a reprimand, sure it would come. But Mother Superior turned and smiled. “Can you show me this?” she asked.

    Sister Marie Celeste led Mother Superior to the sewing room. Sister Francis Catherine went into the room just ahead of them. Sister Marie Celeste grabbed Mother Superior’s hand and tugged her in, pointing to the image of the Virgin Mary, which miraculously, was still there.

    Sister Francis Catherine tutted loudly, grabbed the loose fabric, shook it out, folded it up and shoved it in a drawer.

    Mother Superior turned away, saying nothing. She took Sister Marie Celeste by the hand and led her into and down the hall.

    When they were out of earshot of Sister Francis Catherine, she stopped and said, “You are a fool for God, Sister Marie Celeste! This is the greatest honor among the sisters of St. Isadora. Tonight, you will sit at the head table with me, and we will project your vision of the Virgin Mary for all the nuns to see.” Mother Superior then did something rare, she gave Sister Marie Celeste a quick hug. And knowing how timid Sister Marie Celeste was, she walked back, retrieved the mop and handed it to Sister Marie Celeste so that she could continue her job without encountering Sister Francis Catherine.

    Breathing a great sigh of relief, Sister Marie Celeste continued dusting down the long dim halls, smiling at what she and Mother Superior had seen and no one else had. Yet.

    *

    Mary Stebbins Taitt

    130816
  • Image by Andy Rz, presented at a prompt in the Cowbirder's Poetry and Flash fiction Group #7 (there is still room to join, if anyone wants to.) I was going to dedicate it to Andy, but my dedication button isn't working. Andy, this is for you.

    If you are interested in reading another flash fiction piece about Sister Marie Celeste, see "Talking to God."

    Saint Isidora or Isidore (Saint Isidora the Simple or Saint Isidora of Tabenna) was a Christian nun and saint of the 4th century AD. She is considered among the earliest fools for Christ. A saint who has the title "Fool-for-Christ" is one who is known for his apparent, yet holy, insanity.
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